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Day 18 Bourg St Pierre to Verres

After discovering yesterday that the pass was closed and an evening discovering that Keith CPA from New Jersey CAN drink, we both caught the same bus through the tunnel that connects Switzerland with Italy. Some facts on the tunnel - Elevation 1,918 metres (6,291 feet) - Length 5,798 metres (6,342 yards) - Opened 1964 after 6 years of construction - Swiss/ Italian border is 2,938 metres into the tunnel - Toll is EUR 16.40 (GBP 13.77 or AUD 24.20)

Not the worst view from a bus stop ....

The first view you get when spat out the other side after 12 mins of tunnel looks very similar to the view you have just left in Switzerland.

The underlying difference is that the homes look darker and dare I say it poorer. First stop on the Italian side is Etrouble where Paolo at the tourist office kindly re-printed a copy of the Via Francigena passport to replace the one I had left behind in Martigny.

From Etrouble it's a 17.7 km glide down the dual carriage way to Aosta. Not once did I have to turn the pedals. A nice return for the investment I had put in yesterday. The views are, like yesterday's, pretty stunning

Nice views from a drink stop ....

From Aosta it's a roll down the valley towards Verres and again, like yesterday, there are tall, snow capped peaks wherever you turn.

New meets the old ....

A collision of colours on the road in Italy ....

I always have time a for a castle shot ....

The SS26 (State highway and usually the original road before being replaced by the Autostradas) takes you down the valley and as I have discovered on previous visits to Italy the Italians don't like paying for public utilities. So if it means they can avoid paying the tolls on the Autostrada despite it adding time to their trip they will prefer to take the highway and avoid the fee. I tell you this because the SS26 is not an idyllic little side country road. Rather, it's heavily used and is single lane both ways. Having said that the Italian road designers were kind enough to ensure a hard shoulder which is delineated by a white line so a cyclist is afforded some protection. Add to that the fact that the Italian drivers are ALMOST on a par with the French in regards to respecting cyclists you don't feel too threatened. It's just the volume of traffic that is bothersome. At times there is a small climb up into a village but towards the end of the valley the road thrusts into a narrow gorge and becomes quite steep. It's a bit of a sphincter contracting moment when you are doing 65 kph downhill, your bike gets the speed wobbles, there is a semi trailer right behind you and over one side is a 300 ft drop into a gorge!

Speed wobble gorge .... The Swiss have cheese vending machines and here in Italy, home to bottled water, they have refilling stations for your empty bottles.

I arrived late afternoon into Verres and discovered that seven Aussies who are walking the Via Francigena have checked out from the same hotel this morning. Should be fun catching up with them tomorrow. Ponderings of the day - What's fair about cycling uphill for 34 km yesterday and only getting 18 km pay back of downhill today? - Italian coffee is better than Swiss or French - EVERYTHING is cheaper than Switzerland. - How long would a grown man attached to a bike with panniers take to fall 300 feet into a gorge? - The Swiss win the "fastest and most broad reaching Wifi " competition of anywhere I have been in the world - The Italians are behind the U.K. AND Australia on that front. - Drinking beers with Keith the CPA from New Jersey, USA is detrimental to your cycling fitness and enjoyment factor.

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