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Italy - Day 9 : Florence part 2

Because we had arrived late the day before, we decided to stay in Florence this morning. It wouldn't hurt to rest a bit. We walked to the center and arrived at the entrance of a museum, there was a row of statues of famous Italians. From there, we walked to the cathedral again. For 10 euros we bought tickets for the cathedral and bell tower. We climbed the 414 stair treads to the top of the bell tower, which didn't help to rest our legs. From the top, we had a nice view over the city and the cathedrals' dome, which was even higher.


View from the Campanile di Giotto

We climbed down the tower while our legs felt like spaghetti. Then we headed towards the baptistery in front of the cathedral.

Battistero di San Giovanni
Battistero di San Giovanni

In de Battistero di San Giovanni

Battistero di San Giovanni
Battistero di San Giovanni

After the baptistery we went back to the cathedral. There were two lines, one for going inside the cathedral, the other for climbing its dome. We picked one without knowing what it was for and were standing behind a Belgium family. The lady carried a spray can with cold air. We had never seen anything like it. It turned out our line was for going inside the church, which was very beautiful.

cathedral florence

Inside the cathedral

We queued in the other line. It was around 11:30 and getting hot. After half an hour, we had only moved 10 meters. After another half an hour we were only halfway. Suddenly, Bram remembered we needed to pay for the campsite before 1, so we decided to leave and head back. In the scorching heat, we packed our bikes and started cycling. To be honest, I wasn't really feeling it. In the mornings, it was at least cool when we left. The campsite was cheaper than expected.


We first needed to cross Florence before heading north. The roads were busy. At one point, we had to stop by the side of a road to strategize how best to cross. First, we needed to get on a bigger road, then immediately move towards the left lane, move into another road, and then take a right turn. Fortunately, because it was so crowded, the cars weren't driving very fast. We were happy to have made it out alive.

During the vacation, we increasingly often bought donut peaches to eat while cycling. They have some nice advantages: they are easy to eat, very juicy, and packed with sugar. As they are flat, they also easily fit in the back pocket of our cycling shirts. We each carried eight donut peaches and two bananas.

Today's route would be one long straight road towards Bologna. It wasn't very crowded, and the landscape was nice. We cycled north through a river valley. Halfway between Florence and Bologna we reached the highest point of the climb. That did involve a half an hour's climb. It was a nice one, not too steep, and included wide turns through the valley. We were a bit disappointed it wasn't a named mountain. That is always nice about cycling in France, every serious climb has a sign at the top.

cycling in italy

View from the climb

On top, we found a public water tap. There were a lot of those in Italy. At the following village, still high in the hills, we found a store selling all sorts of local products. We bought nectarines and wanted to buy bread. We pointed to two brown loaves of bread, and the lady looked confused. I think she thought we would never be able to finish them. The next day would be Sunday, so we needed an extra supply. We also bought two pieces of 'torte di mele', apple pie. From then on, it was mostly downhill until Bologna.

cycling in italy

View along the way.

We bought dinner at a supermarket. To consume some fat and protein, we bought a rotisserie chicken. We both nearly choked on the dry pieces of filet. I wanted to eat as much as possible because otherwise, I would regret it if I got hungry two hours later.

We had left the mountains. I told Bram, 'Now it will be flat until we reach the Brenner pass'. That would later turn out not to be 100% accurate. Around Bologna, it was flat, however. It was already 8:30, so we needed to find a place to sleep quickly. I preferred camping before reaching Bologna to avoid cycling through the city in the dark. We entered a side road, but that turned out to be the driveway of a farm. Before we realized we had cycled around the city anyway. 

Italy setting sun

The setting sun

We drove through a rural area with a few farms, most of which were abandoned. There weren't any good places to sleep. All meadows had prohibition signs, and we didn't want to camp in private areas. It took until nine before we found a good spot behind some bushes in a turn of the road. We had just pitched our tents when a plane flew over pretty low. Ten minutes later, the next one came, and ten minutes later, another. Apparently, we were close to the Bologna airport. I didn't sleep well this night.


The route of day 9


Height profile of day 9, which was essentially one huge climb.

Distance cycled : 133 km.

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