A tale of two cities –Maglione and Capalbio

If you are thinking that I’d be tired of Italian hilltop towns by now, you’d be dead wrong.  I love them! I love the walls, the winding streets, the little outdoor cafes, the cobblestones.

The prior post contains photos of the walls of Magliano, way in the distance, as seen from our Fattoria.   Some of the more intrepid bikers actually rode into town during the heat of day, when all wise Italians were eating or snoozin’ and this American was cooling her easy–not moderate–biker body in the pool.  They discovered there was not much to do in medieval Italian towns between 2 PM and 4 PM, other than sweat profusely and drink copious amounts of water.

My Best Biking Buddy Beth, and the rest of us wimps didn’t miss out though, because one night, we rode the van into Magliano for dinner.

A spectacular view of the countryside from one of the city gates

If a city has a wall, and said wall can be climbed, you’d best be believin’ I’m on it!  My timing was perfect. I hustled to the top of the wall in time to capture the gorgeous sunset.

View from the city wall

The defender’s view

While peering through the slit, I found it easy to conjure up a brave knight of yesteryear.  Can’t you just envision him on the wall, looking out into the countryside, ready to defend God, king and castle, while he rosined up his bow (or was that what the fiddler did)?  Or maybe the Maglianese warriors dumped boiling oil on any invaders that attempted to storm the castle.  If so, I sure hope it wasn’t the extra virgin stuff.  Especially not after it had been cold pressed.  (Hey, we learned all about that stuff on our tour of the olive farm).

Also while on the wall, girl scout songs kept running through my head, “the golden sun sinks in the west—something, something– calling girl scouts to rest…  Day is done, gone the sun, from the east, from the west, from the sky.  All is well…”.  And it WAS.

Between the songs and my visions of manly knighthood, it’s a wonder I had the time or the energy to take photos, but I dug deep and managed to fire off a few shots for the folks back home.

I couldn’t decide which sunset photo I liked better, so I’m posting both.  You get to be the judge.

For those of you that have had enough of the sunsets, amber waves of hay, old castle walls, here’s a change of pace.  They DO hang colorful laundry out their windows, now don’t they?

On to the next subject.  Talk about luck… We managed to be in town for the Soccer semi-finals, a very festive and exciting occasion.  Big Screen TVs were strategically located in outdoor bars throughout the town, and it sure felt like the entire population gathered to root for the home team.

watching the soccer semifinals

Despite being the underdog, Italy trounced Germany.  Unfortunately, a few days later they lost to Spain, but at least for that one glorious night, victory was oh, so sweet.  Especially for sweet Angelo, our guide.  Viva Italia!!

On our last biking day, we rode to Capalbio, another beautiful hilltop town with the requisite wall, castle and church.  But this town had something that the others didn’t…a statue of Beth.

Beth, demonstrating how she modeled for the statue.

I can’t resist posting one last walled Italian city shot, so here it is.  I’ll spare you the ones of the countryside taken from the wall.  They look a lot like the other countryside photos.  Beloved by me, but most likely boring to others.

Capalbio

And now it is time to end the bike trip saga.  What better way, than to show the lengths to which I will go to get just the right shot. Here’s what I was photographing:

The grounds of Fattoria di Magliano

If I were good at panoramic shots, this would be on the right side of the photo above

And here’s what I had to do to make sure those wires didn’t appear in the photos.   Thanks, Diane, for capturing my “good” side. See, Mike–I DO have one…

Although the bike trip has ended–Sally, Diane, Karen and I headed off for two more glorious weeks, sharing a villa in Italy, with yet another cast of characters.

Day Trippin’

If you are following this blog, you have probably guessed that this is not a day by day chronicle of the VBT bike trip.  Our visit to Giglio Island occurred smack dab in the middle, and given how hot it had been, the timing was perfect.  After all that pedaling along sunny roads, I was more than ready for some ocean breezes.

First stop,  Porto Santo Stefano, where we had free time to wander thru the markets before boarding the ferry.

Meat Market in Santo Stefano

In addition to open-air meat, fish, cheese and flower markets, there were some clothing shops, where Becky made a purchase. She still hadn’t received her luggage–but somehow managed to always look great.  And clean!!

Becky, wearing her favorite (and only) outfit.

Porto Santo Stefano, as viewed from the ferry

On the boat, I was captivated by this charming Italian, who waved and said “ciao, ciao” to me.  Finally, someone whose command of Italian equalled mine!  (Yes, I DO have a thing for blue eyed males…)

enjoying the ride

Remember that Costa Cruise ship that sank off the coast of Italy?  The captain abandoned his ship and passengers died?  I hadn’t realized that it happened off the coast of Giglio Island.

Tourist attraction? The Costa Concordia

What was truly amazing was how close the ship was to shore when it sank.

Costa cruise ship in the background

The port was lovely, with all the usual shops, restaurants, gelato stands, pastel buildings and clean, clear water.

Giglio Porto

Fortunately we didn’t have to walk all the way up to Giglio Castello, which, like all good fortresses, was built at the highest point of island, to protect the citizenry from invaders.

The well, an important water source when the castle was under siege.

One of the many winding paths within the castle

The staircases were built on the outside of the houses to save space within.  Can you imagine an exterior staircase in northern New England?  Try climbing stairs like these during a blizzard!

Ipads and iPhones were everywhere.  I caught sight of this castle resident using hers.  Maybe reception is better near the window?

modern technology in ancient castle

After our tour of the castle, it was time for lunch on Campese Beach.  Ordinarily, VBT offers an optional hike along the Faraglione cliffs, but with the temperature hovering over 100 degrees, all agreed hiking under the Tuscan sun would not be a pleasant alternative. Some of the group hit the beach.  Others (that would be me) found yet another great gelato stand and indulged, while enjoying the scenery.

Finally, we headed to our next lodging, Fattoria di Magliano, another beautiful agritourismo location, with incredible food and wine,  a million dollar view, and a wonderful pool.  Such luxury!

Fattoria di Magliano

Magliano, as seen from the Fattoria

This was the perfect opportunity to see what my Lumix zoom could do.  I probably should have manually adjusted the focus.  Oh well.  You get the idea.

Next post–the grand finale–our visits to Magliano and Capalbio