Stage 5.05 Italy. Fiorenzuola to Berceto

5. Tuesday 26th April 2011

Leaving early from Fiorenzuola from the parochia to get to Fidenza.  We have a big day planned.  Quickly to Fidenza then onwards. The Via Emilia has turned a bit rough and ready with a huge number of thundering HGV scudding the rough surface.  It is very uncomfortable, but quick. Glad to get into Fidenza and find some fresh fruit in the smallest but best greengrocer and fruiterer I have ever seem!Englandsimply does not have its match in quality or presentation. The produce are introduced and showed off, with pride and panache  – the beaming matriarch filling the place with her energy and art. I can’t say much else about the town…we leave pretty quickly.

However, leaving is not so easy!  We are frustrated by the ring road which seems to circular indeed, but devoid of signs.  Regula has the GPS, which nearly helps, and several locals are equally confused.  In particular the AIVF office in Fidenza sends us off in the wrong direction to start with – mmmm….unhelpful!

Dealing with the AIVF, we are very glad the Italian people rejected nuclear power if the AIVF is an example of Italian organisation!  (OK,OK, I know….) We have been previously much amused by the distance signing which must be divergently erected by different and uncoordinated departments.  Distances can rise and fall unpredictably and even alarmingly on routes.

Best to have an idea where you are in Italy!

Bearing in mind the climbs to come, we decide not to cycle the climb to Costamezzana. Without maps and with the tiny screen of the GPS we end up back disastrously on the Via Emiglia, and with more than the intended kilometres, danger and indeed climb!  So often shortcuts make the journey longer.

Getting to Medessano and then to and through Fornovo di Taro. Then it is onto the main event of a 90km day – the hilly route to Berceto.  It is steep in places.  Tour de France steep.  It is not a cyclable incline for most mortals.   By Cassio we are walking some of the hills.  Despite the great views, and the quietness of the roads, the three big hills take us into the early evening, and then over a long awaiting apex into a steep 5 km descent into Berceto at really silly speeds – food wine and sleep. There are passionate discussions about the next day which has some equally severe climbs…… we are resolute enough, but it is important to know your limitations.  We are not experienced bike tourers, and equally unused to pulling big panniers up hills.

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