The start of yet another training season is upon us, another batch of hours to tick away at. It seems to have all snuck up really quickly this year. Perhaps it is just me, but the fact that it is June already seems crazy! More than any other year, I decided to really take a breather after Nationals at the end of March. The combination of final University exams with an expectation of high performance on the ski tracks really took its toll on my energy and I made the decision that the April/May were all about re-charging my batteries. What better way to do this than taking my very first European adventure to Italy!
I could go on and on about the amazing two weeks I spent with fellow XCOttawa-er Andre, in the land of espresso, Val di Fiemme, and Giorgio Di Centa, but instead I will list the Do’s and Don’ts of traveling this beautiful country from an athlete’s perspective. Enjoy!
- Do take the train! The trains in Italy are awesome, and up north they all have room for bikes and skis.
- Do take time to visit awesome tourist attractions like the Coliseum, Vatican, Venice, etc. Even athletes can use some leisure time
- Do order espresso regularly. Or, if you’re like myself, go for a cappuccino (but only in the morning or they will know you are a tourist).
- Do try and learn some Italian. Practice when ordering! The trick is to speak fast and confidently whilst waving your hands a lot.
- Do try and do some exploring by going for a run or bike or if you’re super prepared a roller ski! Italy is a very athletic country, so us crazy skiers fit in just fine! The further north you go, the more cyclists you see on the roads and Salamon trail shoes you see people wearing on the train.
- Do say you’re from Canada! Even better, say you are an athlete from Canada. The first thing most Italians will say to you is “Canada..Ryder Hesjedal!” and then they will proceed to talk about the Giro d’Italia with you.
- Do take more than one pair of running shoes….Andre….
- Do eat gelato. Regularly.
- Do go on a Contiki tour! Made our trip so much more amazing and we made tons of new friends. And yes, you do get enough free time to train
- Don’t expect a ton of veggies and whole wheat items. The whole North American ‘health craze’ hasn’t really caught on there yet. Finding a healthy, balanced meal is doable, just a bit challenging at times.
- Don’t go to a hiking/ski resort town in May. The month of May in Italy is a holiday for the locals between their two huge tourist seasons. FYI pretty much everything is closed, including gondolas and stores.
- Don’t wait on the side of the road waiting for the traffic to stop and let you pass as a pedestrian. In Italy, you make eye contact with the driver and maintain this eye contact the entire time you cross. Scary at first, but fun once you get the hang of it.
- Don’t rent a car if you can help it. In Italy, especially in large cities like Rome, there are no speed limits, no lanes and no rules. Take the train.
- Don’t visit the ‘History of Medieval Torture’ Museum.
- Don’t rush and try and get everything done at once. Take time to enjoy everything and soak it all in!
- Don’t get into a taxi that isn’t a taxi and pay 45 euro for a 10euro trip.
I could go on and on, but I think these are the essentials. I would recommend to absolutely everyone to visit the amazing country of Italy!
Go for a bike ride, you may just find a castle!
Andre on our hike in Val di Sole
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