Rural Campania ↑ all posts

Rural Campania

It’s a 50 km ride from Caserta to Benevento, along which I discover that my rear gear cable is on the way out again. With some twiddling I postpone the inevitable lack of shifting, but am pleased to reach Benevento and the Gilardi bike shop. I turn up just as they are about to close for lunch and they have as much English as I do Italian (i.e. none). Not too hard to communicate the problem through mimeing and gestures, and the mechanic gets to work. Hoists my bike into a bike stand, bags and all, and within three minutes has stripped the old cable and housings, installed a new set, and tuned the shifting mechanism.

I indicate that my pedals have been ‘creaking’ a bit recently and they tell me to come back after lunch (which means 4pm!) so they can have a look. After eating a supermarket lunch at a huge US style mall on the outskirts of town, I return at 4 and the mechanic gets straight to work cleaning the bike’s bottom bracket and curing the creaks.

The work done, I headed outside was getting ready to leave when the three guys from the bike shop came running out and told me to “not move!”. They disappeared back inside and returned with a new cycling jersey for me, branded with the shop name: Gilardi of Benevento. They force me to strip off and change into it in the street and to promise to send them a photo of me wearing it when I arrive in Istanbul. This was a totally unexpected, and lovely gesture, and I left town with a huge smile on my face.

Soon after leaving Benevento the SS7 heads southwards but I strike off to the east, diverting from the Via Appia for a while. I wanted to get out into the countryside and away from the unexciting roads that seemed to link the major towns so far. Almost immediately I was rewarded with quiet traffic and beautiful rolling hills. A long climb up to the Passo di Mirabella, maybe 900 m at the peak, and I now had a commanding view over the Campania countryside. Golden fields, olive trees, and vineyards covered the landscape, and ahead of me a long ridge line which I would follow for the rest of the evening. By now the sun was setting and this just amplified the beauty of the surroundings.

As it got too dark to cycle I pitched my tent in a field and lay with the door open watching the sky fill with stars and the nearby olive grove fill with fireflies.