The tide pretending to come in, I stabbed in a stick at the high water line and checked every 10 minutes, scaredy cats, sleeping bags on the beach, staring at stars and satellites. Riding silent except our rusting chains though seaside resort towns already vacant and still, seeming more as if tourists hadn’t been there for decades rather than having just emptied out, with old neon club signs on battered paint-pealing tourist bars. A man on the road just away from the tourist swarms, convulsing with dentures coming out, blood on the black cobbles, police already there with a crowd all calling ambulances, we walk by like it was another thing to stare at, Trevi Fountain but disturbing and no McDonalds. The mornings and afternoons stopping as we pleased to swim, jumping back on the bikes and moving on in minutes or letting the almostdone pat our backs enough to flop back onto the sand. Still inept coming into a city late, stupefied, doing nothing but finding places to not set-up the tent, winding up at a carpark with caravans. A whole day through that fantasy of Tuscany: ancient towns on hilltops, olive groves walking up the hill to them through clumpy earth. Fatty road cyclist swarms, ‘CIAO!!’ and off they’d go in their blazing neon lycra and the deep hum of their expensive bikes. Pushing our heavily laden Kona’s through deep soft sand, those driftwood huts and teepees all down the beach. A morning when it seemed we’d woken up in Africa, cows with sharp and elegantly curved horns, turning in perfect synchronization, tracking us, slowly turning their smooth vanilla necks as we passed. Getting into and rushing around bigcity traffic, fucking blasting it with smiles and confidence, released from those ‘37 k to Grosseto’ signs and endless slightly varying pastures. ‘Everyone’s an asshole’ on the street and it was great. Jorj cycling in front of me with her lower back tight and strong, rising slightly on each side with pedal strokes. The safe in our hotel being stolen. Finding a homeless cat sanctuary inside the grounds of an ancient hospital, little cardboard houses for them with tiny dishes of water. Two lying on bits of wood like homeless people, sprawling in the sun. Having blue sky, every day, and rain seeming impossible. Camper Dan, ‘I go camping with a plan’. Smelling, reeking like we’d cycled hundreds of miles and not showered. Joining in with the folk dancers on our big party night, asleep an hour later. Those Canadian Embassy ladies running around the city for me. Wide awake riding through the fading Livorno drinkers. ‘We’re in the Mediterranean Jorji’. Patches of unseen sand on paths skidding us around. Dead ends on busy roads, no idea where the cars went. Hitting hills again after the coast, like the Alps were months before. Thinking I’d be in Nova Scotia in less than a week.