Day 2 – Ride to Orvieto

Breakfast at Orbetello hotel

We woke to a lovely breakfast feast in the open air courtyard of our Orbetello hotel.  After making the most of it, we gathered in the street at 9 AM to load our bags into the van and mount our bicycles, our destination, Orvieto, a popular Italian hill town 70 miles east in the province of Umbria.  It was postcard perfect weather, blue skies and 70 degrees, although it promised to get hotter as the sun climbed into mid-day.

We were still short 5 guys—Todd and Rick, enroute from Newark, and Markham, Reb and Charles, who had landed in the hilltown of Pienza a couple days earlier.  Orvieto was the assembling point for the full crew to get back together.

The EU must be fostering cooperation because the Italians are taking tree-trimming lessons from the French.

A 6 man pace line was just the ticket for the first 30 miles of flat roads as we left behind the coast for higher ground.  We held an easy pace, 17 mph average, keeping in mind the climbing and distance that lay ahead. The terrain reminded us of central California, semi-arid, agricultural, unspectacular.  My main interest became the plethora of specially-groomed pine trees along the road.


….and the ubiquitous Italian poodlepine



Cars were plentiful and unpleasant until we neared the town of Manciano, our very first hilltown. After a short climb into town and a brief look-around, we pedaled on deeper into Umbria, coming upon the spectacular hilltown of Pitigliano at mile 40.  The steep climb into town had us arriving just in time for lunch.

Manciano, our first hill town





We snooped around the narrow streets and hidden piazzas for a bit—it could have been Marakesh or some other ancient city, with secret passages, surprising stairs, shadowy doorways, treachery around any corner—but the ubiquitous sound of happy Italian voices disproved that fantastical notion and filled the passageways with everyday life.  We ate lunch at a buffet-style Italian café—buffet-style?—that was surprisingly delicious, and headed out the back of the city toward Serona.  Small hilltowns popped up every 5 or 6 miles now, our road always passing through them.  We could see dark clouds and rain hanging over the hills to our north so we didn’t dally, not really wanting to invite a thunderstorm.

Approaching Pitigliano, main portal

Pitigliano alleys and passageways

Pitigliano- which way is out?

Pitigliano–garages are cut into the sandstone underneath the buildings

At mile 70, Orvieto appeared, our final destination, perched atop a steep rock cliff.  Mike had warned us of the climb into Orvieto.  He was right, as we heaved our bikes up a steady 16% grade, topping out at 21%.  And the grade didn’t stop at the city gates—the roads just turned to cobblestone!  After another steep climb up a cobbled one-way street (we were going the WRONG way!), we arrived at our hotel.  Markham, Reb and Charles were already in, and Rick and Todd had reached Rome airport and were now riding their bikes from Orbetello along the same route we had just traversed, a couple hours behind us.




After a year, the Bike Boyz were together again!

Distance: 77 mi.

Vert.:  4,700 ft.


Day 2 – Ride to Orvieto — 4 Comments

  1. Wow, what an amazing reunion for you all. Nice to see Howie enjoying the breakfast buffet!Orvieto is astonishing. When were these towns developed?
    Have fun and be careful.

    • Are those really questions from Juliana? She and Sam would love the breakfast buffets here in Italy! You’ll have to check Wkikipedia, but some of the towns are from 2nd century B.C.

  2. Jack, all I can say is, I wish I were there with you. Looks like another perfectly planned trip.
    Love the pictures and the narrative. Keep it coming. Glad the peleton is now all together.
    Ride Safe. Lenny

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