.....The BiKeWriTeR

Claudia lends hospitality in a big way

It’s been an interesting 48 hours as I work my way through my final days in Italy.  Most challenging was Saturday evening when I spent four hours trying to find a place to stay for the evening.

I thought as I pedaled closer to Milan the traffic was just getting busier because it was a big city. Little did I know I was pedaling right into an outdoor concert similar to the size and scope of Woodstock.

The campground gate closed in front of me and thousands of others wearing dreadlocks as the site was full. There was zero hotel space and even the sanctuaries and monasteries were full.

I backtracked and could not get out of town fast enough.

Finally, with darkness closing in, I found the small, two-star San Carlo Hotel. A friend asked me if it was everything I had imagined…..

Well, it was a clean room with a bathroom and only one bullet hole in the wall; it was perfect.

Thankfully, the clerk at the desk provided me with an electric fan. It helped circulate the stagnant air and it drowned out the tense shouting (I’m assuming, and hoping, that’s just an Italian thing) going on in the next room.

At this point, I was too tired to care.

On Sunday morning I hit the road early and was headed to Malpensa to see if I could arrange a box to fly my bike home.

Took a break about 35 miles down the road in Saranno and toured a flea market. By the third vendor table, all the “fleas” were buzzing about the solo American with the bike.

I was given a chair in the shade. Some woman pushed a big dish of pistachio and chocolate gelato into my hands, then I was bombarded with questions about the tour, all in Italian, of course.

There was a moderate translator, i.e., “How old are you?” and “How does a husband let you go on these trips?” One man, Antonio, managed to get across, “Are you married? Would you like to be?”

That’s when Claudia came to my rescue; she was a small woman with fiery red hair and perfect English.

Claudia phoned her husband, Mario, to bring him into the plan. Laughingly, she told me he said, “I leave you along for 10 minutes and you find a stray to bring home.” Claudio furthers, “He always told me I could talk to a crack in the sidewalk.”

Claudia lived in Varese, a mere 40 kilometers away. “I give you direction and, if you get lost, you ask. We’ll see you for dinner.” With that, I was off to find my accommodations for the night.

It took me three hours to get there. I had little doubt along the way, but I was biking in Italy…..how bad could this turn out?

I tell ya, not bad at all! Claudia and her husband live in a brick home previously owned by his grandfather. I had the loft to myself with my own bathroom until Wednesday when I leave.

Claudia is a wonderful hostess. We toured the city center at night with excellent food and music. She made me try things. 🙂

Today we hunt for a bike box.

PHOTO GALLERY (flea market)
Caciocavallo cheese

Filled risotto croquettes


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