About hills, more hills and a conference (Laroscia – Ortona – Pescara – Sulmona – Avezzano – Ortona – Avezzano – Tivoli)

Yeah, that’s right. Avezzano and Ortona twice. I got lost big time. Roads in Italy go crazy. No, not true. I didn’t get lost. I returned to Ortona intentionally and out of my own free will…

I left Laroscia (Where I stayed with Verino and from where we attempted to conquer the Maiella) in the direction of the East-coast again. I couldn’t go West to Rome immediately, because I would face the Maiella (the big snowy mountain that had already been looking at me for days). I didn’t feel like being conquered by her again. Instead I would go around. First to Pescara and then follow the road to Rome. But I got warned not to be mistaken, there are a lot of mountains between Pescara and Rome. Only compared to the Maiella they seem like hills.

From Pescara I went to Sulmona. The road was do-able. In the beginning. Later the climbing was a bit much for me and my shitty bike. Oh, now I really wish I had bought a bike with gears. Most of it I could do without walking, but I needed a lot of rests in between. Cycling is way harder than walking. I know walking costs more time and it sounds way more impressing to walk long stretches, but whenever there are mountains or hills, cycling is way more difficult, it drains away all the energy. So kudos to cyclists. The last 20 kms between Popoli and Sulmona I really cursed my bike.

But Sulmona was worth the effort. What a beautiful town! A bit like the towns in Switzerland or Austria. Nice old buildings with big snow-white mountaintops hovering over it. Yet the temperature here is more pleasant. And the gelato is definitely better!

Sulmona

Sulmona market square.

After Sulmona I went to Avezzano. The weather forecast predicted rain and thunder, so I decided not to go by bike. Rain I can handle. Only thunder when I’m in the mountains alone… that didn’t sound like a good plan to me. Also, I had really had it with my bike. Yesterday had proven difficult and exhausting. So today I deserved a relax-day. I walked around Sulmona again (really love the place) and took the train to Avezzano.

Avezzano itself is not particularly beautiful, but the surroundings are. It is located at a place where there used to be a mountain lake, yet it is gone now. So the town itself is a bit down and surrounded by mountains. If you go up a bit you reach Alba Fucens, the remains of an old Roman city. I stayed with Giacomo, a very nice guy who is half Polish. I was treated by his mother on a typical Polish dish and it was really good!

Avezzano

Giacomo, my host in Avezzano.

From Avezzano I had to take the train back to Ortona. I was invited to speak at a conference about bike-travelling or travelling alone (I didn’t really know actually, I just went) organized by Il Cammino di San Tommaso. There I was taken care of by a lot of people. I could stay in the B&B of Diego’s family. Erica made us lunch and provided company. Martina made sure we had company and breakfast. And Fausto was present for the necessary entertainment. I met bike-traveller Gabriele Saluci and his girlfriend Beata. Gabriele has cycled around Iceland and he cycled from Turin to the Sahara of wich he made videos. It is really impressive!

Conference Ortona

So, then I was suddenly speaking at this conference (gathering?). Not sure how this happened. But it was certainly fun! It was organized by the association of the Cammino di San Tomasso. The pilgrim’s route to Ortona, where the remains of Saint Thomas were laid to rest. The route is probably most famous for the fountain with red wine in Villa Caldari near Ortona ;-).

Ortona gang

Partying with the gang in Ortona. Thanks for all the good times, guys!

After a few amazing days it was time to go again. I took the train back to Avezzano (where I had left my bike) and from there I went to Tivoli (close to Rome). There are a lot of Roman remains. Like villa Adriana and villa Gregoriana. And there is supposed to be something with beautiful fountains, villa d’Este. Unfortunately I got there on Monday, and everything is closed on Mondays. Plus it was raining big-time. So I left my bike to come back another day and took the train to Rome.

Finally. Rome.

Guardiagrele

As you can see, I’m getting fluent at Italian.

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