O.K. some time to catch up this weekend.
On the road again, it’s nice not to have to load up the bike every day, just roll the suitcase down to the lobby and be assured it will be waiting in your room the next night, and gives you more time to ride and the ability to travel light. Wife and I were again taking the long route (surprise, surprise), and the California couple, Brad and Kate, were again riding along. Regardless of being tagged the “Harley” couple, they could ride very smooth and VERY swift, no foolish moves or what looked like “oh ship” moments when we rode together before, so there was no worry of something bad happening, because they were riding above their heads. It is always a concern when riding along with someone new.
It was a good combination, I had my detailed Michelin regional maps that showed every horse path and a good handle on operating the GPS and modifying routes if we desired, and Kate had done her homework and read the large stack of information Beach’s provides, but also had another tourist book further detailing interesting places and history of the area. This actually made it more enjoyable for my wife, as I would just ride for 8 hours straight every day, and miss much of the interesting sights and rich culture that only complements the enjoyment of the trip.
Actually out of Tuscany, the last three days have been primarily in Umbria, and today the ride would take us through Parco Nazionale Monti Sibillini and over the spine of the Appinines, into the Marche regions. Weather was again great, cool in the mid 50’s at the start, up into the 60’s. Made lots of tracks in the AM, had some heavy fog for a few minutes as we got to the top of the ridges that are over 2000 meters in elevation. So we really didn’t stop until lunch time when we came into the small hilltop village of Castelluccio, the highest town in the Appinines at about 4700’ and overlooking the high plane basins on both sides.
Central Italy is full of wild boars, and they use it as a tourist attraction for sure.
It was about lunch time, but we just saw a couple of little café’s , so after gathering the wives from a small shopping spree we figured we would hit the road and look for a place for a quick lunch. As we were pulling out, in rides Rob Beach and the two other couples, we stop and he says there is a great place to eat just up the hill from where we were wandering around. So we followed them up to a little unassuming building with a few tables out front.
We went in to an almost empty place and the young waiter came out and promptly seated us and gave us some recommendations. Several of us had the soup trio, consisting of a barley, a bean and a lentil zuppa, as some started to eat, the waiter comes over and stops us and says , you must add oil, from the ever present olive oil bottles to the zuppa to enhance its flavor. I never added oil to soup, but he was correct, it added a whole new dimension to the taste.
One of the guys ordered Fish, and when it was served he asked the same young waiter for a little grated cheese, and was promptly told no, as he explained cheese would spoil the taste of the fish. Even at small establishments that we would almost call a diner, they take exceptional pride in their foods and preparation. And another advantage of using a tour company , you get to pick the brain of someone that knows the area and the best places to stop.
We headed back out bellies full and had a great ride up, over and down the spine. Later in the afternoon we ran into Rob and Gretchen again, and so the 3 of us teamed up again for the ride to Villa Vomano for the night.
We arrived in time to shower before dinner, in our meager accommodations. Nothing like showering in an Italian marble shower in a marble bathroom.
Yet another 4 or 5 course meal, I stopped counting, after Champaign and appetizers, and finished off with Grappa and Limoncello.
We went back to the room to retire after admiring the hand painted ceiling in our room.
I could get use to this REAL quick.