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Claudiu Moga

Grand bicycle tour in Italy from 2011

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Protagonist - Claudiu Moga, 32 years old cycling freak in love with nature and arts.

 

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Means of transportation - the old and genuine Magdalena, the bicycle who enjoyed Italy and France, thy mighty Alps!

 

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After so many years of tribulations God took pity on me and sent me a friend who offered me a tour till my beloved Italy, the best country from the entire world.

It's 20th of May, here I am in Porto Garibaldi near Comacchio, with tears rolling down my face I bid farewell to my friends and benefactors and receiving 20EUR, an old bicycle and some gear but no tent, I start my journey westward, aiming to get to Ferrara first.

A huge adventure is in store for me.

Will I fulfill my dreams of touring the marvelous Italy, the gem of Europe or will I pass away in a stupid accident or die of hunger?

God will show my way and protect me from the evil.

I started cycling on SP1, a secondary road, my destination for the 1st day being Ferrara.

First I crossed a plain region with plenty of cultivated fields.

Near Ostellato I made my first break in order to visit an ancient sanctuario, as italians say.

 

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It looked so tiny and misterious.

 

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Next to it in the garden i saw plenty of old farming tools or I don't know how to call them.

 

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Upon the church's wall I could admire a small bas-relief.

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But also a green heart of leaves.

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A huge stone wheel was here, too.

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I could also read some moving and exciting texts.

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Another touching bas-relief.

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The heroes from the 1st world war were commemorated on some metallic memorial plaques.

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I entered shyly the church to pay my respects to the heroes.

Here I feasted my eyes on wonderful stained glass windows.

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The ceiling was pretty nice, too.

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Then, I uttered a prayer in front of the altar, thanking God dearly for allowing me to fulfill my dream of cycling in my beloved Italy.

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Oh, How I love the peace of mind that invades me in places like this! I admire some more coloured glass windows.

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Day 1 - Porto Garibaldi - Ferrara

 

It's time to go. I come across a very lovely flower.

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It's so hot outside. I am sweating profusely.

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Soon I have to stop to eat something I bought from a supermercato.

It's some delicious ham and cheese and a crunchy baguette.

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I carry on cycling on SP1, a nice road wuth light traffic and lined by shady trees.

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Soon I get to Ferrara, "citta delle biciclette"

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This is an fantastic medieval town with many buildings dating back to 14th century when the town was governed by d'Este Family.

First I go to admire Este Castle.

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Quite imposing indeed!

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In the town center there are many interesting temples and churches.

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Ferrara is a paradise for cyclists. It has about 135 000 inhabitants.

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The cathedral is magnificent, too.

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The medieval architecture is astonishing, indeed.

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I find many narrow streets.

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I enter the museum of Casa Romei where I can gaze at an old painting.

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I simply adore the cobbled streets and the medieval atmosphere present here so often.

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Inside the fortified town there are many one-way streets.

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On some ancient houses I run into many memorial plaques with moving messages.

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I also come across a lion's statue that reminds me of Venice.

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Not far from here I see a gipsy romanian woman begging for money.

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Some lavish palaces are endowed even with caryatids.

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In Ferrara was born the famous Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola who was an Christian preacher, reformer and martyr, renowned for his clash with tyrannical rulers and a corrupt clergy. Here I come across the house where he was born.

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He is very appreciated here in Ferrara and has a nice statue in a an old square.

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Upon the old houses dating back to 15th century I can admire wonderful works of art.

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The entrance to the old town loks like this.

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On the ancient walls some artists displayed their talents.

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After a few hours of strolling around in the old town, it's time for me to go.

I must admit Ferrara is one of the best towns I have ever seen.

All the old town looks like an open museum.

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Before I leave this fascinating town I take a dip in the dirty river Po of Volano which flows exactly through the middle of the old town.

I will miss this exquisite town that really cast a spell upon me.

What I loved the most was the fact that even the rich men were riding bicycles.

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Good bye magnificent edifices and lofty churches.

One day I will return for sure!

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Having no tent, I slept in my sleeping bag at the south of Ferrara under a tree not far from a statue of the Holly Virgin.

I think it was a public garden.

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Day 2) Ferrara - Bologna

 

Today I will cycle on the road SS64 towards Bologna.

Soon I get to a an ancient church and I go to visit it.

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Inside I find so many splendid works of art.

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Some busts of saints.

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Fine statues.

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And some interesting quotations in latin.

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A saint made of stone seems to sleep for ever in the middle of the church.

I think he is Saint Leo and the church dates back to 10th century.

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The heroes from the first two world wars are also commemorated properly.

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In the village of Gallo I strike up a conversation with an old lady.

I speak a little bit of italian and a decent french. She is interested in my adventure and invites me in her garden.

She gives me some sandwiches and some orage juice. She tells me a very sad story of her life.

She used to have two sons who unfortunatelly tragically died in some car accidents.

I am pretty impressed with her story and I rest a bit on a chair in her garden musing over the implacable destiny.

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The old lady has lovely flowers and plants.

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I carry on cycling on SS64 and in the next locality I stop to visit another intersting church.

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Inside I find a huge tombstone.

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Next to the church there is a huge stone.

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My next stop will be in a public garden where I see some naked statues.

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And an crooked tree.

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In the vicinity of Bologna I meet a derelict coach.

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Soon I get to Bologna. Short history taken from the internet.

 

Bologna (/bəˈloʊnjə/, UK also /bəˈlɒnjə/, Italian: [boˈloɲɲa] (About this soundlisten); Bolognese: Bulåggna [buˈlʌɲːa]; Latin: Bonōnia) is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy.

It is the seventh most populous city in Italy with about 390,000 inhabitants and 150 different nationalities.

Its metropolitan area is home to more than 1,000,000 people.

 

Originally Etruscan, the city has been one of the most important urban centres for centuries, first under the Etruscans (who called it Felsina), then under the Celts as Bona, later under the Romans (Bonōnia), then again in the Middle Ages, as a free municipality and signoria, when it was among the largest European cities by population.

 

Famous for its towers, churches and lengthy porticoes, Bologna has a well-preserved historical centre, thanks to a careful restoration and conservation policy which began at the end of the 1970s.

Home to the oldest university in the Western world, the University of Bologna, established in AD 1088, the city has a large student population that gives it a cosmopolitan character.

In 2000 it was declared European capital of culture and in 2006, a UNESCO "City of Music" and became part of the Creative Cities Network.

 

Bologna is an important agricultural, industrial, financial and transport hub, where many large mechanical, electronic and food companies have their headquarters as well as one of the largest permanent trade fairs in Europe. According to the most recent data gathered by the European Regional Economic Growth Index (E-REGI) of 2009, Bologna is the first Italian city and the 47th European city in terms of its economic growth rate.[

 

As a consequence, Bologna is also one of the wealthiest cities in Italy, often ranking as one of the top cities in terms of quality of life in the country: in 2020 it ranked 1st out of 107 Italian provinces View from the top of the Basilica di San Petronio: the dome of Santuario di Santa Maria della Vita dominates the foreground; the Asinelli (higher) and Garisenda towers ("Due Torri") are seen on the right.

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The street life here is so colourful with plenty of students and weird characters.

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I see plenty of bicyclists, too.

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Lots of magnificent churches can be found here.

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I wander around the old town and I come across "due torri".

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I stroll on many narrow streets.

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Some painted walls appear in front of me.

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Everywhere I may roam I meet grand palaces.

Most of them are red, the nickname of Bologna is The Red Town and here was founded the first western university in 1088 which is considered the world's oldest university in continuous operation.

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In the evening I meet a nice girl with a lovely puppy and we have a good time and afterwards I will sleep near Case Grandi just at the southernmost point of Bologna.

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Day 3) Bologna - Firenze

 

I have a perfect day for cycling. It's a sunny day and I will cycle today in the North Appenine Range.

The landscapes are quite pretty. I begin to climb.

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I will have to cope with steep inclines.

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I am cycling On SP65, strada del Marrone Biondo.

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I am passing through traditional mountain villages where I come across interesting houses.

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At Loiano I meet a splendid sculpture.

Here I am lucky enough to get a donation from an old cyclist who was riding an expensive racer.

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I cycle with him a few km and he is impressed by my courage and adventure.

We enjoy fantastic vistas.

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It seems in Italy the heroes are very appreciated.

I encounter many monuments dedicated to their memory.

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When I get to a statue of Holly Virgin, I stop and stand still thanking God for his generosity.

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I carry on climbing and out of the blue I run into some pretty horses.

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Soon I get to the top of the pass which is included in the BIG Challenge list. Hurrah!

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On the descent I encounter plenty of flowers.

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I simply love mother nature and I am fond of smelling flowers.

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La Posta is the first locality from Toscana Region. I left Emilia-Romagna behind.

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The cyclists, the champions, the sportsmen are quite appreciated in Tuscany.

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As I continue riding on SR65, the views remain spectacular.

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After Montecarelli there is the descent towards a lake, Lago di Bilancino.

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In the vicinity I run into a beautiful medieval castle. Tuscany is full of this kind of marvels in stone.

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Near Vaglia I meet Uwe, a german cycling tourer who will prove very generous to me.

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We cycle together till Firenze and he accepts me to sleep in his room at 3 stars Hotel del Corso, in the center of the city.

The fee for one night is almost 200EUR. It is the most expensive hotel I have slept in so far.

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The lounge is decorated with fine pieces of art.

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We spend the evening eating and drinking, talking and joking in the lush patio which has plenty of exotic vegetation.

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Day 4) Firenze - Pisa

 

After a good night sleep in a luxurious room, the following morning I bid farewell to Uwe which also gives me a nice donation.

It's time for me to discover Florence and fulfill a big dream.

 

Florence (/ˈflɒrəns/ FLORR-ənss; Italian: Firenze [fiˈrɛntse] is a city in Central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany region.

It is the most populated city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era.

It is considered by many academics to have been the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages".

Its turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions.

From 1865 to 1871 the city served as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy (established in 1861).

The Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini.

 

The city attracts millions of tourists each year, and UNESCO declared the Historic Centre of Florence a World Heritage Site in 1982.

The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments.

The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, Forbes has ranked it as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

 

Florence plays an important role in Italian fashion, and is ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world by Global Language Monitor; furthermore, it is a major national economic centre, as well as a tourist and industrial hub.

In 2008 the city had the 17th-highest average income in Italy.

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First I go to the city center to admire the magnificent cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.

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It looks fabulous!

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I gaze at its facade.

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The cathedral is endowed with a high and splendid dome.

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