Monday, 10 September 2007
Day 55 - San Gimignano - Siena - 41km
More Tuscan countryside, more off-road tracks, but also some unpleasant, if short sections on major roads. Strangely, our difficulty now is that the VF signing is so good and dogmatic, that we are loath to confuse our followers by suggesting any, less obvious, but probably preferable routes. We have done our best to strike a balance, but there is clearly some kind of turf war going on in Tuscany - there have been occasions when we have seen 5 different VF signs on one post, all fighting for supremacy.
In this situation all we can try to do is suggest, as diplomatically as we can, that one route maybe preferable for cyclists, while another maybe be preferable for walkers and riders. Then, just to add to the confusion, but also interest for us, we meet and fall into discussion with a couple of people from a large group of walkers. Through this we find out that they are in fact completing a module of an architecture course run by Venice University, which requires them to walk 300km of the VF and write a report about the buildings they encounter on the way. When we ask them about their route, they tell us that they have just come from Monteriggioni, which does not even appear on the AIVF route, but has been identified by their lecturer who is also a VF expert. We are initially flummoxed and wonder how and if we should include this new entrant, but of course it is not really such a problem because in its day the VF was only ever an approximate route. Our desire to narrow the original network of approaches to Rome down to a single line for people to follow is more a reflection of today's lack of time and need for simplicity than anything else, so we will just indicate Monteriggioni and other similar examples as being of possible interest if people want to make the necessary detour.
In Siena we discover that the hostel we had hoped to stay in is 3km outside the town and the camping site has closed, but an information centre tracks down a reasonable room available for one night.
Earlier on we had noticed some festival preparations (acres of tables and chairs with Sangria and straws in a long line down the middle, a stage and a lot of milling people) and by the time we are showered and ready to hit the streets, Siena is already in full party mode. Once again we witness the Italian zest for quite simply having a good time and although we are both struggling after a long day, we do our best to join in.
We found our room at Camere Camollia through the information office. As we rode into the city I had noticed a number of similar names where apparently you can get a good clean and well equipped room for about 50 euros, but no other services. It fits us just fine.