Day 28: Cascina – Villanuova

Distance: 47.29 km

Time: 2 hours 19 minutes

Average speed: 20.4 kph

Cumulative distance: 1509.11 km

Cumulative time: 72 hours 39 minutes

Word of the day: ‘improvvisare’ (im-prov-ee-sah-ray) – to improvise

Dinner last night was a prawn and zucchini risotto, cooked in our lodgings, accompanied by a bottle of Rosso di Montalcino. Then, once England had safely beaten Australia in the T20 we settled down for a good night’s sleep.

There was no particular need for an early start today, as we couldn’t check in to our next B&B until 3pm. Time, then, for a trip to a nearby bike shop to acquire some new disk brake pads to keep as spares in our panniers. Then we headed for breakfast in Casciano’s centre, cautiously weaving our way through the extensive market which was taking place on the main street. Today we both had croccanti with a ‘fruits of the forest’ filling – very good indeed. After that we headed for the outskirts of town, looking for a unisex hairdresser, as the Captain is becoming particularly shaggy. Sadly, although he had looked up all of the vocabulary for the hair cutting process, including the word for hair clippers (tosatrice) they were too busy. Ah well, perhaps another day.

Today could best be described as a transitional day. We’re planning to arrive at Radda in Chianti on Saturday for a rest day on Sunday. Plotting this has been surprisingly difficult, as accommodation between here and Radda is scarce. So essentially today we were crossing the plains between Pisa and Empoli, in order to position ourselves for a short but steep-ish ascent into the Chianti hills tomorrow, to San Casciano in Val di Pesa, and then a more challenging ascent on Saturday en-route to the hill-top town of Radda.

So, to be honest, finding points of interest to describe today was a little difficult. So I shall be brief (!). Between Cascina and our lunch stop at San Miniato Basso most of the scenery was of small industrial estates and dull roads, like this:

We did spend some time on a gravel track, much to the discomfort of the Stoker – this also slowed us down quite considerably. We also rejected a few rougher tracks which we had incorporated inadvertently into our route. This required some rapid improvisational changes to said route, performed admirably by the Stoker. Occasionally, just occasionally, we were awarded the luxury of a small quiet road like this:

Mostly, though, it was dull! For the last few kilometres to Villanuova things started to perk up a bit – the hills loomed ever closer, the vineyards reappeared and we started to weave through small and attractive villages on peaceful roads.

Soon we arrived at our lodgings in Villanuova, which have a lovely view to the south. It’s a quiet town, with a single food shop and a restaurant, so we have all we need.

Tomorrow the climbing starts again. We’re well equipped, though, as our leg muscles are teak-hard, after all the work we’ve done so far!

Here’s today’s track.