Our little adventure started about 15 years ago in Pisa, a small city on the Tyrrhenian Sea, an ancient port with a long history, hosting nowadays one of the most large and active University in Italy and Europe. About 50.000 students live in the city, mixed with the only 85.000 inhabitants. Among those, a few years ago, there were Alessio and I.
It has been thus natural to have the Province of Pisa (Provincia di Pisa in Italian), as our first area to climb from the bottom up to the top.
In Italy and Chile, a province is an administrative sub-division of a region, which is the first-order administrative sub-division of the state. Italian provinces are mainly named after their principal town and comprise several administrative sub-divisions called comuni (communes).
On May 12th, our original programs to ski the last snow of the Appennins, a few km north of Pisa, were cancelled due to the forecasted arrival of heavy rainfalls and storms in the mountains, a consequence of the first days of warm weather after an unusually long winter in the area.
It was the right time to transform our idea into reality.
Pisa used to be a port town, but the debris brought by the river Arno, over the centuries, buried the port under sand and moved the cost line as far as 18 km from the city center. This means that, despite being the official elevation of the city a mere 4 m, we had to cycle 16 km to to touch the lowest point (on ground) of the Province, the shore of the Mediterranean Sea at the coastal town of Marina di Pisa.
After having put back our bike shoes, we cycled along Camp Darby, a vast US military base, and the Arnaccio, a well known canal, which marks the boarder between the historically rival Provinces of Pisa and Livorno.
The top of the Province is the Monte Serra, in the group of the Monti Pisani, a modest but prominent elevation, 917 m above the sea level, whose top is reached by paved roads from all its sides. For us the climb began in Buti, a small town 85 m above the sea level. Unfortunately, the top of the Monte Serra is all but a bucolic place. It is indeed almost completely covered by huge towers for telecommunications. Moreover, it was kind of misty when we arrived there… Honestly, the picture below is far from being a masterpiece…
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