No visit to Gavi (or anywhere near) is complete without a visit with our friend Gianni at his pizzeria/ristorante/bar Il Forte. If it's open when we ride by we stop for drinks and often come back the next day to enjoy pizza and Gianni's wonderfully engaging hospitality. Above (l-r) you see Peter, Gregg, Stevc, Jim, Cindy, GIANNI, Heather, Larry and Don posing just before saying arrivederci to our friend.
The next morning we're on the road to link up with the historic Milano-Sanremo percorso, but not before enjoying more Monferrato scenery as above.
The famous Passo Turchino is not very hard from this side with even grades and nice pavement, but there is still something special about arriving at the top. Sadly, the iconic tunnel has been replaced with a modern, two-lane, nondescript model of modern engineering, leaving Mario's place just to the right of the tunnel exit, in a bit of isolation. Gregg celebrates here, though the old tunnel remains. We're hoping they'll make a bike path detour from the main road through this tunnel and help keep Mario in business. They cooked up some pasta with pomodoro for us on the sunny afternoon while we posed for the photo below with the sea in the background. A VERY fun descent followed!
We climbed Le Manie, inserted into the race (in 2008?) to break up the field and spent the night in Finale Ligure, enjoying one of the best seafood dinners in memory. Even those who say "Oooh, I don't like (mussels, clams, calamari, etc.) were marveling at how much they enjoyed this meal, complimented with Ligurian white wines. The next morning we were back on the Primavera route, pausing for this photo at the legendary fountain at Imperia.
More cruising along the Riviera Ligure followed, though there was usually more auto traffic than you can see in this photo!
But, just like the racers, we turned up the Cipressa climb. Here you see Jim celebrating passing through the iconic single-lane entrance to the village. We then rode the Poggio before the final run-in along Via Roma and to our hotel with a splendid view of the Ligurian coastline. After catching the finale of the Italian National Championship road race on TV (Bravo Nibali!) we went out for pizza in the lively town.
The following morning we enjoyed 40 kms along the converted railway line along the sea before checking out of the hotel for the drive back to our HQ for bike packing, etc. before our farewell dinner. We think everyone left with a new appreciation of the challenges of the Milano-Sanremo route.. We certainly did!
Next up - Grandi Alpi in Val d'Aosta