First day of our cycling trip along the Po.
The day started when we found a nice traditional bakery for our breakfast and a calm café near Piacenza’s main square.
Leaving Piacenza we went over the bridge to the left bank of the Po and started cycling on the path that goes above the river dam. The cycling path roughly follows the river, meandering among the fields. Although the path is not exclusive for bikes, we met only a few cyclists and tractors on the way whose drivers didn’t hesitate to slow down to avoid covering us in a cloud of dust.
After about 30 km we reached the village of Castelnuovo, where we decided to take a short break and have a snack on the church steps. While sitting there we met the lovely Signora Carla, who offered to take us on an impromptu guided tour of the church, explaining us every painting and little detail worth seeing.
THE TYRE EPISODE
On our way out of the village, we had a flat tyre, so went back to the village square where we started changing the tube – only to realize we had forgotten a key item: our multi-tool containing the Allen key we need to change that tyre. Fortunately for us, we found probably the friendliest town-hall staff at the Comune who lent the us the right tool. Problem solved? Not so fast…
Back at the square we realized that we had a bigger problem than we thought: the tyre itself had been damaged and had holes in different places. So we went back to the town hall, explained the problem as well as we could in Italian, got the whole staff on alert, and a few phone calls later Signor Mario appeared in his Ape to save us! He came to see the problem, took the tyre with him and advised us to go and have lunch at the village trattoria, “da Lele” while he went back home to get a new tyre.
Signora Lele welcomed us warmly and served us a beautiful “tortelli con burro e salvia” and “penne al ragú”. Delicious and not expensive. The restaurant looked like a family business. By then the whole restaurant staff was aware of our tyre problem and wished us the best of luck for the coming days.
Signor Mario came back with a brand new tyre, and this time we left Castelnuovo – the friendliest village to have a flat tyre!
BACK ON THE ROAD
New tyre in place, we left Castelnuovo through a lovely cool path lined by trees. The path is generally well indicated as “Ciclovia del Po”, with a few exceptions where you need to take a guess and hope for the best, and a (very) small part we could not follow as it needed cleaning. Other parts of the path down the road, near Crotta d’Adda are not well indicated and we got lost among the tiny roads that run among the farms, coming to roads that are clearly not meant for travel or city bikes.
After crossing the Crotta bridge, we followed a weird-looking smelly canal. The green foam that collects on either side of the canal didn’t seem to put off the local fishermen, though.
After a while, and with no more water in our bottles, we decided to take a quick detour to Spinadesco, only to find the fanciest water fountain ever: sparkling or flat cool water?
From there the rest of the trip to Cremona was just a few kilometers of easy path ahead.
As with Piacenza, Cremona is a small town where everyone rides a bike. You have bike parking spots all over the city center and you can even leave your bike unattended for a moment while visiting. What a change from Paris, where we’re used to put massive bike locks every time.
Cremona’s highlight is it’s Duomo both on the outside, with its tall clock tower and beautiful façade, and on the inside, with its marble floors and magnificent size and ornaments. We had the chance of seeing the Duomo open the morning of our departure. If that is your case, do not hesitate to take some minutes to go in, even if it makes you start a bit later. It is totally worth it!
IN A NUTSHELL
- 57km behind our rear view mirrors
- 1 new tyre
- Many nice encounters
You can follow all the routes we followed on: