70km S. Stefano di Cadore to Amaro
If you cycle in Italy, you can almost count your distance by the number of roadside chapels and offerings to the Virgin Mary. In the Alps, when we first crossed into Italy, we saw a picture of the Virgin attached to a tree. More common are little shelters made of stone or wood with candles, flowers and a religious painting or statue. Many devote Italians put glassed in tributes on the corner of their home and tonight we camped behind a rather large chapel, decorated with huge iron gates and an oil lamp. It’s the second time we’ve set up for the night near a chapel as the land isn’t obviously private and they tend to be fairly quiet. Before we reached our resting spot, we spent the day cycling out of the last of the Dolomites, mostly downhill! Some rain slowed us down in the middle of the day and when we stopped for lunch we must have looked pretty funny to some of the passing locals as we drapped a tarp over a bench, tied one end to our bikes and sat underneath this tiny covered area to eat. From the outside it looked like little more than a green blob on the ground but to us it was a dry, warm place to have our meal, even if we had to crouch to fit inside our makeshift shelter! The rain gave us plenty of time to think about our next destination. We are now less than a day away from Slovenia and are excited to get out of western Europe, where so much is familiar to us. It will be the tenth country on our tour but the first land we really have no preconceptions about.