Last entry, end of August. Where has my cycling been? Well, I did manage to keep riding until a month ago. Literally, not even on a bike in 4 weeks. One ride with a partner - I'll have to go back and write that one up - and an IHOP subsitute for the Saturday morning ride with the Wheaton guys: these are the only remaining highlights of a season that seems to have gone out not with a bang but a whimper. I just need 25 miles to reach a 3500-mile season. That should not have been so hard. Oh well, I guess it isn't over until it's over.
Oh yeah, and I also have a new bike. There's a story to write up. How far my mind is from all this, if I haven't even written up my sweet new wheels. A second bike, by the way, not just a new one. No, my beloved Trek 520 and I still have many more miles to go before either of us sleeps. I trust.
But today's post is adventure of the non-cycling travel variety. Italy!
Karen and I went to see Kathryn, who is studying there this fall semester. That is the sole reason we squeezed an overseas trip into a busy autumn. The time we had there was carefully planned to not try to do too much in our limited time. The result? We had a great time, and are eager to return for a longer, more relaxed and perhaps more adventurous visit.
Orvieto - the city in which Kathryn lives and studies. It is a medieval city literally set on a hill. The train from Rome drops passengers at the base of the hill, and a cog train moves them up to the old town. We arrived in Rome's airport (Fumicino) at sunset, then were on trains in the dark to Orvieto. So it was a glorious surprise to walk back to the walls of the city, and look out over the beautiful Umbrian hills. Ancient stone walls, narrow windy European streets, blue and sunny sky ... though cold, we were really in Italy!
Florence - we enjoyed walking the city, the Uffizi galleries, Ponte Vecchio, walking, late dinners, Fiesole at night (overlooking Florence twinkling in the valley), walking, gypsy musicians in the Piazza della Repubblica. And our hosts at the Villa la Sosta; a real villa with gardens, a big old iron gate, and everything.
Pisa and Lucca - Saturday's day trip was surprising at every turn. Pisa meant a long walk through an interesting town and a couple of hours on the piazza with the duomo, the baptistery, and of course that old leaning tower. Back to the train and on to Lucca (bithplace of Giacommo Puccini), and we wished we had given ourselves more time here. Oh well, another visit.
Rome - after dropping Kathryn back at Orvieto on Sunday, we arrived in Rome with a couple of daylight hours left. We got to our amazing B&B (a real surprise for us), walked to Castel san Angelo and St. Peter's Square and Piazza Novanno - where we saw the most amazing street performer ever. The next day we forewent the museum options, and instead walked from San Giovanni in Laterano, by the Colliseum, through the Forum (via the via Sacra), on to Tivoli Fountain, and wandered back to Piazza Novanna - where we bought our first ever piece of original art: an oil painting of a scene in Rome.
Meals - late, leisurely, and delicious. Most days ended with a meal-ending espresso and a 20+ minute walk back to our lodging. That's life!
Kathryn - we were so proud of Kathryn. She is relaxed, knows enough Italian to help us all navigate well (shops, getting around, menus, manners, etc.), and was just all-around fun to be with. Thanks, Kathryn!
The three of us on Ponte Vecchio, Florence, 3 novembre 2006