Looking Out To Sea

Cycling in the heart of Venetia

A last-minute booking of a single-centre Headwater ‘activity’ holiday, in this case cycling in north-east Italy. Table for two please.


Early morning travel to Edinburgh airport, in that middle zone between the night buses finishing and the trams starting. The N22 goes straight from front door to check-in desk but only works if you’re flying at stupid-o’clock.

Arrived at Venice Marco Polo and got the bus to Venice Mestre train station for the ride to Vicenza. We hid in the shade and I worried about the possibility of sunburn from reflected light. The scrolling temperature indicator on the street corner said 37 degrees C. At what temperature do people melt?

Picked up by the rep at Vicenza station. Waited for another couple who had got the wrong train then drove us all to the agriturismo L’Albara. On arrival we were introduced to the route maps for the area and our bikes. I had taken my own saddle which I fitted but didn’t spend enough time adjusting the rest of the bike. This was my downfall because the tools were taken away by the rep after this. It wasn’t until we had done a full day’s riding that we knew where the problems lay.


The weather was scorching and we were never great at getting out onto the road early. Most days it was 11am before we started cycling — by which point the coolness has gone out of the day.

The landscape was flat and the routes were along quiet country roads or segregated cycle paths. Drivers were fantastic about giving space or holding back where appropriate.

We followed routes to a lake, to churches and to villas. There wasn’t a great deal of “visiting” though. We mostly sat in cafes and bars away from the heat, eating and drinking. To tell you the truth most of the holiday was secretly devoted to finding proper Italian ice cream.


We returned most days between 4 and 5pm to sit round the pool reading and taking the occasional dip. At first there was no hot water for the shower which was frustrating though manageable because the weather was so hot. Doing a few lengths of the unheated pool was still very comfortable after six o’clock at night.

Dinner was at eight on communal tables with the other guests, two older couples from Manchester and Wrexham. Nearly everything we ate and drank was produced on site: the wine and grappa, the vegetables, the quails. There were cherries everywhere and many cherry-based things for dessert: ice cream, pie, jelly…


We left Italy in the same heat as we arrived in. The last two days promised a storm but not much became of it. We had some rain but the sun returned and the wet roads started to steam. We rode home through pockets of hot sticky air.

There were no missed trains and no missed flights. It was raining when we arrived in Edinburgh.