Italy – Trieste to Venice (Day 1)
After an amazing week discovering the delights of Slovenia, we caught a train across the border into Italy to the nearby Mediterranean coastal city of Trieste, from where we planned to cycle along the coast for a few days (subject to the winter weather being kind) towards Venice.
Actually that wasn’t technically accurate, as the train stopped 5km from Trieste in Villa Opicina, which sits on the hillside high above Trieste. As it was cold, dark and pouring with rain we decided to stay there rather than in Trieste and, through a strange combination of events (too complicated and unlikely to document here) we ended up staying for 2 nights with the best Warmshower hosts “Nino and Jen’ we could ever have asked for. This also turned out to be a lucky break, as the ride out of Trieste involved a 16 percent gradient climb over several km and would have been very tough with full panniers.
So after the weekend’s foul weather had abated, we left Villa Opicina early on a very crisp but sunny Monday morning. Having been 3 weeks since our last serious cycling ended at the Black Sea we were a little nervous as to how our bodies (and particularly Vanessa’s knee) would cope with a full day in the saddle…but we needn’t have worried as the conditions today were perfect for bike touring.
We chose to follow secondary roads West towards the village of Duino. Although these roads had no bike lanes, the traffic was light and the scenery perfect, with the majestic, snow capped, Alps visible on the horizon ahead and to the right of us all day.
We were also pleased not to encounter any examples of Italy’s notorious uncompromising drivers.
Aided by a slight slope in our favour, we would venture to suggest that the morning’s ride was a piece of cake. We covered 40km in next to no time. The only issue being the loss of feeling in our hands, despite the gloves, as the temperatures struggled to get out of single figures.
In Duino we had hoped to visit the castle overlooking the coast but found it was closed and had to settle for a quick cycle around the walls and a photo
Back on the road we continued towards the coastal port of Grado. Somehow we missed the signs showing the start of the dedicated (Eurovelo 8) path that runs in a large loop along the coast towards Grado and instead took a slightly more inland route, joining the bike path 10km further along than we wanted but this probably saved us a little time and energy. The remaining cycle to Grado was really enjoyable and the bike path allowed us to take photos whilst riding and not worry about traffic
We stopped just before town to buy bananas (part of our daily diet when on the road) and ate lunch in the sun outside a Spar supermarket. Then we rode the remaining couple of km along the lake to Grado before switching to the Mediterranean side to get a look at the beachfront, which was strangely fenced off for a few hundred metres but then opened out to give a beautiful view over the Adriatic.
We stopped at a beachfront cafe for a warm drink and to contact our host for the night. Vanessa almost had a coronary when she read the text from our host saying that the causeway/bridge from Grado was closed to traffic, as this meant a 10km diversion. Whilst she finished her drink, Jon cycled the short distance to the bridge to check it out for himself and was mighty relieved to find that whatever roadworks had been taking place were finished and the bridge was open.
With the good news confirmed we set off north over the 5km long causeway linking the peninsula with the rest of the mainland, enjoying the bike path and scenery in all directions.
An hour later we had covered the distance to the ancient village of Aquileia and after a brief stop to warm up we rode the remains couple of km to the house of our hosts, as the sun was setting.
A chilly but enjoyable first day’s cycling in Italy.
Day 2 Aquileia to San Giorgio di Livenza
Waking up early due to a combination of dogs barking, children crying and the sun rising was what happened today. Sleep was had but not sure how much was quality REM zone.
Our hosts made us breakfast, but being hungry cyclists we ate both their breakfast and our own. We packed up and headed off at a not so early hour of 9am. The air was crisp and cold, with the temperature at around 7 degrees.
We back tracked to the bike path next to a Roman archeological site (2 weeks later we would have had our fill of roman architecture), snapped a photo or two next to a large arch, then headed off, as we were conscious that it starts to get dark at 4pm.
We followed Vanessa’s Mapsme most of the day, to avoid the major busy roads. This turned out to be a good choice, as we traveled through quaint towns, occasionally on bike paths but mainly on minor roads, through underpasses and cobbled streets.
We stopped for lunch in a small town square and ate quite quickly as it was very cold.
We had around 30km left on a long, quiet, straight road and just as you think things can’t get any more interesting…the universe throws you something to spice up your day up.
Vanessa spotted another bike rider from a distance, sat in a field by the side of the road. As we got closer, we became more and more intrigued. We waved and introduced ourselves. Julian explained that he’d been traveling for the past two years and was from Australia (Queensland). He also said that he had built his bike purely from things that he had found along the way and each night he would also build a shelter, wild camping pretty much 360 days out of 365. The bike had no chain but he propelled himself somehow. He was heading east in search of good weather (in our opinion, we think he may have left it a little too late). He had also cycled through Ireland and the UK. Interesting guy to say the least. We both wanted to stay longer and ask him some more questions but we had to keep moving before it got dark.
Reaching San Giorgio di Livenza, we searched for a cafe with wifi but had no joy. We settled for a local wine bar, without wifi and had tea whilst people watching for a while. Then Jon headed off in search of some accommodation. Unfortunately after, what felt like ages, he came back with no joy, but had spotted a perfect wild camping spot next to a football pitch. However, the only catch was that there were people still playing under floodlights, so we stopped at a pizza restaurant and ate an excellent family sized pizza each!
around 8.30pm we left and headed towards our camp spot. There were people still playing but on the other pitch. Which meant that there was enough light for us to pitch our tent and settle into a cosy night’s sleep.
Trieste to Venice (Day 3)
Unsurprisingly we slept far better in our tent than we had the previous night. Waking shortly after sunrise it was overcast but the tent was reasonably dry despite the overnight rain.
We discovered an undercover area next to the football pitch with table and benches and we sat there to eat breakfast whilst hanging the tent up to dry off the remaining dampness. The bonus was finding the men’s toilets also unlocked.
As we ate breakfast the predicted rain started, so we sat and waited a while for it to let up. We still had around 50km until Venice and the chances of getting there and staying dry looked slim. We also needed to come up with somewhere to stay, as we figured that you can’t pitch a tent in Venice and we’d had no joy from Couchsurfing or Warmshower hosts.
Around an hour later the rain had eased to drizzle. It was forecast to rain most of the day, so we hatched a plan to cycle to the town of San Dona Di Piave (21km), which had a train station and a shopping centre where we could likely get wifi and search for accommodation in Venice.
2 damp and very cold hours later we were sat in a food mall in San Dona Di Piave, where we drank the thickest hot chocolate imaginable and partly dried out, whilst booking a reasonably priced (not easy in the Venice region) bed for the night.
We then cycled the remaining couple of kilometres to the train station where we stuck our bikes on board for the last 25km to Venice