The cycle to Italy was fun, I knew cheap accommodation was going to be a problem for the first few nights but I was too busy enjoying the downhill to care about much else. I arrived in the first town and stopped at the first café, the picture below is the result.
It was a fast easy cycle to Susa past the fortress at Exiles and I was early for the Ti opening. The woman was very helpful and pointed out that the place I intended sleeping had a gender restriction, luckily there was a place for those of us with a dangly collection of objects in our shorts. I met the chef who spoke excellent English and I managed to negotiate a more digestible price.
The woman at the phone shop spoke enough English for us to organise a new SIM with a DATA tariff and while eating at the kebab shop I used the WiFi for Skype, well until the woman playing annoyingly loud online slot machines stopped and switched off the WiFi.
It was only later that I was to realise that finding WiFi at cafés and bars would be a problem so my decision about the data tarrif was a good one, but UMTS coverage in Italy is patchy.
I wanted to spend the day at what is possibly the quietest place in Italy “Convento San Francesco” in Susa, but that wasnt possible. I decided I would have a short day and with help arranged a room in Avingliana which I was later to discover is probably the noisiest place in Northern Italy. Leaving Susa late, I stopped for lunch in Bussoleno, after cycling blissfully past returned to this excellent family run restaurant.
The food was with the exception of my soggy Milanese excellent. The Barbera was great, so great that I had a liter during the three hours I was there. The old bloke in the picture explained to me that they took the grapes off the vines, jumped up and down on the grapes, left them in open barrels for a while and then put it into the bottle, nothing added.
It was neither elegant nor sophisticated, it was simple, full bodied and delicious. As I was leaving, he gave me a bottle with me and I drank it to effect during my night at the noisiest place in Northern Italy.
Torino was a bit of a blur, I did meet two girls turning a map around and around, deciding they were tourists asked them where the Tourist Information was. They were English and did not have the faintest idea where they were. Their friend had given them the map which was missing the necessary “This way up” and “You are here” indications for them to be able to begin to comprehend it.
They asked what I was doing there and happy for the chance to speak English I loosely explained what I was doing. They did not believe me which was funny as Ella did not believe me either, I wonder if its the general English attitude, too much molly coddling from the state, too much defeatist attitude, another reason why Scotland has “GREAT” written across it on the map.
Anyway I was kind and made no comments about their inability to navigate one street away from the main train station, work out which was was UP on the map or know that sun-cream is a good idea when venturing out in a hot sunny country when you are a fair skinned blond from the Lancashire. I don’t know perhaps the big red swollen panda face was an intentional affectation, Im not upto date with fashion these days.
I spotted her after I took the picture and she said something to me in Italian, excusing my lack of ability with the language and immediately in English she said “Lets Go”! I am quite certain she is not a cycling fanatic and her intention was other than to accompany me on my journey.
I looked at her bursting out of the short skirt, blouse and torn fishnets and thanked her but declined the invitation. Sadly the road I was to follow for the next few days was heavily used by truckers avoiding the Motorway tolls, which meant there were lots of girls sunbathing in the most unusual locations. I suppose if the English stop at the side of the road to erect sun-loungers and drink tea from a flask, these girls are just as free to sunbathe.
The Tourist Information despite being cute were no help with accommodation and I headed out of the city along the river and wasted half the afternoon asking in holy places if they had a bed for me. I met one old institutionalised bloke who was just horrible, it may have had to do with the area, the region east of Torino is a horrible place but I doubt it. They grow rice and breed A-5 Vigilante styled mosquitoes. As the light was failing and I still had no where to sleep, I stopped in a small town just to marvel at columns of mosquitoes rising above a gardens, it was like a horror movie and I knew I did not want to camp.
I tried valiantly to find a room, during which time I met this guy on the left from Morocco and we went for a cycle together where he told me he knew of a cheap room, it turned out to be more of the magic number nonsense and so we had a drink at the bar before I headed off again.
Finally I arrived in Trino, where I knew I was going to be screwed for 35e (35Euro is currently the magic number for a crappy room in Italy). As I entered the town I passed a priest talking to a group of boys (this observation is innuendo free) and asked him if there was somewhere to sleep. He spoke a little English and our level of communication was good, asking about accommodation he took me to the 35e crap room possibility. Pushing my luck I told him it was too expensive and thats how I managed to spend the night in the orphanage.
As I was leaving the next morning a Nun asked if I would like some bread and I said if you have a little left from breakfast that would be great. She gave me two huge sandwiches filled with artery clogging sausage that I would never chosen in a million years and they were excellent as were the two apples thank you!