Electric Bikes in Barolo
Getting the Electric Bikes
Yesterday whilst chilling out and researching the area we came across a blog which told us of an easy but fulfilling way to tour the hilly Piedmont area – the use of electric bikes. This certainly appealed to us both more than walking again and certainly more than unhooking our own (non-electric) bikes so we organised a local hire to deliver a couple to the campsite.
Antonio at ITAway (the electric bikes people) was really friendly and helpful so with a bit of toing and froing, and to Juno’s disgust, we were also able to hook her trailer to my bike. ITAway have a really useful app with recommended routes and stop offs, points of interest etc so well and truly equipped we set off.
First stop en-route was a village called La Morra. This was of course the village that we should have walked to the day before, and as it turns out is on quite a high and steep hill. It is actually the highest village of all of the Barolo region.
The electric bikes made it an absolute breeze. If you’ve not used one before (and neither of us had) they are very similar to a normal bike with the key exception that they have a built in motor and battery. The battery powers the motor as long as you are turning the pedals. You can choose 3 different levels of assistance and have 7 gears to operate as usual, which helps to sub-power the bike along. All in all, pretty easy, and lovely to use when cycling through hills which is lucky because with all the battery and motor equipment added each electric bike comes in at around 22kgs.
Back to La Morra
La Morra itself is a very pleasant village and in reality is far nicer than its more famous sister village of Barolo. A lot of the streets are cobbled though which, although comfortable enough on the bike, didn’t make Juno’s adventure all that fun.
The name La Morra comes from Loci Murrae, which means sheep enclosure but it seems that the sheep have made way for much more profitable vineyards. Again there were plenty of wine tasting opportunities, and the village is really set up for those who are seeking to know all about the grapes and vintages of the Barolo region. We found it to be a bit more relaxed than Barolo itself.
Verduno and Roddi
We cycled on to Verduno which although is a very pretty (hilltop) village was fairly quiet and on to Roddi which was somewhat similar again e.g. very pretty, chilled out Italian villages. We had hoped to get our lunch here having been recommended 2 different spots to eat, but it turns out that Mondays in this part of Italy are pretty much how the UK Sundays used to be….everything was closed.
We cycled through vineyards, and long dirt tracks and it really was pleasant way to see the area. We even passed a rather large red bench on the outskirts of one of the small habitations. No idea why it was there but it was quite cool and made for a good photo of Mich (although I did have to give her a leg-up to get on it!).
Houston We Have a Problem
It was about this stage where I started to think that these electric bikes weren’t handling the hills as well as I was led to believe. I checked in with Mich and she agreed – it was pretty tough going she said. I seemed to be using level 3 a lot (maximum assistance) and also seemed to be putting a fair bit of exertion in as well.
Having worked our way pretty much into mid-afternoon now and having not had any lunch we decided to amend our route and head back to La Morra where we knew there were a couple of places open to eat. We were hungry.
First to tackle the 2km steep hill. My electric bike was definitely getting harder. I was also pulling Juno in her trailer (12kgs, with Juno coming in at a steady 10kgs). At the point I think when I was having to pedal hard standing up and Mich was coasting behind me with her bike barely in the level 2 assistance gear she pointed out to me that perhaps there was something wrong with my bike. Apparently she hadn’t wanted to say earlier when I was complaining about how difficult it was that she was finding it all incredibly easy. Turned out my electric bike wasn’t quite working as an electric bike should and had lulled me into a false security by having been ok at the start of the day…
We had to stop half way up the hill to La Morra and had a nice chill out at a picnic area. I was exhausted and needed to rest the legs for half an hour but we did get some nice photos of the area whilst there.
Despite this, I would recommend ITAway should you be in the area. They were very helpful and responsive. Certainly we will be looking out for electric bike hire when we are next in an area similar to here.
We arrived finally back in La Morra but it was now so late that we decided to skip lunch, head back to the campsite (luckily downhill all the way!) and book ourselves into the restaurant in the village we were staying in for dinner.
Barolo for Dinner
“Buon Padro” (the Good Father) has quite a reputation and was itself part of a wine maker family business so a bit of a treat. The restaurant has been in the same family since 1923, with the wine making business following. The grandson of the original owner now runs the business. We had a fantastic meal there, authentic, local cuisine and were coerced (easily) into buying a 2004 vintage bottle of Barolo to ease the food down with.
Tomorrow we plan to head toward the Cinque Terre (the Five Lands, a beautiful set of hillside villages) but given how much we enjoyed the wine tonight first we have organized a visit to the Buon Padre cellars in the morning.