Good morning robot shower! As the host collected my payment he replied, “Sconto,” and handed me an *extra* 5 euro with the change. This brought the total amount paid for the room exactly to the advertised price with annoyance free of charge. Nice guy.
No way! This place seemed pretty poor on infrastructure and they have a paved riparian path for over 20km. Wow! I ran into half a dozen other cyclists and many more stroller pushers and granny walkers. The path took me foggily along the river and intermittently switched to crushed limestone. The fat tires rolling beneath me reminded me that I used the right bike.
The path spat me out at the historic Bevagna town center. There’s a cool dam here. On my way out of town, I lost the path but eh, I had fun while it lasted. I tried to recapture il Ciclabile by intuiting its nearness to the river. But unforch, this led me to a dead end. Whoops! It was a beautiful detour that got me stuck behind a flock of sheep. Worth it!
On to Spello, where I had a lunch of well dressed pizza and gelato. I ate it in the historic square with a triple arch and a bell tower with an olive tree growing from the top.
On my way through another small town I found a bike shop for some air.
While there, I asked if the mechanic could look at the nut holding my saddle level. In the past two days every bump slowly tilted my seat until it was set at a hilariously jaunty (painful) angle and I had to pull over to cajole it back into position. He frowned at this goofy bike, reached into his shop apron for the wrong tool, touched it to the nut and with a tone of doomed finality, said something I didn’t understand. Thanks.
All morning I had time to decide whether or not to visit Assisi.
It’s known as a well preserved example of some very old architecture and reputedly stunning views. It’s also a kilometer higher than the main road. In the spirit of a man I encountered in Kentucky who said, “If you’re in a hurry, you should’ve taken a plane,” I chose to climb Assisi.
It wasn’t that bad.
I took the back road with more curves and less tour buses. In an hour or so I made it around all the switchbacks and surmounted the peak. I drank in the view,
and gasped in the air.
Great, now it’s just a straight shot down into the valley and up again into Perugia. The hour climb was a ten minute descent. Whoo!
The valley proved to be heavily industrial and considering I passed through during rush hour the traffic was predictably ensnaring. The road I chose ran parallel to the Autostradale or expressway where motorists roared by at over 130km per hour. I guess my path can’t always be shockingly beautiful.
Assessing my map where the valley began to ascend I made a decision to climb with Via San Girolamo. It looked simple and direct into Perugia’s city center. This straight shot proved to be too straight. No turns while climbing means the road is steeper. I climbed back up nearly a kilometer vertically within a five km distance. Hnng!
Perugia is not only the biggest city in the region, but also host to a few colleges, cultural centers and UNESCO sites. There were plenty of stunning vistas for my oxygen deprived brain. This higher population density also meant that for the first night, I had arranged a stay with a host within the cycling community. Awesome. We arranged to meet in the main piazza at 5:30. I’m wearing red pants and reading a book. I’ll be easy to find, right? Nah. There are thousands of other people swarming the square and plenty of them have trousers of various red shades. I don’t know what my host looks like. My communication is dependent on spotty public wifi.
Two relaxing hours pass with people watching, book reading, and wine drinking. But I never connect with my host. Oh well, I check in at a cheap hostel for the night and have a great dinner of pasta al Cinghiale (wild boar), orzo salad, and truffle gelato. Mmm-mmm, good! ‘Round bedtime I’m checking emails and connecting with the folks back home when I see a message from my host. Where Are YOu!
Sorry, dude. I tried.
I stayed two nights in Perugia and took the opportunity to really explore the town. Although the twisting streets appear to date from the 1300s, the entire city was redesigned by M.C. Escher in the 1959.
Or at least it felt that way to my belabored legs. Every surface was slightly tilted, wet, or crumbling. To walk the distance of a city block I often had to scale the equivalent of two flights of stairs. No wonder everybody here is in such great shape!
I soundly asleep in my hostel that night.