I’m glad I spent the week in Milan but it was more than time to begin the bicycling part of this bicycling trip. I pedalled away from Daniella’s place in Bovisa around 11:00 am and pointed my front wheel toward the Duomo. My route to Pavia would begin with my crossing through the heart of the city. Because there is national holiday on Tuesday many people make it a longweekend so the streets were quieter than usual.
The ride was some 40 kilometres mostly along a canal, the Naviglio Pavese. Milan used to be full of canals – like Venice or Amsterdam – and the city a major port but from the 1930s to the 1970s almost all were filled in to become roadways. The Pavese, built under Napolean’s regime, is one of the few which is still fully navigable and, happily for me, has a cycleway running the full length.
It felt great to be underway. Here I was at last … riding my bicycle from one place to another in Italy. The route following the canal was nice enough … a bit like if the Cooks River path left Sydney and took you someplace else. Initially lined by suburbs and industrial parks, then somewhat more agricultural land. From one end to the other the path was busy with cyclists, walkers and joggers. Most cyclists returned my nod; some offered enthusiastic waves and calls of “Ciao!”.
The day was quite hot and there weren’t many obvious stopping points (at a few spots there were benches or tables but they were few and far between). I’d been crushing for a caffe and finally hit one on the outskirts of Pavia. There must have been seven bicycles parked outside and nothing but old men filling the tables inside and out.
In Pavia I got a little turned around but easily found the accommodation I’d booked that morning through booking.com. Hotel Rosengarten is about a ten minute walk from the old centre of town on the other side of the train tracks. It’s big and a bit on the older side but in excellent condition, the staff is friendly and helpful. They have a bicycle store room and offer bicycles to their guests.
Once sorted I wandered into town to look around an find food.
Pavia has a beautiful old town area full of cobbled laneways and ancient churches. The city was the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards from 572 to 774 – so there’s a castle. It’s a big university town too with the University of Pavia (founded in 1361) and a number of newer institutions bringing young people to town.
I stopped for a beer, walked along the river and read a poster (in Italian – and I understood it, yeah!) which led me to a street food festival.
Then it was time to sleep.