- it’s important to stay out of the tunnels, avoid the Mafia, keep the gold, and corner carefully in the coach.
The hill roads, while not the same as those in a certain movie, offer the same mad hillside switchback, which our semi-automatic hire car manages with all the shortcomings of both manual and auto transmissions. However the roads are well made up, especially those running into Urbino (above), we discover, due to the arrival of the local leg of the Giro d’Italia in two days time. (We enjoyed being our own peloton without the need for sponsored skin-tight Lycra and peddling up the hills.) Soon these roads will echo to the zizzzz of the Native European Mechanical Weasel and the bar TVs will all be tuned to the motobicicletta-cam to follow the track.
In the meantime, Urbania celebrates the ‘return’ of the 91st Giro with several lead in events – which we missed – which will start from there and the town is decked with Italian flags and plain pink ‘flags’ – the Giro colour, replicated in all the shopfronts. Florists used old bike wheels to decorate, and clothing shops perch small mannequins in pink on the most unlikely two-wheel conveyances. Regular showers disperse the old men discussing how good it used to be, and the young men discussing how to dress for race-watching, as well as a young girl in a white top endlessly circling the town Teatro on her ’bike. Presumably she goes home to annoy her mother – the men certainly will.
Luckily the exhibition of the Biblioteca of the Duke’s is open in the castle-cum-palace, so a good half-hour is spent with yet more culture, admiring the Pope’s dispensation for the Duke to both own and read ‘forbidden books’. (Presumably there were other, more tricky licences of owning but not reading, or reading but not owning…) as well as two globes by a chap called Mercator with the heavens (lots of muscular gods and animals) and the earth – no gods or animals there… A map of England and Scotland, orientated to the west was a confusion at first, and the county of ‘South Folke’ was a highlight.
Due to the closure of certain roads for the Giro preparations, our exit across the bridge went through a random selection of the back streets of Urbania, so we now know that our hire car has an excellent turning circle and IS less than 2 metres wide.