Piacenza - Munich to Paris the Long Way Round - CycleBlaze

August 13, 2019

Piacenza

We make a change of plan

My new cycle pants were SO comfortable.  In an attempt to not look quite so gross I had been wearing regular shorts, the trouble was they kept riding up and making a tourniquet around the tops of my legs so I had to keep standing up and pulling them down - as it got hotter it seemed to get worse.  Yesterday we stopped at the sort of bike shop where all the fancy training bikers shop and I bought an overpriced pair of cycling shorts.  Today has been bliss I dont feel as if I am going to get gangrene and my legs will drop off.   I look awful but I dont care.

Last night when we emerged for dinner the square was alive with happy people. There were adults, kids and dogs.  Little children were having lessons in bike riding and all around, because it was only just 7pm, people were having predinner drinks and all this without a car in sight.  Why oh why cant we have some pedestrian only areas in NZ  Why must our whole lives be ruled by the mighty automobile.  We chose a wonderful place for our drinks in an arcade under what had once been the old town hall - for the last 150 years it had been a bar.  I had an aperol and Ken a beer but they came with a delicious collection of nibbles - they really would have done us for a meal.  We were looking straight across at the magnificent Torrezo of Cremona the bell tower of the Cathedral completed in 1309.  It is the third tallest brick tower in the world and the oldest brick structure of more than 100feet still standing. It has a lovely astronomical clock. We sat for an hour people watching and enjoying the view.  Now was time for dinner but we liked it so much there we just ordered a Greek Salad  and had another drink.

Yum
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Suzanne GibsonI love all those goodies with your drinks in Italy - the Italians are so civilized.
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5 days ago
Tricia GrahamTo Suzanne GibsonThey certainly are
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5 days ago

As usual we were off early on what was to be our last day along the Po.  For the first time we had a bit of a head wind and this was quite good as it has a bit of a cooling effect. Today was a day of fields of tomatoes. They are unstaked  and lie flat on the ground, all seem to be these oval ‘Italian’ tomatoes and when they are harvested a machine must go through and take just the ripe ones. We saw red onions too making us think of Pukekohe.  What we haven’t seen is rice.  The Po Valley grows most of the rice in Europe but we have been unable to identify it. I thought perhaps it had already been harvested but  that is not right because I have just read that it isn’t harvested until September.  Our 9o’clock cappuccino stop was at a delightful little town where we even had a choice of cafes - we chose the one that seemed to have all the locals in and Ken was able  to buy some Pizza slice at the Backerie across the road.  He was intrigued by the man in the cafe who could talk with cigarette in the corner of his mouth, no hands.

There are huge grain silos
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A weird hotel
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I dont think this crane has been used for a while
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One of Ken’s favourite Apes
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Tomatoe feilds
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For everyone in Pukekohe
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A school facade
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After that the going was not as good .  For the most part we were on quiet roads but for some of the time, particularly as we approached the city, we were on quite busy roads with some big trucks to make us keep on wits.  However as we got into the city there was a cycle lane lined with pink and white oleanders which lead us to the narrow alleyways of the city and our hotel.  It was still before 11am, to soon for check in but I smiled nicely and looked old (not hard) and the nice man found us a room straight away.

Oleander way
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Suzanne GibsonYou're looking great in those new shorts - good you got them!
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5 days ago
Tricia GrahamTo Suzanne GibsonPerhaps if I loose many more kilos!
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Kathleen JonesGreat shorts and looking good
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Tricia GrahamTo Kathleen JonesI wish
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We were led through narrow allies
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Outside the hotel
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After cleaning up we went to the nearby Piazza Cavalli and sat under a cool arcade to have a beer once more accompanied by a range of nibbles.  We people watched and Ken fascinated by the fixey bikes took a series of photos of then riding along the square dresssed in normal clothes and no helmets going about their everyday business safely.

Piazza Cavalli
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That is what you get with your beer. Who needs lunch?
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How many of the following cyclists would be using their bikes like this if wearing helmets at all times was compulsory?
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Now for our change of plan.  It has been very hot since we got onto the Po going up to at least 37 degrees each day and not cooling down much overnight.  Apart from yesterday there has been no cloud cover and there is little shade so it feels even hotter riding in the blazing sun. The route after today looks as if it has a lot of unsealed tracks, this means skiddy round pebbles in this area, we dont feel safe riding these -also there is quite a lot af relatively busy road riding on what would of necessity be long stages.  What we are going to do is tomorrow morning take a train to Genoa on the Med and start riding the Ligurian Coast.  The temperatures there are only going up to about 28degrees   Anyway Ken has been to the station and bought tickets for us and our bikes on th 8.10am train and we are off to Genoa

So that is the end of the Po Radweg for us.  Would we recommend it? Parts of it are absolutely lovely, especially around Venice, you get a good idea of its vaste agriculture and how really this area is the powerhouse of Italy.  The towns are on the most part charming and I have never ever seen so many brick clock towers.  It is not a good idea to ride it in early August - we saw no other cycle tourists - try spring or autumn.  We managed to get air conditioning in the hotel every night

Today's ride: 37 km (23 miles)
Total: 967 km (601 miles)

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Suzanne GibsonYour change of plans sounds wise. I'm glad you got to Cremona and Piacenza,though. They rank high among my favorite cities.
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5 days ago
Tricia GrahamTo Suzanne GibsonYes I think it is as this is not meant to be a gruelling trip. Sorry not to get to Piedmont though because Dolcetto one of the wines we grew and made is from there however we have spent condition time visiting there in the past when we were establishing the vineyard
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5 days ago
George HumphreysKen - I'm not sure that you took geography in the 5th/6th form at KHS but all this has brought back the projects we did then on the Po valley and it's agricultural importance. When yo were at the Lido you were very near where we camped on the other side of the lagoon and took the ferry in and out of Venice. Your next bit is beautiful - we envy you. Cheers, George
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5 days ago
Scott AndersonI really appreciated your comments about the piazza in Cremona (one of my favorite cities), and how it changes everything to toss the automobiles out. I have the same frustration about our own country as you do yours.

Since you’re off to Genoa next, you might look at the route we followed west from it to Liguria last autumn (https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/dubrovnik2018/albenga/); and I really recommend staying in Albenga, our first stay after Genoa. Good luck with the heat!
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5 days ago
Tricia GrahamTo Scott AndersonThanks for that Scott. genoa railway station a bit of a nightmare on loaded bikes so like you we will try and bike out of Genoa, if we leave early it shouldn’t be too bad and I seem to have a reasonable route
Tricia
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5 days ago
Tricia GrahamTo George HumphreysThe Po Valley is certainly a garden of Eden. We are indeed very lucky to be doing this
Ciao
Ken
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5 days ago
Kathleen ClassenOh how I am enjoying your journal, even if I read it backwards today. We have had company and I am catching up. Tricia, you had me laughing out loud a few times. Aren’t we so lucky to be able to do this? Keep drinking the Aperol spritz, which was my fave people watching beverage in Italy (Keith, like Ken, stuck to beer) and enjoying the meal that comes with. I wish we could teleport ourselves over to join you, but reading about it is the next best thing. Enjoy!!! Oh, and stay away from escalators. I mean it 🤣😂🤣.
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4 days ago
Tricia GrahamTo Kathleen ClassenLike you aren’t we so lucky to be able to do this
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3 days ago