Mon 29th July.
The first puncture.
I woke up early in the morning to the sound of something rubbing against something else every few seconds, bringing me out of sleep. I put off investigating for as long as possible, before being driven to get out of bed and see what it was.
My back tyre had picked up its first puncture and it hadn’t made itself known until now, at six in the morning. The sound was the pannier rubbing against the chair, slowly changing every few seconds creating a little squeak. My puncture-free streak had come to an end, it was like admitting mortality after a long run. I fully deflated it and went back to bed.
Us three boys had breakfast in the kitchen on the third floor of the house, with the doors open to the small balcony. We had toast and coffee and these tiny cookies that are unique to Italy.
During breakfast Luca told me about an alternative road to Bologna. It would take a bit longer, but is much nicer and free from traffic. He described the route and drew a basic map for me.
We all made our plans to go our separate ways for the day after I fixed my puncture. As I had suspected, the puncture was on the new tyre that was changed a few days ago. I fixed it and re-inflated in Luca’s garage, knowing it would probably cause me more problems in the near future.
Luca’s grandmother and sister came down to see us off and we took some photos to commemorate the occasion. With that I was off for Bologna.
Luca’s route took me through good cycle lanes with good views and some vineyards. In the distance I could just about make out the Alpi Aupane mountains, near the coast.
I passed through another town called Spilamberto for a coffee and a pastry and had a cycle around the town.
Lambrusco is known as a cheap type of alcohol in England and not usually a drink of sophistication. But when Luca mentioned it was a popular local drink, it sparked some interest and a different mode of thought. Luca gave Lasse and I a bottle of sweet red lambrusco to try on our travels. A dry version of the drink was available, but that was popular among his grandparents.
There was a restaurant on the outskirts of Bologna that to quote Luca “Served the best Bolognese in Bologna and therefore the best Bolognese in the world”. He said his parents always went there whenever the visited the city and had done for years. With such high accolades from the family and curious to try the regional speciality, I made sure I would find it.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I couldn’t believe my luck in finding it so easily, but then all was extinguished, as it was shut for refurbishment. I would have to return another time.
I went into the centre of the city and was astonished by another masterpiece of a city. The cultural riches of Italy. In the centre was a huge fort made of red stone with thirty metre high walls.
I didn’t have a place to stay, so before I could enjoy the city I had to figure out where to stay. I considered camping outside the city, but it would mean being in the city with the bike all day, a lot of stress and a bad nights sleep. I decided to take a room.
I went to a hostel but when I got there it was full. After a few hours of looking for places, I was ready to give up and leave. I tried one last B&B that had an affordable room for the night at €30. I took the room without hesitation and was glad to have a bed for the night and to see the city properly.
The B&B was quite creepy as nobody seemed to be staying there. There were no windows in the corridor so regardless of time of day, it was always pitch black without the lights on. I didn’t spend long there before heading out.
I walked up, down and around the city. I had a perfect carbonara at a nice restaurant called ‘Il Moro’, then continued my search around the city.
Next to the fort I found a large open-air cinema with seats out, ready for the nights festivities. I found a programme which revealed the French film on that night. I had nothing else today and would’ve relished the pleasure of a film. Tomorrow was the final night of the festival and they were showing Werner Herzog’s ‘FITZCARALDO’. A film I’d wanted to so see for years.
I fancied another day there, to unwind, write and see more of the city. Seeing ‘Fitzcaraldo’ on the bill instantly concreted that choice. I went back to my room, got the lambrusco and came back and sat down to watch the film. I couldn’t have been happier.
The film was set in Marseille and had Italian subtitles which made for some fun learning.