…has been long, and hard, but not as hard as it might have been. It is what day 8 was meant to be! Last night as I wrote that Lago di Bolsena was too far for me, I secretly hoped it was possible but didn’t want to set a goal only to fail.
Another cool night, due to no clouds at all over Siena, and a bright morning. I had the half-continental breakfast. I expected to use my cafetiere-cup less in Italy; every campsite has an espresso machine!
Leaving Sienna wasn’t straight forward and my GPS took no account of the terrain so I went up and down far more than I would’ve hoped. I did eventually leave and managed the first 25km in about an hour! I had been tipped off the Buonconvento was worth a brief stop, so I did. It is a lovely little picturesque village with a bustling main street/alleyway. So, an espresso and croissant later, and the compliment of being thought to be Italian by the waiter, I was back on the road to Roma. Even though it is still 200km away at this point it is still, without doubt, the road to Roma. Every possible sign says so. It is tempting to see everything on the way as merely being ‘on the way’ which would be a shame. I have at least two nights before then so I will try not to.
The road condition was great, most of the way, and it skillfully weaved around the peaks for the most part, taking in only the feet of the mountains and reducing the climbing considerably, though not totally! It was a good mix of ups, downs and flats and all this made for good distance and time. The blazing sun made it sweaty, but with plenty of water it was fine. After lunch in San Quirico d’Orcia I was off again. Then came the tunnels! They were big enough to show up on the map so I was worried that it would be like last week; because extra climbs over the tunnels would have demoralised me no end! However, no signage suggested that bikes were not allowed so, lights on, I had 2km of shade and avoided two more climbs.
I stopped for an ice-cream and Powerade after a while and had brief ‘hello’s with a couple of motor-bikers who also stopped. They set off just before me, but then 30mins down the road there was a queue of traffic and, as I squeezed past, the ambulance arrived and I could see one of the motorbikes pretty smashed up in the ditch on the other side of the road and a car facing the wrong way. There were plenty of people watching so I pressed on and about 20mins later the ambulance came past with sirens so hopefully he has a chance of survival. I haven’t found Italian drivers to be as bad as their reputation, but then I am generally not that phased by traffic anyway. They are certainly not as generous to bikes as they are in Switzerland.
My plan was to take the first campsite after 4pm, knowing that none were marked on the map till Bolsena, over 100km away from Siena. If still nothing by 7pm then I camp wild. However, it was going so well that I had every intention of pushing to Bolsena, whatever the time. Then at 410pm a campsite sign appeared, still about 30km from Bolsena. I could see the climb ahead, and I was certainly tired, but only 30km- even if I was very slow I could be there by 8pm, so I pushed on.
Had I known how big the climb ahead really was I might not have, but I am glad I did. Aquapendente looked like an interesting place, but I wanted to get to a campsite. So my first 100km day, over in fact, ended with a swim in the windy lake! I am glad I haven’t been trying to do this everyday, it has left no energy or time to visit Bolsena this evening. However, it does put me two easy days away from Roma so I will see Bolsena in the morning before heading south.
My tour guide in Volterra told me that the lake is an ex-volcano bowl, so very deep, and the black sand beaches would support that. I am not sure why it is so windy, though. Surrounded by hills I suppose that will mean a climb out in the morning, but I did the Alps, I can manage this!