Cycling

Acquapendente

The name of the town is very appropriate.
When I left San Quirico d’Orcia the rain had almost stopped. It seemed the passing storm had indeed passed. Storms move faster than cyclists so although it was heading in the same direction as me, I thought we were in for a hot but muggy afternoon, nothing more or less.
As I left San Quirico there was the most beautiful view. OK, the sky was not the deep blue from the postcards but it was undeniably stunning. And that’s how it continued for many, many kilometres. The land is predominantly arable and the crops had, on the main, been recently harvested giving the landscape a scruffy, cropped haircut kind of look. Some fields had already been ploughed for the new seed so the colours were predominantly browns, dark yellows and gold. It didn’t really matter that they were mirrored by a dark, clouded sky; it was still the iconic Tuscan landscape that most people would recognise. I was surprised how agricultural the area is. You expect the place to be filled with quaint farm houses that have been converted for rich German businessmen and British celebs but the dwellings I saw were clearly still in use as farm houses with tractors sat on the driveways. No Aston Martens or Bentleys round here. The higher I climbed – the road was heading gradually up hill – the more remote the area became. There were a few rumbles in the sky but I thought nothing of it; the storm ahead making its way to Rome. Not far from Abbadia San Salvatore – not a town that I passed through but the nearest place to the west of where I was – the road reached its highest point and we entered a long, 900 metre tunnel. Cycling in tunnels can be fun but scary; I had put my flashing red lights on to make sure cars approaching from the rear could see me and headed into the dark. I was lucky as nothing passed me throughout the near one kilometre length but the noise on oncoming vehicles was multiplied by the echos. Half glad, half sorry to leave the tunnel, I reappeared into Tuscany. But with a subtle difference; it had started to pour down. As, according to Simone in Pavia, the Italians sometimes say (in a affectionately mocking nod to the British) ‘piove i gatti e i cani’. It didn’t let up, it still hasn’t let up! Throughout the downward journey towards the border with Lazio the storm continued. Thunder, flashes of sheet and forked lightening. This was one serious storm. I’m not sure what the advice is to do when cycling in a storm but as there were no settlements at which to pause I simply had to continue. Until that is after precisely 100 kilometres from the campsite in Siena here in Acquapendente. I am sheltering under a pergola made to protect from the sun not the rain in the hope that the situation improves. I think it is, slowly. Acquapendente probably has lots of good positive things to be said about it, it’s just that they are not that obvious when the rain is falling. The Lago di Bolsena is only just down the road -12 kilometres away – and the town of Bolsena itself only about 20 kilometres. It’s only 5 pm so I still have plenty of time to make it down there. The town has plenty of campsites so finding somewhere to dry off shouldn’t be too tricky.

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