Some on a Vespa and some on a Graziella… to each his own symbol of the Italian summer. Except that touring Italy with a Graziella seems more like a punishment, or at least it seemed like it before seeing your smiling photos. Why did you decide to hurt your asses so much?
Last summer’s adventure was the first we lived on a Graziella but not the first we lived together. In the past years we have made other bicycle trips, to Majorca and Iceland; and it is precisely from this last adventure that the idea of the trip on a Graziella originated. What does Iceland have to do with a Graziella? Well, it will be much more fun to tell you about it orally, but let’s start by giving you some details!
As often happens, the encounters you make while traveling are special, you meet people with unique worldviews, which can frighten or fascinate. For us it was love at first sight, our meeting took place with an elderly French cycle traveler named Yannick!
This master of adventure has traveled by bicycle almost all over the world, but he seems like an ordinary naive and this thing has thrilled us. We met him at an Icelandic “gas station” with a beer in hand at 10 in the morning. He was wearing only a bathing suit. To the spontaneous question he replies: “it always rains here, we might as well wear a bathing suit!”. The explanation of why a beer at 10 in the morning was not necessary, however, it’s always the right time for a beer.
That day was fun, but once we said goodbye, as often happens when travelling, we left him behind, certain we would never meet him again. But Yannick is unpredictable and 10 days later we meet again, in an open space in the middle of nowhere. And if seeing him in a bathing suite was surprising, this time he had outdone himself, we couldn’t believe our eyes. On that occasion he explained his philosophy of life to us, at the time we hadn’t fully understood it, but a year later that vision has matured in us and translated into Italy with a Graziella.
Give us some numbers: what percentage of the trip did you do on the saddle, which on foot with the bike by hand and which while cursing?
We cursed for about 1500 km! The Graziella arrived only two days before the departure and consequently we didn’t manage to do some tests, we set off practically flying blind. We just tried a Graziella the evening before leaving, on the ascent behind the house and the technical commentary was: “Come on, I expected worse!”. Unfortunately we found out the truth only after the first real climbs of the trip, on the roads of the Ligurian Alps! Speaking of numbers: climbs of less than 5% we could do them on the saddle, but “zig-zagging” throughout the roadway to make it easier! When the gradients exceeded 6-7% we climbed long walks pushing the bikes by hand, but given the terrible pain in the ass, they weren’t even that bad! Altogether, there has been a lot of cursing.
The bicycles did not have a gearbox and the only gear present allowed us to proceed at a speed of about 18 km/h, after that we pedaled without load. In other words: uphill we pushed them by hand, on flat terrains we proceeded with embarrassing speeds and downhill we made the sign of the cross. But in the end those who go slow go far and day after day, these faithful companions have brought us all the way to Puglia! We traveled a few hundred km on dirt roads, crossed several fields and looked at some rivers.
We have to admit that riding on the dirt roads was a lot of fun!
It is said that when you go on a boat trip with friends, you end up getting into arguments. And with a Graziella?
Complicated subject. Surely staying really close for a couple of weeks is not easy. On the other hand, however, you enjoy the sea breeze while reading and observing the sea all day long!
In previous adventures we have learned that sometimes the reason there are disagreements is because of exhaustion and frustration more than the lack of personal space. Our journey was not mentally easy, we argued several times but having the certainty that, in one way or another, we would be able to find a solution, a compromise. We believe that problems and quarrels are normal in any relationship or group, especially when you spend every hour of the day next to each other and then you even start arguing about the color tone of a passing car! The strength of being in three lies precisely in the third person, who in turn becomes a mediator.
As on all our trips, we had some real arguments: from the mundane choice of what to eat for lunch, to the kind of experience we wanted to get from the trip. But fortunately in the end we found, as always, the balance that characterizes us.
Where are your mad mares sheltered now? Are you going to use them again?
If it were up to any of us, all three would be at sea off S.M. di Leuca. To return to the previous question, even the choice of what to do with the three Graziellas was a source of discussion!
Eventually, however, an agreement came out. A Graziella was donated to the “Cammini di Leuca”, routes to be taken on foot or by bicycle managed by the ecclesiastics of the abbey of S.M. of Leuca. Another one was donated to a private individual who we would define with one word as “enthusiastic”. So enthusiastic that he wanted to make a monument out of it! We couldn’t help but leave it to him.
The last one returned home with us, as a reminder of this trip that will remain forever, in one way or another, in our memory.
We can’t reveal the details in advance because then we would feel the pressure to do it! However, we can anticipate that this will be a winter adventure, we would like to try to combine cycling and skiing!
Carlo, Marco and Vittorio will be in Mantua with us…in the meantime if you want to know them better you should follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thisavventura/