Stage 5.09 Italy. San Miniato to Sienna

1st May 2011

San Miniato – and the B and B is as bizarre as ever. Suddenly the B and B has an Italiana and a Russian – dance students at International Dance schools, we were unaware of.  This is a really powerful female household!  A truly huge breakfast.  The biggest and best breakfast I have seen, eaten or dreamed of… and then on the road.

We give the signed VF a brief chance, but abandon it pretty quickly, heading to the SB4, and Castelfiorentino.  Going along the road, we find a Mayday parade, with the communists and trade unionists parading in a nondescript and forgotten town, with a remarkably out of tune brass band. There is a modern church, of rare quality.  The spire looks like an engine part. Photos are not taken. I feel a little sad for the place, and its celebrations which seem to have been passed by history, like so many old industrial places at home. There is no renaissance for this or them, and maybe that will never really arrive, despite the money, initiatives and dubious public policy.  What does it take to make a society move on to a better future, past the inertia of old systems and attachments?

Regula is determined to go to San Giminiano, so after asking route advice, there is a 10km slog up the hill.  San Giminiano, entered through another ancient gate, is heaving with tourists.  Not cyclable to the centre through the crowds of tour groups…but we try.  It is very very full of coach loads, car loads, and every other sort of loads. Wandering, gorged tourists.  But as Regula insists, the town is amazing, full of beautiful and vain buildings of old times.

We move on quickly hoping for better from Sienna on country roads with very lovely views, olives and grapes –  stretches of cypress.  While we are having an off-road excursion, there is an increasing buzzing sound – a huge, truly huge, swarm of bees heading across the road and just over our heads.  We are very still indeed, and this amazing cloud of life quickly passes over us. The whole swarm passes inches from us at enormous speed.

Regula spots Montereggione from a distance, and although I almost cycle past, she insists on going up to the walled city – also full of gorged tourists.  But as Reggie said, it is a great place!  Well,ok it is a very impressive place as they go.

No more tourism – or gorged tourists. It is straight into the climb to Sienna..another climb and then into the suburbs.  No early view of the town, but then into the centre via one of the old gates – the Northern one.  We have accommodation right in the centre by the Piazza del  Campo.  A drink and a quick spin round the old city, via the Duomo food and sleep.


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