Friday, April 01, 2011

Hitchhiking to Pienza, Tuscany

“Yes... I hike to take around an hour from here...”, said Claudia, who was stretched out on the sun bed, lounging under the lazy evening sun, with her palms shading her eye from the sun as she looked up to me. “Really?”, I asked and she says “Si, Si”. I wasn’t so sure, but if it was an hour’s hike one way, it didn’t sound too bad... And that is how i found myself hiking to Pienza on one day in Tuscany. But, boy, had she underestimated the time or I had underestimated her... definitely the former I think!

It was a great morning... the sun not strong still and a nice cool breeze... An hour later, I had just reached the crossroad leading to Pienza... and guess what???? The signboard was showing another good 10kms away... (note to self, if it looks far, it probably is! And have the sense to double check!!).

On the way to Pienza

The weather was still good, I was enjoying fantastic views... but soon the sun would be blazing down on me... and I had to pick up my speed. Plus, all the photography was slowing down, (yes, I was trying to get some timer snaps of myself with the landscape... lame, right??). I was tiring myself out a bit, and also partly dreaming of the previous day when I too had lounged on a sun bed in the balcony, with a book and little else to do... But it wasn’t until I came really close to the town, I gave up hope!!! You see, all these towns are perched on hilltops, and the last leg is the hardest...

And up went my hand, sticking out a thumb for a ride...

An abandoned farm house?

A young couple in a car... they wave to me, but won’t stop

A family... this time no wave even!

A slightly beaten up car and a little hippy looking old couple... but there was a lady... so thumbs up again....Voila! they pull over and I am very, very, very grateful (cannot overstate it enough!!!)... we chat a bit , and they are quite cool!!! They speak very good English, couldn’t yet figure out if they are settled here or on vacation...The lady does warn me that she see’s many tourists doing “this” and says, it’s not safe... before I can figure out if she means the long hike in the midday sun or just the hitchhiking, we are in Pienza.

After a bit of a search for the food, I have one of the MOST DELICIOUS ravioli’s in my LIFE!!!! Only 3 piece of the pillow pasta, in a bed of olive oil rather than the usual cream sauce... my first thought was dismay at the paltry portions, but it was Yummmy and also filling!!!


Emboldened by my first hitchhiking experience, I decide to do that on my way back too...

My first ride is an old Italian man in a beat up car...I was a bit tired, and lowered by rules a bit (of ensuring at least one woman in the car. He was old, so I let it go...). He spoke only Italian, I spoke only English and well, he rattled on. He did pat me on my knees a couple of times as he discoursed on heartily... (having seen some Italian men, would definitely NOT believe it was grandfatherly)... Anyways, I was a little relieved to get off.

My last ride was a biker...I later realized he wasn’t even going the way I needed to go, but took the trouble. He owned a farm nearby too and we chatted a bit (as much as you can with the wind howling as you race through). It was wonderful racing down those roads on a bike, with the wind in your hair, refreshing me after a hot, sweaty day.

And I was home!

A note of caution: Hitchhiking was a fun experience, something I didn’t plan for, but happened. Sorry to sound like a grandmother and be melodramaitc, but I CANNOT OVEREMPHASIZE enough ON SAFETY OVER ADVENTURE any day. Hitchhiking can be fun, but please, please be careful!

The Tuscan slopes... you haven't heard the last of it!

Views along the way

Views along the way

Views along the way


Raven said...

Most photos not loading :(
I wanna see the ravioli, the slopes and the town.

Meena Venkataraman said...

Cant see the pics for some reason :(

Ms.N said...

These have got to be the fastest comments i have ever got.... deleted by whole Europe album by mistake :(

fixing it now!!!!

Ms.N said...

ook... the photos are fixed! phew!!! hated that for a bit...

K. said...

Awesome! Makes me want to go to Pienza or hitchhiking or preferably both :D

Neeraj said...

wow that's quite adventurous indeed and not to mention risky as you said!

neha said...

Lovely! Especially the photos. I'm planning a trip to Tuscany this year (fingers crossed), and I hope to get a few shots as amazing as on this post!

Ms.N said...

@ K... preferably both!

@ Neeraj... actually, it didnt feel too risky and I was stopping people who looked like family etc (except for the old man).

But sometimes, we do get carried away with a thirst for adventure. I was almost considering hitchiking to another town with my initial success of HHing and then decided against it.

Anyways, even if its a one in a million risk, there is a risk.. so i guess, just wanted to remind everyone of that!

@ Neha... i am sure you will!!! and i hope you love it too!...