Today was our first day if riding. As usual I got up really early, which is even more of a problem on a small barge. But I managed to get ready without disturbing Peter too much and then read e-mail, Facebook, and posted a blog entry. By seven the Vita Pugna was underway and some of us were out taking pictures of Mantova receding into the distance. We went to Governolo where we got in the bikes and rode to meet out first guide. She showed us the lock that had controlled the mouth of the river Mincio. Since the river doesn't run there any more, it is now an open-air museum.
We then continued on riding through beautiful countryside, sometimes seeing the Po, until we reached Ostiglia, where we stopped for coffee, gelato, etc. as much of the town was doing. It was a nice break and we sat and chatted with Alex and Kirsten, who are from Denmark. They now know all about different kinds of Italian coffee and have decided that the prefer cafe latte.
Then we rode on to Bergantino, where we ate the lunches we had packed. I have been very lucky and all of my pasta and bread and dolci have been wheat-free. The town was said to have been founded by brigands and, as we sat in the square, we could see the church of San Giorgio from the 17th century. Then we finished our ride, meeting the barge at Zelo. We were welcomed with cold drinks cake for everyone else and chocolate cookies for me.
Peter did very well for his first day, especially since we rode about 33 miles. We had one stretch of totally unpaved, very bad gravel road and he managed fantastically. Since he has never ridden more than three miles, this is quite an a achievement. So we will see how he feels at the end of the week. I know he is enjoying the other people we are traveling with and the chance to speak German and I hope he will enjoy the cycling too.
Now everyone is relaxing before dinner at 7.