True to his promise, our security guard friend was on patrol this morning. When we rolled out of the tent around 7AM he strolled over to talk with us. We did our best to communicate and this time we picked up on his offer for coffee much more expediently than last night. When we enthusiastically agreed he disappeared into the factory and returned with two plastic cups of piping hot espresso. After scooting them under the metal fence between us he bid us a good journey and went back to his rounds. I have a feeling I will be reminding Tara about this event regularly when she is worried about free-camping!
Before we left, Tara tracked him down and managed to get his photo, though we didn't get his name. Thank you, Italian security guard!
Today's route started with several hills but thankfully it eventually flattened out into an easy ride. We felt very capable, zipping along quickly thanks to a slight, but endless (for the day) downgrade. Our first priority of the morning was groceries. We were a little anxious when we realized it was Sunday and most everything appeared to be closed. Thankfully, we quickly found a very large grocery store filled with families doing their Sunday shopping together. It was very busy so I stayed with the bikes while Tara went in to get supplies, eventually returning with a pile of food neither of us could believe had only cost 18 euro. Though it is quite a bit heavier for me (I carry both food panniers), I much prefer being well stocked with food.
Re-supply complete, we continued on our way, listening to music and enjoying the beautiful scenery and fall weather. Just outside our intended destination of Magenta I spotted a huge roadside gelateria. It turned out to be a production factory with an attached shop featuring glass windows looking in on all of the equipment and process. Cool! To my absolute delight they had my favorite gelato flavor: amaretto. A few years ago I worked for a coffee franchisor who had a small gelataria in one of their shops. I used to eat amaretto gelato every day. Ever since the company went out of business I have been searching for it unsuccessfully!
I was practically drooling as I walked out of the shop with three scoops of amaretto and one of coffee (I should have had 4 of amaretto!). Today, Tara chose melon, mint and amaretto as well. We've had this discussion several times in the past but today served to confirm it: we think amaretto is the best flavor in the world. Of anything. Any time. Anywhere. It was heaven. According to Tara, who exercises moderation much more effectively than I do, her other two flavors were delicious as well. The melon scoop reproduced the essence of melon perfectly and her mint was the genuine article, not a neon green affair.
We also bought our first slice of Italian pizza. It was nothing to write home about but we were at a geletaria, not a pizzeria. When we were through I seriously considered going back for more amaretto but decided against it, opting instead to look for it again tomorrow. With our gelato quota filled we hit the road again and when we arrived in Magenta we decided we weren't tired at all. The route for tomorrow followed a canal so we continued on, expecting an easy free-camp to appear alongside the path.
Apparently Sunday evening is the time to go walking along the canal with girlfriends, families, dogs, etc. Understandably so, as the canal was beautiful and the route was nicely paved. It was a long time before things got secluded. As the sun began its descent, bathing hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists in a distinct golden light, things finally started to thin out. The further we rode the fewer people there were, until finally after nearly 100km of riding it was just us and the occasional jogger.
The sun had already slipped beyond the horizon by the time we found a suitable spot. As usual Tara had been worried but I was confident we'd find a place. Like last night, it wasn't very secluded but it would do. We could see a house in the distance, lit up against the dark sky, and we could hear far away dogs barking at one another.
Tara was nervous and had a hard time stopping her mind's escalating disaster scenarios. Eventually she wound up balled in the fetal position, holding on to me like a barnacle while asking about the snap of every twig (real or imagined) and the scurrying of each and every woodland animal. I assured her we were fine, and she eventually fell asleep while I tapped out a journal entry well into the peaceful night.