Eventually after passing all the idyllic villages, and tracking which stop I was going to take on the phone, I then asked a few locals before departing my stop. Once hopped off the bus I then realised was this the best idea as there didn't appear to be as many frequent buses as had first thought. I then got my bearings and found the hotel I was going to stay in. Yes thats right I found a hotel for a great price with a swimming pool. This spot was a highlight in itself, as I didn't want to miss the stunning sunset I asked if there was any places of interest close by. I had been recommended a lake so without a murmur left my bag and took haste.
Ok the lake wasn't what I imagined but I was happy with the results and met some Italian otters which were very friendly, once sundown approached before I knew it the darkness was on top of me and it was nightfall. I then headed back to the hotel and had some dinner (pasta), when I was eating the table next to me I eavesdropped a conversation of local spots to shoot and got friendly with another photographer from Sweden.
This place was a hub for landscape photographers; so I'm sure I was among some of the greats. One photographer among the guests kept his cards close to his guests as I asked about some of the recommended locations.
As I hadn't long I had a mission to take the iconic images of Tuscany which I had dreamed about since starting photography so an early start was in order 4am. After talking to Mikael last night I was so grateful to have conversed with him as he had wheels he not only offered me a lift but also advised me the top locations to shoot, unfortunately it was his last day and was heading back home, if only I came a few days earlier but luck was in the air as I shot the famous house from a few angles and the uber famous trees. My god I was pinching myself as the weather was ideal, hindsight though I should have bought a longer scope as these locations were a lot further than meets the eye. Once sun came up I then returned back to the hotel, was presented a gift of boots from Mikael had some breakfast and caught up on some much needed sleep.
I noticed you could hire bikes to get round the place so after my power nap I took a bike for free and went for a cycle, bare in mind the last time I cycled was 7 years ago if I recall, so back to the lake; once I road tested the bike I then proceeded to more recommended places and was not disappointed, the freedom of the wind in the air, the breathtaking scenery and the define weather made this a journey to remember.
First stop I rode to was an old town called Vinaoligi which was open to sublime 360 views of the tuscan vineyards in an idyllic rustic old village. Here I was thankful to a resident for topping up my 1 litre bottle as the heat was becoming intense.
Ok the bike sounded like a great idea but with no gears and no adjustable seat it turned into me walking a lot of the roads as it couldn't cope with some of the treacherous hills, once I scaled through the desert treks I then reached my next destination Bano Vignoli.
Here was home to thermal baths and tourists galore, once got refreshed and recharged I gave the new thermal baths which the hotel owned a miss, bought some much needed suncream as was starting to feel the burn, time was now starting to diminish quickly so got back on the bike I proceeded to get to my next stop, again had heard great things about this location but nobody had mentioned that this wasn't designed for bikes or bikes with no gears was a contributing factor so ended up walking a lot of it.
This was a helluva climb even for me I must've been loca, I eventually made it to the top, blagged a view of the tower which put all the hiking to the side as was treated to a spectacular view of the tuscan countryside.
Once I topped the viewpoint I then headed back leaving at 6, arriving at 8 all downhill till the end. I then rushed back to the lake road and was left speechless as was rewarded to the most phenomenal sunset I have ever seen which topped my cycle off to no end.
For that much needed cycle i treated myself to medalions topped in parmaganio cheese, which was to die for.
Had a much requested lie in after yesterday, oh I was hurting so much I had enough energy to swim and walk. I was determined to see the Gladiator road so I set off for Pienza on foot.
lost my lens cap on walk. 10k. enjoyed the tuscan walk into the hills passing iconic locations. Bevedere house, chiesa and old farm houses. I eventually made it to Pienza but after the walk was rushing to find the location and fortunately found the road from a cracking viewpoint after asking a local which I ended up backtracking to.
At the viewpoint I was fortunate to negotiate my russian skills and got a lift back which was a great relief.
Then returned to hotel in time for pasta.
With the great weather back I decided to leave Tuscany so it was an early start. After making my farewell with my home from home I missed the first bus. I then realised that was the only bus till 3 so stuck the ole finger out but here the Italians drive on. I then went to a local co-op where I bumped into a waitress I met yesterday, unfortunately she had work but by luck of gods I was fortunate that I ran into a couple who blended in as tourists. These guys Ania & Jacob were godsends as not only did they let me board on board their fiat 500 but give me the exclusivity of their engagement photos in exchange for a lift. These guys were great sports letting me see Multipuicuno, the Val de orcias and Puggobonsi.
From there I took the train to Pisa after missing by 10 mins.,I was cutting it fine but eventually ended in Spezia after thankfully bumping into two unique characters. Hellacool and a scuba instructor Olga Greenheart who gave me the inside tips of what to see and do in Cinqdeterre. Next Stop the 5 Cities.