Well, well. What a morning.
So I woke up today at, oh maybe 8:20 and took a shower. I did some research yesterday about where Mom and Elaine will stay when they come in a month. I figure I'd put them up nearby my school for the first couple days where they can rest up at something cute, but cheap. Then I thought they could stay in the countryside for a while where it's really beautiful and only a few minutes drive from my hill.
So I found a hotel called Villa Schiatti. It looks gorgeous on the web site and even has a pool (that'd probably be closed for fall) that looks off the edge of the hill into the valley. It'd be about 80 euros for the two of them and includes breakfast.
So this morning. Whoa, I just realized that I started each paragraph with "so". Enough of that. This morning after my shower I decided to go for a walk by myself and try and find the villa. We were planning on going to the castle today after lunch, and the villa is on the way, but I still wanted to walk around alone to really absorb the country for the first time.
I ventured out around 9:20 am and brought water and my small shoulder bag with my wallet, camera, and ipod. No map.
I started out to where I figured the general direction was. I knew it was off the main highway, 71. So I took a road that lead southeast and followed it for about 20 minutes of quick walking. I felt so liberated and invigorated in the true italian countryside. I think I also enjoyed it so much because it was my first time really being alone for a month and I got to set my own pace (I am always told to slow down when walking with the girls) and got to listen to the sounds of italy without having to cover it up with coversation. Didn't use my ipod. Didn't need to.
While walking on the road (30), I was kind of thinking that I needed to go more south, but there weren't many roads going that way. I passed one connection but going straight looked more interesting that going right. I went straight. After a while I figured it was time to get over to what I was hoping would be 71. So another intersection came and I turned right. After about 10 minutes I passed a bunch of flower farms. It was very pretty, but I couldn't see them that well since they were covered. The road kept narrowing, which made me nervous because a small road usually doesn't connect to a big one (71). But I kept going. I finally got out of the farms and the road became one-way and lead up to corn fields. I was pretty sure it became residential, but I wasn't totally sure since the road turned sharply. So I walked up it to make sure. Dogs started barking at me like crazy. I can't believe no one came out from the house to scold me for being on their property. Once I saw the hidden "private property" sign, I quickly walked down with the barking dogs about to attack (and would have if they weren't chained). So since it dead ended, I have to go the same way to get back to my road (30). Passed the flowers again. Got back to the road. So another decision: should I go back toward town to the left and take the other road that went south? Or should I turn right and continue on 30? To the right it looked like the road was really narrowing and not much promise. So I turned left and backtracked till there was another intersection and I turned left.
This road was a little bit more busy. There are no designated part of the street for pedestrians on any road I was on, but I had to watch my back more closely here so I could go onto the weedy grass when a car passed.
I came to another intersection where I could go straight, to the right toward town, or to the left. I was hoping I made it to 71, so I turned left and headed south. I saw the sign confirming I was indeed on 71.
So up until this point my walk was fantastic. Although I had to double back a lot, I still think it was worth is to see what I hadn't seen before. But here's where things changed. I was on 71 for about 20 minutes (walking really fast) and basically feel that the experience was one of the most frightening in my life. A couple minutes walking on the highway, I understood that the road was not made for pedestrians. There was a painted line and then a couple inches of asphault and then a couple inches of grass, then the ditch. The entire time I was on the highway, I feared my life. Cars passed me at about 50-55 miles per hour, which is really fast when you're right next to them.
The website for Villa Schiatti said it was off 71 and up the first hill to the left. It says it's about half way between here and Cortona, but I thought it'd be before the hills that separate the towns. I saw something toward the left after about 20 minutes of being on the highway so I crossed over and went up. It looked like it wasn't one person's private road because there were a few houses that was came off it. But I kept going up because I thought I may have seen the hotel, or what sort of looked like it. But it lead up to someone's yard. Turned back quickly. I got back to 71 but didn't continue on because the higway sharply curved and I knew it'd be bad news if I tried to be a ped on that curve with cars speeding around the corner.
So I decided to go back home because I figured I'd be able to make it back for lunch. I walked back on the crazy road and up to the town. I made it back at 11:40. I was super sweaty cause the last 10 minutes was a 45 degree slope uphill. Took a shower. Dressed, went to lunch.
But wow, what an experience. While on 71, two cars stopped to ask if I was "perso" . No, grazie I said and smiled. Not lost. Just apparently crazy for walking on that road. One young man in a car stopped to ask something and I said "non capisco" and he pointed to his passenger seat. No, thanks, don't need a ride. About 2 dozen cars honked at me. I figured they were trying to tell me to get off the road, but once you're on it, there's no way back but 71. I started to really get concerned that it was a vehicle-only road when they'd honk at me, so I just walked faster and walked half way in the ditch when they'd pass. In my flip flops and red sun dress. What a sight I must have been.
So I made it back in one piece and told my roomies the story of my "near-death experience". :)
I don't understand though because there seems to be no other way to get to Cortona (or the castle for that matter) except for the 71 which is adjacent to the train tracks.
I'm glad I did it though, but wow, I'll stay away from that road for a while. It's dinner time, so laters and love you mom, dad, and E.