Day 6: Saluzzo – Mondovì

Distance: 56.8 km

Time: 2 hours 46 minutes

Average speed: 20.5 kph

Cumulative distance: 300.67 km

Cumulative time: 14 hours 16 minutes

Phrase of the day: ‘Fa del sole!’ (Fa dell sow-lay) – It’s sunny!

Saluzzo was fabulous – we enjoyed a pizza last night, then flaked out quite quickly – not an uncommon experience on our cycling tours. Then, joy of joys, we awoke to clear blue skies and sunshine, for the first time on this trip. So, packing done, we headed down to the modern part of Saluzzo for a breakfast consisting of pastries and cappuccino, which we ate outside in the sunshine.

Our tandem had been parked overnight in the garage of our host, Silvio. We retrieved it and, after a little routine maintenance, loaded up the panniers and pedalled off in the direction of Costigliole Saluzzo. Against all odds we managed to escape Saluzzo without error. The first ten kilometres or so were uphill, but only gently so, and we’re already feeling the benefit of a few days in the saddle (and many trips out before we left home).

All the while we could see green hills and distant snowy Alps to the west, and now to the south as well, as we were reaching the point where the mountains take a gentle turn to run parallel to the Ligurian coastline.

On reaching Costigliole we turned away to the east, leaving the mountains behind us, to the plain of the River Po (and its tributaries). Poppies populated the verges as we passed through an area of arable farming, and we were enjoying the sensation of cycling along at around thirty kilometres an hour for a good while.

On reaching Fossano we descended steeply to the Stura river, before working our way back up on successive hairpins. It was only really at this point that we became aware of the heat – when cycling along at speed you get a pleasant breeze to cool you down, but when grinding slowly up steep hills that is absent. So, on achieving the summit, we were glad to stop in a bar in Sant’Albano Stura for drinks and focacce.

Not far to go now, but we knew there were further river crossings (and therefore hairpins) to negotiate. We were distracted from the effort when a local teacher. returning from work, cycled alongside us and chatted for a while on his way home to Mondovì. On reaching the town we went our separate ways. And what a town! We chose to stay here based on research, rather than blind luck. It’s divided into Mondovì basso (low) and alta (high), the two joined by a handy funicular.

So on checking into our third AirBnB apartment in as many days we wasted no time in showering, changing and heading off up the funicular.

A little side note. The accent on the end of the name Mondovì indicates where to place the emphasis. Most Italian words are stressed on the penultimate syllable, so the accent here indicates that it is pronounced Mon-doh-vee. Now for some reason both of us noticed that this rhymes (approximately) with the chorus of the song “The Happy Wanderer”:

I love to go a-wandering

Along the mountain track

And as I go, I love to sing

My knapsack on my back

Val-deri, val-dera

Val-deri, val-dera ha, ha, ha, ha, ha

So, in order solely to amuse ourselves, we decided that the upper part of Mondovì should be called Mondovà, and have happily been singing:

Mondovì, Mondovà

Mondovì, Mondovà ha, ha, ha, ha, ha

Silliness aside, it’s a beautiful place. At the top of the funicular there’s a delightful stroll to the Torre Civica, where there’s a belvedere with views on three sides, all of them spectacular but none better than the view to the south-east, towards the sanctuary at Vicoforte, which we plan to visit tomorrow on the tandem before turning northwards towards Barolo. We could fill pages with the photos we took from the Belvedere, but have chosen just one. Believe me, this does not begin to do justice to the amazing view.

There’s also a curious obsession with sundials here, which can be found on many different surfaces throughout the town. Some are definitely more accurate than others – here’s an example, on the side of the Torre Civica:

By now we were ready for a rest, so, after quaffing a very large bottle of acqua minerale, we returned on the funicular to Mondovì basso, found a wonderful Salumeria and purchased the ingredients for tonight’s meal. Then we headed back to our lovely cool apartment.

Here’s today’s track.