We needed to get out of Rome this weekend so we rented a brand-new Fiat Punto with 4 doors so we could jam our bikes in the back seat and blast off for warmer and sunnier climes (and climbs!). Sunday morning we loaded up and headed along the coast to Orbetello and specifically Monte Argentario.
Two hours after leaving Rome we were in Orbetello, unloading the bikes and throwing on our helmets with the idea of circumnavigating the island from Porto Santo Stefano in an anti-clockwise direction and a plan for a nice lunch either along the way or post-ride. The weather was damp and drizzly in Rome but the forecasters predicted sunny, warm (for January) skies up here so we figured it was worth the trip.
You can see from the photos it WAS! It was good to get out on the road bikes again after so many rides on the MTB's over the cobbles and tram lines of Rome. The views were spectacular, one of those roads you have to be careful on, so you don't get so distracted by the view that you miss a turn...it could be a LONG way down!
Very little of this road is flat, we measured grades of almost 20% in places! And then...there were the unpaved bits as you can see above. 4 kms of strade sterrate...real l'Eroica stuff, but we didn't have our bici d'epoca, just our regular road bikes with 25 mm tires. One short downhill stretch was so steep and rocky we both walked a bit - which wasn't really all that much easier than riding. Riding the rest was a classic battle, if you let the bike run on the downhill, you ran a huge risk of a pinch flat on the sharp rocks, but on the very loose surface keeping your speed in check risked locking up the front wheel and going over the bars. The 4 kilometer stretch took awhile! Just when we hit pavement again, we sluiced down a SERIOUS descent (probably 20% though nobody was looking at the computer screen) followed by a climb of the same grade! Mamma Mia...this is January!
Once the big challenges were over it was generally downhill with sweeping views all the way to Porte Ercole. By this time we were more than ready for pranzo! As you can see we found a nice little spot with a great view and sunny tables. We started with carpaccio of smoked swordfish and a salad with tiny shrimp, followed by ravioli in a pumpkin/mushroom sauce and a Tuscan bean and cereal zuppa. The soup was especially good with plenty of crusty bread, fresh extra-virgin Tuscan olive oil and freshly ground salt. We washed everything down with a bottle of Ansonica Argentario, made just a few kilometers away. Espresso powered us back to Orbetello so we could pack up the bikes and zoom back to Rome, getting back even before dark!
Another Sunday in paradise...we hope yours was good too.