An occasional journal of the Life of Reilly

Monday, May 12, 2008

Siena



Traveling has taken on a rhythm. We are now biking most days. We are ravenous for every meal and aching for slumber by the time the church bells toll 9 pm in what ever town we are nearby each night. In the morning, after packing our tent, boiling water for tea, and eating our standard breakfast of muesli and melon, we are ready to roll.

Region boundaries tend to follow topographic features. We crossed from Lazio into Tuscany as we crested the edge of the caldera north of Bolsena. The wind was howling following our day of rain, but the landscape is rolling green hills with a patchwork of farms (click here to see a video). It is glorious country to ride a bike in.

We are now connecting the dots between the medieval hill towns, and each day of cycling involves at least two or three very steep climbs to get to the next town. We went out of our way to visit the town of Pitigliano because of its particulary dramatic setting. As seen in the above photo, we were not disappointed.

Some days we cycle 80 kilometers, some days 50, depending on the hills or how many stops we make for visiting sites of interest. One stop was the Abbazia of Saint Antimo, a Benedictine monastary on the way to Siena. Above is a detail of the rock work.



We reached Siena and spent a day walking the city. The highlight was both the interior and exterior of Duomo di Siena. The level of artistic achievement and architectural construction is astounding. Surrounded by buildings of brown, its marble exterior stands out in vivid contrast. Siena is not a large city, and we were able to see the town in one day. One day was enough...we were anxious to get back to the wide open spaces of the countryside. From Siena our plan is to take an indirect route towards Florence, seeing more of the Tuscany countryside before more city, art, and architecture.
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