Chapter 3: Bologna & Florence, What’s better?!

Day 3 & 4


Home of the arcades: Bologna

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The alarm was ringing, it was time to get on our feet!
Just a little problem, Arthur’s knee was hurting and neither a strong breakfast with 2 slices of cakes and hot tea could help him.
After discussing about what to do, we decided to look for a therapist in the city before doing our next step. Luckily the knee wasn’t hurting so much to stop pedaling, but we didn’t want to make things worse.
We left the hotel, and the first thing we did was going to the only one therapist we found, but unfortunately he told us to come back at 6.pm.. It was 9 o’clock and our plan was to reach Roncobilaccio ( half way to Firenze) through appennines. We definitely couldn’t wait!

So we decided to pedal slowly to visit the beautiful city of Bologna.

What to see in Bologna, capital of Emilia Romagna.
Bologna is a small, welcoming city, it is like a warm hug from a person who really loves you. Bologna is a living city, a city in which, in the tumult of people, you can feel its blood flowing.
Its famous arcades, streets and people make it a picturesque city. This city famous because of its food and before that, because of its art. In fact, Bologna is considered the crossroads of Italian culture.
So, we’ll be brief: here’s what you shouldn’t miss if you visit Bologna for one day:

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  • Piazza Maggiore: the principal square in Bologna, it hosts the Basilica of San Petronio and it is surrounded by historical buildings. This square is really important because it was one of the first squares to be rebuilt after the fall of the Roman Empire. The inhabitants needed a space of aggregation, a space to be used as a market so the municipality bought and demolished the old popular buildings to make the current square. This sanctioned the birth of the Italian squares as a meeting place.
  • Basilica di San Petronio: one of the most known curches in the city. It hosts the longest sundial of the world in a structure and Bologna’s people love it.This church is a world record for many things: the 4th in italy by size, the 6th in Europe and the first Gothic brick church in the world always by size.
  • Torre degli Asinelli: The Asinelli tower, one of the main towers, is known as the symbol of the city. The tower can be visited by paying a free entrance. After 498 steps you will be able to see Bologna from above. A popular saying says don’t climb to the top if you are not graduated yet because in that case you won’t succeed. Would you challenge popular says??
  • Arcades: the arcades represents this city, they are renowned in all the world because of their extension of 40 kms. Just perfect to take a walk in all season 🙂

Walking down the streets, just before lunch, we met Hokito, a funny equilibrist with whom we talked for half an hour. He left his job 14 years ago to start traveling by bike earning a living with small shows along the road. It’s surprising. We really admire this kind of people! We do not know if we could ever make such a decision.

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Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving.

Good luck Hokito!


 Time to make an HARD DECISION

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Once satisfied by the food we took a last look at the city. And here we are at the moment of the difficult decision, at the crossroads, the crossroads between heart and mind, between continuing to ride on the mountains putting in serious danger the knee of Arthur or recognize when it is time to stop.

It was hard to decide, when you think you are well trained, when nothing seems can’t stop you an old pain comes back. It’s life, and sometimes BIP happens. And sometimes the only thing you can do is going through it, through the rage, through all the “i could have trained better”. Arthur struggled for many hours with this thoughts… then he drinked a beer, took a coffee and an ice cream.

Basically a child, an happy child! 😀 DO NOT LET BAD THINGS RUIN YOUR TRIP 😀

We decided to to save energy and recover the knee for the last few days,so we went to Florence by train. It’s just an hour and a half of travel with a change to get to your destination.

We’re gonna talk about carrying your bike on a train in italy in a further post 🙂


What an ART, Florence!

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We do not believe that Florence needs introductions, but for all those who do not know what it is, we can say that it is simply the “Cradle of the Renaissance”.

It is in fact the Italian Renaissance city FOR EXCELLENCE, All those who appreciate art must at least once in their lives visit it and observe how a city can be artistic and expressive.

If you have only a few days to visit this beauty, you can’t miss:

  • Dome of Florence and Giotto’s belfry : Your visit should start with Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, heart of the city. It’s the third largest basilica of the world, second only to San Pietro of Rome and St.Paul of London. We assure you that you would only spend hours observing Brunelleschi‘s magnificent and majestic dome.
  • Piazza della Signoria and Loggia dei Lanzi The most famous square in Florence that houses the fourteenth-century Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civil and administrative power of the city. You will be addicted to ancient marble or stone sculptures, such as Donatello’s Marzocco or the fountain of Neptune, the first fountain in the city.After a few steps you will find yourself under the “Loggia dei Lanzi”, which was the seat of the ancient public assemblies. The Loggia today houses numerous marble sculptures, including Benvenuto Cellini’s masterpiece: The Perseo, dating back to 1554, which with an athletic gesture proudly exhibits the beheaded head of Medusa. Take a look at it:

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  • Galleria degli Uffizi: The Uffizi Gallery needs no introduction, just think that it is one of the most famous and visited museums in the world, incredibly full of priceless and unique artworks, open to the public since 1581!
  • Ponte vecchio: Symbol of the historical Florence, allows the passage over the waters of the Arno river where it narrows. The bridge is sprinkled with artisan workshops, which were once butcher shops and today are goldsmith shops. However, the shopping strip will stop in the middle, where two terraces await you. Panorama insured.
  • Giardino di Boboli: Private park of Palazzo Pitti, the ancient residence of the duchy, connects the famous palace with Forte Belvedere. 45,000 square metres of garden with museums, statues and residences. Its beauty will not leave you indifferent.

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We forgot to tell you that another essential thing to do in Florence is eating like crazy!:D

Your stomach will thank you, scout’s world of honor.

But let’s go back to our story! previously we said that due to the physical mishap we stayed two days in Florence, but we did not have a facility in which to stay the first evening and we decided to book blindly, checking Booking availability.

WE ENDED UP IN A FANTASY PLACE. The receptionist seemed to have come out from some thriller film in which he was the crazy killer: Very thin, bewildered eyes, very rapid and sudden movements, elegant jacket with sleeves covering almost entirely the hands and jeans.

Arthur asked him if by chance they had a bag of ice to try to appease the pain, but the recepetionist replied that he would have to check later because at the moment he was very very very busy. The problem was that while he was saying this, he turned and stared at his empty desk. COMPLETELY EMPTY.

In the meantime, a young man arrived and presented himself as the new receptionist on his first day in structure. Our protagonist, after welcoming the new employee, decided to accompany us to the room, climbing up the stairs when suddenly the phone rang!

PANIC! He began to run up the stairs yelling to the new receptionist (who was arrived only two minutes before) to answer the phone. In the distance we heard a shy and sketched “hello?. We laughed so much that we will hardly forget it.
That is not the end of the story! In fact, after a small evening tour in the center, we came back to the hotel thinking about how funny was the scene of the afternoon.

As soon as we crossed the threshold of the hotel we didn’t see anyone at the reception. We advanced towards the second entrance of the hotel from which on the right you can access the stairs, when an unidentified boy passed from nowhere hopping the entire hall and making strange verses. We laughed so much that Arthur risked to fall off the stairs. WE WILL NEVER FORGET THAT HOTEL!


How to end this Experience

The next day we stayed at Plus Florence, youth hostel and multicultural: Just think that the receptionists know at least 3-4 languages.

Meanwhile Arthur’s knee was almost healed so we explored the city passing by the riverside (“Lungarno”) and along the beautiful streets of the Florence.

While we were walking through Florence we were stopped by Filippo, who recognizing our BRN equipment and told us about his journey from Florence to St. Petersburg.

it’s incredible how two travel bags catch the eye: in fact we’ve been stopped several times by other like-minded people.

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In this photo you can see Arthur with a lovely couple of New Zealanders on an European bicycle tour of 6 months.

Despite the misadventure this experience has been beautiful, because the most exciting thing is that each of our adventure gives us emotions, feelings, circumstances and memories that we will always take with us and that push us to explore more and more with the bike this beloved world.

True freedom is only in yourself, never stop looking for it.

Keep pedaling,

Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

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Chapter 2: To Bologna with Piadinas!

Day 2


Happily lost in Reggio Emilia

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It’s time to wake up ladies and gentlemen!
After a good breakfast based of 2 cups of tea and 2 muffin, we were ready to pedaling towards Bologna.
But first we want to give a look to Reggio Emilia ’cause the first day we were too tired to do it.reggio 2
“Reggio” is a little & cozy town that can be visited for one dayGet lost in alleys and lead in pleasant squares is something to try once in life.
Its inhabitants are so kind! A lot of people stopped us to speak about our journey and support us.
This is the kind of people that we mostly appreciate, always ready to spread happiness! 🙂
Once you visit this town, you must see:
the museum of Tricolore: You need to know that Reggio is where the italian flag born!
 What’s better than a museum to celebrate it and its story? Get lost in the charming italian history!
First italian murales: It was made in the ’40s and although it is faded, you can read: the right people want snow, a slogan against poverty and the fascist regime.
City center: A lot of squares and monuments like S.prospero square with its homonymous basilica and Camillo Prampolini square with the Dome of Reggio Emilia, Santa Maria Assunta cathedral.Get lost in the italian architecture.

Say Cheeeeeeese!

Time to reach Modena. Once again the route was partly cicleable, anyways It’s pleasant ’cause the stretches alternate between flat and gentle descents.
In the previous chapter we said that this region is scattered with gastronomic traps and our decision to move away from the via emilia to follow the country roads led us to buy 250g of grana padano.
OH WAIT, it was Parmiggiano Reggiano! Please be careful to don’t confuse these cheeses otherwise you might unleash the wrath of local vendors! 😀
Reggio Emilia is the house of Parmiggiano Reggiano and local sellers want to underline the uniqueness of their product . 😛
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Follow the railway.
do you know when your instinct tells you not to rely on the navigator but to ask for information to the only passerby in a very small village? Exactly.
We’re still searching for the road that would have allowed us to reach Modena following a non-existent railway, saving kms and an underpass that we have crossed 4 times.
the railway had not existed for years and the road we were told was more like a jungle.
That’s why we decided to go back on the main road.
Finally Modena.

Modena: Between Piadinas & Beauties

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Modena is a very nice town, a man-sized town. Getting lost in the little streets of the city center, enjoy the Rhytm of the city and its pastel-coloured houses is something you must do when you visit this part of Italy. This town is full of beauties: the heart of the city, Piazza Grande, hosts the Dom and its tower “La Ghirlandina” (Unesco Heritage)

The city is also full of museums among which there is one dedicated to Enzo Ferrari.

Lunch time: never never never visit Emilia Romagna without trying a Piadina, a flat brad filled with cold cuts and vegetables or cheese: basically one of the seven wonders! Time to have a coffee and we were back on the road to stop again 2 km later for an ice cream.. We are a little bit greedy 😀 😀 Back on the road, as we were saying, toward Bologna, last 38 kms left only with a stop for another coffee and to take some photos… mm more then some photos 😀 Luckily the weather was perfect and the road was all on a cycle path. Despite the second day is the most tiring we managed to get to Bologna before night so we could enjoy a spectacular We were not tire and when we arrived at the hotel but Arthur knee was hurting due to an old problem and for the fatigue of the day.


 Bologna “La Dotta”

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We stayed at Hotel Maggiore, a cozy hotel that we would like to spend a few words to thanking them for their hospitality.
The hotel could seems a common flat from the outside but inside it is very welcoming.
The rooms are very comfy and probably are recently renewed.
Furthermore is one of the very few bike friendly hotels of the city: you can also repair and do minor maintenance for free.
Once we arrived, we left our bicycle in the private garage and it was a great surprise to find more than 10 e-bikes parked there for the guest of the hotel.
A good way to reach the city center, just 2kms away, and explore the less beaten track.
It’s also a beautiful way to visit the city for families.
they love so much the cyclists that they make dedicated discounts for all those who are traveling in Italy by bike. If you are interested check their website: logo hotelhttp://www.hotelmaggiore.net/en/
If you guys of Hotel Maggiore are reading us we really would like to thank you for the support and for the ice for Arthur’s knee. 😀
What’s better than an hot shower and a night tour of the city?
First of all we took our bicycles and once reached the center we stopped to eat in a typical Bolognese restaurant: a NEAPOLITAN PIZZERIA 😀 😀
We’re joking…no, we’re joking again. Trust us, we can’t live without pizza.
After dinner we met Arthur’s cousin who he hadn’t seen for years.
Few drinks and back to the hotel.

The following day, after the visit of Bologna which we will talk about in the next post, we should have pedaled on the Apennines but Arthur dancer-meniscus played us a bad joke.
In the next chapter we will talk about the stunning Bologna and Hokito, the cycling misfortune and a very bizarre hotel populated by crazy people. VERY CRAZY. 😀
Stay tuned,
Arthur & Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

Chapter 1: Food Injection towards Reggio Emilia

Hello people, let us introduce you to our trip.

This time we decided to tour in Italy to discover the lovely cities along the Via Emilia, an old road that was constructed to connect Piacenza to Rimini (or Rimini to Piacenza but it’s quite the same 😛 )

It will be divided in 3 posts:

  • From Piacenza to Reggio Emilia;
  • From Reggio Emilia to Bologna;
  • Cycling around Florence.

DAY 1


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Piacenza: time to start!

Early, but very early in the morning, as usual, as very very usual, we got up to load our bikes on Bruno’s car. Direction: Piacenza!

Piacenza is a cozy city at the border between Lombardia and Emilia Romagna with a little city centre surrounded by ancient city walls.

We spent just little time in Piacenza because it was our starting point, but it is a beautiful city that deserves at least a visit in total relax.

After a quick and tasty breakfast with Croissant and Cappuccino we unloaded our bikes and stuff and left for Reggio Emilia.

Luckily, to get outside of the city and reach Reggio Emilia & Bologna it is very easy because you just have to follow the Via Emilia or SS9 road, that is almost straight due to the fact that it was constructed by ancient Romans to connect the main cities of Emilia Romagna.

The first stretch of road is dipped in the rural country side but approximately after 20 kms we reached Fiorenzuola d’Arda, a typical provincial village with lovely colored houses.

One piece of advice we would like to give you, if you follow our route, is to stop in these villages outside the big cities, to observe the daily life and the typical Italian architecture of these centers.

After a quick coffe-break we continued pedaling towards Fidenza, a city mostly known for the homonymous shopping outlet.

Our intention was to reach Parma, but one of the many trattorias set as traps in the street kidnapped and forced us to eat (very sadly) a crazy appetizer of regional cold cuts and a dish of tagliatelle with meat sauce.


TRAVELLING IN ITALY IS LIKE SENDING YOUR DIET TO HELL. If you didn’t know, now you know. LOL

After lunch we left for Parma on the most difficult part of our journey:

we had to cycle on a very long false plan on a tight road while paying attention to the one million high speed travelling trucks on our left and the irrigation canal on our right. Definitely the worst stretch of road of our trip.

Really not recommended for families 😦


Parma: between Art aaaand Food

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Parma is one of the main cities of Emilia Romagna famous for its Parmiggiano Reggiano and its raw ham. But Parma is not only gastronomy, we really suggest you to visit this city because it is very pretty and bike-friendly as there is a discrete network of cycle paths that extends outside the city.

This makes it a good starting point for your hypothetical tour in Italy starting from this region.

What you should not miss in this city is the beautiful Duomo di Parma and its Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta: a perfect example of Romanesque architecture with a gabled facades and Gothic and Renaissance inserts. On the inside you find a wonderful fresco depicting The Assumption of the Virgin by the Italian Late Renaissance artist Correggio.

Very close to the Duomo there’s the Battistero di Parma, considered the connecting point between Romanesque and Gothic Style.


Last strecht of road: crosswind, pain AND PIZZA 😀

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Luckily, the last 30 kms of the days were mostly on cycle path. A little bit tough, maybe for the crosswind and for the fake flat road faced during the day, but the will to reach Reggio Emilia was stronger than everything and we arrived at destination in less then 2 hours.
AMAZING: just a minute after our arrival the owners of the B&b where we stayed – Villa Agata- gave us the telephone number of a takeaway Pizza. CHE BELLEZZA!

Half-through a pizza and a quick shower, we fainted, we fainted happy and exhausted, ready for the second day of the journey and curious to visit Reggio Emilia, a gastronomy city (as all the cities of Emilia Romagna) where the italian flag TRICOLORE was born.

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Next Chapter: from Reggio Emilia to Bologna via Modena

Keep pedaling

Arthur&Bruno – BikesPhilosophy

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