When I plugged Pisa and Siena into Via Michelin (bike option) at the campsite last night – there was a desktop computer available for campers – it came up with the route I’m now following. Montopoli In Val d’Arno immediately stood out as an potentially interesting place simply because of its name. And indeed it is! 30 kilometres east of Pisa (although I’ve actually cycled nearer 40 so far the morning – the usual story of finding it very difficult to locate the correct exit from a town and in the case of Pisa, I’m not at fault – the signs were wrong!!), it announces itself, in four languages, as a 10th Century medieval town. I’m not sure it is up there in the list of must see Tuscan places but it is nice to arrive in a little town before the rest of the tourists (I’m still one myself), just as the place is waking up and the sun in climbing into the blue sky…. I’ll have a cycle around before finding the correct exit (the same thing really) before heading off for what I think are some hills and Siena beyond that.
P.S. Why would the hotel opposite me be called ‘4 Gigli’? What is a giglo and why four of them?
Giglio means “Lily”. It’s the symbol of Florence but it’s quite popular all along Tuscany.
A giglio is a lilly. It may well be a local accommodation rating, 4 lillies being equivalent to 4 stars ? The Paglio will unfortunately mean Siena will be heaving with visitors & you wont see the Campo at its best. However, it will still be a good day out – watch out for the flag throwers & the horses being blessed in the Duomo. Una fetta di black pudding would be the norm here.
Thanks. It wa definitely the name. Lily would make sense as the crest swinging on a board about the door had four flowers on it…
Not sure yet what I’m going to do with the Pallio. I may try and see some of the strutting around tomorrow morning when they choose the horses. The first preliminary race is at 7pm but I would have to miss a day’s cycling for that.
There will be an awful mess in town. The Palio’s held in Piazza del Campo, the central square of Siena, you can’t even move by foot.
This is to give you an idea of the crowd (if you can follow that link):