70km Baudenasca to Sant’ Antonio
The sun finally came out and followed us throughout the day as we rolled through Italian farmland and the vineyards that produce some of the country’s great wines like Barolo. Now out of the rainy Alps, it really felt like we’d arrived in Italy: the houses covered in red clay tiles and frescoes, the turretted castles on top of rolling hills, grand churches even in small towns and crowds of racing cyclists yelling “ciao” to us as they passed. Our route took us through a number of villages and there we saw dozens of people out doing their morning shopping on upright bicycles. Every bakery had several bikes parked outside and on the roads there were nearly as many bicycles as cars. The pedal-powered traffic provided quite a bit of entertainment for us, mostly as we watched people trying to ferry their goods back home. Despite a huge number of cyclists, panniers don’t seem to have really caught on in Italy. Off they went in all directions, some balancing cardboard boxes on their front handlebars, some cycling one-handed with bags under the other arm. Still others placed things in front of them and tried to use their legs to hold their treasures steady while rounding corners.To add to the excitement, many Italians acted like pedestrians with their bikes, cycling against the traffic. We had a few late swerves as we tried to avoid an oncoming cyclist with a box full of groceries! By early afternoon the heat was building so we stopped in the town of Bra and enjoyed seeing its many beautiful buildings and having a beer in the pedestrian area. After our break we set off to the north and found a quiet vineyard, just off a walking trail, to be our home for the night. The ground was a bit slanted (one reason not to camp in a vineyard, on its steep slopes!) but we were so tired we managed to sleep without any problems.