We were up and moving by 08.30 this morning, determined to get away to our next site and settled down while the weather held. It was cold and a wee bit frosty, but yet again the sun was blasting into the Magic Caravan, thawing both it and us. Our usual routine was followed and we were soon bidding farewell to Siena. That site had been well-run and good quality in all departments so we snapped ourselves before setting off.

Old Codger!

Old Codger!

Old Hand!

Old Hand!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North was today’s direction, to just short of Firenze (Florence) then round to due west towards Montopoli on the Fi-Pi-Li, the name for the dual carriageway which links Firenze to Pisa to Livorno. Neat, eh?

There was no need for hats and scarves in the car today but there was an urgent need for sunglasses and built-in visors so bright was the light despite facing north. Halfway up to Florence we came to the town of San Casciano in Val di Pesa (nearly my Mum’s name again) where the lovely Victoria decided on a short cut through the hills to the north-west. A few kilometres further on, I was cursing her vehemently when we suddenly drove through a gap and were faced with a scene out of “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Sound of Music” or “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”, you know, that moment when those on a very long and difficult journey see their destination for the first time from high on a mountain. Here it is.

Panorama

Panorama

DSCN1121

A photo cannot do this justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We eventually rejoined the Fi-Pi-Li and quickly reached Montopoli with the site just out of town on the right. Like the other winter sites we had the choice of where to set up, so found an elevated pitch close to the only open toilet block and made camp as umpteen times already. Once we were settled in, we drove down to the nearest village supermarket and stocked up with a few days’ provisions. Tea was the normal first night Spag Bol and then we ignored each other and did our own thing.

You know how I said in an earlier post that Germany was brilliant for everything except supermarkets? Well Italy is quite good for decent supermarkets (even though the food is really expensive!) but they let themselves down abjectly when it comes to road surfaces. How bad are their roads? I’m talking about the main roads, dual carriageways and Motorways. The one we were on today from Siena to San Casciano was absolutely disgraceful. The most frequent road sign in Italy is “The Bra” which denotes bumpy road surface. You see one of them every 2 or 3 kilometres it seems. I don’t know how many cars have their suspension knackered by the uneven surfaces they have to drive on, but it must be loads.

So, what have we learned? Holland doesn’t do hills, Belgium doesn’t do sunshine, Germany doesn’t do supermarkets, the Czech Republic doesn’t do English and Italy doesn’t do roads. I wonder what Spain won’t do?!

On the subject of bumps, I have to put my hands up and admit that, while doing some tricky manoeuvring with the caravan and then the car at our new pitch, I managed to reverse the Audi into a tree! There was an interesting, if somewhat alarming, crunch and then Mary told me to watch the tree! Too late I fear, my precious. Fortunately “Vorsprung durch Technik” must include some old wartime Panzer bodywork because I couldn’t find a scratch on the car. Mary put an Elastoplast Band Aid on the tree though!

We’re here until Sunday we think and our plans are to have a day in Lucca and a visit to the Uffizi gallery in Firenze. We couldn’t get in the last time because of the giant queue but we now know to book in advance and that lets you skip the queue. The train will take us there and back but we’ll probably take the car to Lucca as there is no direct rail link. The weather forecast says a big rise in temperature is on the way so that means we probably only have one more really cold day and we’re through the worst of it.

I have a puzzle for you. Wednesday is of course the 12th December 2012 or 12/12/12 if using the six digit format. When is the next date which will repeat the same number in the day, month and year?

In case you haven’t noticed, the next instalment of Socrates is now on the Blog. Enjoy!

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