From hostel to hostel
It turned out to be fairly easy to plan my route down the peninsula - just follow the hostels. There are enough of them across Italy to provide overnight stops just about everywhere (see map below). I planned where I wanted to be on each day of the month and then contacted each hostel online and made the necessary booking. Simple. A few hostels don't support online booking so I contacted them by email. I got an immediate response from the French hostels although not from the Italian ones. I fancy I'm going to have to telephone directly to book these.
Youth hostels in Italy
Four sea crossings will be needed for my tour:
- Dover - Calais (both ways)
- Palermo - Cagliari (Sardinia)
- Porto Torres (Sardinia) - Genoa
Dover - Calais - Dover
The channel tunnel proved to be the fastest and cheapest option (£60 return). I was surprised by this having always found this route expensive - but travelling by bike turns out to be significantly cheaper than doing so by car. Great.
Palermo - Cagliari
Limited number of services on this route in June so I'd to time my arrival to match a departure. It's an overnight trip and together with a reserved sofa-seat the cost was €117. I expect I'll be a bit stiff when I arrive at Cagliari in the morning but it's only about a 40 minute ride to Marilena's village, so that should cause little discomfort.
Porto Torres - Genoa
Since I planned to travel up the centre of France on my return journey I opted to take the Genoa ferry from Sardinia. For me, the bike and a seat on the deck, this overnight trip cost €98. Again, I'd likely to be stiff on arrival in Genoa but my next stop was Nice (only 125 miles away) and I would be following - what I hoped would be a pleasant coast road through Liguria - so I'd no worries about this.
Since I want to wind my way lazily through Italy, I felt I needed maps which show topographical features, so I opted for the 1:200,000 Michelin Regional maps. These are splendid maps showing lots of detail which would permit me to wander through villages and small towns without getting lost - even national park trails too.
I'm not bothering to purchase maps for France since I'm just 'travelling through', so shall print off the sections I need from Google Maps and carry them with me.
GPS navigation aids are available for bikes now of course and they are an attractive option when one is touring. However, I couldn't see much use for a GPS when I got back home since the furthest I'm likely to ride is down to Brighton to the seaside or off to Bristol to tend the family grave. Since I know the way to both places I fancy a GPS device would be superfluous.
However, I'll need to get myself a waterproof map holder for the bike to house my maps. Some of the prices asked for these appear to me to be somewhat excessive, so I've put a bid in for a Heine Gericke one on Ebay. Hopefully I'll be successful.