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by Allan Nelson & Konrad Orlowski  

Day 13 - Tuesday 26th May 1998

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Colle di Val d'Elsa to Pisa

Day 13 - Colle di Val d'Elsa to Pisa

Route:
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Colle di Val d’Elsa - San Gimignano
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) San Gimignano - Villamagna
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Villamagna – Ponsacca (No 439)
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Ponsacca – Cascina
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Cascina – Pisa (No 67)
Kilometres: 95

A sad day this.

This was to be the last day's cycling. We’d allowed ourselves a day at the end – at best to do some sightseeing around Pisa and at worst to allow us a day in case of disasters in the home straight.

We had breakfast in the main square at Colle di Val d’Elsa, bought ‘something for the journey’, and set off for the first leg to San Gimignano. We both took it easy after yesterdays epic. Funny that. Yesterday was only 80kms, yet we were both pretty stuffed after it – and we only had half the luggage. I don’t think either of us could understand why. Felt quite fresh when we got to San Gimignano today, even though this time we had the full luggage set.

San Gimignano wasn’t quite as busy as yesterday, but we were earlier. Seemed we’d beat the coaches to it. The girl at ‘Munditravel’ had done the business, and managed to book us a double room at the Hotel Bologna, so with the address and our reservation slip, we set off for Pisa on the Villamagna road. There was some climbing, but it wasn’t too bad, then a brilliant descent to Villamagna. We stopped part way down for a drink and eats. Carried on west from Villamagna for 4-5km until we hit the No 439 signposted Pontederra.

This road runs parallel with the River Era for some way, and was incredibly flat compared to what we’d been used to. I kept expecting a hill around the next corner, but the road meandered around them, rather than going over them. It was a pretty non-descript journey (making good time – 30kph+) until we neared Ponsacco where the road got busier. The route through the town was ‘interesting’.

From Ponsacco, we headed for Cascina, and then a very boring ride from Cascina to Pisa – built up area, hot (27 C), dusty, busy etc. This last stretch seemed to drag on and on, and for the first time on the whole trip, we found ourselves getting out of the saddle, not to climb, but to releive the aching bum.   Eventually, we reached historic Pisa, and decided to stop at a gelateria for an ice-cream, a drink and to ask directions to the hotel. We couldn’t believe it when the owner told us the hotel was two streets away. Lucky or what!

We arrived at the Hotel Bologna at 4pm. Cost for a double room was L100,000. We were paying L110,000 (evidently ‘Munditravel’s’ 10%).

We had a walk out to the leaning tower tonight. Couldn’t get over how few tourists there were there. I got a picture of it with no-one else in shot! Had a meal in a restaurant in Via S Maria, then back to the hotel bar. They didn’t have any wine!, so we nipped out to a grocers and brought a bottle back (they did have a corkscrew and two glasses!).

Impressions:
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) First part of the ride (to Villamagna and a little beyond) was very enjoyable.
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Second part (particularly from Ponsacco onwards) was pretty naff. We’d been spoilt over the last couple of weeks.
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Sad to be finally back at Pisa.
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Pisa was a lot quieter than I imagined it would be.
Sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Shame you can’t go up the tower anymore. The last time I was in Pisa (1966), I was 14, on a school trip, and I can remember going to the top, and then walking around the outside of most of the ‘galleries’ on the way down.

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