Actually, I should have been traveling to new countries somewhere at the other end of the continent already long ago. However, a couple of broken fingers prevented me from resuming my Bikepacking Europe project back in January. Instead I should stay at home until April and let my hand heal. But that was a bit too much for me, so I got back on the saddle in mid-February and set out to find the most beautiful cities, beaches, villages and landscapes in Italy and, as an additional mission, tried to find the best pizza in the country.
In 13 days I cycled through four countries (Switzerland, Italy, Vatican and San Marino), climbed 2 highest mountains (Vatican State and San Marino), visited three capitals (Vatican, San Marino and Rome), covered 2350 kilometers and 30'000 meters of altitude, slept mostly outside and found probably the best pizza in the world in Rome.
A few highlights were:
-The first sunrise at Lake Lucerne on the bike (after a much too long injury break).
-Ticino (which is almost as beautiful as Italy)
-Como (there is also bad pizza)
-Milan (already on the first day)
-Genoa (and having reached the Mediterranean Sea on the second day)
-Portofino (and spending the night under a boat in the local harbor because it rained)
-Cinque Terre on the Mediterranean (with the many beautiful colorful houses, completely without tourists)
-Lucca (the beautiful city where you can ride a bike on the city walls)
-Pisa (and the leaning tower, almost without tourists)
-Florence (the beautiful capital of Tuscany with the impressive Duomo)
-Tuscany (with the countless rolling hills and vineyards)
-Siena (a beautiful city in Tuscany)
-Viterbo (another beautiful city with not much to add)
-Rome (with a spontaneous private tour, see exciting insights and best food from a real hellebardier from the Swiss Guard)
-The Vatican (and the visit to the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, the highest point of the Vatican)
-Spoleto (very beautiful city)
-Assisi (very beautiful city)
-Perugia (very beautiful city, capital of Umbria)
-a beautiful sunset on the highest mountain in San Marino (Monte Titano, just 739m high)
-a night on the beach in Rimini (after the second pizza in the restaurant the owner gave me a homemade panetone to take with me)
-Ravenna (very nice city, unfortunately it rained)
-Venice (with the endless alleys and canals, on a rainy morning completely without tourists)
-when someone who saw me camping in the countryside called the police, who alerted the landowner to my presence and he then wanted to give me honey and olive oil (very sympathetic farmer, very unsympathetic person who called the police)
-Verona (very nice city, in the middle of the night)
-Lake Garda (biggest and most beautiful lake in Italy with many wonderful villages and the best ice cream)
-Madonna di Campiglio (in the middle of the night)
-Passo di Tornale (with lots of curves, in the middle of the night)
-Val di Sole (wonderful mountain landscapes, unfortunately in the rain)
-shortly before midnight at -18°, wind gusts over 100km/h and fierce snowstorm on the Bernina Pass (rather uncomfortable, not recommended...)
-the subsequent invitation for a warm night in Pontresina (in the basement of the restaurant, almost like in a hotel)
-the adventurous ride over the snow-covered Julierpass (rather uncomfortable, pass rides with the road bike are rather not recommended in February...)
But finally all the beautiful, perhaps less known places in between, the incredibly tasty food everywhere, the spontaneous invitations, all the lovely people when the sun came back after the bad weather or the fact that there were hardly any tourists on the road.
Once again I came home with the realization that the simple life on the bike is incredibly profitable and enriching on so many levels.
Now I'm trying to get my hand completely fit again, to do and prepare everything that is still necessary, to plan and organize, to optimize my material even more, to stay a few days in Saas Fee and then to tackle the remaining 40 countries in March highly motivated in 5 months. If everything goes reasonably well, I am firmly convinced that I will be able to do all the countries before I graduate.
As always, the best way to follow my adventures is on Instagram, where there are daily photo and video updates.
Adventurer and athlete, soon bikepacking through europe, climbing the highest mountain and visiting the most beautiful cities in every of the 47 countries!