**NON-Cycling Tips From Car Pool Buddy Melissa re Traveling In Italy** (all turned out to be very very true)
1) Don't wear sneakers--only tourist wear sneakers.
2) At dinner the table is YOURS--you'll be sitting there for a long time and no one cares.
3) Don't handle the fruit at the fruitstand, the storekeepers don't like it.
Photos from around the Church of the Madonna del Ghisallo (Patrona dei ciclisti) and Lake Como in North Italy. The Church was closed, back in town a few miles away a bartender called Mario the caretaker who opened up the Church and gave us a tour in Italian (including a photo of him as a kid with Coppi riding by.)
Rides (turn around spot in bold)
Day 1-Poreno-Castel Rubello-Bagnoregio-Bolsena- Rd 71-Orvieto (old town)-Orvieto Scala-Poreno-75 km Luckily we had stayed in a small hotel in town the first day--next day we moved to crappy gourmet farm where shower in the middle of the bathroom, mattress sank to floor, menu was fixed so you better like what they serve. Take long gravel road out to paved road with Donna and her friends--they turn left--I shoot off right and I bet Donna never thought she'd see me again. I pull over, adjust nice Coppi bike, and take off enjoying roller after roller though frequently misshifting Campy Triple. I ride down toward Lago di Bolsena, along the way a car stops me with American tourists asking me for directions in halted Italian. Coming back I see Orvieto but farm is on the outskirts and I don't remember how to get back to it unless I detour to Orvieto Scala and try to remember which way we drove (the long way) that morning.
Day 2-Porano-Orvieto Scala-Rte 448 via Lago Di Corbara-Pontecuti-Todi-Back 79B-Quadro-Prodo-Orvieto Scala-out Rte 448-Bashi-Poreno- 121 km As yesterday I went Southeast, today I went West. First for breakfast in town where waitress amused that I asked for THREE mini decaf expressos (all coffee cups in Italy mini.) Then took a road south of a lake--its a Sunday and road has many cyclists, many wearing colorful kits and no helmets. A little headwind all the way out. When I got close to Todi many cars honking behind me--what's up??-turns out they are a miget Fiat club and they just honk their horns when they drive. Walked around Todi for about an hour--ran into an Amerrican Professor who also races bikes and he started to talk to me in Italian--after we talked awhile in English an Italian with a bike showed up and wanted to know if I wanted to ride with him (professor translated.) It had been slow to Todi as a slight headwind coupled with my not knowing where I waqs going, my regret is that I didn't plan better or I would have kept going to Spoleto. Much faster riding back on a road north of the lake where I saw Donna and her friends going out to Todi. Came back early so went back to coffeeshop at Orvieto Scala and circled out Bashi.
Day 3-Poreno-Rte 71-Baugi-Ficulle-Parrano-Faiolo-Montegabbione-Monteleone-Hwy 71-Citta Della Pieve-Fabro-Fabro Scala-Ficulla-Orvieto Scala-Poreno-130 km After breakfast at coffeeshop (sweet roll and THREE decaf expressos) a gradual uphill trhough some interesting towns that I'd breifly stop at, get a banana, take photos, and have old Italian people come up and speak to me even when it was clear I had no idea what they were saying. All towns had municipal water pumps--which I gingerly opened not to splash water. One seniorcame up, took my bottle, and opened it up like kids do a hydrant in New York to show me how to get the water cold. Fast back as mostly downhill.
Day 4-Zi Martino outside bott0om of hill near Castagneto Carducci-Bibona-La California-Via Aurelita-Castagneto Carducci-LOST ZI MARTINO-Donoratico-Zi Martio-49 km Hardest day was when we went to a new venue and I took a late PM ride--not sure where the hotel, motel, farm was. Zi Martino a "luxery" cycling motel--eg. balcony with clothes dryer, gorumet resturants, but it is still Italy so the rooms has (2) 15 watt bulbs at best. Took a climb up to Castagneto Carducci then a quick spin around this mostly flat area where I saw a dad motorpacing his kid. Then time to get back--hmmm, not sure of the way, I'll ask those guys gathered outside a gas station. BUT NO ONE SPOKE ENGLISH. After a little pointing when they recognized the Zi Martino name I finally made it back after taking alot of "wrong" streets.
Day 5-Zi Martino-Castagneto Carducci-Sasseta-Suveroto-Monterotro Martino-Castel Nuevo-Larderllo-Pomarance-Sanine di Voltemra-Voltera-Rte 68-Rte 145-Cecna-La California0Bibbona-Bolgheri-Castaneto Carducci-Zi Martino-171 km Great continental breakfasts at Zi Martino, NO not the bagged danish and coffee you get at a US Motel--fresh granola, yogert, cheese, prusciutto, breads. With a pound of prusciutto in my stomach of course a young Italian came along on a bike and we had to race up to Castagento Carducci. I tasted that prusciutto for the next 30 km. Route was typically slow, long roller after long roller. Passed a few farmers market--perfect for bananas. Loads of what looked like nuclear cooling towers in the valley, spooky; later someone explained it was geothermal plants. Think this is the ride where I first saw a large group of cyclists just casually pissing by the edge of the road--not deep in the bushes like in the United States. Discovering that almost all towns had a WW I monument. Big climb up to Voltera with many touring cyclists w/ panniers and wearing floppy hats on the road. When I got to small city of Voltera I took off my cleats and walked around barefoot for an hour(city was that clean), got my daily Gelato (for when I cycled 60+ km.) Big find back downhill, a fresh bread bakery and playing Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" which I started dancing to (Music in Italy was "not the best"--this was only 1 of 2 songs I ever heard.) I had circled to Voltera counter clockwise, now was going to go back clockwise which meant hitting the Coast where the riding flattens out. Again fast back, again come in 30-45 minutes before sunset--I think Donna always amazed when I found my way back.
Day 6-(walking Pisa) Zi Martino-Bolgheri-Coast-Marina di Castagneto Carducci-Zi Martino-33 km w/ Donna After taking the train and touring Pisa with Donna, we took a short fast ride down the Coast.
Day 7-Trequanda-Pienza-Montepulciano-Montefolonico-Trequanda-48 km Change of base day--but before taking PM ride I made sure I knew where the farm we were staying at was. This gourmet farm better than the previous one--the limited food option was still cruddy but condo with kitchen was nice. Off gravel farm road main road full of 10-15% sections. Just cruised past a few towns I'd visit the next day.
Day 8-Trequanda-Pienza-Montepulciano-Chiauciano Terme via Strada Si Pedlo Farm Road-Rte 30-NE Montallese-Chausi-Acquaviva-Montepulciano-Trequanda-120 km The find of the trip--MONTEPULCIANO--three tiered town of handmade crafts. I walked around for an hour, buying a small copper frying pan I then had to ride around with. While walking around two cleat screws came loose and were lost-damn--I didn't bring any others. Left Montepulciano seeing lots of other stuff to buy and places to eat dinner at instead of at the farm. Later discovered that not all roads on the Italian road map meant paved when I wound up doing 5km on hard packed gravel. THE MIRACLE OF MONTEPULCIANO--Drove back with Donna and her friends for dinner and Jo-Jo wanted to see when I had seen something so I started walking with her across town on the cobblestones. I spot something shiny in a crack on the street-I go check it out--its one of the screws I lost that morning.
Day 9-Trequanda-Montepulciano-Torrita de Siena-Sinafunga-Trequanda-70 km-partially w/ Donna Ride back to Montepulciano with Donna and we walk around for a couple of hours. I did some bonus miles when we passed the farm road.
Day 10-Trequanda-Sinafunga-Luciananco?-Monte San Saviano-Arezzo-Monte San Savino-Gargonza-Calcione-Lucigmano-Scrifiano-Trequanda-Ascianto-Trequanda-146km Ride from hell, started off nicly through nondescript farms towns--some on hills (the ones that begin with Monte...) Get to Arezzo which is crowded and has lots of car traffic, which had been rare. Planning to explore town by bike, the find a place to lock it up and walk around. Going down a cobbled street and there is a large water line running down it--I have to go to the other side of it and traffic is coming. I should have circled wide to cross it at a 90 degree angle, but I try to sharply cut it and I go flying off the bike--GOOD knee hitting cobblestones square on. Knee bleeding--"luckily" I have ace wrap on my bad knee which now goes on my other knee. Pedaling is hard going back as knee tightens, and many flat sections I just pedal one legged. Of course when an Italian come by I get on his wheel and have to put a strong effort to stay with him. Pass farm and it is still early so go down the road to a town I wanted to see. When I pull in Donna at the pool, I yell out "I got good and bad news"--good news is I rode without an Ace wrap on my right knee for first time since 2001." Big smile. "But the bad news is that it is now covering my left knee."
Day 11-Trequanda-Siena-48 km Moving our base so rode over with knee killing me. Donna had been drafted by her friends to drive the van so amazingly I got to Siena before her, she found the hotel as I was standing outside.
Day 12-(walk around Florence) Knee hurt, bus to Firenze w Donna. We must have climbed 1000 stairs in Duomo (largest brick dome ever constructed)-Giotto's Tower-and tiered Boboli Gardens.
Day 13-(walk around Siena) Only day it rained-stumbled into Rossi Bike shop where Mr. Rossi gave us a tour of the catacombs with historic bikes he built and raced on long ago. We drove to San Gimignano which is billed as another crafts type town but not close to Montepulciano.
Day 14-(walk around Florence) Back to Firenze, never saw a bike shop (later found out it is near the train depot--we kept taking the bus.) Walk around neighborhoods looking for Patti Smith's last concert venue before she retired the first time.
Day 15-Siena-Monte Riggioni-Castellina in Chianti-Radda in Chianti-Gaiole n Chianti-Back on 222-Siena-104 km Tourist region with $$$ tourist prices--should have gone further north to Greve in Chianti but mistakenly took hotel visitors map that cut off this area. In the morning I could ride through Siena-coming back I had to walk the bike as streets jammed with pedestrians.
Day 16-Driving day back to Orvieto as next day returning bikes.
Day 16-Porano--Bagnoregio-Viterbo-Montefiascone-via Fastello-Bagnoregio-Poreno-Orvieto Scala-Orvieto-123 km, 103 w Donna. We went south through a light industry nondescript area and as this was going to be Donna's longest ride I felt bad it wasn't more picturesque. But Viterbo was a nice find, an old small working class city surround by a wall. Bought some bolts at the hardware store for cleats (no English spoken), when looking for the Duomo a policeman stopped us--are we in trouble--finally found a translator that told us that policeman thought we looked lost and wanted to help. After returning to the farm I still had @2 hours before the bikes were going to be picked up, so I went to coffeeshop in Orvieto Scala where waitress loudly shouted out greeting and wanted to know where I had traveled for last three weeks. Then climb up to Orvieto for the last time before returning to the run down farm.
Day 17-18-19 Travel up to Lake Como-Visit Ghisallo, kick around touristy Como (finally English spoken), try to walk to Switzerland.