We are finally back on our bikes again. The last week has been more about travelling with our bikes and battling city trains than actually riding them.
So yesterday we got a decent mountain climb into our legs to dust off the cobwebs.
After staying 2 nights in Pisa we had mixed feelings about the town. The leaning tower is by far the most well managed and well conserved monument we have seen here so far. The tourist dollars they are raking in are clearly being put to careful use. The tower itself underwent a major conservation project from 1998-2006 and the white marble absolutely glistens in the sun. (This was a massive contrast to Venice, with no entrance fee to the Basilica, it was crawling with people who were deliberately ignoring the lone security guard who was shouting “no photo” and people were literally climbing onto the statues to get photos.) In Pisa’s Miracle square there were security guards everywhere keeping the pesky watch salesmen at bay and we saw the first green grass in all of Italy! Everyone was lolling about on the manicured lawns in the shade of the tower. Watching people pose for ridiculous photos holding up the tower was a nice way to pass the afternoon.
On the other hand, our perfectly located hotel with a view across the miracle square effectively had a license to print money based on it’s position and therefore had absolutely no regard for cleanliness, customer service or mosquito prevention that might normally be considered part of your hotel experience! Watching the disgruntled owner serve breakfast was at least amusing for all the guests as we each watched the next round of guests arrive and look horrified at the mess of chipped crockery and package d breakfast. I think we found the original inspiration for John Cleese in Fawlty Towers, but with perhaps a little less charm.
So we took the long way out of town through the rolling hills and saw some incredibly beautiful Tuscan hill towns along the way. Drew was happy with the challenging ride, even more so once we discovered the Liquigas team were training on this climb. Maybe it was Ivan Basso that flew past us as we foraged for chestnuts and took photos of the beautiful olive groves and villas.
Today we are in Lucca and have stopped for an espresso and prosecco after riding our bikes around the top of the medieval town walls. Perfect.