The views stretch even further than yesterday. This is classic Tuscany. It is here that the most famous photos and films of the region have been taken or shot. The road surface is pretty good though heavy rain can make the gravel roads perilous for the inattentive, the water carving deep lines across them.
We ride on, past Buonconvento the home of Nova Eroica, through more vineyards that skirt the hill top town of Montalcino, stopping at some of the many water fountains that line the route. We pass walkers, some who greet us, others whose headphones block the sound of our approach. Everyone here is on their own personal journey; that is one of the things that makes the Via Francigena so special: everyone rides or walks the same path but they all have unique thoughts, experiences and reflections at the end.
After climbing another hill, we see San Quirico D’Orcia in the distance and that means lunch is near. Before we can eat, there will be the short and steep climb into the town itself. Once that is done, we ride through the narrow streets that seem unchanged by the passing of time.
Today is a long day and there is only time for a panino (prosciutto and pecorino, that seems to be the locals’ choice) before we continue to Vignoni Alto – a fine and typical example of a borgo or semi-fortified village. The south gate opens to an immense panorama of the valley below.
Shortly after a brief stretch on the asphalt road to Rome, the Via Cassia, we enter into Lazio. There is no signage announcing the change of region although it is now dark and our focus is on the more concentrated small, area of gravel road in front of us. When we do finally arrive in Proceno, we are warmly greeted by the Contessa whose family inhabit the castle and also run the Albergo Diffuso that will be our home for the night as well as providing our dinner.