Traveling South In L'italia
Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
147Trip End Jan 25, 2012
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Ortisei to Chianciano Terme, Italy
35 kilometers bike from Ortisei to Bolzano
3 trains from Bolzano to Chiusi
18 kilometers from Chiusi to Chianciano Terme
We all packed up in the morning. Matt and Shawn headed for the bus stop to catch the the 8:30am bus to Bolzano. It was only 35km to the train station and it was ALL downhill, so Mark and I opted to coast back to the train station.
We all met up again in Bolzano and by 10:30am, we were on our way south. We changed trains in Verona with no problems, but we ran into a small glitch when we reached Bologne. Turns out that we'd booked the EuroStar train for the last leg, and it doesn't take bicycles. So, as we approached the train, we asked three train workers where to stow the bikes. "No bikes allowed on this train." Seriously? "No. No bikes."
We understood that to get our bikes to Chiusi we would have to take 3 different regional trains, which would likely take several hours. We had another problem thought. We were only given 1 ticket for the four of us and it was only reasonable to let Matt and Shawn continue on our original train. In our attempt to sort out getting a refund for our portion of the ticket, one of the train officials said that we could put our bikes at the very end of the train. But, he was getting off in Florence and could not guarantee that his replacement would allow our bikes to continue traveling on the train.
No problem. We sprinted with our bikes to the far end of the train. We didn't have time to pull our bags off beforehand, so we played of game of musical bikes and bags trying to get the bikes compactly stored in a very small gangway. We were already started to drip with sweat when we began to walk the gauntlet.
We had assigned seats for this train, and they were 6 cars away. Unlike most of the trains we'd ridden, this train was set up with small compartments of 6 seats each. This left a narrow path to walk from one end of the train car to the other. Except that the path was full of large suitcases and people without reserved seats standing and sitting on jump seats. It would have been mildly irritating for us and the other passengers to simply walk through the train cars. But, we were also carrying all of our bike bags. What an ordeal. We were soaked through by the time we reached our designated seats and reconnected with Matt and Shawn.
Fortunately, the Italian way is to leave good enough alone. No one even batted an eye about our bikes in Florence and we continued on to Chisui without issue. Once in Chisui, we learned that the bus to Chianciano Terme doesn't take bikes. No big deal, as we were only 10 miles from our final destination. It was all uphill, of course. Nothing too challenging, but it was late in the afternoon, very hot, we had no water and the sun was setting directly into our eyes.
Matt and Shawn passed us on their bus, but we didn't hear them knocking on the windows. Mark and I were having some trouble getting our bearings without a map. Turns out, there are two sections of town, and we were in the wrong one. Thanks to our handy radios, we connected with Matt and were directed to our hotel, the Carlton Elite. It might have been a nice place at one time, but the years and lack of investment in the property were showing. We renamed it the Ritz Carlton. After our hot ride to town, we all decided a quick jump in the pool. It was refreshingly cold and a great way to cool off.
We were all pretty tired from the day of traveling, so after cleaning up, we walked down to the town and stopped at the first restaurant we saw. It turned out to be a great choice. Bar La Fonti is all outdoor seating tucked away in the corner of the town's central square. We all had wonderful meals and some fine local wine. On the way back to the hotel, we heard some music so we crossed the piazza to check it out (and to get some gelati). There was a very odd duo in full black, rockstar outfits playing foxtrots, swing tunes, and waltzes to a crowd of very old dancers (most in their 70s or 80s). We all joined in for one dance, got some gelati and hiked back up to the Ritz around midnight.
We learned the next morning that the town was full of members of a slightly to the right, conservative, Christian party. Didn't know they all liked to dance?!