We set aside today as an off-bike day so we could visit with our old friends Luciano, Alessandro, and their families.
Though we’d been calling this a “rest day”, not much rest was in store for us.
For a start, last night was the night Italians “spring ahead” for the end of daylight savings, which seemed enormously unfair to us, since we had just lost an hour a couple of weeks ago in the US.
There was no rush in the morning though, so we had time to sleep in a little and do some laundry in the shower. Sadly, today was our first day without the luxury of The Beehive’s wonderful breakfast menu. On offer at the campsite? Some unappetizing uber-sweet croissants. Not vegan, not good, but we ate them anyway.
We needed the calories, because the Italians had planned a full day for us. First on the list was to walk down to the beach to which the campsite was attached. We did a little yoga in the sand, but it was too cold and windy to really get into it.
Four of us then got into the car to drive out to Pitigliano. It’s the first sight I’ve ever visited where, in catching a glimpse of it around a corner, I involuntarily exclaimed “holy shit”. It is just magnificent and the pictures will tell a better story than I.
There’s also this recent Fiat commercial filmed in Pitigliano… which is breathtaking and hilarious in equal measure.
Romans bathe, Roman baths
Hours later, after walking and talking with Alex and his wife, Kasia, whom we had never met before but now consider another great friend (hi Kasia!), we rejoined the bigger group for a dip in the natural hot springs at Saturnia. Our friends had made much of the beauty and peace of the area. They had previously been there late one winter night. This being a sunny Easter Sunday, the crowds were out in full force and there wasn’t much peace to be had. There was much entertainment though, as teenaged boys leered at bikini’d ladies, a dog wandering through the pools sat on a man’s head, and people of all shapes and sized struggled through the natural pools.
The water was odiferous, murky, and as warm as a bath after it has cooled too much and you want to get out. Still, it was a great way to work out some of the knots I’d developed in my shoulders over the past few days. Upon getting out, we made a quick, wet dash to the car through the chilly air and got awkwardly changed in the back seat. I hope I didn’t get Alex’s car too dirty.
Cafe, Bar, Trattoria, Osteria, Pizzeria, Ristorante
At around 6pm, we headed into the town of Saturnia. In Italia, 6pm is much too early for dinner. Also, there are very specific venues for different kinds of eating. You can have small plates and drinks in a bar, but not in a restaurant. In a restaurant, you must be going for a full dinner. Unless it’s a pizzeria, then you can just have pizza.
So, we stopped at a bar for some wine and snack to tide us over until 8pm when it was finally OK to find a place for dinner. Our friend Luci explained that in Italy all the restaurants are always full (which I guess is why you can’t just go inside for a drink and appetizers). We joked that anyone could be rich just by opening another cucina tipico in any tiny hill town in Tuscany.
As we sat to enjoy our peaceful dinner, two waiters ran full charge back and forth past our table so quickly I thought there were three of them. They must have been serving 20 tables and they were the only staff. Judging from the irritated looks on our friends’ faces each time the waiter came flying past, this is not normal behavior.
Arrivederci Miei Amici
After dinner, we said goodbye to Luci and his beautiful wife and daughter. As always, it was hard to say goodbye to friends, but we are so thankful to have so many around the world. The rest of us drove back to our campsite. We were all exhausted and the drive through windy country roads seemed to take forever. We drove twice the distance today that we will normally ride.
Lying cozy in our little cabin writing this, I still smell like sulfur. Despite a lengthy scrub in the shower, everything smells faintly of rotten eggs and I’m guessing it will for days. Make sure to visit Saturnia if you are in this part of the world so you can experience this as well.
It is now 1am, so our rest day was far less restful than a typical day of cycling. And I dare not check the weather forecast.