|the TCI gazetteer|
This is a post I've wanted to do for a while but I needed to first reacquaint myself with Italian roads. Navigating the road well can make or break the trip. I can't emphasize that enough... there is no such thing as good riding on busy roads. Its miserable and often freightening. So, this post is about Italian roads and how to navigate them. It could be useful for you if you are planning a trip in Italy, even if not by bike, and it gives you some perspective of my own planning.
First thing is you need a good map. I've used the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) maps and books. In Salerno, I found their gazetteer. Its awesome.... I've spent hours pouring through this thing. Its got a laminted cover and the pages are pretty tough. It has great detail and arrows on the roadways indicating the gradient. Its easier to deal with, I think, that the trifold maps that never seem to open or close correctly. Perhaps my only compaint is that it is a big bulky. I could probably do without the index, although it is kind of fun seeing and counting the different place names. For example, there are 13 index pages of places that start with San and 89 places with the word Croce (perhaps I have too much time on my hands?)
Italy has done a pretty good job maintaining their roadways in my opinion. Therefore, they really do make for some ideal conditions. However, the distance estimates on sign can be notoriously wrong... which can be heartbreaking when you are completely exhausted. After too much frustrating (and hope) believing in them, I no longer do.
Okay, now I'll go through the road types in Italy. There are Autostrada (like our interstates), SS, and SP. These connect towns. Then there are the Via's, Viale', and Corso's (within towns).
They have green signage and are listed A-1, A-45, etc. I equate them with death. I found myself once on an Autostrada during last trip. It was terrifying. Bicycles are illegal on them and I think scooters too, as they should be.
SS (primary route)
These are like our state highways. There is usually a good shoulder and the speed limit is around 70-80 km/ora. I find myself on them on most days, but I don't prefer them. Trucks frequent them. I hate getting buzzed by trucks (sorry you have to hear that Mom).
SP (regional connecting road)
These are the best roads for riding. Low speed limits (50 km/ora), much less traffic, and usually quite scenic. They are typically well paved and often do not have a center line. There is usually no shoulder but I feel safe on these roads with the minimal and slow traffic. I aim to do most of my riding on SP's.
Via's, Viale's, and Corso's
These are roads within towns. Often, they are only a few feet wide! In the centro storico (historic center) of towns, they are most often cobbled. At this point, I am usually walking, so that does not bother me. Sometimes there are steps, however, and this is quite annoying with a heavy bike.
And while not all roads lead to Rome there is always a Via Roma in the Centro Storico. I think this is an artifact of the past when some road out of town always headed to Rome.
|A typical Via in the Centro Storico|