Italy! It may be scorching hot with climbs that go on forever, but this place is beautiful beyond compare and I’m enjoying every moment of my time here.
I hated the place – it assaulted my senses, encircled me with horns and brakes and ugly cranes, and all I could do was retreat between the slow-moving tour buses.
The commotion seemed to pursue me across the border, but the pitch changed on the way to San Remo. As I entered the city I realized that Italy is the land of motorbikes. Mopeds. Scooters. You name it.
Everyone from grandmothers to peach-fuzz teenagers drives on two wheels, usually like a maniac, and the streaking vehicles make city travel an adventure.
At first I tried to pull over to let the congestion subside, but in Italian cities, that never happens. It’s all traffic, all the time. There is nothing to do but join the flow and zig-zag between buses and trucks like some kind of demented bicycle courier.
It’s a heart-pounding, sweat-in-your-eyes rush, and it’s about as far as I’ve ever felt from the plodding tracks of Albert Street in Regina.
With the craziness of the cities and the steep, wincing summits of the mountains, my rhythm was set, and I darted from Genova to La Spézia to Pisa without incident.
As for Pisa, what a difference a tower makes. The structure is interesting to be sure, but the rest of the city is made up of industry and brown-brick buildings crumbling along the shores of a stinking river.
Glad I went, glad I left.
Now it’s onward to Rome, where I hope to meet my friend Sarah. She hosted me in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, last summer, so to see her again, almost a full year later, will be exciting.
I’ve been thinking about what comes next and I still haven’t made up my mind. Rome will likely be my most southern point in Italy. From there I hope to tour Slovenia and Croatia with a possible stop in Hungary. So many ideas, and all I know for certain is that it’s going to be a great summer. Onward!