After Austria, we flew through Switzerland (not literally, we were in a car for every single kilometre) and arrived in Italy looking forward to getting to know the country with our new hero rider, Daniele. He had planned a route that took in the best of the north and north east of the country, including Parma, Bologna, Pisa, Firenze (Florence to you), and some great stops in between. Daniele was such a sound guy and was the first rider to have to deal with just us 4, as we were without any support vehicle for the first time on the tour. There were a couple of other firsts while we were in Italy. Our first enormous thunderstorm which was spectacular apart from the rain that leaked under the window and soaked all of Jake’s clothes that were underneath. We had our first campsite which was… interesting. And we had our first motoring mishap, when the wheel of our Mitsubishi Pajero was making funny noises and suddenly felt like it was falling off. Don’t worry, though, we stopped and got it fixed/replaced that hunk of junk with two Fiat 500’s.
Because of this minor problem we got an extended stopover in Parma. This unexpected break turned out to be extremely welcome. We got to recuperate in a nice apartment and catch up on the work that was mounting up form the previous ride. We also met some really cool guys from Parma University who invited us round for dinner and to watch the England v Costa Rica game with them. After 3 days in Parma we managed to get the two replacement cars so we could rejoin the tour. Not after exhausting the city of most of its Prosciutto and Parmigiana. I think Louis ate a whole pig’s worth of Parma ham. Our next stop was France and the beginning of the next leg of the tour.