from Cumbria
to Umbria by bike

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  by Allan Nelson & Konrad Orlowski 

Day 13 - Saturday May 22nd

< day 12

The Journey Back Home

Sergio, Daniela, Antonio, Maria and dog.

Our hosts (left to right):
Sergio, Daniela, Antonio and Maria
(oh, and Lilli the dog)

A sad day - we're on our way home.  Up early this morning (well 8am is early for us).  Lovely Espresso Coffee and Orange juice at breakfast, with Sergio's 'Monte Serra' shimmering in the early sun. Some people don't appreciate their surroundings, but Sergio certainly does.  He told us that he picked that plot for his house as he had unrestricted views of the mountain.

We said goodbye to Daniela and Adele, who were off to work, then it was pack the panniers for the last time (including a bottle of 'very special' olive oil that Sergio had kindly given me) and we were off following Sergio through the streets on our way to the airport.  Before that though, he wanted to pop in to his office for a poster on the way.

The city was very busy, but we were getting used to 'assertive' riding now - basically Sergio did the assertive bits, and we just followed.   We stopped at an open air market by the University while Sergio went for the poster, then it was off again for the airport.  Sergio took us over the Arno for the last time, through the backstreets and past the hotel where we stayed last year (Hotel Bologna).  At the airport, we said our goodbyes to Sergio who was off for a ride over 'guess where'.  To say we were envious was an understatement.  We had cold, damp England to look forward to.

We'd saved the pipe lagging from the outward trip, and started packing the bikes.  Wish I'd numbered the bits!  None of them seemed to be the right length for anywhere anymore!  Maybe next time ;-)  The airport was very busy.  Much busier than last year, but then this was a Saturday.  We had lots of interesting conversations standing in the queue at the check-in with the bikes (we chose the slowest moving queue - again).  People were asking us where we'd been, what the traffic was like, did we have trouble getting the bikes on the plane etc etc.  Obviously lots more would like to try it, but just need a nudge to take the plunge.  I don't recall the girl on the check-in desk weighing anything at all (panniers or bikes).  A baggage handler who looked to be about 7 feet tall, with several missing teeth took away our bikes (one under each arm), and I meant to call after him 'be careful with those', but somehow the words wouldn't come out!  While we were wandering around, we came across an English couple with bikes who had just arrived, and started chatting to them.   They asked us the best way out of Pisa, and we suggested they head for Calci and over Monte Serra for Lucca.  I hope they enjoyed it.

As is the norm for all building work, be it roads, airports, whatever, all major work is started at peak times, and the refurbishment of the departure lounge at Pisa Airport was no exception.  Cut to less than half its capacity, it was very cramped in there.  The plane left in glorious sunshine about half-an-hour late.   This time it was almost full, just a couple of empty seats, and so a couple of airline meals going free!  After doing serious damage with my credit card on duty free peace offerings, we were soon back in Manchester.  A cold, windy, damp and grey day.

The bikes and panniers survived the journey relatively unscathed, though Konrad's rear wheel was buckled slightly.  We had around an hour to wait for our train, so we went to get a coffee on the station.  What a difference between that and the one we started the day with!

The train journey back from Manchester Airport to Ulverston was uneventful.  No changes, and no problems with the bikes on the train.   In no time at all we were back home, and that was that - for another year.

Picking my favourite ride/day whatever was difficult this year. 

The hard ride on day two through Reggello, Vallembrosa and Consuma would have been superb had I been feeling better - I know Konrad enjoyed it. The ride from Orvieto to Sovana, though starting off wet was a pleasure, especially around Sorano and Sovana.  The next day from Sovana to Arcidosso was memorable for the Etruscan tombs and walkways.  The day after that, from Arcidosso to Massa Marittima was done in brilliant sunshine, and had the bonus of us discovering Roccatederighi, followed the next day with the wonderful road between Suvereto and Sassetta.  So, as you can see, something to pick out on any of the days really.   But, if I have to go for one, I think I'll go for Day 10 - Arcidosso to Massa Marittima.  For me it had everything.  Superb roads, brilliant weather, wonderful views and Roccatederighi.  I shall save up to retire there.

sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) How lucky we were to have had such great hosts at the start and end of the holiday.
sunflrbt.gif (1265 bytes) Why is our weather so poor!

< day 12