Firenze, Italy

Thursday, October 25, 1928

Last night I lay down on the bed for a moment, but didn’t come to till 7AM. The weather was very discouraging, a very fine drizzle falling. I started out, however, and hit the hills at the edge of town. Soon I came to one where I went up and up into a mist. This increased as the road went up for miles. I could see but a few yards away, but I knew I was getting high up from the deep ravines and gorges the road went over. It wound around the hills like a serpent, always up. The road was one big soupy mud-puddle and full of stones. By 12:30, five hours, I had gone but 33 miles, at least 22 of it being up mostly steep grades. The mist was a fine drizzle and wading through mud for miles pushing a bike till you thought your back would surely break is no fun. Then suddenly I came to the top of a hill and all in front was suddenly clear. I was on the top of a large mountain, entirely surrounded by other large rugged mountains. It was a marvelous sight. The clouds were low and covered the higher peaks. I had been riding in the clouds for 4 hours. The valleys stretched out between the mountains and the houses were mere dots. Here the road was dry, but poor, being very bumpy and full of sharp crushed rock.

Soon after, I stopped at a small country restaurant and had a large heaping plate of delicious spaghetti (called macaroni here), all for 1.50l or 8¢. Now I had more downgrade, but could not take advantage of it because of the poor road and my well-worn tires. In spite of my caution, I had to go run over a tack and get a flat. A garage-man fixed it for me free and a mile farther on it again went flat. I took it off to fix it but finally found it was a valve leak so fixed it OK. My pump is n.g. and I walked a mile to a garage. At dark I was still several miles from Florence, but didn’t care as the afternoon had been good and there was a wonderful moon over the mountains. Soon I saw the lights of the city in the valley and coming down a 6-mile hill entered the city. Have a room for 68¢. The streets are crowded here tonight. Bet I sweated off at least 5 lbs. today.

This was lots harder than any other mountain range. If these keep up till Rome, I’ll never get there. I’ll recuperate here a day before going on. Rode 69 miles and spent 99¢ today. Have gone 9,710 miles from Chicago in 15 weeks and 3 days, 4,133.1 of it on my bike. Am in fine health, tired but ambitious.

AND SO ENDS CHAPTER 1

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