Strade Bianche, and villa in Vagliagli

So we took a villa (= house in shi shi countryside) just outside the village of Vagliagli in Tuscany.  NE of Siena.  It was a great location to house 10 people for the week and we have to thank Tuscan Enterprises, and proprietor Diane Bullock for the find.  Recommended 100%.  To ride there from the village was a short ride but with mixed messages.  There were two short but steep hills to climb, the first about 8% (for a cyclist this is OK, but testing) and the second about 13% (getting very hard now). At the top of the 13% hill as you are about to expire they have thoughtfully located a cemetery.  I wondered how many visiting cyclists were in there.

Now the reason we took the house there was specifically because it was in the area of l'Eroica, see below.  The white clay (and gravel, holes etc) roads in the area are a scene of some pretty tough riding, and make a difference from the normally sedate bitumen pavement elsewhere.  We rode them twice, some bits 13%, which on gravel is not possible unless you stay in the saddle to keep weight on the rear tyre to stop it spinning.  The things you learn!

DSC_0433  Misty giving yoga classes in the morning.  And yep, that's Siena in the background.  Quite an amazing experience to be able to have such a view.  Misty also did some P90X some mornings, Eliana joined for about a minute and then, exhausted, ran inside to tell her mother that 'Misty's gone crazy again'!

DSC_0432  About 10 kms away.

DSC_0451  Old well on the property.

DSC_4148  Lovely photo by Victor of the mists that roll in early evening.

DSC_0435  Janet and Allison preparing to cook up another storm.  We ate like kings.

DSC_4159  Misty's creative juices flowed with individual napkins for each setting.

DSC_4055  Hard as a rock baby.  This was me trying to give away the cinghiale.  Note that special libations are necessary to perform this time honoured ritual.  (Cinghiale is awarded daily to the most bone headed event that happened that day.)

DSC00616  Misty found these lovely flowers growing on the very top of one of the towers in San Gimignano.  I can only grow weeds in Florida, and the Italians can grow flowers in a rock 200' above the earth??!

DSC_4219  Um, home is that direction, right?

P5240348  First ride led us to unwittingly stop beside the Fonterutoli shop in Castellina.  Which was a good thing on several fronts, not only did we come back later and buy 2 dozen wines, but Bill, Magdelen and I had a chance to attend one of their wine club dinners at the winery the following night.  

P5250371  Drinks started on the top of the winery, which we then toured (all vinification done using mostly only gravity), followed by a 7 course dinner in the cellar surrounded by the barrels.  Discussions with the Marchesi Mazzei and employees made for a very entertaining and valuable evening.

P5240355  When riding these potholed, clay/gravel/white rough roads, every little bit of help is needed.

P5270397  Victor about to rev up on the strade bianchi.

P5270410  The roads are famous for the pro race, and an amateur ride, both called L'Eroica.  The Heroes.  You have to be to ride these roads, they are a hard man's test believe me.  I have new appreciation for the winner of L'Eroica.

DSC_0458  We had the most wonderful colours appear through the day, but especially after dusk.  The blues of the countryside enveloped Siena in an evening fog.  I don't think I have ever seen such a natural blue blur.