My bike in Volterra

I left Castel San Gimignano about 9 this morning and arrived at Volterra about an hour later. That was 10 mies with over 1000 feet of climbing, much of it in my lowest gear. It was also riding in heavy traffic. Sunday morning? Heavy traffic? Yes, when you are on the main road to the ocean in the summer. Without the traffic, it would have been a very nice, if hilly, ride.


But a nice road for most of the this part

With over 1000 feet of climbing in the ten miles to Volterra

I spent less than an hour at Volterra. It is indeed a magnificent hill top town/fortress, but it is also a major tourist trap and, having been brought up in and since lived in a bunch of those, I don't like them. So, I had a Coke, rode around the old town, took pictures of the fortess and of the view, then headed on to Cecina. That ride, especially the first part of it, was also spoiled by the heavy traffic. For the only time in Italy, I felt endangerer by bad drivers in a hurry to get to the beach.

Going down from Volterra

The road to the coat

Like the ride to Volterra, the ride down is steep and twisty. I am good at mountain descents - I do 'em all the time in North Carolina - so even on my loaded bike I was able to keep up with the traffic on the twisty bits. The problem was in the straight bits between the twisty bits where drivers would pass and then slam on their brakes for the next corner. These folks were not as bad as folks in the US, but I still had to brake to aviod the idiot who had just slipped by me several times. Later, on the flatter parts, I had several drivers almost brush me as they passed. It was dangerous and unnecessary rudeness. They could have pulled over as 99% of the drivers did, but the didn't. This part of the day convinced me that riding in Tuscany may not be all that it used to be.

Cecina Beach

Once I got to Cecina, I wanted to head north up the coast. I rode out of my way to the Cecina beach just to see the sea and to see what a Mediterranean beach was like. It was a zoo! Still I thought it would be fun to ride up the coast. It was. It was like of combination California's Highway 1 between San Louis Obispo and Carmel with the parking lot at Disny World on a busy day! This, unlike the jerks in a hurry on SS68, I could get into and enjoy.

Heading north into Disneyland

Before I took on the coast north of Cecina, I stopped for lunch at a place near, but not too near, the Cecina seashore. I had a good pizza and a large beer. The beer during the day was a first for me, and maybe it helped mellow me for the ride . I took about an hour for lunch, both to clear my head and settle my digestive tract. It worked.

I stopped for snacks, from my supplies purchased in Castel San Gimignano, once between Volterra and Cecina, and once between Cecina and Leghorn. I stopped again at a snack place on the way north for a coke and an icecream bar. The riding was much tougher on the way north than on the way to the coast since the road climbed and descended a lot - although not as much as California 1 - as it went along the hilly sea shore. Riding from Volterra to Cecina was almost all downhill or flat.

Traffic was amazing on the way up the coast: narrow roads with cars and scooters parked, often illegally, for miles aong both sides, and heavy traffic sort of randomly using the remaining part of the road. There weren't exactly two lanes since nobody paid much attention to the center line. The flow was organic and surprisingly safe since everyone seemed to accept the chaos and deal with it calmly and carefully.

The traffic on SS68 from Volterra to Cecina wasn't safe. I passed one accident that the police were cleaning up after. I am amazed that none of the fast motor cyclists I saw were killed. High speeds - I'd guess 100 mph - passing into blind corners, passing into oncoming traffic, etc. I'm sure they wre having a good time, but they would have ended up in jail riding like that in the Sates.

When I got to Leghorn, I stayed on the beach road, looking for the Corsica Ferry. It is a long way north from the start of the city, actually just north of the old city. When I found it, it was about 3:30. The last ferry had left at 2:30 and the next ferry woudn't leave until 6:30. I'm writing this on the 6:30 ferry. I was able to buy my ticket for 25 Euro when the ticket office re-opened at 5 PM. In the mean time, I thought I was in luck, there was an internet cafe in the same buiding as the ferry office!

The Internet Cafe that wasn't

Well, the internet cafe had Imacs, not PCs, so all I was going to be able to do was read and send email. For that I was going to pay over three Euros for half an hour. But the machine didn't work. I tried all three of them and the best I achieved was browser access to email that locked up before I could even see if I had mail. @#$%!


I had an hour to kill before the ticket office opened, so I rode into the center of Leghorn, looking for net access. I stopped at a couple of hotels to ask if they knew of any. I asked a policeman - there were a lot of policemen on the streets, but not that many other people - no luck. My impression of Leghorn on a Sunday afternoon was that it was mostly closed and not all that lively even when open. I stopped at a McDs to have some fast food before my ferry ride. Not a great Mcds either . I went back to the Ferry place and tried again on their machines. I couldn't get any of them to work. Maybe on Corsica...

Capraia Island passed after sunset

The ferry is fine, I'm little concerned about finding a pace to stay when I arrive after dark in Corsica, but I figure lots of ferry riders will be in that position and the hotels will be ready for us. We'll see in a few hours.

I did manage to find a room in a hotel. It was small, hot and relatively expensive, but at 11 PM in a strange city, I wasn't choosy. Other than the heat, it ws basically a nice room in a two start hotel. Sinc it was on Corsica, it cost as much as room in a three star hotel elsewhere.

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