80km Pavia to Canonica d’Adda
We set a route straight north today, in our quest to get away from the muggy weather around the river Po and the hordes of mosquitos breeding in the region’s rice fields. This took us past the Certosa of Pavia, a monastery where we stopped to admire incredible marble front and thousands of sculptures. Then it was back on the road and soon we were cycling right through the heart of Milan, a classy city of business and fashion, at lunchtime. Perfect timing to sit down for a pizza and beer to celebrate Andrew’s birthday! Other than his midday treat, Andrew was put to work on his birthday, navigating us in and out of the city. If there’s one thing Friedel hasn’t developed on this trip it’s a sense of direction and the map reading is still left almost entirely to Andrew. Luckily for him the job wasn’t too hard because a canal towpath from Pavia runs into Milan’s centre and another canal took us out the other side in the afternoon. We normally avoid cities but Milan was one of the simplest to access on a bike thanks to the canals. To get from one to the other though we had to hit the cobblestone streets, bumping up and down as we tangoed with taxi drivers, trams and well-dressed bankers crossing the road in a hurry to get to their next meeting. It was a zoo! But, like London, the traffic moved relatively slowly so we were able to keep up with the pace, if not all the action going on around us. Halfway through we stopped at Piazza Doumo: the site of Milan’s cathedral and a fabulous covered arcade. We admired the gleaming white cathedral, or what we could see of it through restoration efforts, watched the young fashionable women catwalking their way across the square and – on a more practical note – finally bought a map of Italy. All our shopping done, and with the heat of the day starting to subside, we headed out the other side of Milan, cutting through the town of Gorgonzola (famous for its blue cheese) and finally finding a little chapel with a lawn where we could set our tent up for the night. We had been a bit worried about finding a spot, after seeing very little for a good 20km, but this spot came along just before dark.