Exploring the Tuscan Hill Towns Tuesday and experiencing the joy of the freedom of the road!
It’s also an excellent opportunity to get away from the day time crowds in the center of Siena. When the tour buses pull in and dump the hoards, it’s like trying to move in NY Times Square at New Years! Many of them clump together to stroll which makes it hard to get around them in the narrow streets….they’re on a Sunday meandering drive and I’m on a mission to get somewhere. There’s a certain comfortable walking pace just as there’s a reasonable strolling pace and that’s why the roads have passing lanes! 7pm is the “strolling time”…not noon! I’m beginning to feel like a real resident except I can’t -yet- speak the language. This semi-exasperation takes me back 40+ years to living in D.C. and being impatient with tourists poking around the City.
And now for our feature presentation……
These above pix are taken at a remote (albeit traffic snarled) Cistern abbey at San Galgano which begun in 1217 and later was abandoned after the English mercenary Sir John Hawkwood sacked the abbey in the late 1300s.
Note to Self….don’t let aging jowls hang any more than necessary….i.e. do not take selfies hanging sideways 😆! All that for the sake of a couple of poppies!
And speaking of poppies, did you check out the lone, stunner poppy standing tall on the top of the rampart?!?
From San Galgano, Red Rover and I headed to a small serene hill town, Massa Marittima, about 45 minutes drive. The little town is quiet at about 2:30 with just the cafes serving lunch and a few of us tourists meandering up and down the steep lanes. What a difference from Siena! Such peace! No photos in Massa Marittima….I just soaked up the quiet along with a glass of vino bianco, lots of acqua and a scrumptious pizza!
In most of the Hill Towns, the center is seriously restricted to non-resident vehicles. It’s essential to park outside the center in designated lots and avoid at all costs entering the no-go areas which are mostly the old town areas inside the fortification walls. Many of the side lanes are only the width of a donkey cart and the broader lanes are often only wide enough for two carts.
Driving the hills and occasional mountain is a lot of fun in Red Rover ….zipping around curves, up and down, in and out! The Italian drivers have no respect for solid lines painted on the two lane roads! If they can glimpse a clearing in front of a pokey car, they’ll take the passing op!
And they LOVE their bikes – motor, scooter, pedal! It’s especially hairy to come around a curve and see ahead a peddler pumping dangerously near! Always on the look out for those energetic pedalers! So gotta keep the right side clear for the pedal bike and be aware the motorcycles expect you to move as far to the right as possible so they can create their itsy bitty lane to pass even in the face of oncoming traffic. I get it – I can drive this!
The daredevil in me has been wondering how I can hire a motorcycle driver service to zip me through the hills around those serious curves! Every time I see a motorcycle, I’m thinking about asking if there is such a service. It’s only a tiny measure of prudence holding me back!
And now I’m off to Volterra for another driving day!