Video Length: 10:50

It’s really hot in August in Italy

We cycled into Italy from Switzerland, then rode south as far as Tuscany before heading across to the coast and into France.

We regularly found ourselves cycling in temperatures in the high 30’s (around 100 for you fahrenheiters) and it occurred to us that on days like that at home we wouldn’t consider getting the bike out of the shed, let alone ride 70km.

We ended up setting the alarm for early in the morning so we could knock off as many kilometres as possible before about 10am, when the sun would start to fry us alive.

We’d spend the rest of the day on endless searches for water fountains. Gasping with the heat of it all, we’d fill our water bottles, wet our heads and soak our clothes.

I also wet a sarong and draped it over my head and arms, which lasted for about 5 minutes before it vaporised.

August is Holiday Season in Italy

August is the height of holiday season in Italy, so we rode through some parts of Italy where many businesses were closed, then we arrived at the coast and there they all were!

It seemed that all of Europe was clustered on the beaches, which were not at all like the beaches we Australians are used to. You don’t just rock up with your bag of stuff and find a nice spot.

The beaches along the Mediterranean coast are covered in neat lines of umbrellas and you must pay to use them. We found one ‘free’ beach, a narrow section about 5 metres wide squeezed in between the commercial sections. It was mental.

Given the choice, we’d plan this tour in one of the months either side of August to avoid both the heat and the crowds.

Italy is old!

Even though we went at the hottest, busiest time, we loved Italy.

It’s a pretty big deal for us to meet people living in houses that were built many centuries ago. It puts things into perspective from a historical point of view.

Sprawling cities and busy freeways can make it feel like Australia has always been this way, but in fact it’s only a couple of hundred years since our country was first invaded by white man.

Italian villagers had been going about their daily business for many centuries by the time that happened.

Our Route

We entered Italy from Switzerland at Como, then went:

Como
Milan
Reggio Emilio
Bologna
Castel del Rio
Borgo San Lorenzo
Levane
Cortona
Orgia
Casole d’Elsa
Pontedera
Avenza
La Spezia, Cinque Terre
Genova
Carcare
Mondovi
Caraglio
Ventimiglia

We rested for a week in Cortona, housesitting in a fabulous old monastery. Apparently it was over a thousand years old.

This video exists because of Johnny

We cycled through Italy in August 2017, yet we’re publishing this video in February 2019.

Cycling through Italy was part of a bigger adventure, and we’ve already made videos about the other segments:

Buying a secondhand bike in London

25 hours on a bus from London to Switzerland 

Cycling over the Swiss Alps damn near killed me

94 year old Granny – “I’m the most ungangsta person in all the world”

The Italy segment happened right after the Swiss Alps, before the housesit in France with the 94 year old gangsta granny.

Editing the Italy video had been on my ‘To Do’ list forever but I’d been too busy with work to get to it. Then one day, in the No Small Creator (#nosmallcreator) Facebook group, a guy named Johnny James Jamrock offered to edit videos for other creators. He wanted to improve his editing skills.

I jumped at the chance and sent him a choice of 5 videos from my ‘To Edit’ list. He chose the Italy adventure so I set about narrowing hundreds of clips to ‘just 119’, yielding 22GB of data that I had to somehow transfer to him.

We drew up an agreement which clarified our expectations and Johnny set to work.

I was rapt with the outcome. Johnny perfectly captured the essence of a great adventure – two Australians cycling through Italy in the height of summer, dealing with the heat but having a blast anyway – seeing the sights, camping in the wild and enjoying each other’s company.

Johnny and I enjoyed working together so much we’ve started talking about collaborating on some commercial projects, which would be a pretty great outcome from a whimsical offer in a Facebook group.

You can stalk Johnny here:

Johnny’s YouTube channel 
Johnny’s Facebook page

Johnny’s Instagram

Thank you to the people that put us up

We mostly wild camped on this tour, with the very occasional Airbnb or hotel.

Some of the best nights were when we stayed with hosts from the Warm Showers organisation. Two that particularly stood out were Marco in Castel del Rio, who had the keys to the town and gave us a private night time tour of all the attractions, and Enrico from Borgo San Lorenzo. The scene where Cam buys gelato was at Enrico’s local. You can hear him laughing when Cam tries to say ‘limone’.

We also stayed with our good friends Leslie, Piero and Sofia in Orgia. Piero is an amazing cook so we enjoyed wonderful Italian meals at their house.

We visited an old school friend, Elena, and her partner Domenico, in Caraglio. The ride away from the coast and up into the mountains was totally worth it because I swear the best food I have ever eaten was at their house. Domenico is a magician. That’s him in the final few seconds of the video, learning to say ‘salad’ in Australian by holding his nose to get the proper nasal inflection.

Fun times. 10/10 would do again.

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Exquisite detail on roof of church