Italy. It has a reputation for good wine, high fashion and romantic scenery. Does it live up to this reputation – absolutely!
Whilst cars and motorbikes can get you to most places, you will find you blink and soon pass some of the sights. I was lucky enough to be involved with co-leading the Exodus ‘Cycle Tuscany and Chianti’ trip last week, alongside the awesome leader Radu. Slowing things down and seeing things from a bike I conclude, is actually the best way to see this stunning region.
Our group of 16 met and became well aquatinted with their two-wheeled friends for a week. With days in the saddle ranging from 50 – 75 kilometres, the group found their pre-trip training came in handy!!!
For the first two days the sun shone and we eased the legs in gently! We had our first introduction to the ‘white roads’ (gravel) and a couple of nice big ‘undulations’… This was to become the word of the trip! Gelato was on tap as were the wines of the Chianti region. Chianti Classico anyone?
After a few days in the saddle the group had a well earned break in Siena. Meanwhile Radu put me through my paces on the bike! Siena truly is beautiful. With the magical Campo (main square) and Duomo there were photo opportunities galore! I enjoyed a glass of prosecco on the edge of the Campo with two of our guests. In Italy you never get bored of watching the world go by!!!
By the middle of the week the group were back in the saddle again and we entered the Chianti region. Castellina here we came! At this point it felt like there were vineyards everywhere we looked! The undulating hills and blue sky backdrop just made the whole area look like a fairy tale. I managed to fit in a quick swim in quite possibly the best pool I have ever swam in. Pictures didn’t do it justice. Outdoor (of course), the backdrop were vineyards, the town of Castellina and forests. As the sun set I swam up and down trying to take in the tranquility. In amongst a busy week, the ten minute break came at the right time.
The next few days brought mixed weather but the group became experts at dodging the showers. We made a day trip to San Gimignano. The first 18k from the hotel were downhill…. But of course that made for a nice uphill on the way back!! As usual this ‘medieval Manhattan’ town was bursting at the seams and the queues for the ‘best gelato in Italy’ went on for ages!!! As usual the support van was on hand with drinks and snacks to help them up the hills on the way back!
After sampling lots of wine and lots of gelato, the trip continued with a mixture of ups and downs to Florence. As we pulled in you could see the Duomo in distance just waiting to be explored. What an iconic place to finish! The historical sights awaited….
Above all, the trip was full of great people and was at a pace that was doable for all. With regular snack breaks and photo stops who could not enjoy it?
Tuscany and Chianti really are better off seen on two wheels!
P.S Heres the link to my flipagram montage – enjoy!