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#laketolake begins today: the story

Laketolake: the story of a bike trip to discover 4 European lakes.

Published on Varese News every day as a microblogging during the summer 2017

01 Bressanone>Bolzano about 50km

I state that this is not the story of an extreme bike trip, but simply a diary of a privileged observer who firmly believes that the bicycle is a wonderful exploratory tool and who writes to convey it.

An instrument, in fact, with which beauty is touched more easily because one is exposed. Pirsig wrote speaking of traveling by motorbike "If you go on a motorbike holiday, things take on a completely different aspect. In the car you are always in a passenger compartment; you are used to it and you do not realize that everything you see from that window is but a extra dose of TV. You are a passive observer and the landscape passes you boringly past you in a frame. In motion, the frame is no longer there. You have complete contact with everything. You are no longer a spectator, you are in the scene"

It's wonderful to ride a motorbike: it's pure enjoyment (as dear Saffi would say). The bike has one advantage: it allows you to go through places in silence and listen to them. It's a way of traveling where you don't break any balance.

I was's not a story of an extreme journey and today is the example: from Bressanone (we've already changed plans) to Bolzano it's all downhill and on a dedicated cycle path.

We (plural because I'll spend the first 3 days with a friend) practically spent the day on the train and the bikes were left hanging in the bike rack. In Verona, however, they didn't let us get on the train with the bikes :"all full". Destiny decided for us: my temporary travel companion got confused and bought a ticket for Bressanone so we decide to take the next train and stop earlier. Today it's all downhill along the Isarco between vineyards, apple orchards and castles. The narrow valley has two faces: towards the south we always see the shadier and wooded face, but looking around the landscape changes and the forests give way to meadows and urban agglomerations that face the sun. The cycle path has the flavor of an environmental compensation work: we are trapped between infrastructures: river, motorway, road and railway. Luckily, we travel many sections along abandoned railway tracks and the feeling of entering and exiting the tunnels is wonderful and offers details of a mountain excavated and held in concrete never seen with a train much faster than us. We stop in Bolzano which is beautiful, but the feeling is that of being beyond the borders.


Maybe everyone doesn't know that to buy a ticket from Bressanone to Brennero you have to be in the province of Bolzano. We would like to know who thought of this thing and why. We fall asleep with this doubt ... See you tomorrow

Day 02 Bolzano>Rovereto 81km △416m

We start the day with a tour of the contemporary architecture of Bolzano. Let's explore the northwest area near the castle between impenetrable apple orchards (where perhaps they are afraid that their apples will be stolen) and social housing.

We leave Bolzano and until Trento nothing strikes us, except for a delicious sandwich with salted meat and a glass of Teroldego and (obviously) a taste, directly from the vine on the edge of the cycle path, of the grapes from which it comes.

Today everything is flat along the river and the only climb we face is to S.Michele in search of a church, which unfortunately we find closed, but with a very appreciable facade. In Trento we meet Mariachiara, a friend who brings us a bottle of chilled wine and a tart as a welcome (how can you not love her already?).

We leave Trento and along the way to Rovereto we talk a lot about the meaning of a cycle path and the difference between travel and tourism. Traveling on a cycle path protected and with indications of where you're going is nice, but I have the feeling that I'm traveling "among" things and not "in" things. The cycle path is separate and protected: it's a bike-friendly road (there's even a bike-grill!!) and to access the world you have to leave this infrastructure.

Before Rovereto we meet the beautiful castle of Beseno and I naively ask myself: "if humanity had built such an artifact in 2017 would we have considered it beautiful and sensible or an eco-monster?". I lie down in the beautiful garden of the Rovereto hostel and think about it...see you tomorrow


Speaking of beauty: today I discover that the roses in front of the vines are not decorative but they are useful. The rose gets sick before the vine and acts as an alarm signal for the growers. Otto wagner said (perhaps looking at the vine roses in Vienna?) that there is no beauty without functionality.

Day 03

Rovereto>Mozambano 76km △586m

Today the cycle path is wonderful because it has completely changed: we are immersed in the vineyards on roads that seem to have been traced on ancient work routes that pass by villages and pre-existing structures. This change takes place right from the town called Marco (yes, there is a town in Trentino called Marco!): (my friend) Marialisa and I would say: "this is being connected", my travel companion, instead, he talks to me about Jung and synchronicities (you can go deeper because I can't explain it better). Today we have become great supporters of cycle paths (well designed) and we stop, to commemorate, at a bike grill in front of the Avio castle to sip a good bianchino (perhaps we are exaggerating with glasses of wine, but in this area it is really difficult not to take advantage of it ).

Even today everything is flat: the only climb is to get to the fort of Rivoli where a spectacular view of the valley that we have just traveled opens up. The border between Austria and Italy passed right here and when the Piedmontese conquered Rivoli they changed the disposition of the cannons which from that day on should have fired towards the north, towards the Austrians, those who had built the fort, which has shown considerable malleability, despite the size and its apparent rigidity.

Finally the first lake: Lake Garda. We go to Bardolino (and down another glass. We couldn't resist that beautiful ruby color of Bardolino).

We arrive as far as Peschiera almost always passing by the lakefront and beaches reflecting on the density of foreigners and the low quality of the spaces and relationships with the lake.

At one point we come across a campsite near Caneva World and we get lost between via Belluno, via Novara, via Mantova and the endless number of cars registered D, A and NL. Finally we find the exit and we are in Peschiera with a beautiful center formed in the confluence between the lake and the river Mincio. We take the Eurovelo 7 to Mantua and enjoy the very green color of the river and the shade of the ancient rows of vines for too little time. We are in Mozambano and from tomorrow I am alone.


From tomorrow my impressions and my thoughts will flow free without a filter because I will no longer have anyone to refine them with while pedalling. We talked together with my travel companion about how to activate relationships with the outside ... and therefore I leave you the email or you can write here if by chance you want to interact

Day 04

Mozambano>Treviso 153km △862m

Alone I like to leave at dawn. I leave the Mincio with its green waters that mix with the pinks of dawn, in the direction of Verona. From today I pedal with 48/11 (the longest ratio of my bicycle) because the km are becoming many and I have to speed up the pace compared to these first 3 days.

In Verona I stop for 5 minutes, just enough time to load up on fruit and see Castelvecchio. Immediately afterwards the hills of Soave begin. I deviate, I get lost and in the end I go up to the castle. I'm up now, I took the wrong road and decide to go up again: a marked path intrigues me. I trust and go, even if the dirt road becomes a narrow cobbled street, beautiful in the middle of the vineyards, but deadly because it has an unbearable slope. I feel like I have the bike upright, I have a mountain bike (the shortest ratio), I pedal standing up, but the bike doesn't want to go up. After a lot of hard work (which I could have saved myself) I am rewarded with an incredible view. After every ascent there is a descent and in addition here too bunches of grapes to no end. I don't feel like a thief because it is known that (I'm being ironic) screwing on the road is collective. My grandfather had a garden where they always stole his vegetables. Instead of building walls, he began to cultivate a collective roadside garden so that people could draw from it to avoid disasters in the real garden (what poetry!!!). I avoid Vicenza and go up to the Berici mountains: zero cars and crazy scenarios.

The real goal today, however, are the Venetian villas (Palladian and otherwise). It's just a taste, because I don't have time to visit them, but above all I don't feel at ease: I'm sweaty and without underwear. (An explanation is needed: not everyone will know that bike pants with seat pads are worn without underwear...yes, I sounded strange to me too, but they are super comfortable). Villa Piovene/Godi, Contarini, Cornaro, Cà Marcello are one after the other along the Ostiglia/Treviso cycle path: a beautiful cycle path created on the site of the abandoned railway and moreover, it is all in the shade. The shadow is a pleasure that allows me to continue pedaling even during the hours of crazy heat. This cycle path is not a pure infrastructure on the edge, even if separated and protected, but a place of crazy meaning.

I arrive in Treviso that I have never seen. Beautiful with its arcades and canals. I stop to write in a small bar which is certainly not a hipster place (indeed) but has a small balcony overlooking the wonderful canal and I wonder why I'm the only person who takes advantage of it.


How can I miss that I have gps? I have gps in my phone, I also decided the route at home by interpolating data from google street maps, open street map, open cycle map, altitudes etc. I get lost because I let myself be intrigued by what I find, by the points of interest I have marked and by the heat of the moment. It's getting lost in order to find yourself! But above all it is a necessity to save battery that if it runs out nothing but find yourself!

Day 05

Treviso>Pliskovica 140+40(train) km △777m

I love Venetian villas because they are rural. I'm writing from a hostel in Slovenia which is a former farmhouse and what I've just written seems like an exaggeration. But it is so! The Venetian villa was an economic reference center for agricultural activities in the area. Obviously the Venetians who became farmers do things with style and dot the countryside between Verona and Treviso with jewels. I like Venetian villas because they make up the landscape: they create relationships with their surroundings. In Varese the villas are a private matter (I await denials and the Varese landscape festival in which some Varese villas will be opened to the public). The landscape, however, is a collective fact: everyone does it, from the gentleman who takes care of the flowerbed in front of the house, to the farmer who cultivates a field with love, etc. All practices that generate spaces and forms. By closing ourselves in our enclosures we have stopped a dialogue with the surrounding environment and this closure has caused, in my opinion, the loss of meaning, of identity, etc. reading by E.Turri "Villa veneta. Agony of a civilization").

It's early in the morning and I'm walking across the Treviso plain reflecting on the private/public theme (I miss my travel companion who would have had many things to say on this subject). To avoid the very bad roads I'm encountering and seeing no alternatives, I get on the train in Portogruaro and quickly arrive in Friuli. I follow the cycle path to Aquileia, with its archaeological remains and magnificent basilica, and head towards the sea.

Grado is connected to Aquileia by a thin strip of land surrounded by water.

I stop for a second to see the city and a brutalist building ( that I marked myself and I'm off quickly towards Trieste. I ride along a cycle path between the lagoon and the sea and arrive in Monfalcone. From here begins the delirium: the only road is the SS that I am forced to travel for about ten km between cars and discomfort. Luckily I take a detour immediately and immerse myself in the karst following very stony country roads. I cross the border and feel like a smuggler with my military green bike and full bags and I think of my friend Stefano Beghi and his show on borders. On the karst I meet another cyclist and we pedal a stretch on foot between villages and vineyards. He tells me that his dream would be to trace a cycle path between Monfalcone and the castle of Miramare. He tells me "here we are squeezed between the mountains and the sea, but we have phenomenal biodiversity". I believe it and taste the grapes to find out if there is a difference between Italian grapes and Slovenian grapes. Pliskovica is full of vines in both private and public space...and I eat!


In Slovenia I begin to feel like a foreigner: the language is incomprehensible, with a fascinating but unpronounceable sound. I try to learn, looking at the green karst hills lying on a beach, at least 3 words, but I see it hard! ... jutri


After eating I feel less foreign. I found a little place (the only one open in the surrounding area): a biodynamic farmhouse that is also cheap. A small courtyard that reminds me of those taverns in the Kalembherg in Vienna and I dream of such a place at Gurone's Mills...Casamatta...good night...zzz...

Day 06

Pliskovica>Idrija 57km △1829m

I get up late (I thought it was a short and easy stage) and have breakfast at the hostel, a set of old houses which, I'm only reading now, have recovered with EU money. Cute, with rusty bicycles around, Ikea cabinets, etc., it follows the somewhat unifying trend to which we are now accustomed. So I feel like pedaling thinking about beauty: what is beautiful? In my opinion, beautiful is something that manages to extract all the meaning of a place, to exploit its unique peculiarities, that is, if it is capable of being unique and authentic. This applies to landscapes, but also to people. In Slovenia, as far as I have been able to see so far, many things are beautiful because I feel they are authentic and not just a copy and paste of globalizing references: the structures that support the vines are beautiful and also the vines that shade the city along the pergolas, the succession of villages with all-white bell towers that emerge from the green Slovenian hills is also beautiful.

(sorry for the philosophic supercazzole, but you can't beat them! I no longer have my travel companion and I don't want to let the thoughts produced by pedaling evaporate...maybe we continue offline in front of a beer which is better).

Cycling in Slovenia is pleasant: there are no cars and the roads are well-maintained. The itinerary, between my two places to stay overnight, is not a marked route, but a labyrinth of roads and narrow streets that allow me to climb that infinite succession of ridges and see some monasteries and villages that I had marked for myself.

It gives me a crazy feeling of freedom pedaling among the endless climbs and viewpoints in the middle of the forests (51% of Slovenia is covered by forests). These are difficult roads to travel with other means and I feel lucky: they are sensations that cannot be bought at the supermarket.

All this zigzagging would have been really difficult without GPS because the itinerary I've chosen is dotted with some stretches that are unmarked paths and that occasionally make me wonder: "but who made me do it?" (Like a 2km rocky climb that forced me to walk and drag my bike with the astonished faces of hikers). But in the end it always pays off! Slovenia doesn't offer all the emergencies I've been used to in Italy up to now, where there is something every 100m (I'm also talking about little shops), but what they have available they know how to make people appreciate. I am writing, in fact, lying in a hammock that I have placed next to the Gačnic waterfalls: they are nothing extraordinary, they remind me of the Marmitte dei Giganti in Velate, the air is fresh and the sound is perfect for writing.

Today I sleep on top of Mount Hudournik at about 1100 (to think that yesterday I was at 0) in a beautiful and authentic farm: old but well-kept rooms, small details that make the difference and kind people to welcome me. Whoever conceived this place can see that he has a look at the world but then acts well locally in an authentic way (think global, act local). I'm glad I climbed these mountains to go to Bled. I rest while waiting for the lavish dinner on the farm. There will be a need because tomorrow will be the most extreme leg of the journey! Nasvidenje


During a climb today I met some motorcyclists who gave me the thumbs up to encourage me... we understand each other between two wheels!

Day 07

Idrjia>Ljubljana about 160km △2566m

I'm exhausted. Today is a really extreme stage with about 10h spent on the saddle.

I get up at dawn and leave the farm. Valeria, the owner, cooked me a chicken pie (I didn't have much choice and I trusted her) never tried, but very good. In practice, two pieces of chicken, flour, cheese, etc. are placed in a casserole, so as not to lose the meat juices that soak into the cake when cooked in the oven. A perfect caloric bomb for the ride that awaits me.

I start in the woods at 530: freezing cold and I see little. As soon as I get to the top, the sun rises and a crazy view of the mountains opens up, which I'll have to overcome. From this first peak I descend quickly along a clean white road where it feels like surfing (I should have asked the Gravity Bike Lab guys for advice) My bike has quite adequate wheels, but I inflated them to the maximum to be more agile and I spray stones everywhere. I hope I haven't killed any fawns. I meet many of them and even one in particular, during a climb, waits for me, then jumps a couple of meters, then again (ok, I understand that he wins in the woods uphill, but what need was there to make fun of me?).

After an hour of meadows, breathtaking descents, dirt roads and deer, I meet the Idrica river where it is incredibly cold and the clouds gather. They are in the middle of the Slovenian Alps between the ski lifts.

It's a tough stage: I face a difference in height of 2000 meters, first a first 1000 peak, then a descent and then another 1000 peak. Here the 1000m never seem to end, but I pass through villages and authentic Slovenia. From this point of view it all seems genuine, I could be wrong, but these areas do not seem drunk with consumerism. In this regard, during today's climbs and encouraged by the locals who tell me "ndemo ndemo" (but are these locals from Veneto?!?) I think of a story. A grandmother I loved with a classic story of poverty behind her, then wife of someone with the little factory put up with commitment and short...great respect: an Italian story like so many are heard in the high dry Lombard plain. This grandma used to prepare a homemade ragù with vegetables from the garden, the homemade sauce, the meat taken from the butcher and then ... she put the ragù star "because it tastes". I was always shocked but I understood. I have always interpreted that gesture as his trust in the industry, that industry which had given him luck.

Here ... to say ... that in Slovenia I have the impression (relative, superficial, etc.) that they don't put Star ragu there!

For further information I suggest the song Tatranki by offlaga disco pax

I apologize for the delays, but I don't want to be didactic: a journey is made up of landscapes, but also of people, thoughts and sensations that I would like to tell.

Struggling, but finally I arrive in Bled (second lake) after having completely taken the wrong road and improvised a new route. I decide to go around the whole lake. It is spectacular and populated by people on the various well-designed facilities, despite the fact that the water (very green) is frozen and only a few go for a swim.

After going up to Bled castle I walk the plain towards Ljubljana and I do it with the old-fashioned style of someone who asks the way at the info point because I didn't trust the one I had marked down. After a labyrinth of paths with little traffic more or less dedicated to bikes, I arrive in Ljubliana which was declared the "European green capital" last year. Tomorrow I'll find out why...

I'm done, I go to the metelkova, a former barracks expertly restored and self-managed teeming with alternative places Today they play good electronic music but no one dances despite the DJ playing a wonderful selection of Japanese songs. I get excited because, despite the gender distance, I'm a great fan of Japanese mathcore (toe, lite, pricot, etc). It's too early and I'm too tired. I treat myself to a slivovitz and go to sleep...


Many thanks to the advice Danilo gave us at this year's cycle-lessons on braking, because I needed it!

Day 8

Ljubliana. Break.

How can a city that 10 years ago was congested with traffic and considered polluted become the 2016 green capital of Europe? Because small towns can change a lot in a short time: no cars in the center and more attention to pedestrians and bicycles. I forget the various "policies and politics" necessary to achieve the goal, the fact is that I perceive a city on a human scale. You walk well in the pedestrian-only center and without conflicts with the bikes and you pedal even better: you never feel left on your own. Massive presence of indications that indicate what bikes can do, one-way streets for cars, but two-way streets for bikes, cycle paths or at least a painted horizontal strip that separates and makes the driver aware that it's not just him on the road.

In short, a well-designed city.

This morning no bike and incredibly I meet Marco (founder of Language Nights in Varese

) who returns home after his holidays in the Balkans. We meet for breakfast in a teahouse in the heart of the city. We discuss a lot about our impressions of Ljubljana, Slovenia, etc. and we reflect on possible projects for our Varese: a Use It type mappingwww.use-it.travelfor young tourists thinking of the Erasmus students in Varese, but not only. (Maybe someone who reads is interested) I'm sorry to say hello because thoughts flow well. And in fact we say goodbye to the Ljubljanica river which maintains a florid relationship with the city: I feel it really close and equipped with dehors, parks, along the river and well-designed embankments and what's more it is crossed by magnificent bridges that are spectacular at night. Legendary, for example, the triple bridge by the architect. Plečnik whose residence I visited today. Plečnik is omnipresent: between the two world wars he built a lot in his city, making it an architectural jewel.

I spend the day walking and cycling among the various points of interest that I have noted: contemporary architecture, by Plečnik, "must see", places to eat and drink and (essentially) places to relax. Lubljiana for me means refreshment. Eat well and rest: for example today, homemade strudel for breakfast, for lunch a wonderful course of polenta drowned in Terrano (karst wine) and prsut. After lying down in the Tivoli park in front of the Union brewery, whose products I was already able to appreciate yesterday, as soon as I entered the city, I go back to Metelkova which is much less interesting with the sun. It fills up with tourists and the locals are forced to put up signs "no photo of people, this is not a zoo" just like in Christiania in Copenhagen... too bad.

All around modern buildings, new offices and residences. Is it still close to being swept away? Perhaps not given the great cultural ferment it has generated.

Before leaving the city I have a look at the old (now occupied) Rog bicycle factory where they have created a cultural center...obviously bikes everywhere (but I feel a bit too touristy, I should have contacted them before my departure... sigh)

Ljubljana will stay with me for a while like the cevapcici (meat and onion sausage) I ate in a slightly out of the way place that cooks Serbian specialities. Like cevapcici, in fact, a lethal and incredible mix of cultures, which I will perhaps digest tomorrow, always hoping that my roommates in the hostel don't suffocate me first. Goodbye


My maps of Zagreb and Ljubljana are available. If anyone is interested, write me privately on or here on fb and we'll agree.

Day 9

Ljubljana>Maribor 138km △1382m

Cyclists in Slovenia think about it. Cycle paths alongside the road everywhere or otherwise parallel marked roads if the limit is 70km/h and the road is for the exclusive use of cars. I still remember 2 years ago in Umbria how crazy I was to find alternative routes when all of a sudden I found a "no bike" sign.

I say goodbye to Ljubljana, but first, I cross a building by Plečnik. I travel km alongside the highway in a narrow and cold valley. The only moment of satisfaction is finding the pastry shop in Trojane (where perhaps they invented the hashtag#foodporn?) Recommended by my Italian/Slovenian friend Antonella where they make huge Kropfi. I eat 2 and feel much better. (It's something of an institution here, and taking just 1 seemed disrespectful to me)

Through a countryside that amazes me for its hop cultivations: I had never seen them and they look like 4m high green walls that cut across the plain. I justify this massive presence of hops in Celje because in the area there is the source of Lasko beer, an alternative to Ljubljana's Union beer.

Suddenly I leave the asphalt and find myself in the woods on a beautiful anonymous road that brings me out into an apple field. I turn it all around and arrive at the farmhouse realizing that, perhaps, that little road was not really public. Luckily the dog is sleeping and I leave in peace.

By bike, the perception of the city is very particular because you can see everything: fronts and backs. It happens to end up, like today, in the midst of private properties, the backs of sheds, country roads, 3-lane highways, courtyards, central squares and among the villas on the outskirts. It's a great tool for surveying the city. And maybe even to change its use? I'm referring to what happened after the invention of the train, when the cities began to be pierced with rails and the entrance changed overnight: no longer from the door but from the back.

I arrive early in Maribor hoping to see it, but it excites me like Busto Arsizio in August.

Perhaps I had too many expectations: she too is part of the network. It hides some interesting, but completely abandoned views and an interesting former bread factory, now occupied and transformed into an alternative cultural centre. Next to it there is a hostel, as if the municipality wanted to say: "we don't abandon you! We don't consider you a back" (but maybe that's just my naïve vision. But it's not similar to what happens here at the furnaces of Hot, or am I wrong?)

Tonight more Balkan cuisine...and tomorrow Hungary.


Walking through the city I hear "attention it is forbidden to cross the yellow line" and other phrases in Italian. It's a sound installation by a Polish artist called "Krakow to Venice in 12 hours"

And I feel like I'm even more in Busto Arsizio...

Day 10

Maribor>Heviz 162km △1400m

Finally Hungary. I have wonderful memories of the country during my Erasmus in Vienna. It was a very popular gastronomic destination. I wanted to see it again and this explains why Hungary.

Today, before crossing the Slovenian borders, I drive towards Jeruzalem. It is said that some crusaders (perhaps not too convinced) reached these lands and discovering that the wine was good and the people hospitable, they decreed that this was their Jerusalem. To get there I walk through hills full of vineyards and well-kept landscapes. I arrive early, around 930, but I can't help but try their Sipon wine. (Who am I to go against history?) Yesterday the innkeeper told me the story of this wine: the French tasted the wine made in that area and said "c'est bon", but the Slovenians understood what they understood and they called Sipon. And indeed, it is good! As I savor it in Jeruzalem I feel like laughing because a year ago with some friends I wanted to write a somewhat ironic illustrated book for children (but not only), which spoke of the story of a cyclist who thought he was a Templar. The more or less autobiographical story of a journey from Sacromonte di Varese to that of Varallo to bring one's beard as a gift for the restoration of the Baroque statues. (Note needed: I had a huge beard at the time which I donated. It makes a bit of sense as a thing, but it would be wonderful if they actually used it! I haven't been called yet to preview the restorations with my beard yet) At each way, I would like to stay longer, but I have to go. Before crossing the border, I draw two considerations: I have not seen poverty in Slovenia, yet I have also passed through the suburbs, places far from the tourist routes. Yesterday the host was telling me that in Slovenia, given the socialist past, there is still a good pension and aid system, university is free, etc. Many work abroad but then return because they want a house with a garden and a vegetable garden. I actually found very well-kept buildings, flowers everywhere, very few fences.

I arrive in the Hungarian plain and miles of completely different landscape await me: degradation and neglect when compared to Slovenia. Vacant and ruined houses along the few roads I travel. To avoid the only road full of trucks, I detour into the countryside and woods and it's completely different from Slovenia: huge fenced estates, lots of grain, and I understand that they hunt a lot, given the presence of watchtowers. I pass through Hungarian woods and fields, in the middle of nowhere, with no sign of life, where one might feel lost and scared. The bike, however, helps to feel less scared. It's a medium I know how to handle and repair (or at least I think) and it allows me the freedom to be truly independent. And it's not a trivial matter.

I arrive in Heviz, a spa resort that at first glance seems uninteresting to me and where I discover that the massages are all booked for tomorrow. Ahhhhhhhhhhh. I traveled 1000km to get here and spend 1 day in complete relaxation between spas and massages, something I've never done in my life. And is everything busy?

And tomorrow Balaton


Food: today I have a kitchen all to myself so I take advantage of it. I prepare a sort of vegetarian goulash of small and very sweet peppers, accompanying everything with "csipetke" a pinched egg pasta that I adore and which I discover here at the supermarket costs as much as Rummo. (I am shocked that they sell Rummo here!) To throw down the 200gr of pasta I water one of my favorite Hungarian beers with Kozel and I am sad to know that it was bought by Asahi (like Peroni). sigh


I don't know if it's a coincidence, but Jeruzalem in Slovenia was full of people wearing kippa! Maybe a caravan of tourists? I hope so otherwise there must have been some weird effects with the sipon wine at 930am!

Day 11

Heviz around the Balaton about 60km

This morning I aim for Szigliget Castle.

From Heviz I take a very comfortable cycle path along the Balaton where I have the opportunity to see the "Eastern Rimini" better. At 730 I find only fishermen and Rimini has only that patina of tourism that has seen better times and I quickly go towards the castle. The 360° view from above the Szigliget hill is fascinating: extinct volcanoes to the north and Lake Balaton to the south.

I take a selfie to commemorate the arrival. (even if I get a photo that seems taken in front of a billboard of some real estate that promotes cottages in Pannonia). I return to Heviz and make friends with some Hungarian cyclists. I tell them about my trip and they ask me if I had traveled 1000km to see the castle of Szigliget...obviously not...but it is the most interesting landscape encountered so far in Hungary. Along the hole cycle path! (Yesterday saying that I'm independent with the bike, that I know how to repair it, I really looked for it). Who ever thinks of puncturing along a paved cycle path?! I didn't have bags and tools with me but only (fortunately) pump, multitool and an inner tube hidden in the front pouch...the bare minimum to get by and bless all Hungarian saints.

Return to Heviz for Spa and the lake. Inside the enclosures it is wonderful: you can breathe an ancient air. People have dived here since the Romans discovered this warm lake. In the center floats a large wooden structure on stilts and an infinite series of services. The spa and the bath in this thermal water, as my colleague Marco would say, are a dream. I immerse myself in bubbles, sprays and different temperatures for 3 hours. (And to think that at first I thought I was bored). In the end I feel lifted 5cm off the ground and totally invigorated. It's really nice to feel your body reacting to various temperatures, humidity, lights. Stopping here was a truly tactical move.

In the evening I finish off the remaining forints with succulent Hungarian food. (I try to avoid goulash, even if it drives me crazy, taking advantage of the great culinary variety that the lake offers)

And tomorrow we return to the west.

Day 12

Heviz>Zagreb 190km △1104m

I automatically get up very early (like on the nights before exams) because I want to see the sunrise at Balaton well. The road I take south at 530 allows me to see a spectacular sunrise right in the "golden hour" as photographers would say, which is 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after sunrise. Today I face the longest stage of the journey and yet I deviate towards the south due to a bike ban, but I gladly immerse myself in the Hungarian countryside: decent houses all the same, many of which still have a well and I don't understand if they still use it or not. In Zapethek the cemetery has no fence but has a skatepark built right next to it. I'm leaving Hungary: it's a country that I like with its decadence and delicious food.

I pass the border having a laugh with the frontier who tells me "Italy, always straight". And I meet the last lake: the artificial lakes Dubrava and Varazdin which make me anxious with all that concrete. I am reminded of the research done by friends Mount fog ( on the inhabitants of the Po.

And I wonder if these artificial lakes were designed only for energy purposes, or also to be inhabited. I remain with doubts, but I think it is a crucial question that we try to answer with Casamatta ( and Legambiente: giving new meaning to a perfectly circular embankment ( functional to protect the village of Mulini di Gurone from the floods of the artificial basin along the Olona. An artificial work that doesn't make sense, but could amplify what sense it has, that is the mills... or at least we hope... I'm going back to Croatia.

I walk along the concrete embankment inhabited by fishermen and sporadic (and very brave) runners, up to Varazdin, a fascinating place but the atrocious heat and the large number of people make me run away. And the ascent to Zagreb begins.

There are places I would like to go back to and others less so, by bike from Varazdin to Zagreb for example. 70 km of crazy road and no possible alternative to cross low mountains that not even my Croatian companion in the hostel was able to name.

I arrive in Zagreb which I will explore better tomorrow but which in the short walk to rest offers fascinating views thanks to its complex orography. After sunset, the upper city is silent and it is nice to stroll thinking about the day. One place in particular strikes me: Kamenita vrata, a sort of open-air church. A couple of benches are positioned in this covered public space in front of a small religious aedicule. Gorgeous and unexpected space.

Day 13


No bikes today (or almost). The city is not cycle friendly at all. I really like walking through cities early in the morning. There are few people around, a beautiful light, silence...

I go to the market. In addition to Dolac there are several, all close and with their own autonomy.

Wandering among plums and grapes I find a church by Plečnik who is now the architect of my vacation. Unfortunately it is under restoration but with a delightful interior that I can only glimpse.

The tower at 12 fires a cannon. Some people turn around already worried...then a local reassures everyone "this is ok! it's noon"...but these days one can rightly think badly.

But Zagreb, despite being elected the 2017 number 1 destination in Europe by Lonely Planet, makes me melancholy with its yellow, gray and cream colours, with the beautiful empty gardens, with the inlaid gates that look like butter; with the steep stairs that make you think, with the approaching storm and with the music of its storytellers on the sides of the streets.

Given the melancholy that has pervaded me, I make the coup and go to the museum of broken hearts (or finished relationships). I was expecting, I have to admit, bullshit and instead the curators were good at collecting (or letting themselves be intercepted) by many types of relationships that ended badly: it's a large thematic collection of objects that hide stories and you feel like one of many, and not even the most tragic, to have been heartbroken. If you happen to go, I recommend going: it's good for you.

After the museum I walk a couple of kilometers towards the Mirogoj cemetery. It seemed to me the right way to reflect on the term End.

It's almost autumn here and the leaves are everywhere. (why are cemeteries more beautiful in autumn? Why do they remind us of the transience of existence?)

It's worth it and you could get lost in its infinite glimpses, but I go out and decide to give this city a chance with little cycling and I take my bike. I head south to the many brutalist architectures along the river. Cycling in this fabric of buildings is an exciting (and delusional) urban experience: changes of scale at every bend, large roads with 3 lanes in each direction that are impossible to cross and then these concrete giants that pop up here and there as a reminder of a past which he no longer uses. I have to activate the bold cyclist mode between the cars and the many sidewalks that become the only salvation for cyclists.


Of course in Zagreb I intercept a couple of shops selling only ties. We owe the modern tie to Croatian mercenaries. here the story


(A gift for all the broken hearts)


Jack Hirschman

Go to your broken heart.

If you think you don't have one, get one.

To get it, be sincere.

Learn the sincerity of intent by leaving

enter life, why can't you, really,

do otherwise.

Even as you try to escape, let it catch you

and you tear yourself apart

like a mailed letter

like a sentence inside

you've been waiting for all your life

even if you have done nothing.

Let me send you.

Let me break you, heart.

Heartbreak is the beginning

of any true welcome.

The ear of humility hears beyond the gates.

You see the gates opening.

Feel your hands on your hips,

your mouth that opens like a uterus

bringing your voice to life for the first time.

Go singing whirling in glory

to be ecstatically simple.

Write the poem.

Day 14

Zagreb>Duga Resa 73km △631m

An easy stage, but with sparkling implications.

I leave Zagreb at 6:00, being called crazy the night before by my Croatian roommates. I tried to explain how beautiful it is to see the dawn, to tiptoe out of a city when only the bakers are open. How poetic is that silence and that light and that coolness that wakes you up. We certainly have two different vacation visions, but do they understand (or rather, do they pity?).

I immediately head south and immerse myself in the suburbs. After crossing huge (at this time empty) road axes, tracks and the Sava river I am in Novi Zagreb to see Super Andrjia.

They had the foresight to surround this giant mass of raw concrete (brut in French, hence brutalism) with a park, making it impossible to photograph (with my cell phone), but quite suggestive. Soviet buildings decorated with tags and murals in Zagreb are worth a visit. Too bad yesterday, that due to the rain, I had to cut short my exploratory lap.

I leave Zagreb for good and venture into the Croatian countryside. Venturing is the right word because I end up in absolute nothingness. The route defined with "ride with gps" (a very useful app) involves crossing some tracks and coming out in a strange place: a clearing crossed by a very straight road. I find a no entry sign (I think for cars) and I walk these 5/10km of straight dirt road. Every now and then I see deer and sighting turrets for hunters...mmm...I think...but am I in some sort of hunting reserve? I feel like I'm inside a scene from Tarkovsky's Stalker. ( The fog lifts, I can no longer see anything and my pedaling gets faster. Finally the road. (I have never wanted so much the presence of an asphalt road with cars)

After about twenty kilometers in the fog I arrive in Karlovac. Most famous perhaps for the Karlovacho beer, but also because Nikola Tesla, a Serbian (now Croatian), lived and attended the gymnasium in this city. He was a brilliant man "the man who invented the twentieth century" and who thought that electricity was already available to everyone in nature. I was expecting some shows, but unfortunately nothing.

I stop in front of a river with transparent water at the foot of the Dinaric Alps which I will cross tomorrow and then the sea.

Day 15

Duga Resa>Krk 139km △2046m

Really hardcore stage today.

The beginning is mild: about seventy kilometers all uphill to cross the Dinaric Alps. At each crest, another, another and another. I was hoping to see the sea, but always mountains that never go away. And in the end here is the sea, or rather, the huge motorway junction and the refineries of Fiume. Up here, however, the coniferous forests give way to an increasingly rocky, barren mountain and my path becomes so too: I leave the asphalt.

I was almost getting bored of these 5 hours of asphalt and a slight but never-ending climb. However, the Croatian dirt road is a delirium. This stage that was supposed to be asphalt only becomes the most adventurous stage of my journey.

To descend from the last ridge, I had selected a route which, by zooming in better, I discover to be just a small path which I realize in real life is a little beaten too. It's late now, I've already traveled a couple of kilometers downhill (feasible) wondering "where am I going? but will it be a path?". I want to trust OSM (open street map) the wikipedia of maps where users draw, and I go.

At one point the trail ends, but the map marks something and I venture. The strategy becomes this: I leave the bike, I walk a few meters, I realize it's feasible, I go back, I take the bike which, in practice, becomes my machete to pass shrubs and brushwood. After a couple of obstacles like this and feeling very Indiana Jones (I now smell of Istrian undergrowth from being pierced by thorns) the extremely sloping path returns and takes me back to civilization. It was worth it even if I took a risk: I would not have seen spectacular views towards the man-made Rijeka.

I pass the bridge to access the island of Krk by bike which is an experience: it seems to enter the motorway, with the toll booth and all, but then the toll booth tells me to go that the bike doesn't pay (and I gaso). The island is barren, just a road, coves, supermarkets and houses (or maybe second houses). I stop in a mystical place: the abandoned and dilapidated hotel casino Holudovo, built in the 70s in Tito's former Yugoslavia.

After getting lost in this wonderful architectural work of glass (all broken on the ground now) and concrete, I head towards Krk.

Very beautiful with its smooth white stone floors where you glide like you are skating. I start writing in the shade, under the castle, with my feet in the sea...


I haven't had a bath yet (except at the spa). I don't want to ruin my perfect cycling tan. I look like Froome at the worst of times.

Day 16

Krk>Pula 152km △2361m

Krk is wonderful in the early morning: there is no one around and I feel like a fisherman coming back after work. I wanted to take a ferry to avoid the rough road to Rijeka, but I can't find it, so I hurry off to the city that the Dutch girl I met yesterday at the hostel described as "dark", but which perhaps, according to her, I would liked. I pass the refinery and arrive in Rijeka which doesn't tell me anything and I walk away quickly. I had hopes in the city of Fiume which has had a lot of history between D'Annunzio, anarchists and the free state of Fiume. Expectations that I don't actually read into anything in my brief exploration.

I pass kilometers of Istria in the heat and on the asphalt but with incredible views of the very low and unreachable coves (my bathroom will wait). Suddenly the coal-fired power plant of Plomin appears, which in 2007 satisfied 13% of Croatia's energy needs. It's actually scary: it's huge and my dear friend Filippo comes to mind who would have plenty to think about here. How can such a monster (the chimney is the tallest I've ever seen) be reconciled with a beautiful Croatian cove? At the top of the gulf there is a wifi hotspot and the classic viewfinder with which to take pictures and which points straight to the cove, but it is impossible not to frame the beast. If they had put a fountain it would have been smarter. Oh I take advantage of it. Water theme. Outside of Italy I have found only two fountains. We are good at this.

And dreaming of water, I arrive in Pula which is truly exceptional. It smells like history. From the Romans, to the Italian Pula and up to Pula ex-Ju. One feels that this great mix has done well.

The Roman amphitheater amazes me a lot: it is intact (or almost). The 3 orders are all there and they all make a complete turn. Seeing ancient aerial drawings you see that the arena was not part of the medieval walled city and it amazes me that it was not looted as a quarry unlike our coliseum from which they even stole the iron that held the stones together.

From the castle I can admire a 360° view of the city: from the port up to the hills that I have just passed. The light is low, and it is priori beautiful. I found a wonderful place to write: the Franciscan convent which has a magnificent cloister and a silence, occasionally interrupted by the rustling of now dry palm trees, which reconciles a lot. It has a cloister where for the first time I see grass... I didn't think I'd find any in arid Istria. (obviously not counting the houses with lawn and gnome included that sell the real estate here)

There are even turtles!


Today I took a bath. The hostel is in a cove and I immediately took advantage of it, even though I was whiter than the Teutonics and I realized that I was totally out of place with my really unwatchable cycling tan.

Day 17

Pula>Trieste 170km △1936m

It was a memorable ride, a condensed journey of the whole journey in one day.

I leave very early from Pula. It's the last day and I want to enjoy it. Finally I find cycle paths in Croatia. From Pula to Rovignji I ride a cycle path along the very comfortable beach and I think: if everything is like this on the touristic Istrian coast it is really comfortable (I never said it!). The cycle path ends and the little paths begin where I am immediately attacked by a swarm of indefinable insects: they are not bees, they are not mosquitoes, I just know that they are very annoying and do not come unstuck. I accelerate but they increase in a frightening way. I go really fast on this dirt road among the brambles and red earth, but they finally disappear. In this area up until now I have always been in a gray area between private and public: in the middle of campsites, narrow streets with bars, on the edge of private properties. She stops going gray at Bale's campsite. A pretentious campsite with its wooden reception and its impenetrable bars which force me to make a detour. I find another way and immerse myself in the real Istria, but the hole. The storm is approaching and I decide that I will go on the asphalt to Bale to see a (very public stone gymnasium where the architects were able to integrate such a powerful volume in the middle of a context of a completely different scale. And I arrive in Rovinj where it starts to rain. I take refuge in the market together with the locals who speak a very curious Italo-Croatian and drink the classic 8 o'clock bianchino. It was also an exploratory journey in the soundscape. Between Bolzano and Trieste the language of the people I met has never changed clearly but has changed in a gentle way like the landscapes I've traveled that never had a clear border. here ( a fun video by Brignano on the subject.

By now it has started to rain heavily (it seemed strange to me that it hadn't rained during the whole trip) I put on my raincoat and set off. Back on dirt roads, which become paths, which become nothing. Here we go again like 2 days ago. The road becomes very steep, I hear the cars and the road I should take but this time I can't walk the path. I give up and look for something else. The map indicates something else (or almost). I try but this route also takes me to a Roman quarry and the end. The quarry is beautiful, but where are they? I follow my instincts. The navigator under water is impossible to control and I follow a dirt road that seems to have been beaten by cars. After a couple of kilometers in which I wonder if I've done well, I find some houses and breathe a sigh of relief and hole. But poooooooorcaaaaaa... twice today! I stop under a tree, calm down and change the inner tube (in the rain it's certainly not a comfortable operation). But the pump decides not to work anymore, it doesn't hold the pressure of the wheels and I can barely inflate them to pedal. At the first house I stop, I ask if they speak Italian or English and they say "Italian brother, come here". Two Croatian gentlemen were sipping homemade wine on the porch and they invite me with them. Obviously I accept and tell what happened to me, what I'm doing, etc. They are very curious and want to practice their Italian. They think I have no money because I only ride my bike, but I explain the reasons for my choice and say that I prefer to buy sweets rather than petrol and that I'm a bit crazy. They laugh and tell me "you're not crazy, you're good". This excites me and all the misfortunes of the day disappear. I greet them, unfortunately they don't have a pump and for 30km up to Porec I ride a bike that seems to have a sleeve instead of a wheel. I arrive in the city and finally after a couple of unsuccessful attempts some guys inflate my tire. Let's start once again.

It's very late, I'm soaked, my feet are soaked, it's still raining but it's okay. From here it's all asphalt. As soon as I cross the Slovenian border, I meet the parenzana: an old disused railway line converted into a cycle path. Obviously there is no trace of Parenzana in Croatia and Italy, but in Slovenia they love cyclists and I reciprocate.

I stop on the beach in Portoroz, after a spectacular view of the salt marshes, where I dry off and reflect on what to do. I travel almost to Trieste on the cycle path that passes through vineyards, narrow streets, exploits what is there and does not put fences: one feels accompanied.

Arrival in Trieste where obviously not even the shadow of cycle paths, indeed.

After almost 1800 km, 4 countries and after an exceptional day in the saddle for 14 hours (which I will remember for a long time) I arrive in Piazza Unità d'Italia where Elisa (the right person to talk to about borders and frontiers) is waiting for me who takes a picture of me right on the Audaci pier... and we laugh about it.

How to close the diary? With quotes, famous phrases etc... I'll close it by saying I'm glad I did it. It's always nice to be able to write and then return to those thoughts and feelings. I also liked sharing it, because in the virtual world we now live in, I think it is necessary to test the thousand ways we have available to get in touch with people. I thank @varesenews for the space she dedicated to me and Adelia who was my go-to for all of you whom I thank for following me, putting up with my beatings and being with me for a while.

See you soon in the real world. HI

(I thought a lot about how I could finish this diary, but then I thought this is not the end of anything at all)

See you in the Cyclhub workshop at @sbstrt in via Robbioni every Wednesday 19/2030

See you soon


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