Bessano to Padova via Vicenza. 81km.

Total from Bewdley:  2152km

If the day before yesterday was a Wow day and yesterday a Wet day, today was a day of contrasts.

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If breakfast is measured by the quality of the coffee (our usual marker) our Bessano hotel was a Norway, scoring ‘nil points’. Tepid and weak even on the 2nd asking. However suitably fuelled up with food if not coffee we set off. Packing up the day had looked promising, a slight glimmer of sunshine, but as we pedalled off a slight drizzle started – signposted by the fact that we saw people cycling while holding umbrellas – not something we had packed!

David navigated us out of the town but by then it was “officially” raining. A few minutes later it was officially ‘chucking it down’…and then the downpour got heavier! I don’t think we have cycled in such heavy rain before. We were wet through and so there was no point stopping, so we carried on cycling along flat roads resembling rivers! It wasn’t cold so it was strangely thrilling.

After an hour or so the rain gradually eased off and stopped just before we reached Vincenza.

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We found a suitable cafe in which to drip, have coffee and change into dry clothes (it was too warm to wear leggings and overshoes and no matter how waterproof the jacket, nothing can stop such torrential rain seeping down the neck!). The tourist office was helpful and let us store our soggy bags there while we went off to explore this amazing city. The whole of the old city is a Unesco World Heritage site. It was designed and built by an individual architect, Palladio, in the mid 1500s.

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In my ignorance I had not heard of Palladio but he was a ground breaking architect and the Palladian style he developed persists to this day – including in such notable buildings as Buckingham Palace and the White House. It was fantastic just to wander around this renaissance city. Every alley and street was full of beautiful buildings.

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We treated ourselves to a leisurely lunch just off the main square – by now it was warm and the sun was out. Best Pizza yet (mine very simple – excellent buffalo mozzarella, roasted cherry tomatoes to die for and basil) and a glass of valpolicella.

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Slightly woozily we made our way back to the bikes and around 4pm and set off for the 35km ride to Padua. This could not have contrasted more to the morning – warm sunshine, pretty countryside and villages that we could see the road ahead (someone needs to invent spectacle windscreen wipers for short sited cyclists) and a lovely quiet route.

We made it to Padua in good time, cycled into the heart of the old city along small colonnaded streets and very bouncy cobbles. The hotel we had booked was a couple of Km from the centre and we fiddled about a bit (i.e. we got lost for the first time since Bewdley due to my failure (i.e. David’s) to read a map properly) trying to find it, tucked away behind the main station. The internetis a fantastic thing, we had booked the hotel just before leaving Vincenza but did not access to the maps once we were away from wifi. Overall Italy has very good open internet almost everywhere, unlike Germany who are paranoid about the internet (according to the Dutch couple we met) and less easily available, requiring MI5 level passwords).

It was probably our least characterful hotel but we were grateful we wee there when we were woken in the night by a massive thunderstorm in the middle of the night with lightning across the sky. Confirmation of our informal rule not to camp if its raining!

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