regalphis The quietness of early Amsterdam mornings. A rattling bike passing by, the muted jingling of an empty tram, distant chatter across the canal. The peacefulness before the morning rush. #amsterdam

I took this photo this morning for the Firestarters Lab on the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam. By posting this photo along with the hashtag #UnseenFirestarters, it is printed instantly at a photobooth in the @firestartersnl Lab, how cool is that!
You can also earn a spot in the photo gallery by uploading your most beautiful photo and tagging it with #UnseenFirestarters. You can join until Saturday!
2d

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Normal Freek Geurts
regalphis "Maybe we're just too big to see what's going on down there in detail." - Michael Pollan 2w

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regalphis Sky and sand 4w

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regalphis #latergram from Umbria 4w

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regalphis Looking south #firenze 4w

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regalphis Meet me in the morning 1mon

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1mon regalphis
Normal Freek Geurts
regalphis Back to reality. After an easy ride back, I was welcomed by the harsh reality of the Dutch summer. During our ride we already saw the temperature plummeting from around 30 C to 15 C, but it also started getting cloudy, it became more cloudy and it started raining. Unfortunately, the Netherlands seems to be the center of it all. I'm missing Italy already. 1mon

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regalphis Getting ready to leave. The trip is over. Today we're driving to South Germany, tomorrow to the Netherlands.

#freekout
1mon

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regalphis Only ten of the seventeen contrade participate, and the horses are randomly appointed to each contrada. In the trials, the contrade can try out tactics and get familiar with the horse.
The whole square was filled with people, mostly tourists, and the tribunes around the square were filled with contradaioli, the residents of the contrade. Each contrada singing loudly, trying to over class the other contrade. At set times, a canon shot is fired a new event is occurring.

Around 7:30 the jockeys and their horses entered the Piazza del Campo. The trial itself consists of three laps around the square, and is over before you know it. The jockeys are not putting their cards on the table until the actual Palio; in the trials it looks more like they practice cornering and sprinting, and try to master the horse. Right after the start, the horses are already spread across the track, some taking it more slowly than others. There's so much going on in so little time, you just don't know where to look.
Right after the race, another canon shot is fired to mark the end of the trial. The contradaioli didn't hesitate a moment to climb over the fences and walk to the jockeys and horses. The horses are brought back to the contrade and looked after by the people.

#followthefreek
1mon

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1mon regalphis
Normal Freek Geurts
regalphis In the afternoon of the second day of the Palio, the Processione dei Ceri e dei Censi takes place. The Drappelone or Palio, a painted banner, is then brought from the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Provenzano to the Duomo. The banner is the prize for the winning district or contrada (seventeen contrade in total). #followthefreek 1mon

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1mon regalphis
Normal Freek Geurts
regalphis Siena. Maybe even more beautiful than Firenze. Such a beautiful and lively city. And so much happening surrounding the Palio.
Piazza del Campo, one of the most beautiful squares in the world, was being prepared for the world famous horse race. A path of sand following the outlines of the square was made ready for the third trial.
I may post a picture from the third trial of the Palio this evening.

#followthefreek
1mon

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regalphis The main entrance of the Duomo, Firenze.

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1mon

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regalphis Firenze, what an impressive city. And how many people seem to think so; the place was crowded with tourists from all over the world.
We decided to go into the Cupola of the Duomo; the architectural masterpiece of Brunelleschi, and one of the absolute eye catchers of the Firenze skyline.
We weren't the only ones with the idea to climb up the Cupola, but after a good two hours of waiting we were finally allowed to enter the building. Narrow spiral staircases and low passage ways followed, including two passages inside the Cupola, seeing the fresco's from up close.

The view from the Cupola was impressive. Definitely worth waiting a couple of hours, and climbing the 463 steps of the Cupola.

When in Firenze... #followthefreek
1mon

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regalphis The house on the hill

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1mon

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1mon regalphis
Normal Freek Geurts
regalphis Another fantastic ride through Umbria and Tuscany.
Santa Maria, Monteleone d'Orvieto, Città della Pieve, Chiusi, Chianciano Terme, Montepulciano, Torrita di Siena, Sinalunga, Asciano, Castelnuovo Berardengo, Gaiole in Chianti, Cavriglia. Places with names each more beautiful than the other.

I took some 'strade bianche' after my lunch break in Asciano, shown on the picture above. A small road, exactly one tractor wide, consisting of white rocks and sand. Dry brownish hills stretching as far as the eye could see. Temperatures of about 40 degrees according to my Garmin.
The road, twisting through the hills, sometimes continued over what looked like private property of farmers, where I literally cycled over someones farmyard. Barking dogs made my arrival apparent. Flies swarming around me, trying to land on my salt covered body. My tires slipping away on the loose sand. After each farm, the road continued and so did I.

#followthefreek
1mon

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regalphis Leaving for Cavriglia today. A ride of about 150 kilometers through Val d'Orica and over the Chianti hills.
What a difference two thousand kilometers make with the weather. Two weeks ago, Pascal and I, were mostly cycling in the fog, rain or under a cloud covered sky. The picture shows a foggy Champaign region early in the morning. Today temperatures are almost twice as high with not a single cloud in the sky. I better bring some sunscreen.

Yesterday, we visited Montepulciano and Pienza. Beautiful cities, Montepulciano definitely bigger and more impressive than Pienza. Danielle, the owner of the agriturismo, told us that for a long time this region, spreading between Lazio, Marche and Umbria, was under the governance of the church. Religion has been a very important part of their history, and every city has numerous churches to visit. They are beautiful, but after visiting a more impressive one, like the Duomo in Orvieto, the smaller churches seem to become less special.
The view from Montepulciano was classically Tuscan, a timeless view no-one gets bored with. I'm wondering how it looks with sunrise or sunset. Seeing a sunrise in such a setting is still on mu to-do list.

#followthefreek
1mon
  •   __chiara_z Nice! 1mon
  •   vektorg Buon viaggio Freek! 1mon
  •   dancing_mermaid My great great uncle Emilio Greco sculpted the bronze relief doors of the duomo Orvieto!!! I didn't get to see it, but I did get to see his work in San Pietro, which was a breathtaking basilica. 1mon
  •   rianassaaf Wonderful pic! 1mon

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regalphis "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo da Vinci

Tomorrow I'll ride north towards Greve in Chianti where we'll stay for another week. I'll take the bicycle of course, this time without my bags.

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1mon

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regalphis We had a great wine tasting this evening at Vitalonga.

Getting there wasn't quite easy. We had to rely on the directions of Danielle, the owner of the agriturismo we're currently staying at. He told us to drive to the nearby village of ficulle and look for an agriturismo called Terra di Confine.
After driving slowly through the village we stil hadn't seen a sign that said Terre di Confine. Asking directions to two different people got us a bit further off the main road and onto a dirt road. The road didn't seem to lead us into the right directions and we stopped at a house to ask for directions the second time. One of the women told us Terra di Confine was actually the name of the wine, and we were looking for a place called Vitalonga. Of which we had seen signs about half an hour earlier on the main road (asking directions to Italians takes a lot of time; they are extremely helpful but do take their time explaining). So we finally found the signs that said Vitalonga and drove further into the dirt road it directed at. Large vinyards on either side of the road, stretching as far the eye could see, with an impressive backdrop of Umbrian and Tuscan mountains.

We finally arrived, nearly an hour later than we planned for, but the host was still present and willing to give us a tour. After the tour about the winemaking process, we got to taste five of their best wines. A white wine, a rose, and three reds each with a fuller body.
The wines were accompanied by large plates of cheese and various sausages. All the while sitting on on such an idyllic location.

The owner did seem a little disappointed that we only wanted two boxes of wine. Anyway, we had a great time. Tomorrow, Spoleto and a cooking class in the evening.

#followthefreek
1mon
  •   photo_lolo I am loving your descriptions of life in Italy. I was raised in California but now live in Firenze. Your experiences in trying to obtain directions etc are classically Italian. I love it!!! Everything takes time here. I hope you are enjoying yourself. Keep posting because you sure do spread enjoyment. 1mon
  •   vektorg Asking directions to Italians take a lot of time! 1mon
  •   vektorg Love the description Freek! 1mon
  •   regalphis @photo_lolo I'm glad to hear you like the captions! Things are not as straightforward and direct as we're used to in Holland, but I love it too. I'm certainly having a great time here. I'll probably go to Firenze this week, any suggestions? 1mon
  •   regalphis @vektorg haha, I bet you got way more experience with that. 1mon

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regalphis "You may have the universe if I may have Italy." - Giuseppe Verdi 1mon

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1mon regalphis
Normal Freek Geurts
regalphis As said before, I've have arrived and have already adapted to a whole different pace; relaxing and walking through historic villages. The fact that it's my birthday today makes it all much easier. (Even though 26 doesn't sound quite as good as 25 ) I did, however, wanted to 'debrief' my cycling trip and collaborate on my experience.

I'm absolutely amazed of the capacity of the human body to withstand long distance cycling. It must have meant a huge advantage in evolutionary sense to cover large distances to new grounds in order to find food or avoid confrontation.

I've also rediscovered the meaning of cooperation. Being alone feels like a huge freedom but at some point turns into boredom. Together you stay more positive in case of adversary, make decisions more quickly, fill in each others shortcomings, thus together you are able to cover larger distances more easily.

The most basal things like singing or making conversation get a whole new meaning. Rather, return to its original purpose. Instead of just doing something in everyday life, every action has its purpose when you bring back your life to its elements. Listening to music, for example, suits not just a recreational purpose, it kills the time and can replenish your morale. Singing out loud is something you can do during most activities and is one of these things everyone secretly longs to do.
Meeting Carlo and Claire in San Rocco a Pilli was fantastic. Carlo was a great host and made you feel right at home. Having another one to share experiences with was also very nice. If I ever get to venture out in the world for another cycling adventure, then I would surely try to arrange more of these stays. I used warmshowers.org, a website dedicated to touring cyclists hosting for other touring cyclists.
It was such a great trip, with so many experiences. I will surely do this again in the near future.

#followthefreek
1mon

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