Tuscany With Less Intensity - 9 1/2 Weeks - CycleBlaze

October 29, 2019

Tuscany With Less Intensity

Cinciano to Buonconvento

It was a little difficult to leave this morning. Hanging out in a beautifully restored 900 year old village with a good restaurant and wine cellar is nice and easy thing to do. However, the road beckoned. 

Yesterday I was in complete relax mode as I needed to replace our rear brake pads, about a 10 minute job per bike, but did I do it when I had all day. Nope. So I had to squeeze that in before we could pedal off down the road. Good thing I did  though, as it made a big difference in being able to easily scrub speed on downhills.

And speaking of downhills, the ones we had today, and the uphills as well, were much more benign than anything we had over the last few days. The hills are still here, but with easily ride-able 6 -10% (max) grades.

In addition to the more moderate hills, the temps were also more moderate, helped by the thin cloud cover that the sun kept trying to break through. All in, a wonderful day of touring. Some great sights, like the hill top fortress at Monteriggioni, about 10 km north of Siena, and Siena itself. However, as with Prague and the Lake Garda area, it was still almost thick with tourist traffic, on a Tuesday, in late October! I guess there is no such thing as an off-season anymore.

We connected up with the Via Francigena cycle / hike / pilgrimage route that also forms the Italian section of the Eurovelo 5 route. We will be more or less following this all the way to Pulgia. 

More or less is the correct description, as the route is an historic 'pilgrimage' route to Rome and the Vatican, and some sections are more suited for hiking. However, there are always road options around some of the rougher 'hiking' sections. Anyway, it's good to have a rough blueprint of a route to base our travels off.

Both K and I agreed that the best part of today's ride was leaving Siena. It helped that the sun broke through a little, but the route was a nicely graded downhill with great views of the rolling farmland (grain filled, most recently tilled ... no vineyards or olive groves).

We ended the day in the small but interesting little town of Buonconvento ... another one of these towns that's been around for about a thousand years (you can say that with a straight face here!). As well as being an old historic place, it's also strategically located at a main cross roads of the l'Erotica bike route ... a roughly figure 8 shaped road bike route that goes through the heart of Chianti country. Bike touring is big business here as the route is very well publicized and many restaurants and hotels cater to the bike traffic ... like the very good place we were at tonight ... La Porta di Sotto. As well as being at a strategic crossroads for the l'Erotica, Buonconvento is also in the heart of Brunello country ... so we had a bottle with our excellent dinner. To top it off, the fine folks at the restaurant sent us off into the night with a complimentary Grappa shot. That's one of the contributing factor to tonight's (Tuesday)  blog being written on Wednesday!

Song of the Day, Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip ... it was going to be Louis Jordan's old classic 'Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens' in light of my wrong turn coming into Buonconvento, but this came on the boom as I was working away on the blog .... today was a Fully Completely day of touring ... everything in just the right proportions!

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Leaving Cinciano after two very relaxing days
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another foggy morning with localised patches of fog dotting the vineyards. No rain even though it was in he forecast
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Glenna Jefferiesright off a postcard!
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1 week ago
This is ‘the pilgram’s route' to Rome, and then through to Brendisi in Pulgia. It is a hiking and bike trail for the most part and forms part of Eurovelo 5. We will be following this, more or less for the rest of the trip
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Aftr riding a few km's past the industrial areas of Poggibonsi we were back into rural Tuscany .. hills and hill top forts ... like Monteriggioni
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This was the first instance where the main road did not go up the hill and straight through the town ... so we took a slight detour and did it anyway!
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very cool town / fort with a commanding 360 deg view. it was one of several outpost forts built to protect Siena, about 10 km to the south (it is on the top of several hills .. with the road going straight up to them!)
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very nice if somewhat touristy town inside the walls at Monteriggioni
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Looking north towards Poggibonsi ... the gravel road is the Via Francigena / Eurovelo 5 route that we will be more or less following to Rome and then on to Puglia
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...everyday is laundry day!
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About 40 minutes later we were in Siena .. we were here 16 years ago (same trip as Montepsertoli) in October. Beautiful and incredibly hilly and compact center .. this is looking into the Piazza del Campo ... where the Palio, a horse race between the different communities of the city is held twice a year, dating back to at least 1630
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this picture makes it look realtively uncrowded .. do not be deceived ... this is one of the most visied tourist spots in Italy (which means probably in the world), and on a Tuesday in late October, we had lots of company!
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A nice fellow tourist who was impressed with our bike set up insisted on taking our picture. Thanks!
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recreating a picture from 16 years ago when we were here with our kids ... iron rings on the outside of the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall) in the Piazza del Campo .. we would have loved to spend more time here and explore the many magnificent buildings .. but there were too many other people doing the same thing!
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Me in the shackles
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... one of the 'wide' streets in Siena!
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We entered Siena from the north on fairly busy roads .. uphill ... but very manageable. We left to the south on almost deserted streets and very gradual grade downhills ... lovely!
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Still rural, but much more benign topography .. tilled fields rather than steep terraced vineyards and olive groves
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... with the sun valiantly trying to poke through .. never quite made it all day .. but neither did the forcasted rain
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one last look back to Siena...
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... ok, this is really the last look back!
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... as we were riding into the very small but historic village of Buonconvento, our home for the night, I pulled off onto that I thought was a bike path leading into the village center. It led to this chicken coop!
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Riding into Buonconvento the right way!
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The main street of old Buonconvento (one of 3!)
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... waiting in a little courtyard off the main street to check into our B&B ... booked on the Via Francigena website!
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... art imitates life ...too true around here ... stop signs have the same effect too
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Nice thing about Italy, dating back to Roman times, drinking water available almost everywhere!
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Signing off with our complimentary grappa after a very good dinner at La Porta di Sotto
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Today's ride: 72 km (45 miles)
Total: 2,457 km (1,526 miles)

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