Off the beaten tourist track in Venice, the locals eat tapas style dishes called cicchetti. We went into a few of these places and would then find it very hard to order, they didn’t seem to want tourists in there. But we persisted and became proud wannabe locals standing at the bar with our glasses of wine, enjoying small size dishes of yummy food including our favourite – baccalĂ , which is salted dried cod, creamed.

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In Italy, we were joined by Jim (David’s dad) and Marion, who we travelled around with for 3 weeks.

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It was a relaxing week had in Venice, wandering the streets with our heads glued to our paper maps arguing over how many bridges we crossed to get to the dead end. Lucky we caught the train into town, as we’ve since heard you’re not allowed to bring bikes into Venice. Though, we might have been spared some misery if we’d known this, as we heaved our bikes over many bridges and stairs to get to our hotel. We left Venice heading west towards lake Como, our next luxurious holiday family meeting point where Jim and Marion were going to be staying in a rented apartment for a week. We just needed to get there with our bikes. They were catching the train.

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We stayed with people through warmshowers.org along the way. The first couple were Paolo and his girlfriend Jade who are an amazing couple living in a very tiny apartment in a small village. They offered us their bed while they slept on the floor, then they made us a huge vegetarian banquet using their philosophy of food eating. Paolo understands a lot about food, he made sure we chewed the lettuce slowly, and discussed the problems with sugar in peoples diets. Jade woke up at 5am to do her shift in the local newsagency, she works 7 days a week at this early hour. Before we left the next morning we had breakfast with Paolo, he gave us this amazing plum jam – no sugar, just plums and salt. It was delicious and we really want to learn how to make this jam.

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Back on the road, we got caught out. It is very important to remember in Italy that shops close for the siesta every afternoon. For us this means we need to make sure we have our bread and cheese and salads for our picnic lunch before 12.30pm when the shops close. If we forget about this, which we amazingly kept doing, then we would have to wait until 3.30pm for the shops to re-open before eating lunch. On this day, we forgot and so we caved into the idea of eating in a trattoria. We were in the middle of no where and one such trattoria popped up. It looked as though it could have been closed also and the tables outside were a bit dreary. We parked our bikes and went inside, it seemed empty in there too. We asked the woman behind the counter if we could eat outside so as to watch our bikes. She said, no, you can only eat in our dining room. Oh, so we walked on through to the dining room to realise it was buzzing with locals dining on lunch. We locked the bikes and sat down and ordered one of the best meals of our trip. It was so good that we had to enjoy it with a glass of wine. This did make the afternoon ride a little tough.

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Our week by lake Como with Jim and Marion was very relaxing. Set in the foothills of the Alps, we wandered the streets near our apartment, with the occasional dip into the swimming pool – followed by a warm shower as the water was indeed nippy. Plenty of trips to the gelati shop and home cooking for dinner. It was such a pleasant week.

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It was sad to say goodbye to family and the relaxing time had, but we were also keen to get going. A feeling of something unfinished lurking in the background, our trip.

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Marco lives in a very beautiful village in a hilly area on the way to Torino. We couldn’t believe we were going to experience a night in such a place, though the climb up was a bit steep it was the sort of place you wouldn’t happen across too easily and we felt privileged to be there.

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We camped in Guissepe’s yard but not before a big meal of prawn risotto, salad and white wine with Guisseppe and his two young sons who seemed to be interested in coming to Australia. We tried to give advice but felt ill equipped on the ins and outs of traveling on a working holiday visa.

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We made it to Torino! There we spent some days hanging out with our friend Sara from back home. It was a lot of fun!

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