Five go Twinning

Photo: Cliff (“Chilli”), Gino, Sean, Jyde and Andy’s Italian adventure included lashings of Moretta.

By the end of their first day, the entrepid five realised their Italian adventure was a celebration of international friendship, eating, drinking and photos, with some cycling thrown in.

This was the third Twinning trip between Islington Cycling Club and SCD Centinarolese, 12th – 16th September 2019. If you add Abi and Hannah’s visit last year, this is the fourth Twinning event I’ve organised since the debut in 2015.

It all started with the generous hospitality of Alessandra and Gabriele who opened their home and kitchen to the travellers and their hosts on Thursday evening. Despite the language challenges there were no silences, just chat, laughing, eating and drinking. A hint of what was to come.

Andy had waited until he got to Italy to make an admission that he feared would have precluded him from the trip. “I don’t know how to tell the Italians this, but I don’t drink coffee”. Admitting that in the country where coffee is ingrained in the culture was going to be Andy’s challenge. No matter, the Fanese had a secret weapon. Moretta. Unique to the Fano area, a three level drink of liquer, coffee and crema, Andy, to his credit, gave it a go. He was hooked. For the rest of the weekend Andy had a Moretta at every opportunity. Lashings of it.

Friday feasting

For our first ride we were accompanied by Fabiola, Rodolfo and Sabrina (all of them wearing ICC caps).

One of the many famous Rodolfo selfies

I learnt a lesson from the first Twinning, not to make the Friday ride too challenging. An even paced ride up the valley, lunch then back to sea level in Fano.

The other lesson learnt was to allow plenty of time for stops along the way.

Our first was at Fossembrone.

Shortly afterwards a short detour to peer over another bridge to see the Marmitte Gigante (a rock formation, not giant pieces of Marmite).

A quick coffee stop at the Furlo gorge. We peered skyward at the Mussolini statue facing the sky that had been blown up by the partisans. Il Duce wine and a room of his memorablia was also available. I once asked a Pansèr why the café had this stuff. “It’s business. There are three cafés in the gorge and this one is the busiest”

On to Cagli in the glorious sunshine for the biggest climb of the day. Not a steep hill, not a pass, not a long slow thigh burner but a mountain of spaghetti. Our destination was the locally famous Il Poggio restaurant. It’s famous for its carbonara. Not just the wonderful taste but the sheer size of the portions.

Gino looking wary about the challenge ahead
nae bother

Asking who wanted a post prandial Moretta, Andy’s hand was first up. Our post lunch experience also included head stands in the garden. I have no idea why.

We whizzed back down the valley, stopping to admire the view in the Furlo.

One last stop before Fano for another classic Italian experience. Ice cream from Campi di Fragole (Strawberry Fields) in Calcinelli.

Jyde enjoyed the day so much he said this was now his favourite ride.

The eating and drinking wasn’t over. Friday night was pizza night. A chance for the Londonese to meet other Pansèrs. Just like the night before the chatting and laughing was relentless.

After the inevitable Moretta the guys experienced another aspect of Italian life. Saying goodbye. It starts at the table, moves to just inside the exit, then outside. It takes at least half an hour to say goodbye and kiss everyone before the first people actually start to leave.

Saturday in salita

Saturday’s ride was all about the climb. And more eating and drinking of course. A ride up to the renaissance city of Urbino.

The ride inlcuded a 7km, 400m constant climb, then mangia beve, mangia beve (literally eat drink, eat drink but means up down, up down) along the ridge.

I was a bit concerned about the route as I knew that climbing wasn’t Cliff’s favourite. Had I bitten off more than Cliff could chew? We started steady. Paolo, Rodolfo and I kept Cliff company as he took our advice and settled to a constant rhythm. Despite the heat and the sweat dripping of his face Cliff kept going and made it to the top. Later, when asked what was his favourite part of the ride, he said “The climb. That was the biggest climb I’ve ever done”. I was really proud of him.

The obligatory photo at the top of the climb. Cliff in the Bianchi jersey made it.

A coffee / beer stop in Urbino before navigating our way through the narrow streets for, you guessed it, a team photo.

Then our reward of a speedy descent back down the valley. We stopped at Calcinelli again. This time, not for ice cream, but for aperitivi at club members Gio Mare and Patti’s fish shop. How many cycle rides end up in a fish shop? In another act of generousity Gio and Patti prepared fabulous fish, beer and bubbles for all.

As you would expect, we finished up in the nearby café. Morettas all round. The Pansèrs paid again. Such was their generosity it was proving difficult for the ICCers to spend any money.

Jyde thought the ride was better than Friday. This was now his new favourite ride.

After the riding, eating and drinking most opted for a little snooze before heading into Fano for a pre Twinning Dinner stroll.

The week before Jan and I had been to see Enrico, a club member and owner of Il Giardino dei Sapori to arrange the menu. It was fantastic seafood and a very generous fixed price. Thank you Enrico.

It proved to be another great evening of conversation in multiple languages. English, Italian, Spanish and sign language. I’m indebted to Gino and Jan for helping with the translating. Gino’s mother was Italian, his father Irish, so he goes by the fabulous name of Gino Murphy.

ICC Committee member Sean exchanged gifts with Pansèr President Lorenzo. Each ICCer also received a Centinarolese cap.

A great evening, finished off by yet another Moretta.

Scenic Sunday

It’s now a tradition. The final Twinning ride on the Sunday is the Panoramica. A flat coastal ride to Pesaro, then an eleven bend climb and along the ridge to Gabbice Monte. With the Adriatic to the right and the Apennines to the left, this was the third time ICC and Pansèr riders would enjoy the stunning scenery together.

Roberto is the proud owner of ICC kit so he lent Jyde his Pansèr uniform.

I went for the hybrid look. ICC cap, Pansèr jersey, ICC shorts and one sock from each club.

This year was a little different in that it co-incided with a charity ride along the same route in aid of severely brain damaged children. I contacted Angela, the President of the charity, Gli Amici di Andrea as the famous five had agreed that their presence could be used as extra publicity for the cause. They made the local press: ViverePesaro. The article includes:

“We are very proud that six cyclists from London will join us for the ride: Andy Booth, Cliff Hall, Gino Murphy, Jyde Omotajo, Sean Wightman and Colin Fisher (who lives near Fano during the summer and London in the winter). The ride for “Gli Amici di Andrea” [the friends of Andrea] co-incides with the Twinning weekend between SCD Centinarolese and Islington Cycling Club. Every year Londoners come to Fano or the Fanese go to London to celebrate cycling, eating, drinking and friendship. “Amici e Bici” [Friends and Bikes] is their motto.”

Another tradition is that Sabrina adopts a triumphant pose at the top of the Panoramica climb.


Our final ride tradition was the stop at Gabbice Monte for coffee, beer and of course, another photo.

At the finish of the charity ride we heard over the sound system “Welcome London boys. Please come to the front for a presentation”. They surprised us with a magnum of prosecco as a thank you.

We only had 12km of riding together left as we headed back to Fano to Bar Centinarolese for more beers, nibbles and chat.

Jyde commented that the rides had got better and better. The Panoramica was now his new favourite ride.

The riding had finished but not the eating, drinking, joking and laughing.

The guys came up to our house for lunch.

Sean demonstrated how to eat pavlova in style.

To finish a fantastic weekend we headed back to Fano for one last drink and of course, one last Moretta. The goodbyes were long and emotional.

The weekend had made quite an impact on everyone. New friends, new experiences, new rides. Lorenzo, the club President wrote afterwards:

Un altro gemellaggio si è concluso. Abbiamo passato un fine settimana molto intenso e carico di emozioni. Avervi avuti ospiti ed aver trascorso con voi questi giorni, è stata come sempre, una bellissima esperienza.
A Colin: egregio organizzatore
Agli amici londinesi: simpaticissimi
A tutti i Panser: impareggiabili
Vorrei rivolgere un solo pensiero

Another twinning has come to an end. We had a very intense and emotional weekend. Having you as guests and spending these days with you, it was a wonderful experience as always.
To Colin: excellent organiser
To London friends: delightful
To all Pansers: unparalleled
I would like to say just one thought

Grazie. Bravo Lorenzo e bravi tutti.

Special thanks to the hosts Alessandra & Gabriele, Lorenzo & Fabiola, Marco & Nadia, Roberto & Rafaella, Rodolfo and Sabrina and to Nicoletta for lending Andy her bike.

Not only was this my favourite picture of the weekend, but it was also the local newspaper’s.

The Pansèrs are looking forward to their return to London in 2020. A presto.

Some photos by me but most by Rodolfo Rosaverde.


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