We set off down and out of town onto good old SS2. It wasn’t too bad at first but there was quite a bit of traffic. We took a slight detour into Monterosi as the road ran parallel but was quieter. It was also quite a climb. We stopped for cash and for a mad old guy to shout at us and wave his walking stick at me.
We rejoined the road as it got busier and hillier. We stopped for coffee and a bun at a roadside place to take a break from traffic but were soon on a dual carriageway with crumbling road and limited hard shoulder. There was quite a steep climb ahead, but luckily for us there was a traffic jam so we slowly went past the cars on the inside, our 5mph looking pretty speedy to them. There had been a fairly unpleasant accident with a road sweeping truck, a Renault and a motorbike.
The descent was fast and long, but I had to keep breaking because the road quality was so poor. The after effects of the accident helped us out as the cars were only coming through one by one cutting the flow and giving us room, but soon it was back to normal, squidged against the barrier and hanging on tight.
Another climb and another descent, on which I got whacked by a plant which left quite a few scratches and a large lump. I felt a bit bad as I think I ran over a lizard’s tail but Lou said he looked back and ran off so he should be OK.
We reached La Storta, our proposed stop, but it was only 10:15 and we’d only done 20 miles so we carried on to Rome. It was good when the SS2 split into two, we took the old road and left the dual carriageway behind. It wasn’t pretty – we went through retail parks and slightly dodgy looking suburbs on barely navigable tarmac. One right turn over a railway was almost impossible because of crap tarmac on a steep bend, but on the other side we entered Rome. Go us!
We still had a long way to go but now it was downhill. We went past some impressive villas , including Villa Stuart. We rolled into what seemed like town. It had a one way system but we couldn’t find the streets in my Rome book. We just carried on. After a while we spotted the Tiber and so tried to navigate in from there, but some of the buildings didn’t appear in the guide and so it was hard.
We decided to abandon the book and go with gut instinct and soon picked up signs to St Peter’s. The traffic was horrid and we dodged as best we could until we turned the corner and saw St Peter’s. I figured the traffic could dodge us from now on.
We cycled up to the barrier outside the piazza but a chap warned us that although we could take our bikes in we couldn’t leave them unattended. We stood in awe for a while then went to find a convent to stay in around the back. Neither of the ones we tried would let us, one only had reserved places, the other didn’t answer the door or the phone.
We walked back around, got some ‘pope water’ from a water fountain and I asked the tourist information guy for help. He wouldn’t find us a place to stay but could point us towards the station where all the hotels were. We set off, part cycling, part walking depending on one way systems. We were stopped by a policeman who said the road was closed but agreed we could go “at your own personal risk” on foot. We did. We carried on towards the station through scary traffic and Roman ruins until we reached Albergo Romano .
We had to manoeuvre our bikes down a flight of stairs with a dog leg to store them in a crappy underground room full of timber. When we got back up the bloke said the room was €100 including €10 for bike storage. Dream on! I refused and he tried to push it. I said we’d agreed €90 and we would pay that. He stuck his ground for a minute or two, but Lou thought he was scared of me and he backed down. I was perfectly willing to go back down and get the bikes and call the police. I was sweaty and dressed in Lycra. I was scared of me.
We got cleaned up and went downstairs – there were rip off tourist food places outside and I had pizza and Frascati. We strolled down to the Coliseum for a walk around and then into town and the Trevi Fountain. We ate at a fly ridden place where I had ravioli and squid. As we walked back we happened upon the Spanish Steps but the building above was covered up with a giant Puma ad. Back to the Albergo and time for bed.