Sunday, 10 May 2009
One more cup of coffee for the road
Geography is a useful discipline for helping us to understand what we observe, the geography of a place affects the climate, agriculture, industry architecture and culture. Italys very hilly landscape, its position in the Mediterranean and the rocks all contribute to what we see. However, the history of places also plays a part and most evenings we enjoy our Italian history lessons, as we gradually work through the centuries. All this helps us to see, but not necessarily understand Italy and the Italians.
As we meander through Tuscany Italy seems to be non-stop gorgeous; like driving through Portmerion every day, as Anthony put it. How do they cope with so much to be proud of and to preserve? Each town is a glorious huddle of narrow streets, sunny piazzas and small cafes; the countryside inbetween is verdant, with colourful roadside verges and meadows, and we love it.
Sitting in one such cafe in Narni, a small Umbrian town on a hill, we were browsing through the local whats-on guide and were perplexed to find the editorial was written by Tony Benn. From what we could understand from the Italian he seemed to be discussing the suppression of the masses by the system, so no surprises there.
Cycling in Italy is hard, the hills always seem to go both up and down. The lack of wind and rain is some compensation for this. There are few commuting and shopping cyclists, not surprising given the geography, and the cyclists we meet are clad head to toe in lycra and glide past even on the uphills at an amazing speed. They are clearly all getting ready for the Giro that started this weekend.