Our last day in Switzerland gave us torrential rain (for 3 days) and we had to wear all our waterproofs and hope for it to clear. After a full day on the bike we crossed the border into Italy and the rain continued. We both where shocked at the sudden lack of any cycle infrastructure and the chaotic driving of the Italians! Heading through Chaisso into Como we turned to the Gramin for the first time to get us out of the busy roads. Our first stop in Italy brought us to Monza to a fantastic hostel in the park (right next to the race track). This became a resting place for 2 nights as the rain continued and the threat of local flooding kept us in the Ostello-Costa Alta, where we meet some friendly people (Mario, Gianfranco, Maria Rosa, Davide & Silva). If you are in Monza stay here it’s not your normal hostel and it’s very cheap.
As the rains cleared we continued through the busy flatlands of industry in the Milano surrounds. It was more of heads down and do the long miles. As we left the heavy industrial zones we managed to find quieter lanes and a ride along the river Po. A couple of stops finally brought us to a slice of heaven in Noceto (Emilia Romagna) where we stayed in a fantastic B&B Tenuta Rivalazzo (ran by Antonio), in the middle of acres of farm land. Absolutely no campsites from the north until now, so we were forced to stay in B&B or hostels.
We were both concerned as we had another wall to face of the Appennini range. Our trusty cycle mapping http://www.cycle.travel.com device indicated we had a 1200 metre climb. The sun shone and the inclines were tough but not impossible. Lots of mini stops to gain feeling back in the rear end and energise our legs and we made it to Berceto to our campsite resting place, where we sit drinking a beer and watching all the pensioners play cards with gusto!
We are almost in touching distance of Livorno, couple more days and we will have made it but tomorrow another climb to reach the Cisa pass.