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Italy - Day 4 : Col de Lombarde and Italy

It had been warm the entire night. After breakfast we continued climbing right away. The road became less steep after a few kilometers. We cycled along a bright stream in a green valley.

col de lombarde

While climbing the col de Lombarde.

Besides the stream were some meadows and benches, on the other side was a herd of sheep and a shepherd.

Still early, but completely tired, we arrived at the ski-village Isola 2000. There was supposed to be a supermarket but we couldn't find the entrance anywhere. Eventually it turned out to be in a mall. I hadn't eaten enough the last few days and really started to notice it. From then on I tried to eat as much as possible. That will include (on top of our usual 4-5 meals) drinking orange juice instead of water and a peach every half an hour while cycling. 


From Isola 2000 it was still 5 kilometers to the top of the col. Bram arrived ten minutes before me and was clearly in better shape. The border between France and Italy was also there

col de lombarde

The border with Italy

Col de Lombarde, 2350 meter.

col de lombarde
col de lombarde
col de lombarde

View towards Italy

The view was quite nice, but the descent was even better. At first it wasn't that steep and we passed clear mountain lakes and grassy plains. The asphalt was in a good state. Later the road went down steeper and there were some wide turns. Then it got even steeper and we passed through a forest. The last part again consisted of a lot of hairpin turns and we ended next to a river.


Bram's Italian colleagues had already warned us that it would be impossible to cycle in Italy around this time of year, because it was too hot and moist. After our previous trip in Spain we could handle a lot, but they were not completely wrong. It felt like we were cycling through a sauna. At the first fountain we saw we got some more water and soaked our hats. Just like last time we had brought our tropical hats, which have a stretch of fabric at their back to prevent our necks from getting sunburned. The wet hats were good at cooling us, but had dried within 10 minutes.

We estimated that we might be able to reach to coast today, if the rest of the route would be flat. The first 20 km were indeed all flat or downhill. Around 2 o'clock we wanted to buy some more food, but all stores were closed until 3. In a small village we passed a fruit and vegetable store. Officially it was closed but there were a man and a women working. The guy asked "????? bisogno ???? verdure ???". We spoke zero Italian but understood that he asked if we wanted to buy vegetables. We were allowed to quickly buy a bottle of water and some fruit to keep the worst hunger at bay.


View along the way.

After cycling another hour in the heat we arrived at Vicoforte. The supermarket there wouldn't open for another half an hour so we sat down in a bar to drink Slush-puppie. It was a very small village with an enormous and very beautiful church, the "Santuario di Vicoforte". Around the church was a lawn and on one side a gallery with stores. By the time the supermarket opened we weren't hungry anymore.


The church in Vicoforte.

From there it was another 70 km to the coast. I remembered from planning the route that there was a large road running parallel to the highway and that both would merge and separate several times. A few times we were on the large road and then suddenly a sign would appear indicating bicyclists were no longer allowed because there would be a tunnel. Then we would have to back track, find the nearest alternative road, and climb over the mountain that the tunnel was going through. None of those times was there any sign indicating an alternative bicycle path, we just had to figure it out ourselves.


Around 5 we bought food at a Lidl. They sold surprisingly good cold mini-pizzas and pastries. We still had 40 km to go until the coast and then another 5 km until the campsite. Unfortunately the road wasn't flat anymore and we encountered some steep climbs. It started to get pretty late and we weren't getting closer to Savona fast, which was where we would reach the coast. During one of the last climbs we rode over a mountain ridge. We had a very nice view over the next ridge, where a highway was cutting through the mountain via a tunnel.

cycling near savona

View near the coast

The last few kilometers were all downhill. Eventually we arrived in Savona around 8 o'clock, while it started to get dark. The campsite we were aiming for was 5 km away. First we needed to cross the crowded center of the city and then follow a busy road where everyone was mixed together walking, cycling, and driving by car or motorcycle. The prices of the campsite were pretty steep, 13 euro per person and another 9 per tent. That would be 42 euros in total. After paying the owner walked us to our spot. It clearly wasn't an official spot, but rather a few square meters that were still empty. We could barely fit my tent, Bram's bivy bag and two bikes. Bram left to walk along the coast, while I went to sleep.

poetry in Savona

The man was reading a book

view from savona

View towards the sea.

At the end of the day I was really tired, but I started to get used to the heat. Suddenly, I heard someone shout 'bicycletta' and some other things. After Bram returned there were still all sorts of noises. I hardly slept, there were dogs, ambulances, crickets, and neighbours who went outside at 3 am to drink and then back inside to do some other activities.


Route of day 4


Height profile of day 4, near the end we climbed a lot more than it seems.

Distance cycled : 176 km.

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