Mosquitoes, Manholes & Miracles

When I look at the map, Pisa sits in a lowland area with lots of blue lines indicating both natural and man-made waterways. The tower is / was sinking into the swamp / bog upon which Pisa is built. I can only hope that this means that as soon as I escape the big puddle tomorrow, I will also escape the damned mosquitoes as they are making life very, very uncomfortable. If I were to count, I must have a number of bites that rivals some of my most impressive days in the saddle in terms of kilometres. A plea: if anyone has an effective way to fight the little bastards then please, please let me know. Basil did suggest Avon body milk but as far as I am aware, the Avon Lady doesn’t do house, or even tent calls in Italy. Just while I’m having a rant about them, what is their purpose? The mosquito seems to be universally despised, it spreads malaria for goodness sake so just what the **** is its reason for existence and if it does have a solid argument that would hold up in front of the toughest Old Bailey judges while be cross examined by Michael Mansfield, why hasn’t evolution kicked in and made we humans immune to their ‘charms’?
Slight pause there because, after consultation with my German neighbours, I have just invested in four citron candles…. So far no impact. I have two of the four candles balanced on my knees as I sit cross-legged on the ground like a yoga student (good practice I suppose for Otto Sentieri – see “Destination” above). If I ever find out that any of the money from the BBC Wildlife Fund (currently standing at 87% of target by the way, plus money from Gift Aid) is invested in any way, shape or form to sustain the World’s population of mosquitoes, I shall not be happy. I was going to put a reckless promise there instead of the bland ‘shall not be happy’ but I hate having my words quoted back to me.
Siena, doesn’t look as if it has the same geography as Pisa. I bloody-well hope not for it is my destination for tomorrow. I may, however, have greater things to worry about. According to the Rough Guide, one of the two annual ‘Siena Palios’ starts on the 13th August. Tomorrow is the 12th and does that mean that the campsite may be crowded out by people eager to see some of the four-day spectacle that involves horses been ridden around Campo at full pelt? You may remember the scene from the last James Bond film where Daniel Craig appears from a manhole cover (I think) only narrowly missing the approaching horses. Something like that. Mind you, if you are a horsey type, would you be camping. The campers and the horse crowd seem two very different social groups. That said, if you are a horse lover them you may well choose to stay well away; the race itself doesn’t seem in with any chance of getting a seal if approval from the RSPCA anytime soon…
Tonight’s entertainment has just been announced (see last night’s post); it is a magician and, according to the English version of the announcement he “…will be performing on the swimming pool”. That’s not magic, that’s a miracle!

Categories: Cycling

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7 replies »

  1. Nothing better than a scientific parenthesys along a long bicycle trip… so, I had the same question: what is the meaning of Mosquitos here on the planet Earth.

    Maybe some answers could be:

    – they transmit very little amount of viruses and similar, so this help us to immunize; so we should say thanks to them ๐Ÿ™‚

    – they help the so called ‘natural selection’, weak organisms take illness and the weakest ones disappear [a friend who studied biology at university said this].

    Hello and have nice time in Tuscany!

  2. A quick internet trawl sees a lot of travellers complaining about mosquitos in Siena as well.
    Be prepared.

  3. The Avon product is Skin So Soft bath oil. (a spray on version exists)
    Works because it contains citronella.
    I have used this stuff in most of the malaria infected mosquito ridden swamps of the world and it cuts down the number of bites. (nothing scares them away though) It is widely sold in scotland as an anti midge lotion although Avon have no claims that it does that. It tastes a lot better than Autan or jungle juice or any of the other DEET based ones and is a bit less toxic. I much prefer Avon when I can get it. Get someone to send you some “post restaunte” to Rome.
    The campsite problem is one I came across in perth when St andrews was on and a horde (think that is the proper collective term for Jehovas witnesses) of Jehova’s witnesses were in town for a convention. Just made shure I turned up at the campsite looking knackered and explaining how little room my tiny tent takes. Most people take pity upon a brave traveller. You will be fine.

  4. For mosquitoes, go to the nearest supermarket and buy a thing called “Autan”. It smells horrible in my opinion but it works. Even if it’s alcohol based It tastes bad, so spray it with your mouth closed.
    Do you understand why, in my house in Pavia, we have all the windows protected by mosquito nets? ๐Ÿ™‚

    About Siena, I think that many people will come just for one day, so I think camping will not be too much crowded, but I could be wrong. Siena should not have the same mosquito problem as Pisa.

    Good travel.

  5. good luck for accommadation during the Pallio ! The camping ground is quite big -nearly empty when we were there.
    Our excitement is running at about 9.999 out of 10 as we leave tomorrow for our tour – bikes all boxed up etc – anything forgotten now we will do without. If you are interested in following us the link is


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