Aosta to Ivrea by Bicycle

Monday, 5 May 2014

It’s Il giro d’Italia in 80 librerie – the Tour of Italy to 80 bookshops – with a subtitle ‘not to mention schools and libraries.’ The idea is on weekends over the next couple of months a relay of Italian publishers and authors will cycle from the north of Italy right down to the south, dropping in at 80 bookshops along the way.

Well, not only Italian authors, I rode the very first stage on Friday 2 May from Aosta south-east to Ivrea. That’s 80km and thankfully nearly all of it downhill. Aosta is just south of the French and Swiss borders, with Mt Blanc (Monte Bianco if you’re Italian) clearly in view.

Angelo Pittro & Tony Wheeler, Aosta, Italy - 542▲ With Angelo Pittro from EDT, the Italian language partners of Lonely Planet, in the square in Aosta before we started.

My ride was bookended by a talk in Aosta and another one in Ivrea and there were a couple of bookshops along the way – 78 to go! For me there were a couple of highlights (apart from a long stop for lunch).

IMG_0547 - Fortress of Bard 542▲ The Fortress of Bard, in the village of Bard, it tops a rock and completely controls the Aosta Valley. No sneaky invader was going to come over the alps and down the valley into Italy with this mighty obstacle blocking the way. We followed the Aosta Valley the whole ride.

IMG_0556 - Roman road 542▲ Not far beyond the fortress we came to this stretch of Roman road, running parallel to the modern road we were riding. Our ride included stretches of bicycle path, some country roads, stretches running alongside the autostrada and some places where we simply had to brave it out with the Italian traffic.