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Old 12-13-2007, 03:31 AM   #31
kktos
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oops. just took a little more attention to your photo.
it's obol http://www.pasta.cs.uit.no/~perm/Obol/
interesting. I'll have a glimpse.
/thierry

edit: just had a look. I'm always wondering why some computer geeks have the need to invent a new language. another one. kind of reinventing the wheel each time. not sure we'll gain after all.....
I'm in telephony and it's a nightmare. they don't even master the languages and libs they have that they invent a new one.... doh !
I should have been a computer science teacher

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kktos screwed with this post 12-13-2007 at 03:57 AM
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Old 12-19-2007, 08:40 AM   #32
strathbran steve
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ive visited Tuscany 3 times now in the last 3 years, 2005 and 2006 we stayed near Camaiore in a village up on the hill called Pedona. This year we stayed at Cortona, we flew in to Pisa and hired a car, loved the roads and would love to go back on a bike

i'll dig out some piccies
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Old 12-19-2007, 09:26 AM   #33
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yuk!

I say this with all of the antipathy I can muster. I hate you .

Why are you torturing me .

Don't ever have this much fun again and post such wonderful pictures, you are just plain old mean


but really, great stuff
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:31 PM   #34
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Talking Firenze



(map showing where all the pictures were taken is here.)
Wether Beijing turns out to be the place to be in the 21st centry or not remains ot be seen.
But in the same way as New York was the place to be in the 20th centry and London in the 19th,
there was only one place to be in the 15th and 16th centry, and that was in Firenze. In case
you don't know what I am talking about: Some foreginers call this glorius city Florence.

Now, to say anything exciting about Firenze that hasn't been said Ad Nauseam already simply isn't
possible. Too many strikingly bright people have lived here, worked here, or just visited, and they
have all said what they though - what can I add? I am a fragile soul and frequently fall vicim
to Stendhal Syndrome thus I must be careful with what I venture to visit; there is simply too
much beauty in the world!

For the sake of completeness, let me give you the briefest History of Firenze that is possible; it
goes like this: Founded by a Roman of some fame named Julius Caesar in 59 BC, it lingered as a
small town for about 700 years before it started to grow. This growth lasted about 300 years
before it reallly took off. From about 1.000 AD until today it has been the most important city in
Toscana, and was for a few hundered years the place to be in our part of the world. It is most
famous for being the craddle of the Renaissance (English version of a Fresh version of the Italian
word for re-birth): The dark and depressing Medieval values were pushed aside for more humanistic
ones based on a re-birth of the art and science of Antiquity. The essence is this: The richest
private family on earth (that is, not a King, but with money earned) lived in Firenze and decided
that art and architecture were cool things to use their money on. The result is still there for us to see.
And that is that.

As usual I start with my cappuccino, panettone, and a glass of water from the spring we have here in the
village. I plan by reading in Volume 3 (out of a total of 23) of Guida d'Italia made by Touring Club Italiano.
No ADVrider in Italy can survive without it.
The problem is that the best way to visit Firenze is to take the train. But, give me a break - the train?
Today I am going to find out if is possible to visit Firenze with proper means of locomotion. That is, how
close can I get to the main points of interest without getting off the bike. Or, as a last resort, getting
off the bike, but not walking so far that I can't see the bike.



The Good Old Days was mostly old, not so good. The need for city walls is a stark remined of war,
slaugther, and general unpleasentness. Here you can see Bamsefar in front of Porta Romana; the
gate at the Southern end of the city walls. From here the road went to....Roma (don't they all?).
The gate is simply enormous! Built in 1372.



I enter Firenze through the Porta Romana. Inside the city walls the streets are really narrow, and the traffic suffocating.
But we are here for the culture, so we'll just have to endure. First stop inside is Palazzo Pitti. The problem is, as you
can see on the picture above, that evrn set on 18mm I can't get more than about 1/3 of the palace on one picture.
You'll just have to believe me when I say that it is huge, huge, huge. Suffice to say that Wikipedia describe it as
a severe, almost forbidding, building.



As you might know, it is not far from Palazzo Pitti to Down Town Firenze. You only pass over Ponte Vecchio, and there you are.
We mere mortals we walk accross the bridge while the super, super rich simply have their architect Vasari build corridor well above
the bridge. It is the Vasari corridor you see above the bridge and on the right bank of the river, where it enters Uffici. And Uffici is
where the offices were (and why the word office means, well, office). A few words on Ponte Vecchio: The Romans used to have
a bridge here. Whan you see is a "new" version built in 1354. I couldn't get the bike on this picture as I had to park on teh other
side of the street. If you look at a map of Firenze you'll see that in order to get from Palazzio Pitti to where this picture was taken,
I was just a few meters away from the bridge. But there were not only one, but three police cars parked at the entrance of the
bridge, and is it was forbidden to etop I thought that parking might have been too much even for Italian standards.

Why, you might ask, are he talking about these things? I do because if you decide to travel to Firenze you'll end up bying a guide
book. And it will ist a few things just have to see. Among them you'll find the city walls, Palazzo Pitti, and Ponte Vecchio. Now
you know you can get there by bike.



But we must visit one more tower from the city walls (notice Bamsefar!) before we head up ona hill to try to
get a better view of the whole thing.



From Piazzale Michelangelo you can see the whole city. From the left we see Ponte Vecchio, then the tower of Palazzo di
Signora, and finally the Doumo (Cathedral). Notice that there is a copy of David just there on teh piazza; this is important
for reasons to be explained in a little while.

Visiting Firenze without making sure you are stunned by the Doumo is simply impossible. Firenze is the Duomo. With the
arges free-standing coupola build since Roman times. And that without scaffolding (look at it and reflect on that for a
moment!). But can we get there on the bike?



Indeed we can. And rather close by I would say!

But now to the disappointment: David. Michelangelo's David is perhaps the World's most famous pice of art.
But, alas, I was not able to get there (that is, to Piazza della Signora outside Palazzo Vecchio) on my bike.
Argh I hope some locals can give me some hints!



Summing up: Without getting off the bike you can safely visit Firenze as part of a larger Giro Toscana. You'll be able to
see the city walls, Palazzo Pitti, Ponte Vacchio, panorama of the whole city (and a copy of David!), and the Duomo
close up. But it is annoying with David - on the way home I find some comfort in cake and caffe americano.

Finally, some Bike Porn. Naked bike poses for the photographer, in Chianti, as the sun sets. The wines do look more
inviting when green, but Chianti is always beautiful so I just had to stop and snap this last one.




Thank you for joining.

Edit: Map is here.

[TaSK]
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tagesk screwed with this post 12-19-2007 at 04:12 PM
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Old 12-20-2007, 02:34 AM   #35
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Thumb


Excellent !
We'll be in Firenze soooooon ;)
Some thoughts after reading you.
I think I noticed that the name "Florence" is nearer to the original than Firenze. I believe it was Florentia. But it's a matter of spoken language. I mean how word spelling become when spoken.
Look at how people from veneto say città.. more like zittà. quite normal Venice is Venezia.
Rinascimiento. Renaissance. you mean French I suppose instead of Fresh. ;)
About the tower with scala, I'm interested ! Where is it ?
The Piazzale Michelangelo is a great posto ! Thank you, we'll try to find it !

grazie.
/thierry
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:22 AM   #36
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Thumb Look at the map!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kktos

About the tower with scala, I'm interested ! Where is it ?
The Piazzale Michelangelo is a great posto ! Thank you, we'll try to find it !

grazie.
/thierry
I added the map at the end of the Firenze story; you'll find all the photos carefully placed there.

[TaSK]
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:26 AM   #37
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tagesk

you eat like mouse and i hope you get one of these for xmas.

just kidding .... enjoyed the adventure.
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Old 12-20-2007, 07:35 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaSK
I added the map at the end of the Firenze story; you'll find all the photos carefully placed there.
indeed ! perfect.
Grazie Mille, Signore TaSK.
/thierry
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Old 12-20-2007, 08:05 AM   #39
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Thumb Santa Maria del Giudice

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucktab
Those pictures bring back some great memories. My grandparents came from St. Maria del Guidice, near Lucca and I've been back to visit the family there. Beautiful area that I definitely want to visit on a motorcycle.
(Today's map is here.)



While I read and plan what to serve with the different courses during Christmas dinner, I realize that the sun i shining particularly well today, that the sky is particularly blue, no wind, the lemons are soon ripe, and what not - I simply can't work indoors today. What I need is an excuse of some kind.....I got it:

- Listen my dear, I need to pop out a minute.
- Where are you going - you have your riding gear on?
-
Eh, I'll need to pick up those two bearings at the dealer
- We can do that tomorrow on the general shopping spree!
- Eh, but I also have this friend Over There, and his grandpartens came from just over the hill here. I've promised to pop over and take some pictures. Today, I promised to do it today. Can't be posponed; his grandfather is very ill and he has promised to show him a picture before he dies. Will only take a minute.
- Have you decided on the wines?
- Eh, yeah, sure. We'll have red.
- You won't be long, remember that we.......
- Eh, yeah, sure, be right back.

First I ride down to my dealer and pick up two new bearings (discussed here). They set me back a whopping 56 euro Then I rode North to San Giuliano Terme and over the hill to Santa Maria del Giudice.

The village has two parts, the new and the old. I start in the old part, outside the church. This one is about 1.000 years old. The whole front is in the shadows, but by (refraining from) taking a sigarillo I pass twenty minutes, and there is sun. White marble from the quarries in San Giuliano Terme; the same as has been used in parts of the great Cathedral in Pisa. No sun on the the bike, though. It is quiet here, just as I expect it to be outside an old church in rural Italy.




After a while I ride over to Pieve Nouve (the new village or new church, depending on context) a few hundred meters away. The church is much newer - completely rebuilt in 1499 (fells like yesterday around here). Five cars are parked in front so I fail to get a nice picture. Instead I took one of the narrow street leading up to the church just as an old lady bicycled into it. I like that one.



Two hours have passed, and it is time for some lunch. On the city square there is one of the million marble status with an angel holding a fallen soldior. I park and go inside the tiny allementari there; you see it behind the bike on the picture below. I'm 202 cm (about 6'8") and that creates some commotion; they call outisde and the tiny store filles up by villagers coming to take a look this Cyclop that towers inside the shop.

I tell my story about this friend whose granparents came from here. But, alas, not do I know when they left, and not do I know their names. I must judge on dozens of suggestions, but I politely tell them that I don't know over and over again. An old lady says "But, how can we help if he doesn't know their names?". Another suggests fetching Antonio - he is 92 and remembers everything. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Finally it calmes down, and I can ask if they could make me a panino - pane integrale per favore with some prociutto and pecorino stagionata.




When I was sitting there in the sun, on white marble, outside a small allementari in Santa Maria del Giudice I thought that this was actually quite nice. In fact so nice that I might consider doing it again.

So here is the deal: If you, your paretns or grandparents come from somewhere in Toscana, I will offer to go there and feel what the place is like today, and write it up here.
It might mean that I will have to go all over Toscana just to sit inthe sun and enjoy a fresh panino, but somone has to do all the dirty work around here.

Who's next?

Thank you for joining!

[TaSK]
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Old 12-20-2007, 09:17 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaSK
I'm 202 cm (about 6'8") and that creates some commotion; they call outisde and the tiny store filles up by villagers coming to take a look this Cyclop that towers inside the shop.

Indeed, quite tall for Italia !
I wonder how it would come if you go to Sicilia !

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaSK
It might mean that I will have to go all over Toscana just to sit inthe sun and enjoy a fresh panino, but somone has to do all the dirty work around here.
carissimo bastardo.......

Ah, the map. perfect ! you should work in the tourism business ! ;)
Many kudos for sharing.
/thierry
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Old 12-29-2007, 04:37 PM   #41
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Talking Brunello di Montalcino - Part 1



I don't know about the rest of you, but when I read the awsome reports from the Australian bushland, or see pictures of bears taken from the bike in Alaska, or salt plains in Death Valley, I am always struck by the vastness and the emptiness. Many places, maybe Australia, Canada and the US in particular, are so huge it is hard to phantom. Now, by an Incuria I was born in an empty country (barely 10 people per sq km!), so the emptiness Per Se doesn't strike me as strange. It is the scale of things; I mean: Those guys ride for six days and snap a picture of every car they meet (three). Life here on the Old Continent isn't like that at all.

Showing you a tree and say "From this exact point you actually don't see a single house (yeah!) - pretend the fields and wines are wilderness and you can believe you are in, well, Australia" doesn't make much sense. So my reports from Tuscany must show you something else. I'll show you what I can show you.

I start with breakfast, reading in Volume 7 (Toscana) of the indispensible Guida d'Italia and planning todays theme. The thing is: In a few weeks I'll be 45. In another thread I have asked for advice on what to buy; thank you for all suggestions. But an even more important decision needs to be made: What to drink (with the Bistecca Fiorentina)? There are basically three choices: Barolo, Brunello and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The problem with Barolo (the wine) is that Barolo (the place) isn't in Tuscany. So, sory Barolo, some other time.
This leaves to Tuscan contenders - I need to go there to get an impression. Let us start with Brunello; I have included a picture of a Brunello I found in my cellar. My God, I am looking forward to taste that one!

The panettone is a gift from San Miniato; there is a pasticceria there where the panettone is made the traditional way (with eggs), and it is very, very good.

Up here where you find Casa dei Norvegesi it has not been frost during the night, but I can see that is has been very cold down on the plain. I can see it is well below freezing in both Firenze and Siena, As it is only 07:30 and the sun isn't really up yet, and I plan to ride all th way to Siena on the highway (the name is Fi-Pi-Li), I better dress properly.

Usually I ride inthe mountains, but there is a lot of snow up there, so I'll have to stay down here for the time being. After all: I have Tourance tyres on the GS, and snow is simply out of the question.



To aviod draft on the legs I take on gamasje - a Norwegian thing to wear to aviod getting snow underneath your trouses when skiing. Perfect!
Speaking of perfect: Yes I know, those boots aren't ATGATT. But I use 49 or 50, and finding boots isn't simple.

In some detail - todays plan is to rush on the highway that connects Firenze - Pisa - Livorno (called Fi-Pi-Li) from Pisa Eastwards to to Firenze. Then on the Firenze - Siena highway South to Siena. That will take me about one and a half hour.
Then I will take a loop that will bring me through much of the land where Brunello can be made. In particular, to the hill-top village of Montalcino. My red book (Guida d'Italia) claims that Montalcino probably is the most beautiful place in Tuscany. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a bold claim!
There is a map all the way at the end; or click here and then come back to contiune.




But back for a moment to the vastness of unspoiled nature some Ride Reports show us. Nature is beautiful. But man-made artifacts can also be beautiful. Look for example at Dantes Tower. It might not be as impressive as having a "Roo" (kangeroo) jumping out in front of your bike, but it is a thousand years old. And the village below (Caprona) was a about a thousand years old when the tower was built. I don;t know about you, but for some reason, things that old impresses me. Not becuase they are old (the hill itself considerable older!) but when something has been around for a milennum (or two), how many poeple has looked at it? And, more importantly: How many have decided that it looks so nice that it will remain in place for the coming generations?
Sorry that the picture is crappy, but the sun wasn't up yet.



As I ride the sun rises. When the first rays hits the is cold grass a thin mist forms on the plain. As I am riding East (directly into the sun), I hide behind a tree and try to capture the colours. I fail, but the picture is still nice.

The 70 (or so) kilometers East to Firenze is boring, but I am very alert. Everywhere the sun hasn't got to yet is icey and very dangerous. The Italians don't know that danger and cars are connected - this makes it even more dengerous. Young men pass me on the icey parts, while they smoke and talk in their mobiles, while listning to music and studying the haircut, all at the same time. I don't like it, but I am on my way to check out Brunello so I'll just have to endure.



I get to Firenze, and I turn onto the Autostrada della Sole (that is Milano - Napoli) and follow until the first exit (that wil be 50 cent, per favore). Then I am at the start of the 40 km Firenze - Siena higheway that runs South.

The area between Firenze and Siena is world famous for a wine that is made in this area, the Cianti Classico. Just for the fun if it, I turn off the highway to capture Bamsefar with a wine yard, in Chianti Classico. That is also a nice wine.

Notice the sign - All Roads Lead to Rome, and this is no exception (this road is named via Cassia) and the distance from here to Rome is 283 km.





But in addition to the sign, you can also see the frost on the grass. Where the sun hasn't reached, it is still winter. In fact, I notice that there is quite some ice just in front of the bike! Better take is easy. And remember: Don't tell Capa della Famiglia. She doesn't like me riding in conditions like these. I turn back onto the highway - more traffic and less change of ice.






But it is time for some more man-made things. Just north of Siena I turn off at Monteriggioni. Below the wounderful city walls (built 1219) I know of a very nice bar. They have a wide selection of cheeses and ham. And fresh bread, of cource. Having a merenda (small meal, between the "real" meals) isn't a habit one should establish unless putting on weight is the goal. But I am cold and the panettone from breakfast is all but consumed. And then a proper caffe' so fresh there is proper crema on top. How much I love proper espresso.
Consider a mug of American coffee. It is found everywhere. It can be made by anyone. It is cheap - and refills are free. Being largely without flavor it can be diluted to taste. What it lacks in allure it makes up in size. It is the most democratic method ever devised for introducing caffeine into human beings.
Now take a cup of Italian espresso. It requires expensive equipment. Price-to-volume ratio is outrageous, suggesting indifference to the consumer and ignorance of the market. The aesthetic satisfaction accessory to the beverage far outweighs its metabolic impact. It is not a drink; it is an artifact.
Quoted from here. Oh well, let's get on with it.





After having enjoyed my coffe at Monteriggioni and done ten more minutes on the highway, I have arrived, and I can slow slow down. I will now slowly wind my way through Chianti Colle Senesi towards Montalcino.

The last two pictures in this installment are pure bike-porn. Naked bike poses for the photographer with a 12th centry castle in the background. Both pictures show the same caste. The castle, when you are done looking at the bike, is Castello di Poggio ai Frati. In the second picture, on the right hand side, you can see the 12th centry sky-line of Siena.

I'll be back tomorrow morning with the second half; thank you for your attention!

[TaSK]
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Old 12-29-2007, 04:51 PM   #42
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Nice report.
Thanks for bringing me back.....
October '06
(I like the photos of the espresso and cappuccino)
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Old 12-29-2007, 04:52 PM   #43
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Thumb great pics!

We spend as much time as we can each year in Bargecchia (nr Viareggio, Massarosa) but I haven't had access to a motorcycle there yet. Done plenty of biking and wished for a few extra hp on some climbs, though! At some point I'd like to buy a used m-cycle and leave it there, which is what I do with the bike.

If you're a bridge fan you're probably already familiar with this one, but if not it's on the road between Lucca and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana near Borgo a Mozzano.

Take care, and keep the great pics coming!
John
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Old 12-29-2007, 05:05 PM   #44
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Bravo Tag,
Great ride and photos.

I have been to Italy 4-5 times in my life and the last two times in Tuscany, cinque terra, then up to Lake Como. Beautiful area. Too bad I was not on my GS.

Thanks for Sharing your ride, and your advice for the wives is a good one!! Hopefully many ADV wives will read your post and take notice!!

Ride Safe!

Mark
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Old 12-29-2007, 06:11 PM   #45
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Fantastic! Subscribing for a dose of something different, really enjoy the food aspect of the reports.
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