We had a nice relaxing rest in Cuneo but as we woke at around 7am and ate our gruel, we were ready to get back on the crazy Italian roads and head to our next stop in Turin. As we packed up all our gear, we talked to some of the Dutch cycle tourists who were also getting ready for a day of cycling, albeit a much faster, lighter one than ours. We said our goodbyes and were back on the road before 8.
We’ve been through many different regions and countries on our bikes, all of them with differing road surfaces and noticeably different driving styles. From what we’ve seen so far, Italy has by far the worst roads and the most mental drivers. Many of the roads don’t appear to have been resurfaced for several hundred years (perhaps a roman road is just one that hasn’t been resurfaced since it was built by Cesar?) which makes for a very interesting experience, especially when the cars passing don’t give you any more room than is absolutely necessary.
Light relief from the roads however are the things that line them: on our way to Turin we saw many signs for ‘SEXY SHOP’, which might just be a sex shop. CRAZY BOY was also an interesting sign that offered no explanation of what was inside the building. Possibly another sexy shop.
Another thing we saw quite regularly were bikini-clad women by the side of the road. At first we thought nothing of it other than that the side of a busy road was a strange place to choose to sun yourself/do a little dance but, after seeing several more in a short stretch of road (and one particular lady with her bikini pulled down, flashing her ass to the passing cars) we figured they must be hookers. A quick Wikipedia reveals prostitution is legal in Italy but organised brothels or prostitution controlled by a third party is illegal. You learn something new every day!
Interspersing the sexy shop signs and hookers on the arrow straight, bumpy roman roads were several lovely towns. Most had little cobbled streets with people enjoying Italy’s coffee culture, which we are starting to get hooked on.
The day’s cycling had been nearly entirely flat from Cuneo, with the GPS reading that we’d only ascended 20ft in 40 miles. We even managed to reach 188 km/h (115mph) according to this sign, although I think it was broken.
As I said, it was very flat and as we stopped for lunch supplies at a supermarket just outside Turin centre, the GPS read only 2 miles to go. What might have seemed like an easy 2 miles were actually nearly vertical. Okay, not quite vertical but it seemed that once again, we’d picked a campsite at the top of a giant hill. After weaving our way again up switch back roads we arrived at Camping Villa Rey which looked impressive to say the least.
As we’d been cycling up the road, a man on a scooter accosted us to say it was closed until 3pm and to just set up and go to the office at 3, but as we arrived a man came over, took our passports and showed us where to camp. We were fairly sure he worked there but given how relaxed (slack?) Italian campsites seem to be run, we weren’t 100% sure. Our climb up the giant hill out of Turin was worth it though in the end as the view was pretty awesome.
Tent pitched and lunch scoffed, we had a walk around the tiny campsite. The impressive building that greeted us on our way in turned out to be nothing to do with the campsite at all and was the headquarters of Auto Club Italia. We had a peek inside although it kind of felt like we shouldn’t be there, so we didn’t stay long.
We sat by reception for a while juicing up the laptop and browsing the internet. I say reception but it was more a cross between a broom cupboard and a shed.
The campsite owner returned (way, way past 3) to a queue of campers who’d arrived whilst the site was closed over lunch (12 to 3). He processed everyone’s paperwork, after which (about 10 minutes) he looked extremely stressed and tired and not at all like he’d just had a 3 hour lunch. After we got our passports back, he told us there was a ‘Rock and Roll festival’ on the campsite that evening.
We attended said rock and roll “festival” where we drank two 5 Euro cocktails (they were pretty strong) and watched the sunset over the Alps and the city.
The festival turned out to be a DJ (iTunes playlist) playing indie/soft rock, not quite a festival but it was the best campsite entertainment yet. It got better though because just after sunset they revealed a BUFFET. A FREE BUFFET. It was very tasty and after we’d spent a further 10 Euros (a fifth of our daily budget!) on two more drinks, we made the most of the free food with second and even third helpings.