6. Bolsena to Bagni San Filippo – Day 4 (May 30)


Yesterday was a sore day. My beloved Brooks saddle is unforgiving, but the scenery was breathtaking. We set off after a hearty goodbye to our nun, and took the back roads out of the crater.

Stopping to view the huge Lake Bolsena, which looked back at us with one grey eye. This place has been a stopping point for travellers over thousands of years.

A plaque along the old Francigena road said:

“In 1505 the Pope Julius ll, asked the Confederates Superiors Alumunae, to give permission to Canon Peter von Sertenstein to guide 200 Swiss soldiers, and their captain Kaspar von Silenen, ” pro custody palati nostri” (look after our palaces). After the climbed the Alps, passed through Lombardia and la Tuscany, Silenen and 150 soldiers entered Rome through the Porta Popolo on the afternoon of 22 January 1506. Blessed by the Pope in St. Peters square, the guards began their work that same day, and still serve in the Apostolic Palace.” That is how the Swiss Guard began.


The tunnel was unexpected, 88m of darkness and very noisy trucks booming along. I didn’t think to remove my dark glasses, which rendered me quite blind, and I wobbled along precariously yelling at Simon for help! He was listening to his music so couldn’t hear me, not that he could have done anything.  I will avoid tunnels at all costs in the future.

We had lunch at a very hidden place, where Galileo Gallilei was detained on his way to Rome. He had been commanded to present himself for the Catholic inquisition. However he was put in quarantine at the border between Tuscany and the Vatican State. The plague was rife in Tuscany.

We had green rice for lunch in that place, which must have been, in those days, a miserable and cold spot to wait from 23 January to 10 February (the coldest part of winter).
With a fast long downhill, and a big pull uphill at the end, we arrived at our sleeping place. Thermal springs called the While Whale, at the little village of San Filippo. On my bike bell that Megan gave me is a White Whale. Coincidence or not?


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Albert Einstein said: "Life is like riding a bicycle, to stay balanced you've got to keep moving". So to keep moving at my age, I'm wobbled off on my bike on the 26th May 2018. Starting from home in Rome and aiming for Oslo in Norway, to visit my family. (We are South African scatterlings). In a few words, I cycled up the spine of Italy along the hilly Apennines, across the Po valley and up over the Alps. Slightly west at Lake Constance to get into the Rhine Valley and heading up to Hamburg and then over to Denmark. A long haul up the west coast of Sweden into Norway and arrived in Oslo on the 24th July 2018. Admittedly it's much quicker to jet back and forth, but this time I'm going green, hoping to inspire others to ride their bikes too. E-bikes have made it possible to travel around much more easily, even for the unfit 'over-the-hill' grandmothers like me. Along the way I stopped to paint watercolour sketches, take photographs, visit beautiful towns. I hope to put this amazing adventure into a little book for those who fancy doing something similar.

2 thoughts on “6. Bolsena to Bagni San Filippo – Day 4 (May 30)

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