Montepulciano to Viterbo
Trying to get an early start in Italy is sometimes a challenge, at least if you want coffee and a bite to eat before hitting the road. We were told that the cafes didn’t open until 8:30 am. In the morning, we wandered around town a little bit to check it out some more and came across a small café just opening up at 7:30 – sweet!!
After a couple cappuccinos for Paul and café Americanos for me, we found another shop across the street opening up and bought some sandwiches and large waters for later on in the day in case we couldn’t find a town or anything that was open.
We left Montepulciano down another of the very steep streets separating the mountaintop from the surrounding countryside. It was so steep that we both went as slow as possible by riding our brakes the entire time. Once below, we quickly found the road out of town and headed for our destination of Viterbo.
Soon into the ride, however, we came across a 3 mile section of unpaved gravel road – not good on a road bike with skinny tires! We had to ride slowly and carefully in order to not damage the tires, especially since we were probably nowhere near a bike shop. We also began to wonder if we had accidentally chosen a rural road that would be unpaved all the way to Viterbo.
Fortunately, we resumed our ride on paved roads and enjoyed a long descent before beginning one of the day’s two climbs. Neither were difficult and they provided a break of sorts in the riding – going slowly uphill is quieter (less wind noise rushing through the helmet) and you use a slightly different sitting position than riding on flat roads. Additionally, the long descents after a climb are fun and they eat up the miles quickly.
Throughout the day we shared the roads with light traffic. Early on, there were strong headwinds and we rolled through some bleak countryside. I had no idea what to expect in this part of Italy and expected it to be real boring. A little later, however, the scenery changed and became much greener. We climbed up out of the little valley we were in and the remainder of the ride was much more pleasant – lots of sunflower fields (their faces were pointed down and I could never get a great picture of yellow flowers) and other rolling countryside.
We also went through a lot more small towns that we expected. Like the day before, we came to a café just when we needed it - we were about ready to stop on the side of the road and tear into our sandwiches and then the cafe came into view around the bend. Our second stop was at a real small café where we got an ice cream bar and some more water.
We arrived in Viterbo around 2:30 pm and were surprised that it was a much larger town than we expected. After getting cleaned up, eating our sandwiches in the room with a couple of beers courtesy of a kebab shop across from the hotel, we checked out the area around the hotel. Lots of people were out shopping and eating, and we did the same but without the shopping.
Paul made a valiant attempt to locate a good restaurant for dinner via his iPhone and TripAdvisor.com, but each time we found a place, they were closed up for their summer holiday. That happens a lot here as well – not only are places often closed in the afternoon, in August they are often closed for weeks at a time. Oh well, it concerns us no longer because today we have a short ride (49 miles) into Rome. We ended up finding a place to eat and each of us had a large pizza and salad, followed by our third ice cream of the day. Yum!
I’m not sure how much time I will have to write about the last ride into Rome because when we arrive I have to find an open bike shop where I can get a cardboard box to use to bring my bike home on the plane. After that, I’m sure Paul and I will celebrate just a bit! Okay, more than a bit!
I think I have found a bike shop near the hotel in Rome, but getting the box and packing up the bike is a high priority for me because my flight back to Texas leaves at 11:30 on Saturday morning. I had intended to stay until Monday and really check out Rome in greater detail, but I’m ready to go home. This has been a great experience and I have really enjoyed the cycling, the travel throughout Europe, and the company of a great friend, but after 3 weeks on the road I am ready to see my family. I'll still have time to see the ancient ruins, but not the Vatican. That's disappointing but the right decision for me and maybe I'll get back one day with the family and see it all together.
Trip Distance: 1116 miles
Gravel Road - ugh!
Kinda bleak out there at times...
Getting closer to some prettier country
Not a great picture - it looked better in person!
We cycled through gorgeous fields of sunflowers and they bowed their heads to us the entire way... :)