We were at danger of staying in Italy forever, so looking at maps and timetables over beers in Montegello we made a rash decision to cut our hilly meander short and head straight for the coast, then up to Ancona to catch a ferry to Croatia in just three days.
We’ve been avoiding coast roads thinking that campsites would be expensive and traffic would be bad and weren’t surprised to find this was true as we cycled along the coast of Le Marche. A long downhill from Montegallo took us into Ascoli Piscaro then down to the ocean via some roads that tourists usually don’t see, and for good reason – big busy industrial estates where we made a detour to Decathlon (for gas canisters that they no longer stock!). As we got closer to the coast we both had to be very cautious on the roads – cars weren’t seeing or expecting fully loaded cycle tourists around them.
We divided our riding between the coastal promenades and the busy SS16 – the main road up to Ancona. The seafront stretches were like watching the same piece of film loop over and over again, with the waters edge occupied by the bars renting deck chairs, snorkel and sunhat stalls, more bars and gelaterias and paths turning from smooth paving stones to deep gravel without explanation. We could move faster on the main road, but so could the motorised traffic. The fumes and the heat of the day made me feel lightheaded and seeing signs for the Led Zepplin campsite, a Thelma and Louise bar and an “America at the Beach” beach bar, I wondered if my brain had given up on Italian names and was just inputting pop culture references instead. The campsites we stayed at were predictably over-priced holiday resorts, with children’s entertainment laid on and not another tent in sight, but we ate on the beach and managed to go swimming, so couldn’t complain.
In three hot and muggy days we have one particularly amazing experience. I had been talking about having fish as we were on the coast, and we find ourselves at a closed fish market in Pedaso, where a few stall owners appear to be cleaning up. Justin goes off to take photos and I notice what appears to be a cafe at one end of the main building. On closer inspection, it’s clearly not a cafe, though a number of workers are all sitting around a table eating something out of take out containers. We’re about to move on when one of them calls us over and asks us if we’d like to eat with them, and we can’t believe our luck. We spend the next 90 minutes eating container loads of tiny fried fish, freshly cooked anchovies and potato fries cooked in olive oil; all in view of the ocean chatting to a group of fisheries workers. This being Italy, there is even wine and coffee with the meal. The group happily poses for photos and then starts taking out their phones to capture us with the two bicycles before we pedal on.
Our last Italian meal was in a central city park in Ancona. After a long slow afternoon wandering the city we can’t find a open supermarket and by the time we find one its poorly stocked and we are suddenly rushed for time. We cook a hurried meal of filled tortellini, with a cold sauce consisting of pureed tomatoes and fresh basil. With our ferry boarding time upon us, we rush towards the docks, pausing for a few minutes for one last gelato before jumping ship to Croatia.
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route map for this post
The map below shows the waypoints for this blog post. To view the details of our trip to date take a look at our complete route map.