It’s a journey I’ve made many times; I never tire of it and it is never less than beautiful.
For me, when I’m driving, the journey starts by going north from my apartment. I started using this route when I didn’t have cellular data for google maps and didn’t think I could remember how to navigate through the city. This way is simple – up one road, turn right, down another road to Sieci, after which the route is fairly simple. Even though I now know at least one way through town, I still prefer this way because it’s easier to navigate.
The bonus of this route is how lovely it is. It’s hard to believe that this open, sparsely-populated area is so close to Florence. The road climbs through neighborhoods like Calderaio and Caldine, which are connected by a pedestrian pathway near the river as well as by the road. Occasionally, I stop in the pastry shop in Calderaio for treats to take to Porciano; often I stop for gas in Caldine because the man at the gas station is so pleasant. Across from the gas station is one of my favorite wall shrines.
The road twists and turns and continues climbing until the right turn, then starts downhill. One day when I was driving to Porciano early in the morning, the most beautiful fog formations I’d ever seen were in the valleys to my right. There have been other days when people were pulling over (even though there was no safe place to do so) to take pictures of the fog that so often lies in the valleys.
The road downhill is a lot of fun to drive. I realized I had become my mother the day my friend Catherine was with me. I was whipping around the curves (at the speed limit, I might add; well, maybe a little over) and saying ‘whee,’ when she asked me to slow down a little as it was making her nauseous. I did, but pointed out that I was going the speed limit. She replied that the speedometer probably wasn’t working since the tires weren’t on the ground. Yep, that was my mom’s style of driving.
Along this road is an old Romanesque church, Pieve di S. Martino a Lubaco. I had passed the sign for it many times before I finally stopped one day and visited the church. There was the church, with a couple of houses, and chickens in the yard, and a friendly cat or two. The interior is simple and peaceful.
The road decants me onto Via Aretina in Sieci. When I turn left, there is a lovely view of the Arno river – broad and flat and calm most days, although a couple of times in the spring, it was rushing, due to rain and snow melt. Sieci always strikes me as a friendly place. At one of the roundabouts is a food truck. The long line at lunch-time reminds me that some day, I should stop there for a snack!
Pontassieve is the next town. When driving, the route is around town, but the bus goes through town, which is interesting. It was a few trips on the bus before I realized that the town’s name derived from a ponte (bridge) over the river Sieve. It’s intriguing to go through a town on a bus – sitting higher than in a car, looking up stairs and down alleys.
After Pontassieve, I make the turn for Consuma.
Images © Melissa Corcoran.