We left our hotel (Albergo Giulia Gonzaga). A very good family-run hotel with friendly and helpful staff and, on top of that, they serve a great breakfast consisting of good quality local products. Officially it is a 1-star hotel, though that is probably only because they do not have a pool or something of the sort. In reality their service is great.
Discussing with the staff, they warned us that one of the bridges was closed (details below). Thanks to this heads up, we were able to avoid a long detour.
Speaking of bridges…
You have to know that in the region some bridges are what they call boat bridges (ponte di barche). These bridges are built of wood boards fixed to floating boats. So by definition, they need water to “work”. In the case of the San Matteo delle Chiaviche bridge, the water of the Oglio river wasn’t high enough, so it was closed.
Fortunately we spoke with Sandro, the Sabbioneta hotel owner, who suggested to take a detour to Gazzuolo: we cycled from Sabbioneta to Bocca Chiavica following the UNESCO cycling path and from there, instead of turning right, we cycled northwest to Gazzuolo
UNESCO cycle path
It is located on the left bank of the Po (riva sinistra) and takes you from Sabbioneta to Mantova, two historically connected towns (through the Gonzaga family). It is very well indicated and sign-posted. Even our detour to Gazzuolo was part of it. It took us along the Argine dell’Oglio passing by the local “chiaviche”. After the Oglio meets the Po, you get away from the river and finish on very calm country roads.
We arrived in the historic centre for lunch. As in Parma and Cremona, there are no cars in the centre so it’s very pleasant to visit this charming little town. We visited the Mediaeval church “Rotunda di San Lorenzo” and the impressive basilica of Saint Andrea with trompe l’oeil all over the walls. The Palazzo Ducale is huge and certainly worth a visit too, though it was closed when we arrived.
IN A NUTSHELL
- 54km cycled
- 4 crossings of the ponte di barche (had to have the perfect pic)
- 1 new hat
You can follow all the routes we followed on: