October 13th, 2010

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Day 7: 177 Miles

"I don't like Italian roads," I thought as we shared the one out of Pontedera with far too many large, slow-moving lorries.

Then we turned off, and suddenly the roads were empty and pretty and I liked them after all.

We had coffee in San Gimignano, where we toiled up to the old fortress to admire the view and I posted some postcards:

Siena for lunch was a request stop from me, because of my family's deep love for Saffy's Angel. We wandered through the hot streets and bought freshly-baked pizza.

The afternoon's route took us through mountain curves from Tuscany into Umbria - names straight out of Macaulay's Horatius. Stuck behind a camper van and the world's slowest Alfa Romeo, I didn't see Howard for the best part of an hour and was starting to panic a little about wrong turnings when I came upon him waiting at a junction.

We parked in the walled city of Urbino not entirely sure which roads allowed motor vehicles (answer: pretty much all of them, if it's a two-wheeler or an Ape) and prowled off to look for a hotel. We soon found a two-star albergo just off the main square. Our room had no television, but an excellent shower and a five-star view:

The friendly receptionist suggested we leave our bikes outside the hotel. After struggling with the 90-degree angles, 25% gradients and car-width cobbled passages this entailed, we parked one each side of the door, like statues.

Later, when we went out to dinner, the man on the front desk had been replaced by a woman who said something terribly fierce-sounding to us in Italian. When she tried again more slowly, it turned out to be 'Are both those bikes yours? They're lovely!'