Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday


So, let's see...I think it was Saturday at this point. Today we would do a ring walk to Bagno Vignoni and then back to San Quirico D'Oricia. The total distance was maybe 8 miles or so. I'd read a little bit about Bagno Vignoni and knew that there were thermal pools there so I was looking forward to heading out. Breakfast was lovely. There were quite a few other people there, including a couple with a little baby. The same woman who had checked us in the afternoon before was there getting the breakfast items out, and she just loved that baby. He was pretty cute. Breakfast was the usual - cereal, milk, yogurt, bread, meat, cheese. Croissants. I always tried to really eat a hearty breakfast, since there was a long walk ahead of us.

Enough of the breakfast talk. David and I had seen a few different food shops in town and needed to check one out to see if we could get lunch to go. We could have eaten in Bagno Vignoni, I suppose, but we were sort of in love with the cured meat in Italy on crusty bread. Below is David at the little shop we stopped at. The woman working was very nice, and we managed with a combination of English, Italian, and pantomime to order sandwiches, tell her we were going for a walk to Bagno Vignoni, and I think we may have discussed the weather. We also got some paneforte to take with us.


Well, the walk was beautiful. Like, really exceptionally, beautiful.

Exhibit A:



This is really from the end of the walk, but as I was scanning the photos to include here, this one just begged to be first. Although, perhaps I should crop the power lines out.

Exhibit B:


This is very early in the day. As you can see, I sort of have a thing with using trees as framing devices. Look! you can see our shadows at the bottom there.

So, here I am. Happy in Italy. Lodging is plentiful. You can also see that it was nice and warm (shorts and t-shirts....at least for those of us walking 9 miles) and that I obviously cared very little about how I looked.



I honestly don't have a whole lot to say about this day, at this point anyway. It was beautiful, we were enjoying ourselves. We had views like the one below.


Then we came to a split in the road. We could walk a few hundred yards one way to get a nice view of this castle, but it is privately owned so we were not able to go there. I am pretty sure this is the same castle. There appears to be some history there. Perhaps we could go there someday.



There was also a WWII memorial park near the split in the road. Our directions took us back that way. It was a nice little wooded area, very peaceful.




Why look! It's another shot of the castle. This would be a good time to tell you that we were walking through the Val D'Orcia, which I think is really one of the most beautiful places on earth. Sure, thats a little sappy, but wow. It really was amazing.


We kept walking. I ate an apple.


Eventually, we came across this little stream, and then a larger river. Which I am pretty sure was the Orcia River (I am actually writing this on a Friday afternoon waiting for my husband to be done with work so we can go get beer and wings. So, since I am also in my office, I don't have all my notes and stuff. I just really want to get this post done.).


These are the remains of the "new" bridge. I'm not sure how long it was actually in use, but as you can see it is no longer in use.


It replaced a travertine bridge that was destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. You can see the remains of the bridge in the photo below. I'm not really sure where these bridges went. There is not a newer bridge there now, so people must be getting across the river some other way.


It was around here that we decided to have our lunch! Here is my sandwich. It looks sort of plain, but it was very, very good. David, unfortunately, dropped half of his in the sand. This was very sad so I shared with him. Can't let the guy just get by on clementines.


Eventually, we go to Bagno Vignoni. This is a large, calciferous formation. There is also a mill inside, but more on that in  a it. There was some crazy guy climbing around up there...not like, rock climbing but in the "I think I'll ignore this fence and just climb all over and tempt fate" kind of way. It freaked me out. I pictured him plunging to his doom.


So, there were some pools, which I believe when the weather is nicer, people swim in them (I've seen photos). I dipped my hand in, and it was pretty cool. It was not swimming weather.


We eventually had to get up to the top of the "mountain", which is where the town is. At this point in the day, I was really just kind of tired and wanted to be back at our hotel. That was a good 4 or so miles away though. Maybe 5. So depressing.

But, apparently inside this mountain, hill, calciferous formation...whatever you want to call it, is an old mill. I had no idea about this. Nothing I had read before the trip clued me in to this. They seem to be restoring it and you can't go in, but you can take little peeks here and there.


Pretty cool. Although I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I would have because I was tired and grumpy. Grumpy!

It really is a lovely little town. This is the main pool in the center of town. It's of 16th century origin and is the original source of the water that comes from an underground aquifer. I read all that on Wikipedia.



Look what a cute town it is. Look at those happy people having lunch. If I'd been in a better mood, I may have wanted to check out some of the towns and tried to find some gelato. But, as I've mentioned, I was a grumpy butt and just wanted to continue on and get back to San Quirico.



We stopped a little ways out of town and sat under a tree and ate our paneforte. That allowed me to appreciate this view, and I think the chocolate fortified me a bit. I felt better. Yeah for chocolatey/hazelnutty treats.


So, our walking directions informed us that we could wander around a little village/castle just a ways past Bagno Vignoni. Here it is. I couldn't quite figure out what the deal was with this place. As you can see, there was some construction happening. We saw, I think, one guy doing some sort of carpentry work. There was a historical marker with some information. And it was obvious there were people living here...it was almost like it was a tiny, tiny town with no shops or anything. Just houses. I felt like I'd wandered into some gated community and shouldn't have been there. I don't know. Maybe people don't live there, but we saw flowers and such which made it look inhabited.


Well, we were off again. We found another little rest spot where we took a photo.



We were now back on the part of the walk we had already done. There was a guy out power-walking in spandex that passed us a few times. Sexy.

Outside the city walls of San Quirico is a trebuchet. David thought this was pretty cool.


And here is the main square in San Quirico and the bell tower. The little shop to the left said they had gelato, but they didn't. There was place in San Quirico that supposedly had the best gelato ever, but it was closed the entire time we were there. One of the bad things about travel in the off-season.


And here is the bell tower at night. I was trying to be all artistic and stuff.




We had dinner at Trattoria al Vecchio Forno. Really nice servers, good food. Honestly, I don't remember it too well. For some reason, I didn't take a lot of food pictures here or write down what we ate. As I recall, it was good and we enjoyed it. The table next to us....there was obviously going to be some big event because there was a dozen roses on the table.

I really think this was the place where a review I read complained that they didn't have a menu in English. I'm not sure this is something worth complaining about. First of all, it's Italy. Sure, lots of tourists, but I don't think there is any obligation to print menus in other languages. Second of all, there are these things called travel guides, and dictionaries, and any traveler with any sense, going to a country where they don't speak the language, would bring something with him....even if it is just a list of common food items.

I actually heard a good trick once. Learn the words for the foods you don't like - then you can avoid those things and not have to remember as much. Would have saved me from ordering shrimp in Spain.

After dinner, I convinced David that we should head down to the pharmacy vending machine. It was mostly condoms and diapers (now that's odd), but they did have cold medicine. I got some nose spray stuff because by this point I was kind of stuffed up and I wanted to be able to sleep. The pharmacy had been closed whenever we had been near, so...this was the best I could do. I thought the whole thing was pretty nifty.


And that was the end of our day. The next day we would walk to Pienza!

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