Nove Colli etc. Spring 2016 – Wednesday May 25th

Passo di Pradarena — Emilia dell’Reggio — train to Pinerolo (via Milano) — Torre Pellice (113.14 km, 1679m)

Passo di Pradarena

I think I had a coffee at the bar in the village and then went up the nice road in nice weather to Passo di Pradarena (1579m), which was a rather easily graded climb, so reached it without much effort. Decently nice views at the pass, which again is fairly high for the area. It does come across as rather lonely and not much used though. The hotel at the top might have been open or maybe the cars parked there was only people stopping for walking in the mountains (not sure).

Passo di Pradarena

The road was wide on the other side too, but fairly washed out and not very good, but when coming down to the first village, Ligonchino, after a choice of roads the road got better again. There were actually a nice tiny village, Ospitaletto, earlier on where the road suddenly turn narrow and steep with great views, but forgot to stop and take a photo (think I was not sure of where to stop and then it was too late).


After Ligonchino I kept to the right (think the alternative road was blocked anyway, so was lucky not to have planned taking that one). The road down was mostly good, but it went a bit up and down and flat, before it eventually descended to the valley floor. Very few roads goes up along the valleys and instead climbs the ridges all around in the area, maybe as the rivers are unreliable to live close to and maybe it may be too dry down the hot valleys to succeed with agriculture down there (not all clear to me, but so it is). Even where there are roads down the valleys here, no one really lives along those roads.

Ahead in the photo here is the prominent Monti mountain that serves as a mark for directions and I was going straight in that direction, but where I took the photo the roads descends the valley and then there is a nice, but somewhat long and demanding climb up to near this mountain. Apparently there is an asphalt road along the river where I crossed over the river that would have helped in escaping some climbing (or all), but had thought it was not asphalted before when looking so continued according to plan up to Monti. I did not remember that the climb was as long as it was and since the climb was very nice on a nice twisty road, I went rather fast until I got rather tired, but then I was nearly up.


Arriving in the rather big village of Castelnuovo ne’ Monti, I then had to take a rather big and busy road all the way down to Po valley and Emilia dell’Reggio. It is quite a distance to Passo di Pradarena from Emilia dell’Reggio as there is no direct road up to the pass. Here along the busy main road after Castelnuovo ne’ Monti, just managing not to be run over while taking a photo of the Monti mountain from the other side to the previous photo and overlooking the Pradarena ridge in the background, with some mountain tops still white.

It was not clear if I was allowed to cycle down through some tunnels on the main road, but was not interested in taking the time to figure out alternative roads now and anyway I could keep like 40 km/h down here, so not so many cars given the chance to honk at me before I was down. I was taking an inoptimal big road around the city to the south side, but anyway got to the train station in the city (the one I passed by outside the city is only for the fastest trains and not for cyclists). Now even in the city there are faster and slower trains passing by.

Once at the station I thought there would be time now for relaxation through most of the rest of the day with a planned (not booked) train ride over to Piemonte. Now it is more an exception than not when there is no train strike going on in Italy. In Italy there are train strikes roughly 12 months out of 12 during the year every year, so no exception this time. So got greeted at the ticket office with there being no trains more this day going west from the station where I could take the bicycle with me and the next train where I could not take the bicycle with me was anyway fully booked, so no way but to spend the night in the city or continue on the bike according to the people here.

Torre Pellice

Now, this was not really an option for me an would spoil my plans very much for the remaining days. After some quick thinking (and you better be good at that at train stations in Italy as things change here faster than any computers can keep up with (and of course quicker than anyone working at the stations will have a chance knowing anything about), I decided to get on the next train going west which was not for cyclists and fully booked.

Now that train was close to empty (as you might expect if knowing anything about the information given you at train stations in Italy, where they have exactly no clues about anything happening out on the railroad lines and probably they do not care much anyway and anyway what could they do when only the train drivers knows anything about what is happening and maybe not even them). Still train personell can be really tough occasionally against cyclists if not adhering to the rules where you can bring your bicycle and not. Now I also did not have a ticket for either myself or the bicycle. Als read on information signs that the fines could be quite hefty if not having a ticket, so was worried, but it turned out when the ticket controller eventually turned up that he was quite nice and understanding. He informed me that he unfortunately would have to ask me gt off at the next station, which was anyway a good idea as I need to change train and in Piacenza (luckily he did not turn up before Parma) there would be a lot more choices I had already checked up on my phone. I only had to pay 10 euros which was much below what I would have paid if I was allowed to get a ticket at the station. Thanks!

In Piacenza there were many options and trains were cancelled before you could blink with your eyes, so here every split second was of outmost importance to make the correct decision at and I was lucky there and ran over to a train to Milano, even though a second earlier I had decided not to go via Milano. Not at all stressful, he ;-).

So far so good. In Milano I learned there was a problem with my route as I had hoped to go to Pinerolo, but the trains going to Pinerolo did not accept bikes at all and none of them at any time. I decided to nonetheless get a ticket to Pinerolo and see if I could be lucky after all – maybe they did not tell me truth (seemed unlikely that only those trains in all of Italy would not accept bicycles, but I have heard later about more lines where this could be a problem). I could have gone to Torino/Turin and cycled down from there, but it would be a bit of a hassle getting out of that big city not knowing it well. So I changed train in Chivasso to the one going straight to Pinerolo.

Now here I was told that there was no way I was allowed on the train with my bicycle and that in fact it was true that no trains to Pinerolo ever accepted any bikes at all. It was getting late and now I missed the connection to Torino, so decided to try and pledge with the man there and just as I was about to give up on that he allowed me to get on if I promised not to tell others it was okay to take the bike there, so know you know ;-) and really I think it will be hard to repeat my feat there … . Better get earlier and bicycle from Torino instead until they change practice. I did notice they had no problems with people with folding bikes and child caddies, which all took about as much room as my bike, so not much sensibility in there restriction, but to be fair the train was rather packed from Torino on down.

Arriving in Pinerolo at ca. 20:00 it would be natural to stay there for the night, but it is also still a big city with not so cheap accommodation. I went out south to Bibiana and Torre Pellice (after first taking a wrong road out of Pinerolo) on the main road. Had checked out a curious place to stay at beforehand between those villages, but it was likely closed, so decided to get into Torre Pellice and see if I can find something else than I had when looking at Google maps, but think I in the end turned up at one of the few and obvious hotels in Torre Pellice. It was after all a decent price with dinner and breakfast, so fair enough and I was down after 21:00 so I was fine with having a good ending of a stressful day. Now I was not going to take trains for a while again. Good dinner and nice place at Hotel Centro (photo from near my room where I could glimpse the high Alps mountains now rather near).

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