We spent two days in Milan getting ready for the trip. We picked up bikes from the Italian Trek dealer in the beautiful town of Bergamo, just north of Milan. We did the touristy things – the Duomo (stunning pink marble that I’m sure was black when I saw it in 1990), the Leonardo di Vinci science museum and just pootling around a beautiful Italian city.
The weather stayed very hot. It was cool until about 11:00 and then would really heat up. I know we’re Australians and should be able to stand this heat but it was really knocking us around. I was very pleasantly surprised that people actually said things and asked questions in phrases that I’d learnt. I can do this language thing! We had a very funny episode in a fruit shop were I did my usual mispronunciation of ‘sch’ and asked for fish instead of nectarines…. The fruit vendor laughed and we explained we were Australians. The conversation then turned (in Italian) to kangaroos putting bread and marmalade into their pouches (???!!!) – I get the feeling there will be many kangaroo conversations. I’m very glad I learnt some Italian for the trip. I’m not proficient by any stretch of the imagination but I can do the basics and it’s quite satisfying to be able to do that.
The food – maybe I just ate rubbish food when I was here last but we’ve both been blown away by how good everything is. The fruit is amazing – the grapefruits are so juicy and sweet, the strawberries are so tasty, the nectarines are perfect at the moment – it’s heaven! We’ve eaten out a lot and every meal has been great – just little restaurants with simple menus.
Our first experiences of riding the bikes have been fine. We’ve both ridden on the wrong side of the road before so that bit wasn’t a problem. It was the reputation of the Italian drivers that we were a bit nervous about. I have to say that our experience so far is that they are infinitely more courteous towards to bikes than in Australia (not hard really…). The traffic just seems to flow, not always obeying the road rules - traffic lights seem to be more of a guide than a restriction.