Stage 16: Torre di Palme to Ascoli Piceno

Distance: 58.1 km

Time: 3 hours 3 minutes

Speed: 19.1 km/h

Ascent: 264 metres

Total distance: 909.2 km

Total time: 48 hours 56 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 4, Stoker 4

Word of the day: “riposo” (ree-poh-zoh) – a rest!

The Stoker writes:

Torre di Palme was beautiful, tiny little streets of houses built of warm yellow stone, and incredible views of the sea and Porto San Giorgio below. And of the autostrada, unfortunately, it must have been horrible when that became part of the view in the late 1960s.

Here’s a selection of pictures:

Our cottage was lovely, if quirky. It was full of ancient furniture, a rather idiosyncratic bathroom and the tiniest kitchen, but very charming, and it had an ultra modern washing machine, so no need for medieval scrubbing and mangle-wrangling!

We headed out to a little bar for an aperitivo, and there was a proper passeggiata going on. The bride and groom we’d seen earlier left in a decorated car, squeezing through the tiny street between the bar’s chairs. Almost immediately a second, but ambulatory bride and groom made their way down the same street. It was surprisingly busy.

Our drinks finished, we moved on to the restaurant ‘Story’, which had a fabulous terrace looking right over the sea. But “Mi dispiace, siamo completo”, said the front of house lady. It was full, that was disappointing, we hadn’t thought to try to book. As we stood trying to decide where else to try, she came back though, to offer us a table which was booked from 9:30, provided we could be done by then. We were happy to confirm that, having arrived by bicycle, we were quite tired, and would probably be asleep by 9:30. She showed us to our gold dust table, really close to the view, and we enjoyed bruschetta and a shared pizza, followed by a gelato we were certain our exertions had earned us.

With the housemartins wheeling and squealing above us, we headed back to the cottage. And so to bed.

We set the alarm for six this morning, intending to get on the road early to miss the worst heat of the day.

It worked really well, our nemesis the SS16 was quiet, and we soon left it to rejoin our friend the BI6 Ciclovia Adriatica. Once we’d hauled the tandem over some rubble to get under the carriageway, that is – not sure what Gilbert was thinking there.

As a bonus for our early start, we saw lovely morning light on the water, and pristine beaches just waking up. It was rather enchanting, lots of little bays and shallows which the early Sunday visitors were enjoying to themselves.

We made great progress along the cycle path, stopping only to quaff some water at the traditional ‘one hour’ mark. Today was to be a ride of two distinct halves. The first 30km were along the cycle path and, where unavoidable, the SS16. At Porto d’Ascoli we turned our back on the sea for the time being and started inland towards today’s destination, a climb up to Ascoli Piceno. I say a climb, Gilbert disagreed, deeming the 2% gradient over the second 30km not worthy of the title. He was probably right, actually, the 175m we had to gain slipped by quite naturally without a massive effort on our parts. That was probably just as well, because the temperature was rising rapidly.

There was something different to look at too, the mountains…

… and one of these:

A ‘casa cantoniera’ was originally a place to stay for the road workers along Italy’s state roads. They always display the road number on the side and how far along it is, and they are always that colour – Pompeii red, apparently.

Well before noon we rolled into Ascoli Piceno, spotting a trenino as we entered the centro storico. We’re here for four nights now, the forecast is still for intense heat for the next few days, peaking on Wednesday, so we’ve added the extra night already so we don’t have to cycle in it. That should leave time for the little train, then!

Here’s today’s route and a short video

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