Stage 26: Manfredonia to Foggia

Distance: 41 km

Time: 2 hours 19 minutes

Speed: 17.7 km/h

Ascent: 179 metres

Total distance: 1332.4 km

Total time: 72 hours 13 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 4, Stoker 4

Word of the day: “secco” (seck-koh) – dry

The Stoker writes:

Manfredonia was quite a contrast from the rarified luxury and natural beauty of Baia delle Zagare. It’s a good sized town, with a huge freight pier stretching out into the sea, against which enormous tankers dock to disgorge and take on cargo.

We spent a tranquil evening eating pasta, catching up with the laundry after our days off, and then sleeping in Barbie’s bedroom – pink sheets, and a white wardrobe with silver etchings, topical at least, I suppose!

Disappointingly, the Café Albatross where we had lunch yesterday (“what flavour is it?!”) was closed this morning, but we found an alternative with excellent freshly warmed croissants. After breakfast we headed out of town, once again routing away from the coast for an inland block of days. It was a slightly fraught exit, there was a lot of traffic on the road, and a lot of pedestrians crossing unthinkingly in front of the bike. The Captain has an arsenal of warnings and responses to this, which I have observed from the back.

They range from:

  • a ping of the one-ping bell we bought in the Netherlands last summer: very effective as a warning if deployed in time
  • a very British cough: utterly ineffectual in Italy, either as a warning or as an indication of disapproval!
  • shouting ‘OI!’, which has the advantage of being very startling to an Italian, being as it is an unexpected thing to have shouted at you
  • Yelling ‘ATTENZIONE!’, which is how one would usually do it in Italian, and does have the desired effect, but is more difficult for the Captain to remember to do in the heat of not running some inattentive pedestrian over!

Anyway, after at least one ‘OI’ and some world-class retrospective tutting, we escaped the town, and quickly turned off into the arid wilderness.

There was quite some headwind, for which we were grateful, it kept us cool in the heat. There wasn’t a lot to see, quite honestly, it was mostly arable land whose first crop had been and gone, with the soil turned over ready for what comes next. Or olives. Or tomatoes, there were lots of tomatoes, late in the day, and a lot of lorries full of crates of newly harvested tomatoes on their way for processing.

We saw a herd of goats, and a lonely goatherd (yodel-ay, etc)…

… and were treated to a round of applause and a ‘Bravi!’ from a car which had stopped on the road to, shall we say ‘forage’ some of the tomatoes 😉.

There were weird sections where hundreds of snails clung to dry grass on the side of the road. Or possibly snail corpses, we didn’t stop to find out.

And quite a few dead fennel stalks. Ghost fennel, I fancied, a little spooky.

But mostly we slogged on into the wind on variable surfaces, making a beeline for Foggia, and stopping in the occasional shade provided to keep up our water intake.

On a long tour like this there are days when it’s all about the town you’re visiting – Vieste, San Marino, Montagnano, for example – and days when it’s all about the natural beauty or interesting features of the day’s ride – the beautiful Gargano peninsula, the trabucchi between Ancona and Torre di Palme, revisiting the argine of the Po, for example.

Today wasn’t really either of those. Manfredonia, where we were last night, and today’s destination, Foggia, are really just places that were in the right place to break the journey, rather than being interesting in their own right, or having a lovely route to ride between them.

And that’s really OK… 😊

Here’s today’s route and a short video

Leave a Reply