31 km and very demanding
Today was going to be our longest and toughest day and with a forecast of thunderstorms added to the mix we met at 7 am for another early start.
Following our pre walk pit stop we made our way through the quiet tourist free streets of San Gimignano.
We left the south gate of the walled town and were soon back in lovely green countryside. We looked back at our last view of delightful San Gimignano as it gradually faded into the distance.
This morning the thunder clouds were nowhere in sight as we made our way through gorgeous Tuscan landscapes in the sunshine.
5 km from San Gimignano but another 27 to get to our destination of Monteriggioni…
Much of this part of the walk was so quiet and peaceful I could just hear the sound of the birds (and my trudging footsteps).
We were fortunate to have spent the morning walking in sunny weather and reached the town of Colle Val d’Elsa by 11.30 am.
Colle Val d’Elsa is a long stretched out town and was more or less the half way point of the day. We had originally considered an overnight stay here to break this 19 mile stretch across two days but decided against this.
We stopped for 30 minutes and had an early lunch in a pleasant open air cafe in a quiet square.
The sun was still shining at midday as we continued after lunch walking through Colle Vsl d’Elsa.
The VF signs then led us around the outside of the town which had impressive views.
We walked into a short tunnel and were back inside the old walls again.
Unfortunately as we were leaving the old town the sky behind us had darkened and it began to rain.
We had stopped to put on our waterproofs hoping it would be a passing shower.
But unfortunately not… the rain quickly became torrential and the thunder and lightening started. By this time we were getting drenched as we stood under a large oak tree sheltering. We spotted a leisure complex and made a dash up some steps to a stand underneath a dry shelter.
But the thunder continued to roar and the rain got heavier…
Eventually the rain slightly eased and we decided to continue. We walked out of the town and down a slippery muddy grassy path and into the woods.
Before long we came to a raging torrant of flood water. What should have been a small stream to cross was a brown swirling deluge. We watched Roza slipping and sliding with the top of her boots submerged as she attempted to cross. Russell followed and ended up almost sliding right in. A couple came the other way and the man slipped in with water up to his waist.
The rest of us decided it wasn’t worth risking life or limb and decided to turn back reminding ourselves we were on holiday and holidays are to be enjoyed and not endured. And I justified to myself that at my current age of 55 I am probably a little less goal driven than I may have been in the past and if I miss 9 miles of walking this stretch of the VF it doesn’t matter! I haven’t failed!
Russell and Roza continued with the walk while Chris, Flo, Mike and I trudged back to town in the pouring rain to consider our options. We went to the main bus stop but were told by an extremely fluent English speaking local 15 year old that buses are often cancelled in bad weather. Their school bus had not turned up… Feeling fed up Flo called a taxi and we sat in the rain waiting for it…
By the time the taxi arrived and drove us the short distance to Monteriggioni the sun was out again! However we were cold and soaked to the skin and were grateful the hotel let us check in slightly early so we could have hot showers and put dry clothes on. Thankfully our luggage had already arrived which enabled us to do this.
We were staying in the hotel Rooms and Wine al Castello which was one of the best of the trip. Located in the centre of this tiny historical walled town we had more fabulous views from our room, an amazing shower (most welcome), an incredibly comfy bed and an Illy coffee machine in the room. Perfect!
Exploring historic Monteriggioni.
We were offered a complimentary glass of local wine from the wine tasting winery underneath our hotel which we enjoyed with Flo and Mike while waiting for Russell and Roza to return.
We estimated their arrival time would be around 5 pm and set off towards the gate at the edge of the town to meet them.
And later one of the best meals of the trip in the top quality Restaurant Le Torri which was literally next door to our hotel. The food in here was superb and at £100 for two a tad expensive but worth the splurge 🙂