Naples - warts and all
Day 7: Terracina-Pimonte 105 milesIf I could have chosen a day to hop on a train and skip a bit of the ride, on paper today would have been it. I had read and heard bad things about Napoli and the thought of cycling through it filled me with dread.
But from a social point of view today was by far the most interesting.
We felt less sore this morning following yesterday's rest day and were keen to get pedalling early. We started riding out of Terracina at 0725 and made good progress, with the MurrayBrown Express (it should actually be the BrownMurray Express) back in business. It was reassuring seeing we weren't the only Lycra clad human beings. We saw plenty of peleton action on both sides of the main coastal road enjoying the first stretch South of Terracina, which was picturesque.
But after about an hour and a half of riding, it soon turned anything but pretty. We stopped for a quick coffee at a very old man's bar (two for 1.60 euros!) and pedalled on.
As we went through Mondregone and Castel Volturno it wasn't just the rubbish on the roadside and vile smells that troubled me. There were so many prostitutes in broad daylight waiting for business. Some of them were clearly already pregnant. It was so sad. I've just found this blog that tells you a bit more about the migrant situation in the area: http://www.migrantsmatter.org/blog/rosarnoand-then-assisting-victims-of-labour-exploitation-in-southern-italy
As our whole journey has shown so far, Italy is so different; around every corner there's a different smell or a different sound. No sooner had we passed migrant housing which looked like shanty towns, then we passed a few upmarket weddings on the coast.
And then we could see the city of Naples itself and the cobbles started!
Naples was mad and intense but thankfully quieter than I think it would have been mid-week. There were some stretches which reminded me of riding through Rusholme in Manchester at rush hour. Double parking, cars pulling out in front of you, cyclists coming towards you on the wrong side of the road. In Italian cities you also have to be aware of the dreaded moped riders who brush past so closely that you shake, or in my case tense up really badly.
By 3pm we had just about got through the madness but it still wasn't particularly pretty.
We had our gelato stop and pushed on towards Pompei. We nearly ended up on a motorway but thankfully realised quite quickly that we could carry on through Pompei, avoiding the motorway, before climbing up to Pimonte.
Dark clouds hung overhead as we turned off on the climb into the hills above Pompei. Then the thunder started. We had 8km to climb to finish the day.
Thankfully we made it to our hotel just as the heavens opened!
Today's food: coffee, yogurt, peach, cherries, bread and jam. Mid morning: espresso, chocolate croissant, 4 pieces Parmesan. lunch: pizza, lemon granita and wiggle haribo packet. Mid-afternoon: gelato.
And the hand!!