I like to travel light, so much so I forgot my razor, my toothpaste and my hair brush for this trip. Doctor Bronner's multipurpose soap makes for quite a foamy toothpaste...and a four Euro plastic gas station comb works okay, while an unshaven look canbe quite fashionable in Italy. I shall be glad to get back to my suitcase in Terni on Monday. For Giovanni getting ready to leave or a day's ride is quite the business, stuffing paper handkerchiefs, coins keys and cigarettes in assorted pockets, reading glasses sunglasses and cellphone...
Eventually we get outside and I put my wam vest in one saddlebag and my waterproofs in the other, cellphone and wallet in my pockets and I'm ready to ride.
We head to Passo Giau (pronounced like Ciao with a soft G)
It is 7300 feet up, 2230 meters roughly, and it was freezing cold at the top with a howling wind making everyone feel cold, not just the guy from Key West.
We stopped at the hotel at the base and came across an old motorcycle parked out front. Giovanni had never heard of the Sertum brand which went bust in 1952. Sertum 1943 500cc SV
I knew of the brand because my great uncle Pasqualino who worked as an accounting clerk at the Terni steelworks told me of his Sertum 175 which he used to ride in Fascist Party led motorcycle gatherings before World War Two. He was very proud of his Sertum.
I went to the loo and found the only old fashioned style toilet of the trip. Luckily, a) I only needed to pee, and b) I had my wits about me. Flushing these bastards produces a tidal wave of water that sloshes all over the china "footprints." I have no idea why these ghastly things used to be at all popular as they seem no cheaper to build than proper toilets. And call me prejudiced but in my opinion proper toilets have a seat incorporated into their design. I remember traveling 35 years ago with an old school chum from England who, when faced with the prospect of squatting to shit in one of these disasters got the habit of never traveling without a length of twine he would anchor to the door handle and to which he would hang on like grim death whilem he squatted over the deadly hole. Giovanni had a few comments of his own when he discovered this thing was the only public toilet for miles around.
Mind you in one of the passes I went to take a piss and found the waiting area for the toilets was co-Ed. I guess I am Italian enough I carried on an inconsequential conversation with a middle aged Italian woman while I stood and peed as she waited for a woman's stall to open up. I find I pee a lot in cold weather when I don't sweat. TMI, perhaps? Anyway...
I liked the alpine feel of the hotel with pictures of old climbers on the wall and so forth.
We sat outside and looked at the Marmolada (above) as we ate (below).
And then I had an indifferent tough grilled steak that needed salt, and we finished with a classic apple Strudel in this case flavored, deliciously, with pine nuts.
We abandoned the warm sunny spot and pressed on.
We stopped for another tourist spot called Lago Carezza, of a peculiar yet natural shade of green.
It was starting o get dark and we had to home by six as we had a dinner date and miles to ride. We made it home by three minutes after six but it was a hell of a ride up the Pusteria Valley from Bressanone to Dobbiaco. We passed thousands of cars it felt like, weekend drivers, some on dotted lines some on solid lines. We roared past campers and fast cars driven slowly and a few fast cars driven fast. It was the sort of riding that in the US would have got us thrown in jail. One single car Giovanni noted pulled aside to let us by. It was exhilarating.
And tiring so I was glad when Giuseppe, an old friend of Giovanni's with a timeshare nearby came in the car to pick us up. I was a grateful passenger for once, traveling sedately.
My pudding was best, chocolate semifreddo which was a kind of nutty ice cream with chocolate sauce in a crisp sweet shell.
They dropped us off back in Cortina d'Ampezzo where we went for a last walk "to digest dinner" Giovanni said as my cardiologist friend smoked another cigarette.
Then he called his wife and finally turned out the light. "What the hell are you writing?" he asked plaintively as he saw the glow of my mini iPad as I wrote this essay.
None of your business I said. Learn English then you can read it. Va fa un culo he said.
Then he started snoring.
Sunday we ride 400 miles home, hopefully avoiding the predicted rain.