An occasional journal of the Life of Reilly

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Trent



Within just a single day of cycling we were away from the flat and humid countryside around Venice. We spent the night at a campground on a lake near the community of Revine Lago. Within just fifty miles of the metropolitan center of Venice, it was amazing to once again be the odd American tourist in rural Italy.

Chief navigator John selected a route that would eventually bring us to the base of the Alps near Trent. But between here and there was a pass called San Boldo. We knew nothing about it, other than it had a symbol on our map of a panoramic view from the top. As we headed up, the grade got steeper, and we passed a sign saying there were a total of 17 switchbacks. We were soon passed by road cyclists who encouraged us on by calling "Bravi! Bravi!". At each switchback there was a sign counting down how many switchbacks were left, up until the last five which were in a tunnel (above). Traffic lights controlled passage of up and downhill traffic, and we were truly huffing it at the end. But at the end of every uphill is a downhill, and we savored the view before descending down into the valley of the Piave River.


From the valley we had our first view of the Alps. Looming ahead of us were the peaks of the Italian Dolomites.

What started out as a clear, sunny day ended in rain. Just five kilometers short of our destination campground at Lago del Carlo the skies blackened, thunder rumbled, and lightning lit up the sky. We ducked into an industrial park, all deserted since it was an national holiday, and found shelter under the narrow eaves of a concrete building. We waited as rain literally poured out of the sky, looking up periodically to see the clouds boil and gradually move to the south.

The intensity of the rain subsided, but did not stop completely. It was getting close to dinnertime, so we decided to make a break for it. Bundled in all the rain resistant clothing we had, we cruised the last few kilometers into the campground. Unable to face the prospect of setting up our tent in soggy grass, we rented a bungalow for the night -- a small travel trailer with a canvas porch, so typical of what we have seen all over Italy. We had a stove, canopy, table and chairs, mattress, and a warm shelter that protected from rain that continued into the night.

The next morning required passage through a three kilometer-long tunnel. We exited into a whole new geographic setting, the valley of the Brenta River. Here we found the established bike route, which we followed almost the entire way to Trent. We crossed through a narrow canyon, with the lush vegetated walls jutting up, the mountain tops shrouded in fog.

We managed to stay dry the rest of the way through Trent to a campground just north of town. Situated behind a hotel/restaurant and directly next to the train tracks, and needless to say, it was not the most tranquil place. The commuter trains were not too bad, but all conversation ceased when the freight trains went by. But it was just a short walk to the train stop (notice the motorhomes in the backgroud in the above photo). It rained for two straight days, and we spent the time visiting the Castle of Buonconsiglio in Trent, the Folkways museum in San Michele, and the Iceman in the archeology museum in Bolzen.

Only about 50 miles separates Trent and Bozen, but when we got off the train in Bolzen, it was like we were already in Austria. Located in the Sudtriol region of Italy, it is officially bilingual, but German is the primary language. I now could speak with the locals in more than my usual 10 words of Italian, and use the rusty German stored deep in the recesses of my brain. Ahead of us is still the crest of the Alps to cross to get into Austria, but it seems like we have already crossed the border.
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