We were lucky how things turned out with this AirBnB, instead of a morning check out, Carlo was happy for us to stay as long as needed. This meant that we could go and relax at the thermal pools and then be able to come back and shower the stinky waters off before moving on the the next stop. So I packed up a picninc breakfast while Iain made a flask of tea (so British!) and off we set, bright and early to avoid the crowds!
It was fab, stinky but fab!
We wallowed (literally) for a while, ate our breakfast then, just as the place was filling up, we headed off back to the apartment to shower, change and make our way on to the next stop in Siena.
Even the puppy was enjoying relaxing the morning away!
Siena was set to be a relaxing stop as well as a chance for Iain to do a bit of cleaning, maintenance and have that tyre fitted, which had been delivered to our new AirBnB hosts.
Well, talk about a winning place. We have stayed in some nice places but this one gets the prize! Just about everything you could possibly need, as well as a welcome gift of a lovely local red Chianti! Perfect 🙂
Just when I didn’t think could get any better, breakfast the following morning was delivered, freshly cooked and still hot, beautifully presented in a hamper for us to enjoy in the little terrace area. I began to wish we could be here for more than just the two nights!
We also found a great little place to eat in, Al Tocco, just up the street. Even Iain went off his normal menu of burger or pizza and sampled some delicious beef stew!
Our Siena day was spent just as planned…even Iain spent some time just chilling. It was nice change not to have an agenda! I caught up on my admin (& wrote this post) while Iain sorted the bike and watched Netflix. I was able to make good use of the excellent WiFi to enjoy a couple of conversations with both Marcus & Beth and we are all set ready to watch England play tonight knowing that theres no pressure as they already through to the next round!
Which turned out to be good as they lost!
After a casual start and another lovely breakfast, we set off on our way north. The roads were great, taking us up through the SR222. Better known as the “Chianti Road” it wound up through the vineyards of the Chianti region, in wonderful twists and turns making for a great ride. There were many Vineyards along the way offering tours and wine tasting but Iain wouldn’t let me stop – something about having to tie me on if I had too much!
We skirted around Florence, keeping to the country roads and out of the drama of the city traffic but as we rose up into the hills, we looked own over the city scape, and so I can say that I’ve “seen” Florence!
One of our stop points today was the Convento Montesenario…..where every year on January 1st, one of the monks says a blessing for motorcycles and their riders. I know we’re a tad late but it was still a cool place to visit.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to the actual convent, the road becomes a private road and a big sign asks you to respect their peace but we had a little photo session as near as we could get and maybe some of the blessings were floating around in the air!
Back on the road, we wound our way up, down and round some wonderful countryside.
Until we took a sharp right…onto a gravel track, that we clung to for a mile until reaching our next lovely AirBnB, a great barn conversion on a farm. Wonderful! Animals everywhere, including a horse that just wandered around here and there, several cats and a dog that took quite the shine to Iain!
It really was an idyllic setting and we had a “disconnected” evening, just enjoying the fresh air and peace of the country.
Added bonus was the wonderful meal made for us by the hosts father. All home grown and homemade, we enjoyed a delicious pasta dish with fresh, roasted vegetables, fresh mozzarella and warm bread. You couldn’t top that in your finest restaurants!
We were up and out the next morning for a long six hour ride back across to the coast and the port town of La Spezia.
What a fabulous days riding though! Through the most wonderfully scenic countryside and on exhilarating roads, full of twists, turns, sweeping bends, uphill and down, around and around we went! Through quaint little villages and skirting the dozens of hilltop towns. We didn’t even have a GPS drama…not even a tiny one! Great day all in!
To top it all off, France beat Argentina and now they are definitely out of the cup – yippeeee!
But, oh man, La Spezia and those steps! After settling in to yet another amazing AirBnB and enjoying an hour long, very relaxing soak in the tub, we headed up the steps next to the apartment to the recommended restaurant. Our host had said it would be seven minutes’ walk. What she neglected to say was that the entire seven minutes would be steep, uphill steps!
Oh, and that when we got there, it would be SHUT!
Oh, the very nice man inside took his time to explain where the next nearest place to eat was…10 minutes’ walk DOWN hill which was great (and the dinner was lovely) BUT, of course, that then meant a fifteen minute walk back UP! Which was just fine while it was road but then the steps started up again, just as my sister phoned to speak to me. I’m sure she thought she had a dirty caller on the line with all the heavy breathing! Iain was walking ahead of me with a bottle of wine…it was like the donkey with the carrot on the stick analogy but it kept me going!
The next day, with calf muscles burning(!) we were up, packed and out for an early start and set off to explore the Cinque Terre area. We were still pulling out prickles from our little cactus incident the night before (don’t even ask!) that was fun…not!
My goodness! We thought that we’d done some tough roads up in the Alps but Iain said that the roads today, up and down, to and from the Cinque Terre villages were much more challenging to ride. A combination of rough road surfaces, narrow roads and super hairpin bends kept him on his toes, quite literally! However, it was all worth it.
Such wonderful villages, perched precariously on steep hillsides, the colorful houses brightening up the hillsides. At our northernmost point on the ride, the town of Vernazza, we walked the 1Km from the parking area, down into the pedestrianized, town of Vernazza for a delicious brunch before heading back along the coast towards La Spezia, stopping for pictures (far too many times according to Iain) of the landscape – in fairness, it was 88 degrees by then and we were both really feeling the heat badly.
One of the most interesting things I noted from this area, is how the terraces of grape vines and olive trees reach all the way down the steep hillsides to the sea! We were wondering how on earth they harvested and got things up and down, when we noticed these little carts and rails that disappear over the side. With that, one came chugging up the hill loaded up with boxes and a person! A person, strapped in and riding backwards uphill at an approximate (Iains guess) 60 degree angle…facing downwards people!! I would have hurled. I mean…imagine if his strap broke! Nope, I’d rather walk up thank you very much!
Back in La Spezia, I had this grand idea of riding out to Portovenere, a popular beach area…only today was Sunday and it was a hellish slow ride with about two thousand other folks who had the same idea – remember the temperature?!? It was quite grueling 🙁
It was so jam packed when we eventualy got there, that, even being just a bike, we couldn’t find a parking space! So, after that hideous ride out, we literally just turned around and rode right on back to town again 🙁
We stopped at a hyper market for coffee and to pick up some English teabags and Nescafe (our supplies were running low) before heading off out of town, to marginally cooler temperatures as we made our way south again towards Livorno where we were staying overnight before catching the early ferry to Corsica the next morning.