Day 22 – Pisa to Siena

Well, glorious weather this morning as we set off about 6.45am for our 70 mile cycle to Siena……..cloudy, cloudy, cloudy! You have no idea what a difference this made to the day and how happy we were. Although still hot with temperatures up to 29c, it meant that we weren’t scorched!

Today’s ride was fairly dull really, but we were fine with that as it was mostly flat so meant we had a fairly good pace. However, today we both really noticed that we are tired now, think it is all catching up with us.

Although the scenery was nothing to write home about for most of the day, we did have a few events which will remain memorable.

Half way through the day we were met by a local cycle road race where traffic on our side was stopped by Police until all the cyclists went through. It was great to see, 50 or more ‘pro cyclists’ (they have a bit more than a cyclists tan goin on!) flying past at great speed. The sound of their wheels spinning round so fast…….the noise we could only dream of making! If you blinked you would have missed them………with us going by you could have a catnap and still not miss us! How they go that fast on the Italian roads remains a mystery to us. Dalmationio and Annabella were really tempted to jump ship and join the faster cyclists, but changed their minds when they realised they wouldn’t have as much fun. They were also worried about who would carry their souvenirs!

So back to our steady plod, and with the clouds still on our side we were about 20 miles from Siena. A quick supermarket stop saw Richard chatting to someone in the queue and the man being shocked about how far we had cycled. He wished us well, and with a quick wave in the carpark we were on our way. That was until a few hundred meters down the road, a car stopped and a woman came running up to us. It was the wife of the man from the supermarket. She introduced herself, gave us her number and said if you need anything in Italy then get in touch. This all came from a supermarket queue encounter…….human kindness really is amazing!

As we approached Siena, with about 18 miles to go, the scenery started to change and our first real glimpses of Tuscany started to appear. And as we all know by now, once scenery starts getting interesting, it means there is an uphill or two! Just a gentle climb up to Siena, but with tired legs it felt like a mountain.

Siena is such a stunning city, set quite high up it is an ancient walled city and the buildings are out of this world. Our accommodation was on the 4th floor of a building just a short walk from the Piazzo de Compo (the main square and today’s picture). Minutes after we had arrived, we heard the sound of drums, and quickly threw our heads out of the window to see what was happening on the street below. A parade with many drums and flags worked it’s way down to the small church in the street. It was amazing to see, and as we watched we realised this was yet another great memory at the end of a long day cycling. These parades were happening throughout all the narrow streets of Siena, where different church areas in the city come together to celebrate at the festival.

The evening ended as usual with a couple of beers, followed by a lovely meal at a restaurant tucked away from the main tourist areas, which was recommended by the owner of our accommodation – delicious!

On returning to our accommodation, it was obvious the festival celebrations were going to continue long into the night. With a street party laid out down the length of the street, the celebrations carried on for a few more hours. Another little gem we have stumbled upon.

Thoughts are obviously wandering to our destination on Tuesday, however we have two long days to go, and are feeling quite worn out now. It is getting harder to just focus on the day in hand, but the miles we still have to do brings us back down to earth. But one thing is for sure, no matter what happens, this road is leading to Rome!

Quote of the day:
To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles. (T.F.Hodgson)

Richard and Angela
www.ivanhoechallenge.co.uk
www.justgiving.com/home2rome2013

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