If you like cycling, you will definitely want to do a cycling tour of Tuscany and Umbria. These fantastic provinces have a lot to offer. The hills, towns and valleys of southern Tuscany and Umbria are a cyclist's dream.
Beautiful scenery with rolling hills and waving wheat fields, ancient houses and churches, medieval architecture and awesome views will take your breath away. The charming towns sitting atop hills are a great place to enjoy a warm evening after a day of cycling. The valleys are just as charming. Here, you can cycle through winding, narrow streets of small towns, or do a little shopping in the quaint shops. It's in the valleys that you'll find the best services. Along with all of this, your mouth will water each time you think of the incredible bruschetta, pizza and pasta that you'll enjoy along the route.
Olive groves and vineyards dot the slopes. Vegetable, wheat and hops are growing plentifully in the valleys. You will meet lots of friendly people along the way - Italian people, who love life, as well as eating, drinking and dressing in the latest styles.
The highlight of your Tuscany/Umbria cycling vacation will be the awesome Renaissance paintings and frescoes that you will see; many of them considered masterpieces.
Most of the time you will cycle on smooth, paved, almost pot-hole free roads with very little traffic. Drivers respect cyclists and will allow you lots of space when passing. Main highways have low to moderate traffic, but travel is high speed. Wide shoulders give you a wide berth. Minor roads are windy, narrow and sinuous, but very little traffic travels along these. Traffic is high volume in larger cities such a Florence, Perugia and Siena.
Valley terrain is slightly rolling, or flat. The hills are gradual grades, to very hilly, to very steep, especially in the Chianti area, south of Florence. Here, you will find yourself pushing your bike from time to time.
If you decide to cycle Route 397 from Todi to Perugia along the Tiber River, or Route 2, the Via Cassia from Florence to Siena to Rome, you will cover greater distances, but deal with a lot more traffic, some industry, construction and less breathtaking views.
The routes through the countryside have spectacular views. Here, you will cycle through fields of red poppies, or sunflowers. After a hard ride, you can end your day by hanging out by the pool with a glass of crisp Italian wine.
Tuscany is known as the heart of the Renaissance. Enjoy the cultural history of the region, which dates back to Etruscan, Tuscany's original inhabitants.
In the heart of the Chianti Classico region, visit the ancient market. Spend your nights at one of the beautiful farmhouses and wineries in the area. Each day you will have the option to explore villages, taste wines and learn the history of Tuscany.
Tuscany has many quiet, rural roads and trails that are line with oak groves, farmland, vineyards and tiny villages. Visit the "Chianti Loop," which will take you three villages that formed the "Chianti Alliance" hundreds of years ago. There you will learn about regional history, visit the ancient Vallombroso abbeys and explore the medieval centers and shops. Finish the day's ride by attending a wine tasting, or if wine isn't your thing, sample tasty honey, olives and olive oil.
Chianti is the enchanting region between Florence and Siena, that's known word-wide for its red wine. This is a great area to cycle the day away, or if you wish, you can reach Greve in time for a gourmet lunch.
There are hundreds of bed and breakfasts nestled amongst olive groves in and vineyards in the area. They are all fabulous. Take your time in choosing the one that will give you a spectacular view.
Radda, in Chianti, is a great place to cycle. Views of the countryside are spectacular and you'll also be able to cycle inside the castle walls of Monterigioni.
The authentic town of Figline Valdarno us another fabulous place to spend the day cycling. Pick up a map of the area and spend the day exploring. Be sure to check out the cooking classes with Chef Claudion Piantini while you're there. They are held either in his restaurant of farmhouse. It's a terrific experience and you will learn a bit about fine dining and preparing fine food.
The Sette Ponti (seven bridges) Route is an awesome way to spend a full day cycling. Stop at LooCiuffenna for lunch. This is a great place to experience fine dining pleasure.
Wherever you choose to cycle in the Tuscany/Umbria provinces, awesome spectacles are the norm. This vacation will be sure to top them all. Just be sure to schedule enough time to see and do it all. Enjoy!
By Mary M. Alward