Road to Tuscany 05/06/2010

30 06 2010

We arrived in Ancona a bit late due to usual delays in Igoumenitsa port (illegal immigrants and loads of tracks waiting to embark).
The port of Ancona at first view looks really clean, not the usual port I am used to in Greece, lots of old maintained buildings are scattered around.
Once we laid our “tires” on the Italian road I was initially nervous, it was my first trip abroad, needed some time to orient myself and understand which direction should we follow, I didn’t have a GPS so our only directional tool was a crappy tourist map, the map really sucked as all of the roads where really tiny and you couldn not get a good estimation of where you where exactly. The only thing I knew for sure was that we needed to head towards Perugia and from there to hit the roads towards the Lake of Trasimeno.

Road to Perugia

15 minutes on the Italian roads and we are already lost, not the best way to begin your first journey abroad, off course this is not the desert and getting lost does not mean that you are going to be eaten by any wild animals (LOL) but nevertheless it just gets your initial anxiety.

A short stop and our first questions are a hell, no English, map on the tank and asking for directions by pointing Perugia, a Italian driver signals to us to follow him, he tries to make us understand that he will lead us up to the road which connects Ancona to Perugia.

We follow him and soon we are out of the traffic madness of Ancona (reminds me of Greece) a relief for me since the panniers on the side of the bike do not provide me lots of opportunities to bypass local traffic.
Once on the road we get the next hit, fuel, ok we will stop in a local fuel station and fill our tanks, how hard could that be? Well if you are a first timer in Italy and it’s Sunday afternoon, it is hard, I had read about the automatic fueling systems (where you insert cash and you get pumped) but I didn’t know all of the details…I had no small money (50 euros only) and I was trying to understand how I get my change back, for our luck a Greek truck driver stops, we ask him for instructions and he tells us that once we put the money inside get a receipt stating how much money we installed on the machine and how much fuel we pumped, with this receipt we can get our money back once the station opens…Monday….hell how are getting our money back when we are like 260Km’s away from Tuscany? Well he told us to try a bit further and that probably we would find an open station, I ask George is thats ok with him, my BMW has quite some fuel in its tank and I surely can travel a few Km’s down the road, George tells me he is ok with it so we both hit the road towards Perugia.

A few Km’s away we find another petrol station, spot on, we get in its open and working as we would be expecting, ok time to try the self service system, insert the money, choose the pump, pure fuel and get the receipt stating how much you cash you fed the pump and how much fuel you actually used. But here comes the funny part, we go inside the cashier and ask for our change, the cashier non speaking english of course, tries to tell us that today they are not refunding, bollocks! we ask why? since it’s open and it belongs to the fuel station, the cashier answers the boss is away…
So we go outside and try to figure a way out, and suddenly out of nowhere a guy with a t-shirt of the fuel company and boots appears! We reach him and ask him if he can find us a solution, yes he can! and finally we get our change back and we are ready to go!

Nice GSXR...

Road to Perugia #2

Ok in Greece we dont have self service systems, which is a nice addition, but man someoone needs to find a solution regarding the change, otherwise how do you expect to get your money back? especially in the instance you are not carrying any small change.

We hit the road riding towards Perugia, first miles are a bit awkward since this is our first motorcycle trip abroad, we are trying to figure out what is actually going on with the speed limits, cameras and everything traffic is really light…so light that the encounters with the other vehicles on the road are really rare! The Italian countryside pays off for the long boring straights, nice green fields and a lovely sky which breaks the “canvas” from the distant mountains! The roads are absolutely fantastic a real joy to ride, incredible tarmac and quality which surely you can only rarely find in the Greek side.

My little "beast"

After a few hours we reach Lake Trasimeno, we decide to take a short rest and enjoy a nice coffee with the view of the lake in front of us, we are again pleasantly shocked by the prices! nothing compared to a similar coffee in a similar place in Greece were you would be paying double or triple the price of it! (and then Greek tourist agencies are complaining for low tourist numbers).

The coffee is just what we needed at that time, the sun is still up but not high

Lake Trasimeno

anymore soon it will be fading behind the Tuscan hills and that is a view we would like to experience our first day in the Tuscan countryside! we finish quickly with the coffee and head towards Montepulciano to catch the SP146 road which will lead us to San Quirico D’Orcia, the sun is dramatically changing the view of the landscape leaving us speechless! Red, orange colors pain the green fields of the Tuscan countryside just making us stare the place like we are in paradise!

The view changes once you are at the west side of the lake, it transforms to the long heard Tuscan rolling hills with small farmhouses and hay stacks packed in the field, a truly dreamland for a rider and a photographer!

Sunset over Tuscan rolling hills

Soon we reach San Quirico D’Orcia where Michelle the guy who runs the place is waiting us! we unmount our luggages and enter the majestic old farmhouse which is waiting us in a warm atmosphere! It is remarkable how nicely they have restored the house dating since 1700 and used from the Pilgrims crossing the Tuscan landscape towards Rome, and we as modern Pilgrims are ready to enjoy the warmth embrace of the Tuscan countryside.

The 2 runners

Sunset over Tuscany #2

Sunset over Tuscany #3

First day ends with a nice visit to the San Quirico village, medieval images pop from the corners and we just enjoy the sightseeing even under the dark veil of the moonless sky of the night. The only drawback (which we did not expect) is that restaurants / tratorias close early, so we are left wondering where we could catch some food for our demanding stomachs, the ride was long today and we had no meals, soon a small pizzeria appears in the dark main street of San Quirico where we can enjoy a delicious Italian pizza and some nice local beer.

Next day involves Mugello! and we want to make sure we will be fresh and full of energy in order to enjoy the race!

Map of the day:

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