Friday, May 23, 2008


The most direct route from Siena to Florence is via a major highway. Despite lung-busting climbs, we had not gotten enough of the countryside of Tuscany. We made a couple day detour towards the town of Volterra, another hill town which is a center of alabaster art carved from the stone quarried nearby. The campground was within walking distance, and so we went to sleep and woke to the sound of church bells. Threatening rain kept us there an extra day, which allowed us to vist the alabaster exhibit and catch up on internet business.

The next night we stayed on the edge of the Chianti region, just outside the town of Fiano. The campground we were looking for turned out to be 10 kilometers beyond where we thought it should be. We follwed the signs with the familar tent symbol as it went up some incredible grades, some which I had to push my bike rather than pedal. The reward was a campsite on the highest ridge overlooking the hills and valleys of the Chianti region, where vineyards form a woven pattern on the slopes. As is customary each morning, we bought bread from the local bakery and continued our ride towards Florence, passing classic villas on the way.

Florence deserves its reputation as one of the world's great cities. The concentration of so much great art and architecture in one place, with its setting along the Arno river and the ancient bridges, makes it an amazing place. We spent three days doing the customary museum and church visits. In this city is Michaelangelo's David.

We were particularly impressed with the banded facade of white and green marble of the Cathedral.

Our campground was within a half hour walk of the old city center, overlooking the classic view of the Ponte Vecchio. We were fortunate to have a beautiful sunset on our final evening in the city.

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