Reclaim The Streets - Italian Style!
We've just returned from a colourful carnival in downtown Genoa. All the usually busy roads were closed to traffic and instead the streets were filled with loads of people having a magical day out. We bounced around amongst markets bustling with colour, smells and shoppers haggling for bargains.
Families were everywhere, strolling up the middle of 4 lane roads pushing prams and chatting away. Roller-bladers were performing amazing stunts and then doing animated 'pieces to camera' for our doco.
150 towns across Italy celebrate 'car-free' day once a month and people are getting really into it. Everyone we spoke with today was saying how he or she wished there were traffic and smog free days more often than once a month.
As one local on a bicycle said "everyone is looking around at the city in awe as though they are seeing it all for the first time..."
Leaving the icy mountains of Switzerland has really lifted our spirits. The warmth of Italy has enveloped us. However when we arrived in Genoa just over a week ago we were at an all time low. I burst into tears by the side of one of Genoa's crazy motorways.
The two of us got really stressed out over the 6 months before departure trying to get it all organised, and we hadn't really stopped since we set off. We were both mentally knackered and needed to stop for a while. So we are still here in Genoa a week after arriving, catching up on sleep, sunshine (when it isn't raining - just like home!). So good to experience simple joys like returning to the same shop more than once to buy the days supply of foccacia.
Now we are feeling great and can't wait to set off. As soon as a parcel arrives from the UK we will hit the road once again. As we travel through the Po Valley we will be stopping in Regio Emilia to meet an inspired man who has designed a national cycle network for Italy....