Off to Tuscany – with a weird rash

That’s not snow on those mountains

It was time to say goodbye to La Spezia and hello to Montecatini Terme in Tuscany. Once again we caught a local train, then changed to an Intercity, the move happening without mishap. But I have to say the local trains in particular could use some maintenance. The train stopped at Carraras, the site of Italy’s marble mines. You see those mountains in the distance and think that’s snow. It’s not. It’s marble, whole mountains of marble. In the photo you can see a road zigzagging up the mountain to the left where they cut the blocks. Amazing. We were to see a lot of ways that marble was used.

Mountains of marble

We arrived at the railway station at Montecatini in mid-afternoon. It was 38C (around 100F) and there were no taxis at the rank. (Well… it was a Sunday). Did I say the person who invented wheels on suitacses deserves a medal? It was a 700m trundle and we felt the heat.

This was a 5 star hotel, but we had fun and games with the bathroom again. You couldn’t sit straight on the toilet because the shower stall was too close. The shower stall was… interesting. It had bi-fold doors all the way around so you could get in, but you then had to fold the doors closed around you. Once again, don’t drop the soap. The bi-fold doors didn’t seal properly, either, so water went all over the floor. The shower head and the basin tap both leaked, as well, and though we reported the issues, it was not fixed. We asked to be moved to another room which had a shower over the bath. That was better (even though I hate shower curtains).

That first evening we got to meet our fellow travellers. Out of twenty-seven, twenty were American. Apart from us, there were two Canadians and one Brit. Generally, everybody stayed with the people they were travelling with, but there was some mixing at breakfast. We also met our tour director, Sergio. He was terrific. He went out of his way to make sure everyone was comfortable and was also highly entertaining. I’ll talk more about him, but here’s one example.

First signs. A red rash above the line of my socks

While in La Spezia I had developed a rash around my ankles, just above my socks. I hadn’t noticed it until Pete pointed it out. It didn’t hurt, wasn’t itchy, wasn’t hot so we decided to keep an eye on it. When the redness started to spread up my leg I thought I’d better see a doctor or something and mentioned it to Sergio. He took Pete and me down to the only pharmacy open in town and translated for us. The pharmacist took one look and told us that sort of thing happens to tourists. They do a lot of walking in a hot climate. We’d been using a cortisone cream we’d brought with us. She said that’s what she would have prescribed. So there you go.

 

The rash is spreading

Something to be aware of if you’re doing a lot of climbing and walking in a hot climate you might get something like this. It has faded away over time.