Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuscany Day 7: trail running and Pistoia

Time to say goodbye to Tuscany and I knew it would have to be by running. The very moment I stepped my foot on this beautiful terrain I knew I wanted to go trail running. We already did small trainings around and they were all very lovely but I wanted more than that. I wanted some real mountain run. And I got it!
I don't know what to start this story with, there are really plenty of emotions I would like to convey. I planned this trip ahead, I can't imagine otherwise. It was a completely new terrain for me and I couldn't just walk out and run where my legs take me. I prepared a route, a map, a gpx and all that stuff. Radek drove me to a starting point and I took off. I was like in Nirvana :) I really like running, I love mountains - the perfect match for me! Of course, I lost my way a couple of times and I had to constantly check  my position on a gpx which was a bit annoying but seriously, it's a small setback comparing to all that fun and exhilaration I felt on the trail.

I also had a funny situation. Well, it's funny now but gave me a bit of a thrill back then. As I said, I had a route prepared. It wasn't very strict, I had a couple of options, but as a rule I knew where to go. And around my 7th kilometre (so almost exactly in the middle) I encountered an obstacle... The route I was running was closed. It went through a private property and the gate was closed so I couldn't proceed. I was in a very bad position because so it happened, there was no possibility to somehow pass it otherwise, there were no other routes around and one glance at a map told me that if I didin't find a way out I would basically need to turn around and came back by the same route. That would have been a disaster! Well, I went for the second option that came to my mind. On that road there were actually two properties and the other one was an open one (without a fence). So I went down there to find a bypass of some sort or any kind of help. And so it happened, there was a man on that property. And what was even more astonishing, he spoke fluent English! I guess it was the first person during the whole trip that was Italian and spoke fluent English. So I managed to explain to him my situation and he was very helpful. He invited me to his property which turned out to be huge and he showed me the way I could proceed. It turned out I needed to first pass by his orchard, then climb up a hill in a little forest, then climb down the hill and cross another orchard and then I should get to the other side of the road I couldn't cross because of his neighbour who decided to block it. Complicated, I know! But I followed his directions and managed to find the route. But I was in a bit of a doubt because I was basically hacking through bushes...

After this story I had no other problems. Oh no, that's not true. Like 3-4 km before the end my gpx device reset and I didn't know where I started from and where Radek would wait for me :) It cost me a bit of a stress but in the end we found each other. It was a great run, I would say the best 2 hours of the whole stay in Tuscany. It's so true that once you start running in mountains you would never want to come back to tapping the tarmac.

While I was running, Radek took the kids to Pistoia where there was a festival of some kind. Children liked it, Radek said it was a nice place to have a walk. All those Italian little towns are so quaint and lovely...

Bye, bye, Tuscany, it was fun!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tuscany Day 6: Carrara and Viareggio

I already told you we hadn't had a tight schedule of this whole trip but Carrara was kind of a must for us. Radek saw "How it's made" on Carrara marble and he just had to go there and pass the knowledge on to Wojtek and me. I have to admit, Carrara is impressive. The amount of marble is so vast that it actually is visible from space (as a white patch of land). The mines can be visited and there are two ways to do it. One is by hiring a guide that would take you in a jeep and drive through the marble mountains. That must be awesome but not really children friendly :) We went for the second option where you hop on a little bus and go straight into the mountain where the marble is excavated from the inside. That was awesome too. I learned a lot about marble that day.

The tour around the mine takes around 30 minutes and it's really worth it. You get to know many interesting facts about marble and its production. For example I imagine that one would need a whole bunch of miners to dig out those blocks but it turns out that 3 for this whole facility is enough. And if you wonder what the price for the marble is, it takes as high as 100 000 EUR per block. But can be also lower, depending on the rock quality.

After visiting Carrara marble facility we went to Viareggio because the guide said it had a lovely beach. That was true. We had lunch and sat down on a beach for a while and then headed back to our place. This was our goodbye to the seaside.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tuscany Day 5: Serravalle Pistoiese and around

For the next day we decided to follow the local brochures' advice and to visit our neighbourhood. As first we went to Serravalle Pistoiese, a lovely little town located on a hill, with small ruins of castle and a breathtaking view. I think we were the only tourists in that place that day - I love going on holidays off season!

To be honest, I don't know much about the ruins. It's name is Rocca Nuova (I guess) and it is still possible to climb to the tower (only if you have no fear of height). The whole town is rather small but very, very charming. It's definitely worth visiting. It was pretty dead silent that day but I imagine it awakens a bit during the season :)

In the afternoon we went to two places that I don't even remember the name of :) One of them was a little town high in the mountains. It took us a while to drive there but the views and the villages we went past by were great. In the town itself was rather nothing :) We managed to find an open bar of some sort and grabbed little pizzerinas and a cup of tea. From there we headed to see a suspension bridge. Again, I don't remember much facts about it. As I'm writing this text it's been 8 months since we were there :) I wouldn't say the bridge was impressive but it sure was very long. I guess I wouldn't visit it for the second time but maybe the surroundings had more to offer. The whole area was located deep in mountains and I imagine there were plenty possibilities to go hiking. Not for us that day though. Kids had enough.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tuscany Day 4: Florence

Who hasn't seen this famous view? Well... me :) I was a bit reluctant to visit Florence. I'm not a city person and museums and must see monuments and places don't speak to me. But in the end I'm glad I got to see this beautiful corner of our planet. I have to admit, it's quite a spectacular place.

We didn't spend much time in Florence and I reckon, we saw maybe 15% of what was to see. We never entered any of the buildings, any of the museums and moved around the strict centre only. However, the facades were breath-taking and we even managed to find stranded allays with no tourists - Italian vintage style so to speak :)  I have not much to say more, it's a place worth visiting.