Marginone - Montecatini Terme - Touring Tuscany - CycleBlaze

April 30, 2009

Marginone - Montecatini Terme

Tomorrow is another important public holiday, May 1st or May Day, and it falls on a Friday which makes a three-day weekend. When checking in the Internet, we are not surprised to discover there are no rooms to be had in San Gimignano, where our intended route would take us, or any other place that is of particular interest. The best plans seems to be to hang around the area we are in now and do a few loops.

We book a room in Montecatini Terme which is ridiculously close to where we just spent the night. A visit to the medieval town of Vicopisano to the south and its castle fits into our day perfectly, even if it does mean some backtracking.

On the way to Vicopisano we first pass through Altopascio, a pretty town with intact city walls. Then we have a long stretch of straight road. Here again we would have been happy if there had been a route with less traffic, but it is bearable, and today the sun is shining.

Gate in Altopascio
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Charming little church in Altopascio, with the black and white stone typical of the region
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On the way to Vicopisano - beautiful weather
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Lovely, especially when you don't see the cars and trucks
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We walk up the steep hill to the old part of Vicopisano, have a sandwich for lunch and set out on the return trip. I make a few attempts at finding a quieter road, perhaps one that isn't on our maps, but in vain. I decide I would probably have less stress if I just accepted the traffic instead of trying to find something which doesn't exist.

In Vicopisano
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Another view from Vicopisano
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The "rocca" or fortress wasn't open and from the entrance there wasn't much to see
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In the courtyard of the fortress, the Medici emblem is here too
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Montecatini Terme is a spa town with an abundance of old-fashioned hotels for guests who, at least in its heyday, came to "take the waters", in fact I've never before seen so many hotels per square kilometer. Our choice through the Internet, Hotel Cioci (45€ with breakfast), is charming.

Today's ride: 58 km (36 miles)
Total: 250 km (155 miles)

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