Bella Italia - June 18th 2010


The 7th day - and the Hornet makes a new friend, the Liberty.

I mentioned I was going to do a ride around the area, and Kristin decided she'd like to come too. Excellent, it meant sharing the sights, which always makes them more memorable. We set out soon after breakfast, and went anti-clockwise. First main stop Volterra, but not via the direct route. You can just make out the walled hill-top city in the distance in this photo:

The view of the city as we approached was amazing - with towering yellow cliffs below it. Sadly nowhere obviously safe to stop for a photo.

Some fantastic views when we got there:

After we'd had a coffee, Kristin dragged me muttering and whinging at first up a steep hill. I don't do steep hills! But I was very glad she had - more amazing scenery:

Of course Gertrude couldn't make head or tail of how to get out of Volterra, as the streets were so narrow and the buildings relatively tall - so I headed off in what seemed the right direction. The alleyway we went down was cobbled and sloping, and around a corner became even more sloping. No worries, there are cars parked down here, it must be navigable. Then it got even more sloping - it felt like 45 degrees, but was probably about 30 degrees - but we felt we were above to topple over forwards! Not too far to the end though - but as we neared the bottom we saw there was a ha-ha of sorts - the end was two 10" steps - not negotiable by scooter. We did manage to stop, but were basically stuck. Even getting off the scooters would be an adventure, turning them round would be a nightmare, and I doubt if they'd have been rideable up the hill.

Just then a lovely Italian girl who was attending to something in an Ape just ahead saw us, and split her sides with laughter - then unhooked the tailgate of the Ape and made a ramp for us! Brilliant things those Apes, I'll never forget that one!

Gertrude was OK from then on, and we stopped for lunch in a small town called Pomarance. I decided to have a salad for first course, and lamb chops for second. I wish I'd taken a picture - this salad was on a plate fully 20" by 10" and crammed full of leaves, cheese, tomatoes and olives. Delicious, but I was rammed after only managing half! Then the lamb chops arrived - not three or four, but eight! I manfully struggled through those, as they were absolutely scrummy - but by now I was 'back teeth awash'. Kristin thought it a huge joke, but managed to occupy her time playing with one of the two kittens that came to investigate.

Kristin walked, I waddled back to the bikes:

Oh those roads were fantastic! At the bottom of our circuit, there was a view that went out to sea with an island beyond. Again, a camera can't do full justice to this:

Three-quarters of the way round I was feeling the need for more coffee, so a quick stop at a lovely village called Belforte provided that. It was while we were sitting quietly in the gentle sun, that I realised I was enjoying someone's company in a special way I hadn't felt for years. Relaxed, sharing, no pressure, no agenda, but very content.

More great roads back to the hotel, knackered but happy. Actually we stopped outside the hotel gates, and by mutual consent went on another 7km to re-fuel - I don't think either of us wanted to do it, but it had to be FTEB the next morning. Whatever my fuel cost was, I now had to unload loads of euro 'shrapnel' - and putting the kind attendant's hands together, filled them up. I may have paid double, but it was worth it firstly as a thank-you, and secondly to lighten the load that threatened to upset my balance.

Kristin was definitely now one of the 'Hard Riders', so it became seven at the table. :)

The Hornet and the Liberty somehow didn't stray far apart after this day:


The track of the day (181km):