Monday, February 18, 2019

"CYCLING" in Napoli

"CYCLING" in Napoli

Ugly, isn't it? Not the scenery, we mean the bike.

The scenery's just great!

Really great!

But the bike(s)? UGH!

Functional, but UGLY! We ended up "leasing" (I guess that's what you'd call it if you bought 'em with an agreement the shop will buy 'em back when you're done?) a pair of Scott Aspects to ride around while we're here rather than haul our ancient MTB's down from our HQ at Piedmont Cycling Resort.

Like our time in Rome, we soon found the cycling opportunities very limited, but were determined to not end up doing no riding during these four months. Above you see Heather in the Capodimonte park on Sunday.

Why these ugly bikes? The roads here are a lot like those in Rome. Not so much asphalt but plenty of paving stones of various shapes and sizes, making MTB tires much more fun (and safer) than anything narrower. 

Yep, you would do OK with your Paris-Roubaix roadracing machine as these roads are NOT the Forest of Arenberg, but a 2.3 tire on a 27.5 wheel is better, even if it takes a bit more effort - our object is to not lose all of our cycling fitness after all!

We went down to a local shop and threw a leg over a couple of bikes. With 29" wheels even the size M was way-too-big. The shop owner explained he didn't have any S sizes in stock - nobody wants to ride anything "small" he explained. So he ordered size S but failed to consider the smaller ones (wisely) come with 27.5" wheels, so these ended up a bit too small, especially with the ridiculously short stems common on modern MTB's.

We were kind of stuck since he didn't have much use for size S anyway and we didn't want to wait until when/if size M's could be ordered and delivered. So these bikes look even more dorky than usual with the seatposts sticking up above the max line. We supplied our own longer stems and cut the handlebars down to a reasonable width, which mostly fixed the very unstable steering characteristics in their as-delivered condition.

The result: way better than nothing and far easier (and probably cheaper) than hauling our own bikes down here. The low-end Big-S brand shifters and drivetrain seem to work just fine while the cheapo hydro disk brakes have yet to start squealing as they're prone to do. 
We'll ride 'em around until mid-May (hoping we don't snap the seatposts off!) and then hope the shop owner will honor his buy-back offer as we have zero interest in a pair of too small bikes!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Marco Pantani - 15 years ago

Marco Pantani passed away 15 years ago today.

There's not much more to say, but below are links to past blog posts about Il Pirata

RIP Pirata

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

CycleItalia's Great Pizza Shootout Part 4

                      Who Makes the World's Best Pizza? Part 4

We may now be pizza snobs, but we're not yet tired of eating it. When you're fortunate enough to live within easy walking distance of places like these it's just too easy! Whether it's going out or ordering to go, the pizza here will remain our reference-standard, a comparison few places outside of Napoli will be able to withstand.

Pizzeria San Gennaro (no website so check TripAdvisor) was a fortunate find when we were here apartment hunting awhile back as it's the first pizza place on the street outside the place we were staying. One of those "Geez how bad can it be?" places turned out to be pretty damn good.

Our now standard "research" order of Margherita and Marinara was cheerfully delivered and enjoyed. We knew they'd be good but were curious as to how they'd match up with our recent samplings.

Excellent crust, though a bit soupy in the middle like Sorbillo's with tasty sauce and good cheese. If Sorbillo and Michele are 100's on a 100 point scale these were low 90's....pizze we'd be happy to enjoy again and again.

Above you see their display case facing the street. They'll fry up whatever you want to order and the rest of their menu looked interesting as well. We plan to stop by for a full meal before our time in Napoli is up.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

CycleItalia's Great Pizza Shootout Part 3

         Who Makes the World's Best Pizza? Part 3

It doesn't take long to become a snob it seems. We're back from a week in Sicily (where we ate no pizza) and it's time to continue our research and ratings.


This time it was Pizzeria Mattozzi another highly rated place we wanted to try,

Above you see Heather and Mattozzi's pizza margherita. We were really underwhelmed by both of these examples. Very average. If we were somewhere OTHER than in the center of Napoli these would have been very satisfying...but we're not...and they were not.

We kept wondering why, but could come up with no good answer for the bland flavor and generally mediocre quality despite watching them throw the dough and bake them up right in front of us. Of all the pizzerie we've visited so far, this is the only one we'd not be happy to revisit.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

CycleItalia's Great Pizza Shootout Part 2

Who Makes the World's Best Pizza? Part 2

As a trusted buona forchetta once said, "Ya gotta go and worship at the temple of pizza every now and then....just because."

This Il Tempio della Pizza slogan is even printed on the backs of the staff shirts at Da Michele!

This place is a real throwback. If they parked some period-correct cars out front and dressed the patrons in clothes to match, you'd easily be fooled into thinking it was 1940. The only modern addition to the decor that we noticed was an autographed photo on the wall of the star of Eat, Pray, Love holding a slice of pizza.

As per our shootout specifications we ordered a marinara and a margherita + beer -  not that they have any other options..though you can get normal, medium or maxi size and more cheese if you like.
Despite the low prices (4 euro for margherita normale) the meal here did cost a bit more than Sorbillo as your waiter not-so-subtlety hits you up for a tip as you pay the bill on your way out.

They hand out little paper numbers when you show up to ask for a table and on a rainy Wednesday afternoon we waited barely 10 minutes, just like at Sorbillo.

This is going to be a tough task! These pizze were excellent as you might guess. Zio Lorenzo especially liked the non-soggy center. Crust overall was the equal to Sorbillo, yet somehow different, perhaps a bit softer with slightly less loft on the edges? We both thought the marinara the better of the two and rated it slightly ahead of Sorbillo's, but we're now in ranges of 98's vs 99's out of 100. As noted above, this is going to be tough!!!

Finally, this sign was across the street as we left. If the mobsters are going to bomb any pizzeria (as they did last week with Sorbillo) perhaps they should reserve their ire for anyone putting pineapple on pizza?

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reason #? for moving to Italy

Ah, to be a kid in Italy. Zio Lorenzo's like a kid in Italy when he sees things like this.

Scale-model like the old Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars he played with back-in-the-day...and with a cycling theme to top it off!

They sell things like these at newsstands (edicola) here. The idea is usually a series (like this one) of tiny models or even pieces of a kit you complete yourself by buying each one when they're issued every two weeks or so.

These days you can also subscribe online and get 'em sent to you automatically as they are released, but Uncle Larry wasn't much interested in the rest of the series, just #2, the Campagnolo van.

He'd seen #1 in the series already and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of #2 in a week or so, but Heather spied one at an edicola a few days ago so we grabbed it. Turns out the guy had two so we got 'em both.

Uncle Larry thought some of you might be interested in having one of these as well so he went out later that afternoon and bought up some more. If you're a Campagnolo fan planning to join us at Piedmont Cycling Resort this season, let us know - we may have a gift for you!