25 May 2009

Tuscany hills - Firenze - Pisa

From Ravenna I follow the Adriatic coast to the once famous holiday destination of Rimini. The cyclepath here is really enjoyable as it leads through pine forests and nature reserves, along the beaches and fishing ponds and little streams. Rimini does not strike me as a very desirable destination: the once so fancy holiday world has crumbled when people moved to fancier places. Cheap concrete buildings, lonely mini-golf or tennis courts wait in vain for the next season that won`t ever come.

The sadest thing after overcrowded holiday resorts are abandoned holiday resorts. (Discard after use...)

From Rimini I climb into the hills again. My next destination is Firenze (Florence) and to get there I need to get over a couple of ridges of lush green Tuscany hills.

The landscape is wonderful but so is the weather - there isn`t a single cloud in the sky - 30 to 35 degrees centigrade and I am sweating my lungs out. The ascents into the hills are steep and despite lower altitudes it feels to me as if this is a much harder excercise than crossing the alps. The heat is a real killer! What would I not give for some snow left and right...
To make life more bearable I decide to stay in the hills during the night to enjoy the cool air.

The trees and shrubs are in bloom everywhere here! Soon there will be apples, pears, strawberries and blackberries, figues, grapes and what not. Near Firenze there are a lot of old alleys. The giant trees at the roadside provide comfortable shade but at the same time the roads are narrow and the traffic is hard to bear, especially when tree roots push through the asphalt and create lots of bumps that make you fly high in your seat everytime you hit one. Still, very enjoyable cycling here indeed!

Firenze is stunning with its enormous palaces and buildings, bridges and squares. It is difficult to take it all in - so much of it in all directions. You turn a corner and almost hope to encounter some dull dwelling that won`t challenge your brain with more frescoes, pillars, ornamented windows or other playful architectural elements.

What is thorroughly unnerving are the hordes of tourists running about with their guides carrying the oh so typical poles with green, red or yellow flags shouting their multilingual messages through little microphone-loudspeaker combos dangling from their necks. (But then again - even on a bicycle one is a tourist as well and adds to the crowd...)

So I leave Firenze direction Mediterranean coastline with a fried brain, partly from the heat but mostly from information overload.

When I arrive in Pisa after a day of wild weekend traffic I am happy about the relaxed atmosphere (compared to Firenze). The leaning tower is leaning away in a big wide park next to the duomo and people hang out on the greens that surround it. I get myself a "Gelato" and join the crowd on the cold green grass. Bliss.

Then I travel on to spend the night at the coast. After all the hot hills I fancy a swim - partly because I haven`t showered for almost a week :)

Between many fancy restaurants and private beaches (...Access denied - private...) I suddenly spot a sign of the Italian Red Cross and decide to pay them a visit. I imagine a little lonely bay watch tower standing somewhere on the wide beach. But then I realize that the Italian Red Cross has a massive beach base here entirely for the recreation of it`s members! They have their OWN BEACH!!!

After a short talk with the handyman I am allowed to spend the night. I am even treated to a shower and a coffee and after 9pm have the entire area at my disposal. I prepare a delicious dinner (Seafood soup) and enjoy the view. Life is great! (...hey, anyone from MSF headquarters is reading this by coincidence?!)
The next morning I head south down the coast direction Rome. Soon I hit a very pleasant spot and decide to take a break from cycling for a day. The coastline is rocky here and there is a small terrace up in the rocks just big enough for my little tent.

The rocks are wild and have sharp edges running through their surface. Funny little basins have been washed out of the rock that catch the seawater at spring tide and dry up during one tide cycle until they contain only a thin crust of sea salt.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tim, where's the one taking pics of you? Ciao, and keep cool (easy in Norway these days :-/ ).