Day 19: Crespino – Ferrara

Distance: 36.53 km

Time: 1 hour 36 minutes

Average speed: 22.7 kph

Cumulative distance: 988.88 km

Cumulative time: 46 hours 18 minutes

Word of the day: ‘arriverderci‘ (a-ree-vair-dare-chee) – until we meet again

Our night in Crespino was fantastic. The tiniest of villages, hardly a hundred metres from the argine, it seemed like some kind of beautiful service area to us, knowing that we’d be straight back on the argine this morning. Our hosts were warm and friendly, and the apartment tiny but wonderfully well organised, with a little patio area where we could sit out. The sweet house cat, Micifu, was a frequent visitor, especially when we sat out to eat the sausages we’d bought for dinner at the butcher, along with the vegetables our hosts gifted us from their garden.

This morning a delicious breakfast feast was delivered to the patio, including four slices of walnut cake, still warm from the oven, some fabulous fresh croissants with home-made strawberry jam, yoghurt, juice. It was difficult to justify eating it all given that we had a scant 35km to ride today, but we managed, somehow!

We left around eleven, it had been a wonderful, tranquil and relaxing stay, very different to being in the cities and towns we’ve landed in so far, and a lovely contrast. The owners are building two new apartments for visitors next to the one we used, we hope very much that they will be successful, they certainly deserve to be.

And so, it was back up to the argine in the sunshine, and soon up to cruising speed. Today we continued along the Sinistra Po, but after around 10km we took a bridge, crossing over the Po for the last time and picking up the Destra Po argine on the other side. It was lucky that we’d spotted last night that the next bridge along, closer to our destination of Ferrara, will be closed until October – if we’d gone all the way on the Sinistra side expecting to cross there, we’d have had to retrace our pedal strokes, a detour of at least 20km. In any event, it was good to see the river from the other side.

There were lots of cyclists out today, it being Saturday, including a lady in a teeny tiny bikini (not in this picture)!

All too soon we reached the turn-off for Ferrara, waved goodbye to the Po for the last time, rode down off the argine and onwards towards the city.

It felt like a significant thing – we’ve spent a lot of time with the Po as we’ve travelled east, crossing and recrossing, including once accidentally! We’ve seen it in its narrower form, and then marvelled at its huge width closer to its delta. We’ve really enjoyed riding along it these last couple of days.

We were soon into the centre of Ferrara, and checking in to today’s Airbnb apartment. A quick shower and we headed in to town for lunch.

We chose a place in Piazza Savonarola serving piadine, as recommended by our host. Savonarola was born in Ferrara, he was a great thorn in the side of the Borgia pope Alexander VI, a great orator and a little ‘imaginative’ in his visions, it is said. He was executed in Florence.

We had a walk round the handsome red brick Castello Estense, it looked absolutely impregnable. It even had a moat with water and everything, which always pleases the Captain.

The duomo is undergoing some restoration at the moment, but we popped in there too. There’s often a thick curtain at the entrance, and you never know when you step inside it whether it will be a beautiful plain marble interior, or highly decorated with frescos and trompe l’oeil. This one was somewhere in between.

There’s a nice little peaceful courtyard outside our apartment, we’ll probably sit out there for dinner. The Stoker has had a craving for ‘spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino’ for a few days, and as we found a ‘mix’ for it at the supermarket today, it’s on the menu tonight. The mix is garlic and chilli flakes, this one goes by the delightful name ‘Spagghy’.

Tomorrow we head for Modena.

Here’s today’s track.