Day 135: Castel del Piano to Siena

Tuesday August 16, 2005, 81 km (50 miles) – Total so far: 8,341 km (5,183 miles)

We’ve finally we made it to Siena, only to find the Piazza del Campo closed to the public. We have turned up on the day of the world famous Palio, a local festival which includes a horse race around the city centre. The centre of town was chaos. We eventually got told to leave by a friendly policewoman who gave me a leaflet containing a list of things you are not allowed to do during the festival – it seems cycle touring is one of them.

It’s a different story here at the campsite where they love cyclists. We are entitled to a 20% discount just because we turned up on bicycles.

Castel del Piano was a very pretty little town. We enjoyed breakfast outside a small supermarket before heading towards Siena. No sooner had we left town and I heard the now familiar twang of yet another spoke breaking. We then had a mad rush to the next town to find a cycle shop before it shut down for siesta.

Montalcino turned out to be not the sort of town to have a bike shop but more of a tourist place. The centre of town is from the late middle-ages, and a fantastic old fortress rises to the highest point of the town and dominates the surrounding valleys.

So the wheel repair will have to wait until tomorrow, as will a glimpse of the Piazza del Campo – I hope they’ve cleaned up all the horse poo.

Montalcino was another town at the top of a big hill, great views but hard work to get to

Montalcino was another town at the top of a big hill, great views but hard work to get to

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