Combine Sightseeing with Adventure in Tuscany
It is always the same story when you go on vacation: so much to see and so little time to do everything!
Thankfully, in Tuscany there is the possibility to do several things at once when you participate in tours offered by Bike Florence & Tuscany!
I had the opportunity to catch one such experience by going on their exclusive itinerary from San Gimignano to Siena and here is my review of their services and the tour. We pedalled into the heart of some of the more panoramic cities of the region while enjoying being surrounded by the Tuscan countryside.
In the company of Piero & Elena, the San Gimignano to Siena cycling tour gave me time to visit three “must sees” in Tuscany - San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Siena - while experiencing an exhilarating exploration of the scenery and flavors of the region. This is a one day bike tour which features pick-up/drop-off service in Florence, expert guides, quality hybrid bikes & safety equipment and an itinerary that will give you everything you want: visits to small towns, panoramic views with many opportunities to take wonderful photos and wine tasting, all while creating unforgettable memories.
As you can imagine, with all this activities rolled up in one, it is like two (or more experiences) in one tour.
Who are your guides?
A great experience starts with people who know what they are doing and, in my opinion, Bike Florence & Tuscany provides just that: a group of local bike guides sharing their passion for cycling, their enthusiasm for the Tuscan landscape and their knowledge of the area, traditions and flavors.
Elena is a powerhouse, and her energy and zeal for cycling bubbles over and touches everyone in the group. She has a “can-do” attitude which infuses even the most resistant participant to become a team player. Piero, detail oriented and attentive to bike safety, is the calming element of the team, offering reassurance every step of the way. He will encourage you to do your best at whatever speed you need and, when you're done and can't do any more, he will just as easily pack up your bike and converse with you while trailing the group in the support van.
Two Experiences, only one Itinerary
Not only is this route one of their guests favorites, but it is also one of Piero and Elena’s preferred tours for guests who really want to see Tuscany at its best. As with all of their tours, guests are picked-up in Florence or their accommodation. First stop: we traveled through the curving scenic back roads towards San Gimignano. They have planned an early morning arrival in this "UNESCO World Heritage Site", including time to explore the town before the crowds arrive. You can visit the towers, Duomo, piazzas and city walls for a chance to take stunning photos of the medieval town.
After strolling through the city streets and enjoying a quick coffee, we picked up our bikes and started the "exhilarating" part of the tour by gliding downhill. The beauty of this itinerary includes long stretches on country roads. Pleasant surprises are bound to happen: meet a farmer moving his sheep across fields, spy a mother pig nursing her piglets, find yourself in the largest sunflower field you have ever seen... every day brings something different.
We pedalled our way through the trails much like the medieval pilgrims did as they trekked along the via Francigena. When necessary, Piero would play the cross-guard so we could safely navigate any areas where traffic might have been an issue. Our travels followed the traditional “white roads” up an olive tree covered hill to Monteriggioni where we had the option of enjoying a much deserved wine tasting within the city walls. A few of those travelling in our group opted to search out a delicious gelato then wander the quiet streets of the medieval hamlet. Personally, I am never one to turn down a glass of wine accompanied by a knowledgeable explanation of the process and vintage.
After the break, we once again set off on our bikes and cruised through the vineyards of Chianti Classico stopping for photos several times and once for a rejuvenating snack to give us a bit more energy. Our last stop was Siena, where Elena and Piero sent us off on our own armed with an easy-to-follow map and several ideas of where we could enjoy a fast, economical and delicious meal.
They had also suggested at the time of booking the biking tour a colleague, an experienced tour guide of the city. Hint: If this is your first time in Siena, I would recommend you consider getting the guide.
I will caution that even though well paced, it is a long day and you will arrive back to your accommodations satisfied but tired!
What to Expect while on this Bike Tour?
Bike Florence & Tuscany have built their reputation by going the extra mile: their standard services include safety equipment for all ages, quality hybrid bikes, pick-up and drop off service for each tour, abundant healthy snacks and fresh water. They have upped the ante by sharing their local knowledge in a unique way such as showcasing panoramic views, visits to smaller local wine producers and close contact with nature and its bounty.
Regardless of age or skill, the Bike Florence & Tuscany team knows how to best insert everyone into the game, either by pedalling the easy-to-use 27-gear bikes, getting an extra push with top-of-the-line e-bikes or from the comfort of the support van when needed.
Extra value for Cyclists
The easiest way to explain what Piero and Elena have to offer is to have you listen to their guests! Piero and Elena’s have a special flair for connecting with their guests - and it shows in testimonials you'll read about their tours!
My impression is that this is not just a job for them, it is a passion, one that they enjoy sharing with everyone, even the most unlikely of candidates. I watched as they took the time to personally assess the skill level of every one of the participants, guiding them individually through the mechanism of the bike and rules. And then while on the tour, I appreciated how they were attentive that the tour didn’t exceed the capacity of the cyclists. Yes, this would be first hand experience, since I may have lagged behind a time or two.
Adding Quality to your Tuscany Experience
Bike Florence and Tuscany have perfected the skill of letting you experience two places at the same time: by bringing together the landscape of vineyard-covered hills and sunflower fields with the amazing medieval architecture of the towns of San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Siena and adding cycling, wine tasting and sight-seeing, you get to make a day seem like two.
In the end, the itinerary can take place anywhere in Tuscany, the safety rules be well monitored and the equipment cutting edge: but what makes a tour be of the highest quality are the things that go well beyond what you see written in black and white and, in this case, it is the personality and dedication of a team like Piero and Elena.
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