Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cycling Coastal Tuscany

Cycling has really helped reduce the stresses of business the past few years! In September I rode another bike tour with Experience Plus out of Fort Collins, Colorado. The route for their “Cycling the Coast of Tuscany” was a brand new area for me and quite challenging with all the ups and downs. Our group cycled rural Tuscany for a delightful week visiting quiet villages and sampling the amazing cuisine of the region. Willow, on the right, was on her honeymoon.

This is a typical small village.

I got off the bike to explore.

Ancient buildings and an ancient cyclist!

The Medici Castle in Lari was built in the 1500’s on top of earlier Medieval castles.

We were blessed with beautiful weather for alfresco group dinners. We based out of Casciana Terme, one of the many thermal spas frequented by the Romans. The hot springs are still very popular today.

We rode up to the town of Pomaia, the site of the “Lama Tzong Khapa Institute”, which is one of the most prominent Tibetan Buddhist centers in Europe. After a tour and lunch we rode down the hill feeling much enlightened!

Entering the little village of Suvereto I was stunned by how quiet and seemingly deserted it was.

Suvereto is wonderful with its Medieval streets and buildings. I located a restaurant and found another tour member dining on Pici, a thick hand rolled pasta.

Archeologists are studying an ancient Etruscan site by the sea on the Gulf of Baratti. We had a chance to tour a 6th century BC Etruscan tomb. This was a center for iron smeltering. I picked up a piece of slag that had been here for over 2000 years!

A few of us attempted the short but brutally steep ride up to Populonia, site of an Etruscan and Roman city.

Our hotel in Venturina had an ancient swimming pool warmed by natural hot springs. It felt great to just relax in the warm water after our long hot day in the saddle!

The route to Bolgheri was gorgeous! I passed two of my favorite wineries, Ornellaia and Sassicaia. I wanted to buy a few bottles, but they were an absolute fortune!

The ancient water fountains are safe for drinking. On many days we rode solo and often did not encounter another tour member for hours.

This is very typical of the hill towns in the region.

I bought a sandwich of local cheese and salami and sat in the shade of an ancient church high in the hills.

Our guides thankfully marked our route or I could have been lost for days. Our last day to Castiglione della Pescaia was the longest and hottest. Totally exhausted I checked in to the hotel and couldn’t budge for 2 hours. What a fabulous week of cycling!

Our farewell dinner was our best with fine Tuscan wines from the Maremma region and local seafood. I loved the tour and met new friends from around the country. Doug, on the left, ran track with me in High School. It was great to reconnect and do something we both love!

1 comment :

  1. Great post! This is on my bucket list... almost did it few years ago with a group of friends but the trip was cancelled ); I think renting a villa will be the way to go.