Edit Blog Post
Published: October 5th 2016
We arrived in Siena yesterday after two days of beautiful biking through the hills of the Chianti region south of Florence.
Florence was crowded with tourists, and amazing. There's not much to say that hasn't been said, nor photographs to take that haven't been taken many thousand times. Still, I shot Michelangelo's David in the Academia with both the camera and smartphone from many angles, while most of the packed roomful of fellow tourists were doing the same. Then I started reading The Agony and the Ecstacy, which I hope to finish by the time we get to see the Pieta and Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome. It's how I process this peak experience, I guess.
We saw most of Florence's key sites and museums, ate great food on both sides of the Arno, got great gelato at Carapina, and generally enjoyed two days there. While people line up for hours to see art, we found the Galileo Science Museum much less crowded and no less interesting. This has a great collection of astronomical and navigational instruments collected by the Medici, a good display a number of physical principles that Galileo deduced through observation and experiment, and some other
interesting things. The two extant telescopes used by Galileo to verify the Copernican theories are relics that scientists (or at least me) revere like others do pieces of the true cross. After this visit, I also started reading a book called Galileo's Middle Finger by Alice Dreger, which is about how the science surrounding the current issue of transsexuality is being attacked politically, in a similar manner to the way that Galileo's science about planetary motion was. Oh yes, the museum does also feature three of Galileo's fingers, including a middle one. These were retrieved when his body was moved from a heretic's grave to a more honored one after he was deemed to be politically correct, approximately a century after his death.
After Florence it was time to get back on the bikes. Only, this segment is very hilly in contrast to the almost flat first six biking days. We split the 55 miles to Siena into two sections, stopping at Greve in Chianti overnight. The first days started out with rain showers but soon we were happily biking under the Tuscan sun. This is the Chianti region, and there are opportunities to taste the local wines, as
well as olive oil, throughout. Olive trees and grape vines are everywhere, with stone farmhouses. There are also nice stretches of oak and cypress woods. The climbs to the hilltops (where the towns usually are) are strenuous, but doable, and the views are incredible.
The annual L'Eroica bike ride features hundreds of riders wearing vintage (mainly wool) clothing taking on these hills, often on the dirt roads, which we avoided, on old classic bicycles. This ride went through the area we rode, on Sunday, just a day before we started for Siena. So, we missed seeing the ride, but we ran into two Australian guys in Greve who had traveled all the way here just to participate. One guy had ridden 100 km i the day, 70 of them on dirt roads.He was pretty pumped about the whole thing.
We will be in Tuscany for five more days and we're looking forward to more eauiful scenery and a few hill towns.
Tot: 1.35s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 25; qc: 97; dbt: 0.0433s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb