at the Colle di Tenda -1871 m.

Italian portal of the tunnel di Tenda

The Col de Tende links Nice with Piedmonte, following the rocky gorge of the river Roya; a route familiar to the Romans but a new route for me. The head of the valley is a famous tunnel. Opened in 1882, it’s 3.2 km long and running between 1321 m. on the French side and 1280 m. altitude on the Italian side. You miss the scenery so after passing through the tunnel I doubled back up the hairpins of the Roman route, past the modern ski resort at 1400m. to the pass at 1870 m. It’s a natural boundary: the topography changes at the col from the deep gorges and ravines of the Mediterranean side to gradual opening out, almost like a fan, to the plain of the river Po.

Stop in the Var at 35 degrees

We explored the Col de Braus, which branches off this route, for GLME Ascension Camp 2015
I talked with another Kawasaki biker - I’m riding the colours of a new tribe now - he’d allowed me to pass him on the road below on the French side. But he’d ridden his adventure bike up the French side of the Roman road, which is not sealed so is off limits to me. I didn’t get much more detail through the language barriers but he took a good photo and I hope I did the same for him on his camera.
Down the Italian side to Cuneo, a hotel I booked only yesterday. An excellent room, Italian business style. And a choice for dining between the restaurants in Cuneo’s impressive square or a health conscious restaurant in a back street. I’m in the latter, enjoying a plate of Trofie, a Ligurian style of pasta we’ve never heard of, followed by grilled tuna, vegetables and salad. You don’t get vegetables and salad in France... lucky to get either, though of course they will be wonderful. With some Dolcetto d'Alba from near where I will ride tomorrow. Sunset glowing in operatic colours at the end of the street... swallows cruising... someone playing jazz guitar in another bar, Italian lovers strolling hand in hand, each impossibly stylish. You’re not in Kansas now Tonto.