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Travel story: Verena takes to the trails in Tuscany

Experience the enchanting Italian landscape

The warm late summer sun lured me to Tuscany. Cycling in sunshine is most beautiful. With good weather in my luggage, I cycled a few stages of our varied programme of cycle tours in Tuscany.

Landscape and cycle paths in Tuscany

The landscape turned out to be as breathtaking as I expected. Small picturesque villages were nestled in the rolling hills, and grapes ripened in the endless vineyards. Harvest was in full swing for the farmers, so I often heard a friendly ‘Buongiorno!’ as I cycled by. Classic cycle paths, as we know them, don’t exist in Italy – you usually cycle on very quiet and peaceful side roads.

If a car happens to pass, you are overtaken widely and slowly. The stages run past idyllic brick houses and cypress-lined streets. But I also saw the impressive villas of Tuscany, which you would normally only see in photos.

Sightseeing in Tuscany: From Leonardo Da Vinci to the statue of David

Of course I did not want to miss Tuscany’s beautiful cities. The small town of Lucca impressed me with its large town square and medieval towers. You can even cycle on the huge city wall that runs around the city. Montecatini Therme is a classic spa holiday resort. The Tuscany Tour starts here and our guests on the Tuscany tour based in one hotel spend the night in this picturesque village. It’s possible to relax in the thermal baths, so I took the chance in the morning before a cycle. The birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci was also on my way.

I stayed in Pistoia, or ‘little Florence’, which is around 40km from Florence. Pistoia was once an important political city, but it has been forgotten today because of its close proximity to Florence.

Nevertheless, nothing was lost and the beauty of the city inspired me: the cathedral, the small old streets and the charming cafes.

Finally I cycled to Florence, on the way I passed the imposing and magnificent Madici Villa. There was much to see when I arrived in Florence that I almost didn’t have enough time. We went straight to Ponte Vecchio and the statue of David in Piazza della Signoria by bike. On the way to the hotel I stopped to take a break at the magnificent cathedral. Its colour and size really astonished me. In the evening I visited the Fontana del Porcellino, an inconspicuous boar statue in a small side street. According to legend, the statue brings good luck if you rub the snout and put a coin in its mouth. Luck is always needed, so let the legend live on!

Good food

My high expectations for the Italian cuisine were met on this trip. Due to its proximity to the sea and fertile forests, both fish and meat are served here. There are many traditional wild boar dishes on the menu here. For starters I had Crostini with Pomodoro and chicken liver pate.

Of course, in Tuscany I couldn’t miss out on pasta. There is actually a special type of pasta in this region – the ‘Trofie Liguri’ which absorbs a lot of sauce due to its rolled form. For dessert I tried Vin Santo with Cantocchini, a sweet dessert wine with almond biscuits. With aperitivo, or Aperol Spritz, fresh olives are served with unsalted white bread. Tuscany really makes the culinary heart beat faster.

Our partner hotels

Of course I also took a closer look at our partner accommodation. In Montecatini I stayed in a traditional spa hotel, where you can take advantage of various treatments, or end the evening at the hotel’s pool. The hotel in  Pistoia is idyllically situated in olive groves and vineyards. Particularly noteworthy is the restaurant, which spoiled me with Tuscan specialties.

A small boutique hotel in the middle of Florence awaited me on my last night. Located in the oldest district of San Frediano, it is a perfect base for a stroll through the city. The original façade has been preserved, but inside has been renovated with modern charm.

All in all, I had some wonderful days in Tuscany. I will gladly explore this region more by bike!

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