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Chapter 3: The Riders of the Zodiac.

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In the same piazza stands a statue of Florentine writer, poet and politician Dante Alighieri, considered the greatest poet of the Italian language and famous worldwide for his work "The Divine Comedy", written in the 14th century and divided into three parts: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. And his statue there wasn't just a simple tribute to the classic work, Verona was an important refuge for the writer, who in difficult times made the city his home, and he repaid that noble act of hospitality by including the Lord of Verona as one of the characters in the Paradise portion of "The Divine Comedy". Troppo bello, huh? And I, a mere and simple mortal - and his bicycle -, there I was, once again making history in the story of my life.

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That night, they once again went out to drink and I followed in their wake. It was a beautiful evening in Verona, a bit cold and with plenty of life in the streets.

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On the way back, we were all singing inside the car, I was no fool so I went with the flow and for a few moments managed to lead the singing from the front seat, repeating the music that played on the car radio (  che meraviglia, che meraviglia  ),

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“Aurelio, Giulia, Raffaella, Claudia e Nino... non ci sono parole per esprimere la mia gratitudine per quanto mi hanno aiu- tato. Grazie per tutto! Per avermi trattato come um membro della famiglia, tutto questo aiuto sarà molto importante per continuare il mio viaggio! Del fondo del mio cuore. Grazie.” The message I left them in Italian.

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And thus starts the new and last chapter: The Riders of the Zodiac!

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We got up early, ate and got everything ready in a bit of a hurry, since the plan was to leave as soon as possible, but we ended up leaving around 9:30 AM, which was already late to me. We cycled the first 30km to Verona with Bruno already complaining in pain, which I had expected would happen at the beginning. The plan was to quickly go through Verona, just so Bruno could get to know the city a little and to deliver some chocolates I asked him to bring me from Brazil, to give as a gift to Giulia's family. We met her in front of the Roman amphitheater, Bruno dropped his cellphone on the floor, yes, not even two hours of cycling and he had already broken something, typical from him. First the axle, now his cellphone...

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Bruno's bike came equipped with some nectar that will be the cause of some… well, keep reading the book you'll know…

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So cold! We definitely got negative temperatures during the night! When we woke up, around 7 AM, my bike GPS indicated 1*C, it felt like my body had remained in the same position all night and it took me a while until my limbs resumed their normal operation. I almost didn't change my clothes, I slept in my cold weather clothes, leg warmers, a warm jacket and a hoodie, and kept them on until I had warmed up again.

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After getting ready to set out, and shivering like a cat in the bath, we took our breakfast, ate some Nutella with bread for that pre-diabetic calorie boost, and hit the road. First stop, Padova! But first our debuting lango-lango dance down below...

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On the way to Piove di Sacco, we stopped at small store to eat something, we sat outside and devoured a bread with whatever and continued on. Already in Piove di Sacco, a small town near Brugine, I tried to find something related to the town, a coat of arms or anything I could buy as a souvenir, but the place was so small, humble and devoid of tourism that the most I could find was a tiny saint with prayers that I nabbed from inside a church and a poster about something random that I took from the wall of a library and which had the local coat of arms printed on it. I took some photos and we left.

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But it was time to move on, because nightfall was already there and it brought the cold with it. I promised myself to go back there some other time, more calmly, and better enjoy the history of the place.

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Bruno started his daily round of complaining about pain and night was already beginning to full, our intended final planned destination was Venezia Mestre, there were camping grounds nearby, and we decided to pick up the pace and try to get there... Now more relieved, and in no hurry, we settled into the cramped bungalow.

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A Mexican man named Carlos arrived to share the tiny room with us, and thus would begin the formation of the drunkard trio that would last only a single day, but just enough to remain in my memory forever. That night, in order to sleep, we threw our bicycles inside any which way, there was no more room so they had to be put up against the beds. Nhanderecó practically slept with me on my bed and that first night was quite peaceful. As for the next two days, well, keep reading and you'll find out... Remember the "nectar" that Bruno brought from Brazil? Well...

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And thus started our day in Venice...

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That's it, I can't remember anything else! Long and messy story short, I woke up with the whole bathroom redecorated in brown tones the next morning, having no idea how, why and when I returned to the room, having no idea where I was and who I was with, not having the slightest idea that Marco Polo could be watching, not having the slightest idea that the place I was born in was over 12,000 kms away, and thinking that the internal hammering in my head was the sound of virgin Venetian nymphs engaged in harmonic chants of pain and doubt in myself. I gradually collected myself and realized that it wasn't a dream... I looked to the side, saw Venetian masks and immediately thought: - Was I a character from the "Commedia Dell'Arte" lost in mid 16th century Venice? 🥴


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Saturday morning, I was feeling a little better already but my stomach still ached, we continued cycling to the Venice train station and there we took a train to Trieste. That was the best solution we found because the initial plan was to be in Trieste on Saturday, but with the previous day being what it had been, it was impossible for us to cycle and so as not get out of schedule, we decided to take the train. We got off the train, ate a kebab at the first hole-in-the-wall place we found, and then continued on towards the camping ground we had seen on the map. We quickly realized that the central and touristic part of the city is in a flat expanse of ground surrounded by mountains, it was all up and down, up and down! And, my friends, what a climb! Holy shit, why put a camping site all the way up there? We were almost in Slovenia by then! The climb was steep, we had to push our bicycles, just like pushing a rock bigger than oneself, we looked like Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the hill, but to our great happiness the rock didn't roll back down, and just like Sisyphus I was living my life to the fullest, and you better believe it.


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