We managed to load all the equipment, including the bikes, into the van for the drive down to Rome. It’s a six hour drive, but relatively pleasant and scenic in parts because we drive down the coast on the Via Aurelia—Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ road—through Genoa and the Riviera Levante, then down through Tuscany, the Etruscan country of Lazio and finally into Rome. Our headquarters hotel is located outside of town, in distinctly charm-free business park, but the staff here always gives us such a warm welcome that it’s like visiting friends.
Friday was arrival day for guests on our Cilento Coast trip. All but two are repeats; many of them have done more than four tours with us—so that was like having friends come to visit. We set everyone up on their bikes just outside the meeting room (the photo shows a smiling Antonio and his bike "Galetti" posing with Lorenzo) where a conference on laparoscopic surgery was going on. Several of the surgeons seemed more interested in our bikes than in their conference; we heard all kinds of stories about their bike racing glory days. In Italy, it seems like everyone is or was a cyclist. Now we’re ready to pop the cork on the official welcome spumante. We head south for the Cilento Coast trip tomorrow morning.