I'm sitting in the Hotel al Castello overlooking Torri Del Benaco, Castello Scarlego, and Largo de Garda. Since I last wrote we flew from Dubai to Milan, an uneventful flight which was quite empty so I managed a few hours sleep across a row of four seats- it would have been longer if not for a poorly timed stretch by me which almost had my left foot taken off by the drinks trolley!
After arriving and being pleasantly surprised that all our luggage had also arrived, we headed to pick up the Panda (Fiat Panda). About this time I discovered something new about my wife of more than 20 years. If deprived of sleep for around 24 hours around ninety percent of her brain turns into a local dessert food. Today it was Gelato. Oh, and the other ten percent is not functioning. I was beginning to think I might need to revise her role as navigator.
We headed off into the night to find our hotel. I had checked the route and thought I had a fair idea which direction I needed to head. How wrong I was. Short story, we stuffed around for and hour and finally pulled in for a well earned rest and shower. During the night Sharon revealed to me that the earth had moved for her. Unfortunately I was in the toilet at the time. Although a long way south of us we felt the rumble a an earthquake that occurred during the night in Bologna.
A morning walk revealed that the hotels in the area were located more for the proximity to the airport than for the local attractions. Our next stop was Busto Arsizio a few kms down the road where the Giro was starting from (20th May stage 15). Busto was a nice little place which must have once been an important local town. Some beautiful old places and imposing churches and towers, but for all that I suspect it's best days may have been behind it. We arrived early as all the Giro start preparations we being made. There was a nice atmosphere in town and all the locals were out with stalls and shops dressed in pink for the occasion. We found a central caffe and practiced our coffee ordering skills (several times just to make sure we got it right).
As the start time got closer the crowd grew as did the anticipation. Riders reached the sign on through a long tunnel of fans. Surprisingly most of the riders, even the Italians, didn't get much of a cheer for the crowd. It was as if they saved it all up for Basso, Cunego, Tirilongo and Visconti and maybe one or two others. I suspect I may have been a bit of a shock (or perhaps embarrassment) with my loud waving and cheering for the GreenEdge and other Aussies. Jack Bobridge and a couple of the others seems to pleased to have Aussie support. It was very much an Italian crowd, with very few tourists bothering to get to Busto for the start. After all their months, weeks and hours of planning and preparation, it was a little sad that the town had their big moment somewhat soured by the rain that started right before the start. The locals knew what was coming as about 5 minutes before it began pissing down, there was much ciao-ing as they all headed for shelter.
After the start we stopped for a quick pizza and then headed east to Torri where we are for the next few nights. Today is a rest day in the Giro and many of the riders are staying across the lake at Limone sul Garda. We're we're going to catch a ferry across the lake to Limone but it's still raining so we might drive around instead. As I write it is brightening a little and the limestone mountains on the opposite side of Lake Garda are looming out of the mist. It's market day in Torri so we will have poke around there and also stop at Riva del Garda which has a bike shop which is actually called, "The best [email protected] Bike Shop". I also have to put the bikes together and if the rain stops we will have a ride this arvo.