The past three days have centred on the Adige, Italy’s second longest river, which rises in the Austrian Alps and flows south and east to the Adriatic. We joined the river at Cavarzere, having cycled the length of the narrow islands of Lido di Venezia and Pellestrina via a short vehicle ferry ride between the two. A second passenger ferry took us from Pallestrina to Chioggia on mainland Italy.
From Chioggia we found quiet roads through fertile farmland with almost no population until we encountered the river, which is dotted with small villages.
There is a choice of cycle paths on either side of the levee above the river or the quiet roads winding alongside. We chose the roads for greater rolling speed, seeing the villages along the way and avoiding hoards of flying ants near to the water. We were concerned that despite the clearly productive land, so many houses and farm buildings are abandoned and falling into disrepair.
After a night in the tiny village of Concadirame, at a family run B&B we continued another 65 miles up river on Thursday. It was a day of ‘spot the crop, as maize and soy beans gave way to horticultural and orchard crops. Acres of apples, so ripe we could smell them, kiwi fruit, pomegranates, some hi-tech, high rise, hydroponic strawberries, polytunnels full of peppers, tomatoes and chrysanthemums to name but a few. The only livestock in evidence was the odd horse.
The river provided a very easy run in to the beautiful city of Verona with its wealth of Roman antiquities. Today (Friday) was spent walking around the historic sights which included the 14th centuary house where Shakespeare’s Juliet lived, fine old bridges across the river, a Roman amphitheatre and the famous 1st centuary Roman Arena. Once the setting for gladiators and lions, it now hosts opera and other musical performances. The shear scale of the engineering defies imagination, especially in the knowledge that even though a 12th centuary earthquake destroyed all but four of the outer arches, the main body was unscathed.