Cycling from Parma to Rome through Tuscany

This is journal number 7. In this journal, I am going to explain part of my journey from Parma. I spent a few days in Parma with my friend. We just went for walking around the town, spending a lot of time in café because I really love café in Italy. When you go through the old and little street with all stones in the ground, there is a little café in the corner.It is very worth to sit down and do nothing. Just watch people. Sitting there not as a stranger, as a person who is living in that city just sitting there and observing people who are walking around …this is one of favorite part of my journey actually.
After 4 days in Parma, I didn’t have any idea where I am going to go. I got an email from a person in Turin. He said if you come to Turin, you can visit our school. I said ok. In one point I decided to just leave my bike in Parma and go Turin by train to visit this school and come back and get my bike and go south. but in the last day before leaving Parma I decided to go there by bicycle  and maybe I want to go to Milan and see some of my friends in Milan then I go to Turin and visit schools and then I cycle down to Genevaand go continuing to south. But when I contacted that friend and told him about my plan and asked him how was the school? He said I have to talk to the principle. It was like quite strange honestly.
 I was expecting the school is already organized. When he talked to principle,they said: it is a short notice we have to ask for the permission from the parents then he said oh sorry Mohammad you can’t do it. I was not honestly shocked but it was not a quite right answer for me. If somebody asks me if you come here for the school it means that they already planned it and organized it.

Anyway,in Friday morning I said ok if there is no school in Turin, it doesn’t make a sense tonight because it was totally out of my direction. I am hating south and for that I had to cycle about 240 kms toward west and then again at the same distance going back and it takes a week. I decided to ignore it.
I cycled toward La Spezia. It is a very nice city on the see side and actually at the beginning of an area called Cinque Terre. It was very famous in Italy. 5 villages connected with the walking path on the see side and cliffs which is amazing and beautiful to walk.So, I decided to go there. It took me 2 days to go to La Spezia.
I took it easy. First I didn’t cycle that much because I left Parma not quite early and I just cycled about 40 or 50 kms from Parma. I found it was very nice to camp that day. It was on the hill. It was the green flat on the hill. The next day I cycled to La Spezia. I arrived to La Spezia in the afternoon and then continue to the first village in Cique Terre called Rio Maggiore. I arrived to Rio Maggiore but for no reason I just felt that it is not my place. I didn’t have any connection to that place then I tried to convince myself:hey Mohammad you have been thinking about ??and everybody is talking about it. It is an amazing and beautiful place. Ignore this feeling and maybe it is better to get a room in a hotel tonight just keep quiet and calm down and tomorrow you leave your bike here and walk through it and come back to get your bike. Just ignore this feeling but this was so strong. I couldn’t handle it. It took me 2 hours I was just struggling with my feeling…oh it was not my place. Then I went to get a room. I tried to treat a guest house but it wasn’t the season and most of them there were closed.
 The first or 2 or 3 I tried I said: ok Mohammad just go out. Just leave here. Don’t stay and respect your feeling. I cycled back.
I called a friend of mine and talked to her about that area and she gave me some information and said there is a very nice and cheap hostel in a place called Portovenere. Then I said ok let’s go to Portovenere. I cycled back to Portovenere. I arrived quite late and it was dark in the 7 in the evening. Then I asked for the hostel. I found it but the problem was that there was no road to go to hostel. There was one street and it was all the way 200 steps to the hostel. I said to myself : oh my god, even if it is free or they  pay me , I am not going to carry all my bags all the way to the hostel. I was really tired and I wanted to sleep and lie down. It was too much for me to carry my bags up to the hostel.
Then I tried to find a room like a guest house. Then I found a room but there was nobody here. I called and someone came here. It was like a house that they rent rooms. I asked the price and he said 90 euros!!!That was much. The hotel is 50 or 60 and 90 euros for a room in the private house is too much. Then I said ok. I found a place to sleep and it was already 8:30. But tonight is not going to rain. I checked the weather. It was clear and not cold no cloudy or rainy so I will try to find out and just to sleep tonight. Because the Portovenere is a kind of tourist place and like a world heritage place from UNISCO, It is not possible to camp and to put your tent anywhere. So I said to myself I don’t put the tent and I will finally find a corner somewhere and lie down and sleep in my sleeping bag and I can cook my food there. I don’t use my tent and I don’t need it because it is not cold. Of course it would be quite wet because of the humidity but tomorrow it is going to be sunny and in the sun shine I will dry.
So I found a beautiful spot just over the see side. There was a hidden corner and nobody was there. The first place I found it was close to the sea. It was ok and dry but I thought if in the midnight it was windy, what would happen to me? Splashing the water would wet your tent, mattress and…, it is not going to be a fine place. So I found another with better conditions.
I camped there. It was a beautiful spot and I had a beautiful sunrise in the morning. I was lying in my sleeping bag and looking to sunrise in the water. It was one of my best places in camping. So in the morning, I was not in hurry. I was just so cool and relax. When the sun came up, it was warm and I was lying in my sleeping bag. Everything was dry.
Then I came cycling. I went to La Spezia and cycle toward Viareggio. AfterViareggio, It was evening and I had to find a place. That was a very touristic place and I couldn’t find any single spot to camp because there were so many people there. There was a little dense forest. I went through the forest and I found a path going into the forest. I followed that path then I found a little corner in the middle of the trees. After making sure that there was no one for bothering and.. I camped there. The next day I went to Pisa. When I arrived to Pisa, I planned to stay one night in Pisa.

When I arrived, it was raining hard and I was cycling couple of hours under the rain and I was cold wet and I couldn’t take any picture and visit anything because of being cold and wet. I said to myself:hey come on I am too tired let’s go to hotel. I need a warm place I need a warm bed and I need to dry I need to wash my clothes I need to work with my computer because I was cycling for 4 or 5 days…So, I went to hotel. It was a nice hotel.
I washed all my clothes and hanged all my clothes around the room. It was quite embarrassing.The next day in the morning it was sunny I went to visit Pisa tower and around the area and then I kept cycling.

I was checking my map from Pisa. I was going to Tuscany. If I go through Tuscany, I decided to go through some little road, not the main roads, because in the little road there was not much traffic and it could be more beautiful but I had no idea where to go and I had no information about the cities on my way. Just I wanted to see some middle aged city. That was all I knew. So I opened my map and checked the roads and found a road and I decided to follow it. It was quiet and nice road. I went through that road. It was in the afternoon.
I went to supermarket. I had some food but I didn’t have Water with me because basically I don’t carry water with me and I don’t carry extra food also. Ialways buy food just in the last minute before I camp. Sometimes it happened that I didn’t find was about 5:30 in the afternoon, a half before sunset. There was no supermarket there.
I was cycling through a lot of hills, not even villages or many houses. When I checked my map, I realized there were no villages at least for 15 or 10 kms. There won’t be any chance to find a shop to get water. So I had to knock a door somewhere. There was a house next to the road. I stopped there and I went there. A lady came out and I asked here: can I take some water or fill my bottle?. She said ok… Before I filled the bottle, she began to talk and asked: where are you come from and where are you going?
I didn’t fill my bottle and I began to talk and we had a few minutes conversation and then she said: come in and we can have a coffee or tea together. I threw my bottle in front of my bike and went inside. She called her daughter and her son. They came down. One of them was 31 and the other one was 22 I thing. They came down and we had a coffee and little chat. Then they said ok where do you want to go? I told them: actually I need a place to camp and if I can camp in front of your house, it would be wonderful for me. 
In front of their house, there was an amazingly land scape, a very vast view on the dreaming hills. She said yes..yes, you can do it and we have dinner together. Then I went. Her son came out and he helped me to set my tent and I put my tent and change my clothes and I went there. We had a beautiful conversation. While we had dinner, she said: what is your plane and where do you want to go.
I explained …but in the middle of conversation, I heard her daughter is going to Florence next morning and her son is going to take her to the rail waystation then pick her up from the rail way station. Then at the night when I was in the tent I was thinking: yes you have your tent here. It would be safe. You can leave your bike and tent here. Get out your camera and go to Florence with her... then in the morning, when we had breakfast, I told my idea and they said: yes you can do that. That is the way I went to Florence. So I left my bike and we went to rail way station and her brother left and we went to Florence.
She is singing opera. She went to her music class. I went to walk around the city and see Florence. In the evening I came back together. They even bought the ticket of train for me and it was so kind of them. In the evening we all joined together again for dinner and continue our conversation. They became like a part of my family and I was feeling so good and comfortable in their house. Next morning I left them.
 I went through some middle ages cities In that day I was cycling to find a camp again.  I went to a lake. After going to some middle aged towns and little villages, I went through a lake called Lago di Bolsenna. It is a lake near Rome.  When I checked the shape of the lake, there were 2 roads come from the west and come from the east.
The road from the west was smaller and it means there is less traffic and in the morning I could have sunrise in my tent. So it was the best choice to go through the west part. In some points there was like a track near the lake and a few meters far from the road. The track was quite empty and in one point I found a beautiful spot.
The good thing for travelling out of season is nobody there, no one check you and you can do what you want to do. I want a camp here it is so beautiful. I want to sleep here and I don’t want to leave here. I want to wake up in the morning and see and I deserve to enjoy the nature. I love nature and I am a part of the nature. I don’t want to leave the nature. I don’t want to camp a place with a lot of music, bar, people and talk…  No,I want to be in pure and quiet nature. I want to see moon, sun, water …fortunately, nobody came around and in the morning I packed and dried my tent and I kept cycling.
 From that point to Rome was 110 kms. I was thinking I can make it. Most of the road would be flat … in the morning when I woke up, it was beautiful. I was happy to spend lot of time just sitting there and enjoying and having very relax time there and drying my tent because I knew that Rome would be difficult to dry my tent and my sleeping bag so I have to dry everything here. I left around 11 and started cycling. I went in the night for 1 or 2 hours to get to Rome but there was another lake on my way. When I was passing from the lake, I checked my map. There was a turn off on the left. In one point, I had to leave the lake and turn to the left to go to Rome. but after 7 or 8 kms cycling, I realized sun is in my left side. It means that it should be head of north which was not true regarding to the map. Then I checked the GPS in my cellphone.
I saw that I was in the wrong road and this road is taking me to high way and in high way I am not allowed to cycle. Then I had to go back.  I lost 1 hour and half of my time to go back to that road. I had a very nice full moon light but the problem was that there was lot of traffic in the car on the road because of the Sunday afternoon and there were a lot of the cars and the road was narrow with lot of holes.
For 1 hour and half I had quite difficulty cycling through that road because of the traffics, holes, dark and the lights of the cars which were coming in front of me and I couldn’t see the holes and I just keep hopping that I was not going to hit by any holes. You can imagine when you have downhill with a lot of holes, you are not able to go fast as well.

Anyway, I continued and arrived in some point I saw that ok. The city of Rome is a quite big city. WhenI arrived to this city, I had still more than 50kms to my destination. On the road I don’t like to use GPS and I prefer using map but in the city, the paper map doesn’t work that much specially when you are tired after 120 kms cycling to get your destination as quick as possible. You don’t want to make so many mistakes on the junctions and crossed roads.
So I followed GPS. GPS was telling me exactly where to go. In some point, GPS was telling me to turn to the Ferdousi Avenue. It was kind of surprise for me because Ferdousi is one of the most important Persian poets and my city as well and in Italy in Rome I came to Ferdousi street. Finally I got home 9:30 in the evening and I was tired. The good thing was I had a place to stay with the friend there. I put my bags there and I needed to take a shower and eat sth and getting ready to start discovering the city from the next day. I will continue the story of my journey in the next episode. 


8 March 2015



Latest News

Released at September 20

My training program is over now and I am ready to start my journey through Iran. Just few days left before I start cycling again. 
My plan is to cycle to the north and visit schools personally and also train facilitators for our educational program. 
You can follow detailed stories on my instagram : @mohammad.tajeran