6.28.2016

Sun, Sea, Bike... and Flamenco! Three Days in Follonica

Pic by Patrizia De Marco
I think I found my place. Although I prefer the mountain, in Follonica I feel at home. Affittacamere Il Conte has a part of the merit probably: two confortable rooms in a modern flat at a convenient distance from the center where you can easily park your car and put your bikes in a private box. The rail station isn't far at all and there is a frequent bus to reach it. The landlady, Patrizia, is a perfect host really - and she didn't pay me to tell it. She's just great!
In Follonica
I spent here a weekend in May, fell in love and decided I must come back. This time I brought my son with me, him and two bikes. Indead you can walk to the seaside or take the bus but riding is definitely better, especially in the hot summer afternoon or at night. Riding in Follonica is nice, there are two bike lanes, one along the beach and one along the main road, distaces are small and when you have crossed the important - and busy - via Aurelia there is no traffic at all. I brought my mbk in order to ride to the splendid secluded beach of Cala Violina while my son took his race bike because he was supposed to compete on Sunday, and that's why he left on Saturday by train and I had to drive my car. 
Via di Montioni
We left very early on Friday morning, we took the fast road called FI-PI-LI (Firenze-Pisa-Livorno) and around 9 am we were in Follonica. My son wasn't happy: the high modern buildings in the center of the town, the short crowded beach, the popular atmosphere didn't match the taste of the kid, well used to the absolutely posh Forte dei Marmi. We dropped our baggages and rode to the beach. It was very hot already. We sat on the rocks at the edge of the town, the wide sea in front, so blue, and the blue islands in the distance, the dark green promontory, the seagulls, the little crabs... From the crystal clear water my son finally expressed his ethusiasm: "Toss me the mask!". 
Via Aurelia in the sunset
We spent the morning bathing, then I piloted him to the New Florida, a fabulous restaurant on the most beautiful terrace of the Follonica's seafront. The fish is very good but the tiramisù is excellent, one of the best ones I have ever eaten. At this point son was ecstatic.
Moijto at Peperoncino in Festa
In the afternoon we took a nap and around 7 pm we went training: my son on his race bike, and I by car after him... and in front of him, motor pacing. It isn't easy at all and not for weak hearts. Being my first time  I can say I made for a passable DS... The team DS - the real one - had said son must do a 50 km ride, a first shorter part of high pace climbing  and a second longer part on flat roads, speeding on an easy gear. We headed to Massa Marittima by the narrow road of Montioni, on the savage hills of the natural park and we came back by the old via Aurelia, straight and almost flat. It was hot when we started but fresh and windy when we came back, around 9 pm. The first part of the route is really beautiful but demanding. Then if you have time you can climb to Massa Marittima. 
I think my son was cooked afterward. We had a cheap dinner in the town square at the Peperoncino in Festa street food three days and we went to sleep.
By mbk to Cala Violina
On Saturday morning we rode our mbk to Cala Violina. The route is about 30 km, mostly on dirty roads / bike lanes. It starts from the new central park - where once there was the hippodrome - runs along the pine grove, meets some donkeys' stabbles, and finally reaches the foot of the steep climb to Punta Ala. Here you have to divert toward the seaboard to a fascionable harbour called Il Puntone. A last very steep tarmac climb leads to the start of the path to the Bandite di Scarlino: a series of lovely secluded coves, including Cala Violina. 
Cala Violina: what a beauty!
In spite we left early it was very hot and I had to get used to the mbk inverted gears shift... I was feeling quite dumb. Coming back I had a better feeling. There is no need to say that my son was flying.
Cala Violina itself is a splendid place: the small sand beach was crowded but it was quieter on the rocks, probably because it isn't easy to get there with a lot of stuff. We spead a towel on a flat rock and sat on contemplation. The water is totally transparent, the sea bottom is made of horizontal large stone layers and then, beyond  a short step of more fragmentary rocks, a sandy deeper depth. We took a bath in the blue freezing sea, delighted and thrilled: what a beauty all around! 
Cala Violina
Unfortunately we had few time to enjoy it: my son must take the train at 6 pm to reach his dad in Montespertoli where his race were holding. We waited to get decently dry and walked to the pine grove to get a sandwich at the bar van parked on the path, several pik-nik tables scattered around. I must say it's all very well arranged and very clean, in spite of the crowd.
We rode back, took a nap and then my son left. By the way: he took three trains in a row to get from Follonica to Castelfiorentino, all on his own and with his race bike. He had no problems so it could be done. 
Aire Flamenco on stage
As far as me, I had a light dinner in the square and then took my seat at the small stage. It was early but I didn't want to risk. At 10 pm the Aire Flamenco's Show began: so charming! Afterward I remained to talk with the dancers about my passion for Flamenco and we got friends. I love their approach to Flamenco as to a popular dance... because it actually is a popular gypsy dance that only recently reached the theatres and the learned public. Here - like in other cases - the 'high culture' appropriated a product of the Roma's traditional culture and then said that 'gypsies' don't really own any... But no Flamenco can be a good Flamenco when its roots are cut. I went to sleep very late that night!
On Sunday I drove all the via Volterrana from Follonica to Montespertoli, on deserted roads crossing forests and climbing hills, passing Volterra and other ancient town, in the true Tuscan landscape, breathing the scent of thousands blooming yellow brooms.

No comments: