A good nights sleep in Pitigliano. We certainly dont have any trouble sleeping now. Up early this morning (7:30am) as it was going to be a long day. Breakfast in the hotel, which was errrmmm - crap. Big chunks of very sickly sweet cake, and if that wasnt sweet enough for you, there were several kinds of jam you could plaster on it. Gave me toothache just looking at it. The coffee was good though - some of the best we had on the whole trip. So, we took a couple of bananas, and headed for a local shop where we bought some bread, cheese, ham and tins of tuna. There was an emaciated looking cat outside the shop, and I made the fatal mistake of feeling sorry for it and giving it a piece of ham. It took the first bite quite carefully, then clamped onto my hand with its razor sharp claws and ripped the rest of it away. I went back to the bike and packed the food, so it turned its attentions to Konrad. He swears it grinned at him, and I noticed he kept the bike between him and it!
We set off for Sempriniano. After a lot of climbing (and I mean a lot), we ended up at a place called Manciano., quite a detour on what was going to be a long day anyway. Konrads words were I dont understand it. After beating him about the head with the map (wrapped round my bike pump), we started the damage limitation. We headed for Montemerano and then for Saturnia, where theres lots of sulphur streams. You can smell them as you ride towards the place, and as if that isnt enough, they look awful. We both reckoned that if you jumped in one of those youd come out minus a few bits, so we didnt bother.
From Saturnia, we climbed up to Semproniano where we had our lunch, closely watched as ever by several thousand ants. I must say that bread, cheese, tuna and ham all together was delicious. After lunch, we continued climbing to Petricci, then on to Triana (767m). This is where we made our second mistake of the day.
We decided to make a detour to Roccalbegna (6km), as we recalled that wed seen something written about this place which appealed to us. Unfortunately, the 6km were all downhill, and dont forget wed been climbing more or less all day so far. Still, we felt sure it would be worth it. When we reached the bottom, to say we were disappointed would be an understatement. Maybe we missed something obvious I dont know, but it didnt look anything at all to either of us. We had a good drink and a pastry, filled the bottles and started on the climb back out, which took us around 25 minutes. Once back at Triana, the road continued to climb, quite steeply in parts, until at last we dropped down into Arcidosso, through Castel del Piano and Seggiano. At Ansidonia, the road forks for Montalcino. We dropped down to Castelnuove dellAbate, where the road crosses a railway line and immediately starts climbing. This climb seemed to go on and on, an awkward gradient that neither of us seemed able to get into a rhythm on. By the top we were both pretty shattered.
About 6km from Montalcino, the heavens opened. We stopped under a tree, and put the wet weather gear on, which had the immediate effect of stopping it raining. Neither of us could be bothered taking it off again, so we struggled the last 6km to Montalcino. By now we were both very tired. The climbing had certainly taken its toll.
The first hotel we tried was full, and we both had an awful feeling of foreboding, We tried several more, and they were full too.
In the main square, rows of tables had been set out for around 250 people, with bottles of wine etc. Apparently it was a dinner to honour the local football team who had won something important. We wondered if this was why the hotels were so busy.
We were beginning to despair of finding anywhere, until Konrad suggested trying the first one again, as the chap had mentioned something about emergency which he didnt understand. We went back there (Hotel Il Giardino), and the chap let us have his emergency room. OK, it was just 2 beds, in a room with no windows, and a shower down 2 flights of stairs, but Id have slept on a clothes line as long as it was hanging inside. The cost L75,000.
We went out for dinner at the Hotel Il Guigliano Restaurant (we were both famished), where we started with Bruschetta al pomodoro, followed by Minestrone Soup, followed by Pork and Mushrooms for me and Courgettes stuffed with meat for Konrad.
While we were eating, a tremendous thunderstorm started. We had a great view of it from the restaurant, though we couldnt see it from our room in the hotel, cos we had no windows but we could hear it.
On our way back to the hotel wed passed through the now deserted square with its soggy tables and chairs. Bit like a barbecue in the Lake District I thought to myself.