Our exit out of Florence involved a quick jewellery shop, and some bread buying. There was a lovely trail along the Arno river for 13 kilometres, which saved us from the roadway. Looking down at the river, when crossing one of the bridges showed the current going in our direction, and the wind against. Joy of joys. A headwind.
Before leaving on the trip, I had told Matt about my distaste for wind. Head, cross, side. Everything is bad except for a tail wind. This conversation happened during a windy day in Amsterdam, when I had been blown over (and almost into the canal) by a cross wind. Actually blown over. Here, along the Arno, the wind wasn't so bad, but I knew it was there. At least it was flat an easy riding.
Until the gravelly trail ended, and we had to follow the minor roads to Pisa. In the middle of the day's blistering heat, pushing our bikes up Apennine foothills above a sludgy river into a headwind, with locals in cars barreling past within inches. Yes, it got better. It gradually became flatter and cooler. The available shoulder became wider as the car numbers became greater. Consolation was that we were riding through the region that produced Leonardo di Vinci - we could have visited his birthplace, but for a 7% to 12% uphill grade. Besides, walls still can't talk, no matter how many museums one puts in them.
After a moment of possible highway adjoining, we found the proper minor road into Pisa. The road was lined with trees, providing shade and a place to ram a car into. As well as a series of miserable bumps from the roots breaking up the surface. Soon, though never soon enough, there was a bike path. The glorious bike path! It was so flat, and so smooth! Which was good, as Matt's bottom was so sore. Just say no to riding in denim.
Entering Pisa was obvious. To the left was a thick and tall city wall. To the right, an aqueduct running through people's gardens. Matt pointed out the top of the leaning tower. I, being too exhausted, didn't turn my head in time. Instead, I kept navigating us towards the campeggio. Hairy centro moments included a teeny tiny roundabout with a not teenytiny number of vehicles, and a subterranean pathway. We arrived in daylight hours - amazing as we had ridden 97 kilometres. Easy enough to set up the tent, have showers and make dinner. So long as one ignored the knee/butt/leg/back pain.
Moral of the ride: Go from Pisa to Florence, not the other way.