19 October 2016

Walking through Tuscany

I know I have not posted much on my blog recently, but I have been away. We have just got back from a superb 2 week trip to Italy which involved a very nice walk through Tuscany. Over the last few years we have favoured more active holidays, having cycled through Languedoc as well as had a walk along the Amalfi coast. This year we decided to go for a nice walk. I had not been to Tuscany for years and Jennifer never has been so it was a natural choice.

I am not a great photographer of scenery or of little painted men but I thought I would post a few photos of our trip. We landed in Pisa from Gatwick after a very short overseas flight from St John's Newfoundland (less then 5 hours). Neither of us had ever been there so why not. The plan was then on to Florence for a few days before we took the train to Chiuisi, our gateway to Tuscany.

First time we had been to Pisa
You can see that I am a little nervous about heights.............
.............my wife less so

Getting ready to climb the La Campanile of Giotto, all 414 steps
Buildings in Florence are all beautiful: Santa Maria Novella
The most famous of all
So Italian
Florence at night
Red roofs from our hotel room
Boboli Gardens
Cypress Alley
The Walk

As you can see, our walk was to the southwest and then back north to end the trip. Each day ended up being 12-15 miles, with the third day being the shortest but by far the toughest because of the 2 very significant changes in elevation. I would say the walking was moderate to moderately difficult. I found days 3 and 4 a little more tough as there was no village to stop in to have a lunch. I am not one to sit down in a field and have a picnic, and the last 2 days we took our nourishment while walking. It was much more pleasant to sit down and have a glass of wine with a lovely carpaccio. 
 Day 1 Montepulciano to Pienza via Montechiello

Ceiling of our B&B room in Montepulciano
Fortifying ourselves for the walk the next day, the wine and food was just superb
A bit of a wet start...............
............but cleared almost immediately, San Bagio church in the farground
Our first destination the hill town of Montechiello
Look cheerful, we do not have a selfie stick
The afternoon darkens, Pienza in the distance, this was quite a climb
Pienza in the morning

Day 2 Pienza to Bagno Vignoni via San Quirico

Most mornings started off cloudy............
...............but usually improved
Hill towns in the distance
Another darkening afternoon and another hill town ahead
Bagna Vignoni was the only place in which we stayed that was in a valley; very small place with thermal hot springs but a lot of black flies, but we were able to enjoy another night out 
Still looking quite cheerful, it must be the spritz
Day 3 Bagno Vignoni to the Abbey of San Antimo

The next day's walk was a little unusual, it was mostly through wooded areas at the beginning with  some significant changes in elevation. The first climb was 800m with a 500' change in elevation......pretty steep
We then ended up walking on a high ridge for a while until we again plunged down to the river  Orcia. We had to cross one of it's tributeries. My wife Jennifer was quite agile with this, I wish I had taken a photo of her jumping from rock to rock with the pack on her back. I am a little less agile and had to wade across. 
Once out of the river valley there was another long climb ahead of us.
Along the way we passed many castles which have been converted into exclusive  resorts. We were told to stay away as they do not like tourists............I wondered as I walked by whether it was a Bunga Bunga party place!
Tons of vineyards in the second phase of this walk.
The climbs just never stopped on this day, you can see that even Jennifer was getting tired.
I was quite plucky as you can see and soldiered on.
Finally San Antimo in the distance.
We had a look around although we were pretty tired.
Day 4 Montalcino to Buonoconvento

The last day started off looking OK when we got up and had a look from our hotel room, but the forecast was not good.
This was through well developed farmland
Started to getting cloudy, soon after it started to rain, the first adverse weather of our trip
Starting to look a little demonic maybe.
You can see a little colder too.
The famous tree of Salti di Pieve, we stayed at an Agriturismo  just outside of Buonoconvento, this was very nice
hmm...........Trump voters or maybe Brexiters. As an aside, I was unable to convert pounds sterling to euros in Rome at the money changers except at a very severe discount, the best I was offered was 0.80 euro to a pound (on a day when the official exchange was 1.12).
 Rome (where all roads end)

There is no place like Rome
and as should be obvious, there is nothing else I rather be doing
Already for a good shop on the Via Condotti.......she had a very good one indeed..........well into 4 figures

Well it was really a great trip and we are already looking at more walking trips, there are plenty out there. Back to work and soldiering.


  1. A wonderful trip report - now get back to painting!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Adam it was, I am looking forward to getting some games in.

  3. Showing off again, are we? ;-)

    Looks like a lovely trip. That castle looks perfectly creepy knowing you can't visit it!

    1. No I am not, just wanted to make sure that I could still go up and down the hills! Hoping to up in Montreal soon for a game.

  4. Nothing wrong with Brexit, stop blaming every misfortune on it. We are better determining our own destiny.

    1. Does not sound like you liked the holidays snaps..........I am not really sure that you can say that I am blaming anything aside from the fall in sterling on Brexit!

  5. What a wonderful time we had. What a handsome husband you are!

  6. Great pics of the scenery and the walkers! An interesting way to see the Italian countryside. Not sure I'd be that bold, but just happy to get there eventually!

    1. You are out hiking all the time Peter, I am sure you could it.

  7. Nice post thanks for sharing, I loved Florence and Rome but the Bay of Naples was sadly a dreadful holiday.

    1. Thanks George, it was very nice. You will get no argument from me about Naples.

  8. What a fantastic trip. You both look like you had a wonderful time.

    1. Thanks Curt, it really was a wonderful time, we are already looking to see what our next walk will be.

  9. Terrific photos and splendid trip! Italy is such a beautiful country. My wife and I returned from Italy less that three weeks ago.

    Very enjoyable travelogue.

    1. Thanks Jon, I talk really is quite a wonderful place, both urban and rural.

  10. Absolutely stunning, thanks for sharing John.