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Italy - Day 4 : Col de Lombarde and Italy

It had been warm the entire night. We continued climbing directly after breakfast. 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 many 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 reach the 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 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 a man and a woman were 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.

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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-puppies. It was a tiny village with an enormous and magnificent church, the "Santuario di Vicoforte". Around the church was a lawn and a gallery with stores on one side. By the time the supermarket opened, we weren't hungry anymore.

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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 backtrack, find the nearest alternative road, and climb over the mountain 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 five, 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, where we would reach the coast. During one of the last climbs, we rode over a mountain ridge. We had a lovely view over the next hill, 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, when 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 campsite prices were pretty steep, 13 euros 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
savona

View towards the sea.
 

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, 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 neighbors who went outside at 3 am to drink and then back inside to do some other activities.

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Route of day 4

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Height profile of day 4, near the end we felt we climbed a lot more than it seemed based on the elevation profile


Distance cycled : 176 km.

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