Casciano to Poppi (88 kms)
Both slept well. Breakfast in the Hotel Mary
was the usual 'sweet' bread and various flavours of jam. Had lots of coffee though
(help yourself from a dinky little machine which did around 10 different types!).
We left the hotel at 10:15am and soon found the right
road headed for Greve. This was a lovely ride on quiet fairly flat roads through
woodland. We soon made Greve, where we took some photo's and bought a few postcards
(best to get that chore over with early on in the trip I think). Seemed to be lots
of cyclists in Greve, mainly riding mountain bikes, but some on conventional tourers with
bright yellow panniers and something written in Dutch on them - an escorted tour by the
look of things.
From Greve, we headed off to Figline Valdarno.
Quite a climb out of Greve, but we were soon dropping down to Figline. We got a bit
lost here when the signs for Reggello disappeared and
we found ourselves heading for Castelfranco (the wrong direction). We took a detour
and soon got back onto the Reggello road. This one was tough with a capital T.
We began to realise now why Sergio and the bike mechanic had been having a little snigger
to themselves. There was no shade at all on the ascent to Reggello, and the sun was now beating down with a
vengeance. I was not feeling particularly frisky at this point, and by the time we
reached Reggello, I was feeling pretty dreadful.
I'd not felt too good a few days before the trip, but reckoned I'd 'ride through
it'. Now I wasn't so sure.
At Reggello there
was a lay-by containing a tree, a shrine and a drinking fountain. So, we filled the
bottles up, sat in the shade of the tree and I prayed that I would start feeling better
soon! This really was my saviour. After eating, we pushed on for Vallombrosa feeling much refreshed. It didn't last
for long. The road went up remorselessly, awkwardly steep in places. At last
we reached Vallombrosa, a lovely looking town. I
can't describe how hard I found that climb. We were now at over 1000m. Apart
from my not being on top form anyway, what made it hard was the lack of shade. The
sun was on our backs the whole way up, and we'd done a good 3-3.5 hours continuous
From Vallombrosa to
Consuma was a joy. Around 10km of riding on a twisting road through the Vallombrosa
Nature Reserve, shaded all the way on a fairly flat road. There was an unexpected
stiff last climb to the top of the 'Passo del Consuma'
at 1050m, and then it was off for what we thought would be all downhill. That was
not to be. There were a couple of leg-sapping digs in the next couple of kilometres
before we finally started the descent proper from 1000m to Poppi
at 430m. A brilliant descent (12 miles roughly).
We arrived at Poppi
just before 6pm, climbed up to the old town, and booked into the towns one hotel, the two
star Albergo Casentino, where a double room cost us
L90,000. The hotel is directly opposite the Castello
dei Conti Guidi, a very impressive building. We ate in the hotel restaurant,
across a small courtyard from the hotel itself. There were lots of young children in
there (some kind of party), and though I love kids, it was noticeably quieter when they
left! Had a very good meal of Bruschetta with Artichokes and Rabbit pasta.
Something we'd not come across last year, you paid for the wine you drank. Not sure
how they work that out, no-one seemed to look at the bottle before they gave us the bill.
The whole meal, including the wine (1/2 litre?) was L21,000, which seemed excellent
value to us. Bed at 10:30pm again.
tough day that.
||Much nicer roads
throughout today - felt like the holiday starts here.
< day 1
day 3 >