In Rome I turned back north, passing three lakes in former craters. This turned out to be a very strategic choice – as temperatures started to attack 40°C in the afternoon, I quickly replaced cycling for bathing.
I reached the center of Rome around Roma Termini and the first impression, after a time spent in nature and in the picturesque medieval towns, was quite terrible: floods of litter, garbage and dirt of all kinds, noise, soldiers in armored vehicles with machine guns, suspicious idividuals of all nationalities, incl. e.g. one older lady just hand-measuring her black favourite as he counted the money, with other guy preparing his shot nearby… But it was enough to walk the marble pavements towards the historical centre, and the Eternal City has much more to offer.
In San Mauro a Mare I left the sea behind and soon I came across the first hill after a long time – and on the top of it the castle in Santarcangelo di Romagna. This was supposed to become a pattern. Behind the first hill followed the landscape I fell in love with. Beautiful landscape, on every hill a village or a town looking like it was just made ready for a medieval movie, narrow little streets, stone houses, marble, fortification around.
By an easy ride through the valley, via Gmünd and then around the Drau river, I reached Villach and from there, from the Austrian side with an effort smaller than expected, I got up on the Austro-Italian border pass.
I enjoyed nearly four weeks of holiday going south: from Salzburg to Italy. And actually, considering formal borders I visited quite a few countries: Austria, Italy, San Marino, again Italy, Vatican, yet again Italy, Switzerland, Austria.
The Ore Mountains I used the May Victory day holidays for a trip to Dresden. From the Czech side the Czech Ore Mountains and the “Saxon Switzerland” stand in the way. Stopping at Stadice, where Přemysl, the legendary founder of the Czech royal dynasty left his plough for a throne, I reached the foot of the mountains in Krupka and went up around the local castle (for a while I was also considering local chair lift that reportedly also lifts bikes). Upon arrival to the Ore Mountains it was interesting to observe the class segregation by altitude. The bottom – a landscape covered by smoke from the industrial zone, the decaying remains of the socialist-era industry around the revitalised (= overgrown) former coal quarries, housing only in aging prefabricated concrete…
A heatwave struck in the summer of 2016, so I made my holiday truly nordic: first, a trip to Norway across the polar circle and then cycling to a place where you can meet much fewer Czechs on vacation: the northeast of Poland.