21 & 22 August 2015 – into Italy and on to Genoa

Routes and stats for the last two days below, as I leave France for Italy, on my way to Istanbul.

–> 21 August – into Italy (Imperia)
Hurrah, I made it to Italy, country number 11 I think, or 12 if you count Monaco, and to a decent campsite (De Wijnstok) near Imperia. What’s more the campsite has a nice little bar and pizzeria, so whilst writing my journal I enjoyed a cold beer, and got to listen to a guitarist play a few classic numbers; Eagles, Dire Straits etc

That was the end of the day, so I’d better go back to the start. Despite a few glasses of wine the previous evening I was up in good time, and away from Camping de l’Argentiere by 08:45, pedalling on to Cannes.

Cannes was busy, thronged with cars and tourists, and the harbour area packed with expensive boats of all shapes and sizes. I didn’t spot any movie-stars, but it was still early.

After dodging through both pedestrian and vehicle traffic I pedalled on to Antibes, which was a bit quieter than Cannes, but looked equally expensive; several Maseratis roared past me as if to reinforce this. Then it was along the coast to Nice via a cycle path.

Nice was…urrr…nice, but I didn’t feel like hanging about so I cycled along the seafront, forgetting about the webcams in my haste. Next up was Villefranche-sur-Mer, then Beaulieu-sur-Mer, passing some stunning scenery, before arriving in Monaco.

I almost missed Monaco, due to being routed through tunnels running underneath or alongside   bits of it. As a result I didn’t see much, which didn’t overly bother me at the time as I was hungry and looking forward to lunch and the prospect of a ‘tarte du jour’ in Menton.

I’m not sure I’d like living in Monaco. It’s just too cramped and felt slightly claustrophobic, with loads of tall buildings, and enclosed by a ring of mountains; I doubt I could afford a one bedroom flat anyway!

After Monaco the road climbed out of Monte Carlo and back into France. I stopped in Menton, the last French town before Italy, and found a great boulangerie. Today’s tarte was raspberry, and very nice, but not as good as yesterday’s tarte-au-citron. At this point I have grave concerns about whether Italy will be able to compete.

The border crossing into Italy is just after Menton, so I bid France ‘au revoir’ and pedalled over; as usual didn’t need to stop or show my passport. I immediately noticed a change in the style of architecture, as well as of course the language being different; don’t know much Italian but I’m sure I’ll get by. I passed through several towns on my way to near Imperia, including San Remo. One long stretch was on a cycle path, along the route of an old railway track, with several tunnels providing entertainment, and the sea and beaches just to my right. The cycle route went on for several kilometres, all the way to San Lorenzo.

The tunnels were great, providing a break from the sun and heat; lovely and cool, and lots of echoes –  potential goblin hotspot too!

The cycle route stopped just before my campsite for the night; De Wijnstok, near Poggi and Imperia. I had arrived in relatively good time so set up my tent and relaxed for a bit, before spending some time updating my blog.

De Wijnstok camping

De Wijnstok camping

De Wijnstok camping has its own bar and pizzeria, so I indulged myself and ate out; after 121km I didn’t have the energy to pedal to a supermarket, and besides, the campsite was pretty good value, even if I did have to pay for the wifi. The owner and staff all spoke at least some English, so no issues on the language front, and everyone staying on the campsite was friendly, saying hello, and in one case wanting to have a chat about my cycle tour. Marvellous; think I’m going to like Italy.

On to Genoa tomorrow, before heading inland and across towards Lake Garda and Venice.

–> 22 August 2015 – to Genoa
After a good night’s sleep I was up early and keen to get on the road, continuing my way down the Ligurian coast to Genoa.

After passing through Imperia it was a simple case of sticking to the coast road, through a succession of towns, and past a lot of beaches; lots of other cyclists out too, confirming the hobby’s popularity in Italy.

The road was very busy, but easy riding with only mild hills. I bumped into a couple from Brittany in Savona, also bicycle touring, making their way from Nice down into Italy, and then intending to take the ferry over to Dubrovnik. It was good to pause and chat for a bit, and I might bump into them again as they pedal up the coast from Dubrovnik.

Savona looked like an interesting place, with a big old fortress and roman ruins; think I spotted  hyper-caust or two. I continued down the coast through more towns, this being a very built up area – but not with high-rise abominations like much of the Costa del Sol. After a late lunch (kebab), and a failed search for a ‘tarte du jour’ I made it to the outskirts of Genoa and my campsite for the night; Villa Doria. On the tarte front, I need to remember to stop off in the morning when the relevant bakeries are open, and not having a siesta, which can go on for a long time in Italy; I’m not even sure if some of them open again in the afternoon.

Before setting up my tent I paused at the campsite bar for a cold beer. It was delicious; they taste so much better when you’ve thoroughly earned it. I chatted to a grandfather/grandson duo on a motorcycle tour down from Kent, taking in a bit of Italy before returning home via Switzerland; funny hearing strong South East accents again, and great to swap a few stories. The grandson was about to celebrate his 21st birthday, and wanted to do something to remember the year by; a month’s motorcycle touring in Europe should do it. His grandfather had decided to accompany him, as it was the grandson’s first time touring abroad, and they both seem to be having a great time or it; it’s all about filling your life with great memories, and as few regrets as possible.

I spent the rest of the evening doing a bit of planning, needing to plot my route over to Slovenia and Croatia, via Lake Garda and northern Italy; quite a long way to go with a  bit of wild camping  required due to lack of campsites. Still haven’t quite decided on my route after that; advice welcomed!

Hopefully ‘tarte du jour’ pics will resume tomorrow. Bonuit.

2 thoughts on “21 & 22 August 2015 – into Italy and on to Genoa

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