Our adventure continues on, feeling the burn and exhaustion we power through to our final destination. Will it get easier?
Day 8 Wednesday 29th August
Vasto – Foggia
Accommodation was becoming sparse from now and we had an option of cycling 40km and staying at an expensive campsite or cycling 110km and staying at a cheaper Air BnB. Being the budget backpackers that we are, and being in as much pain as we were, we opted to push ourselves to do the 110km and hope that the motivation of a bed at the end of it would help us through!
Each hill we climbed we cheered and felt a boost of energy to bring on the next one! The route became a bit sluggish, we were half appreciating how flat it was and how unlikely it was for us to get lost but oh gosh it was hot, sweaty and boring.
We kept plugging away, feeling unable to stop for a break as each pull in area available resided what we could only assume to be prostitutes. We also passed many stray dogs running across the road. I felt like I was in the scene from the Inbetweeners where they’re in the desert with nothing to drink!
We had plenty to drink but nowhere to stop and drink it! It was an extremely hot day and all we could see were fields and mountains. No sea breeze and no town in sight. We did finally reach the outskirts of Foggia, which made me think of a broken-down town in the middle of Brazil. Our first impressions could not have been more wrong!
We were 1km in reach of a shower and bed and buzzing at how early we had made it considering the long day. Given that it was impossible for us to have a smooth day and obviously something would go wrong, something did go wrong..
We were stopped at traffic lights and as I went to pull away, my chain completely snapped off. Now, of course we were extremely grateful that this didn’t happen when we were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by prostitutes, but really?! All we wanted was to have a stress-free night after a decent day, but the bike gods decided otherwise, unfortunately.
So, there we were again, pushing the bikes, starting to worry about their safety if we had to leave them outside our Air BnB.
Our host greeted us and instantly said he would take us to get help sorting the chain. This was an absolute god-send, as we really had no idea what we would have done! He also showed us around our self-contained unit and said we would be safer to keep the bikes inside, phew! He offered to help us get the bike chain sorted and asked Campbell to go with him and asked me to stay behind. An hour and a half later, they arrived home and Campbell had some story to tell. Long story short, he experienced some of the most stereotypical Italian action possible, with winding streets, no seatbelts, questionable bike safety and lots of hugs.
It also turned out the area we are staying in was indeed not as “run down” as we first though, but simply an authentic Italian city. Peeling paintwork, friendly locals and delicious food. Our host recommended a restaurant for dinner and suggested we met there. We ate at La Fassina, a perfect, local and cheap pizzeria.
Day 9 Thursday 30th August
Foggia – Trani
This morning we set off a bit later than normal, around midday as we met up with our host and his family beforehand. We had originally decided to split our last two days in half, meaning we would have two shorter days of 65km. We planned to stop at Barletta next however, our host recommended a small town further south of called Trani. This was 90km away so we planned to just get our heads down and push on as much as we could. This was made difficult by busy roads and we had to keep stopping to try and find a quieter route.
I have to say, it went downhill further from there and I’m not sure the route we went on was much better. Well, it would have been if it wasn’t for the strong headwind that had us struggling to pedal the bike along in first gear on a flat (but very bumpy) road.
It was a really hard slog with pretty much no end in sight but the thought that we had another 70km to go, most likely on this road. Our legs and bodies were reaching breaking point, so we had to stop.
We had a quick lunch before pushing on with the grind. At points, we felt like we were cycling farm land in Mexico. The roads were quiet and the sun was hot and all we could think about was someone robbing us! Even though this would possibly never happen but we were very aware of it.
Eventually we reached a beautifully small town, topped up the water and got an ice cream. We had around 30km still to push through, preferably before the sun set so we didn’t stop long and got on the road again. We fell in love with Trani as we cycled through, it was a stunning small seaside town reminding us of our favourite island, Malta. We arrived at our Air BnB at 2030, ready for food, shower and bed.
Day 10 Friday 31st August
Trani – Bari
Unfortunately, we didn’t hear back from our Air BnB request in Bari so we were up early to check out what booking.com had to offer. We were really looking forward to a bed and some good WiFi when we arrived. We set off at half 9, stopping off for some breakfast by the sea before we left for our final leg.
It was only about 50km to Bari so it was a lot shorter than our other days but we just wanted to be there already! We pushed on, a lot of the route being on a good cycle path. There were minimal big hills yet our legs just felt like we were on a constant incline. Reaching Bari was quite a surreal feeling, we arrived in the city centre and ate lunch whilst waiting to check into our apartment.
We felt pleased, yet still in disbelief that we had just cycled from Bologna! Another 6km to the apartment and then we could chill out for the night without thinking about how our legs would carry us through the next day. We ate at a beautiful pizzeria called Pizzeria Antoine di Savario Loconte, local to our apartment and then passed out, dreaming of exploring Bari over the next few days.
We are still somewhat in disbelief that we cycled over 700km. Something completely new to both of us yet gave us an exhilarating amount of freedom. We saw areas of Italy that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise and believe that this opportunity has allowed us to see a real authentic side to the country. I feel like this is only the beginning for us with cycling and we have been inspired to explore more by pedal power. Here’s to our next cycle trip!
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