Gone Bike About...

Montepulciano – Siena – Florence – Pisa – La Spezia – Lucca – Florence

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“Forget it!”, was the reaction received at our local train station when we suggested bringing the bikes to Italy by train. The St. Gallen holiday fair, however, gave us a whole new perspective. We booked ourselves and the bikes onto a bus bound for Ischia and jumped off at the Montepulciano motorway exit, in Southern Tuscany. Hassle-free travel with Robert Saner Carreisen.

A handy ride to Tuscany

The wine route in Southern Tuscany Vineyards and medieval villages were the order of the day as we rode through the rolling hills of southern Tuscany.

Climbing the Tuscan hills

Montpulciano

Piensa

San Giovanni D’Asso We started our trip in style, spending our first night in a 16th century castle, thanks to a very generous offer from its proprieter. Locanda del Castello in San Giovanni d’Asso is a must for anyone travelling in this neck of the woods. Oh! and don’t miss out on the truffles in its superb restaurant.
This may look like a déjà-vu… Kurt thought so too! His back rack was seemingly a trailer in its last life… and insists on regressing at the most inopportune moments. Kurt is contemplating its immediate reincarnation, this time at the bottom of the scrap-metal heap! Oops!
Palazzo Pubblico, Siena Siena is one of those places that actually live up to its high expectations. It’s traffic-free historical centre with a shell-shaped plaza and sugar-candy style cathedral is an absolute treat to explore.
A room with a view

Duomo, Siena

Marble all the way!

Right!

The great thing about Tuscany is that 50 km days are packed with fascinating sight-seeing spots and loads of delicious pit-stop opportunities to bring you over the next hill.

San Gimignano ahead

Monteriggioni
Early in the morning There are generally enough quiet roads leading though this beautiful countryside, and we have to compliment Italian motorists who have great respect for cyclists on busy stretches.
Florence, the cradle of Italian civilisation, is certainly a highlight. Home to Michaelangelo & Dante, it is definitely a city that should be included on every 7-day Europe trip. Judging by the crowds congregating in front of the cathedral, it probably already is!

Duomo complex, Florence

Santa Maria Novella Church

The old bridge

David above Florence

Darina & Kurt above Florence

Florence

Electric rickshaw Despite the cobblestone streets, Florence has managed to remain remarkably quiet thanks to electric buses, mopeds and rickshaws, all of which can be charged at numerous solar-powered docking stations around the city.
For 900 years the tower has been leaning… and we guess with the number of tourists it draws to Pisa on a daily basis, only a fool would consider straightening it.

Leaning tower of Pisa

River Arno, Pisa

Napoleon’s Normal High School, Pisa

Bike trail out of Viaréggio Once we hit the Mediterranean, we were delighted with a neat palm-lined bicycle lane heading north. Pity the coastal views were totally blocked by 100s of private restaurants and the like.
One of the few “free beaches” was seriously pre-season, judging by the amount of rubbish blowing around in the wind.

Marina di Massa

Actually, the whole reasoning behind this trip was Darina’s desire to hike the Cinque Terre National Park in Liguria. After 5 years of failed plots, she sold it to Kurt this time as a gourmet/wine-tasting trip across all the high passes of Tuscany… and he fell for it hook, line and sinker!

Vernazza

The Cinque Terre trail meanders in and out of vineyards and terraces through 5 adorable villages, built into the cliffs of this spectacular coastline. This UNESCO World heritage site is in a word – awesome.
Manarola

Hiking trail between the villages

Vernazza

Riomagiore

Porto Vénere
Le Poiane Agriturismo, Levigliani Alpí Apuane where Michaelangelo harvested marbel for his Davids & co. show Tuscany in a whole new light. Snow-capped peaks form the backdrop to sheer rock faces, where Kurt finally got his mountain pass! Le Poiane, a fabulous campground, run by a wonderful family was a great place to charge the batteries en route.

Harvesting of marble at Michaelangelo’s favourite source

Bagni di Lucca

Lucca

Springtime in Tuscany
Montecatini Terme is decadence at its best. A host of sumptuous marble palaces dating back to the 18th century, boasting natural therapeutic pools of various temperatures, have to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, their idea of doing business is somewhat random to say the least.

Montecatini Terme

Back in Florence

Back in Florence, Darina had a very successful shopping fix, while Kurt savoured one last Chianti. Our relaxed gander through the beautiful, rolling hills and medieval towns of Tusany could only be summarised in these three simple words:

La dolce vita!

Oh! By the way, since our return Kurt has been perfecting a dish we spotted on a menu in Bagni di Lucca. Anger therapy and traditional fare all in one!