Day 71: San Gimignano

Number of kilometres today: 12.7

Total kilometres walked from Canterbury: 1,701.0

Total steps since Canterbury:  2,362,786

Number of kilometres to Rome: 334

When I woke up this morning, I knew it was raining before I even heard it.  The cars driving past were splashing it beneath their tyres as they drove past.

I left my albergo at 8.15am and walked to a bar fifty metres away for breakfast, a cappuccino and a cornetto crema.  The bar seemed unusually busy for a Sunday morning and I had to wait ten minutes for my cappuccino.

It was spitting rain when I arrived at the bar.  It was drizzling when I went to leave. I stopped outside and put the Kermit on with the help of the locals sitting out the front. It's always awkward getting it over The Devil.  I pulled out my small travel umbrella so I wouldn't have to wear Kermit's hood. I wandered through the old town of Gambassi Terme to have a quick look around and as I descended the hill to leave and walk to San Gimignano it started pouring.  Not only did it pour, the wind picked it up and it was wild.  I sheltered on a doorstep until the rain subsided.  There were some blue patches in the sky so I decided to start walking.

Soon the rain stopped and I pulled off Kermit and tucked him under my backpack strap in case I needed him later.  I did.  After I reached Pancole where I had a look in their grotto with their nativity scene.  It started drizzling.  Kermit went back on and stayed on.  Four kilometres away from San Gimignano it started raining heavily.  I put my head down and walked.  It eased off from time to time before rolling in again in another wave. 

Only 800 metres from San Gimignano town centre I stopped at a covered bus stop.  I couldn't walk another 10 minutes in the downpour. I was freezing cold, wearing only a t-shirt under the Kermit and with my bare arms protruding holding on to the Two Rodneys they were wet and covered in goosebumps.  I put on some layers and even my beanie and gloves to get my poor cold, saturated hands warm.  And I hoped it would stop raining.  It didn't.  i sat there for thirty minutes waiting.  It eased off eventually and I decided to make a march for it into town where I walked straight up to the main piazza and into a cafe where I orderd papardelle with wild boar ragu and a quart of chianti and killed time until I could check into my hotel.

It rained for the rest of the day.  The wild wind sweeping in sudden downpours and turning even the strongest of umbrellas inside out.  The paved streets became streams. I braved the rain.  Borrowed a big, solid umbrella from my hotel and strolled the water-logged streets taking shelter when the wind and rain became too wild.

San Gimignano is a beautiful town.  It was so nice this time to experience it without the hordes of summer tourists.  At times the streets and piazzas were deserted because of the rain. And it was nice to be able to walk around it with only wet and not painful feet.  Last time I was here, I had severely hurt my big toe.  Walking became too painful so I plopped myself down on the steps of the church in piazza duomo and watched the tourists horde.

I loved Tuscany in summer.  I love Tuscany even more in autumn.  The colours and the light are beautiful.  I love her in autumn even though 

she poured rain on me and whipped me with her cold wind.

I am grateful that the wild weather was today and not tomorrow when I walk 30 kilometres to Monterggioni.  I am also grateful to everyone who has donated to my turtle cause.  I have now exceeded my fundraising goal which is just amazing.  For a while I didn't think I would even make it to 50%.  Targets are made to be broken so I hope some more donations wil roll in whilst I walk these last 334 kilometres to Rome.

Only 13 days of walking left.  I am not wishing them away and especially not here in Tuscany.  For a while I thought I would be sad when it is over but I don't think I will be.  I think I will be esctatic and incredulous to have made it to Rome but I will be ready to stop walking.

Grey skies over Tuscany.  This morning's view from Gambassi Terme.

Old town of Gambassi Terme

I liked this door for its cacti.

The long gravelled road.

Heading towards San Gimignano...note the dark skies.

Looking back towards Gambassi Terme...note the blue sky.

On the horizon to the left is Gambassi Terme.

Oives ripening

Grapevines dying yellow.  The landscape is a live with its glorious colour.

Nativity scene in the sactuary at Pancole

The sanctuary at Pancole.  I walked past just as their service began and listened to their singing.

San Gimignano in the distance.

Lunch!

Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta