Cycling Northern Tuscany - Switzerland…in Tuscany!
Everybody has heard of Tuscany and for good reasons. It is a magical region in central Italy, with majestic mountains, the Apuan Alps, rolling hills, castles, medieval fortified cities, superb wines and delicious food.The regional capital is Florence, a Unesco World Heritage site. Our tour starts in Pisa. We then ride up into the Apuan Alps before finishing in Florence.
Day 1 - Pisa
We meet in Pisa. Pisa draws its fame from its Leaning Tower, an architectural project gone terribly wrong. However, as a place to start out tour, it has everything right. The easy 2.5 hour train connection from Rome delivers you to the center of town which has a vibrant and affordable cafe and bar scene. The town is filled with well-maintained Romanesque buildings, Gothic churches and Renaissance piazzas.
Day 2 - Pisa to Gallicano
We cross the Arno River and head north through the heart of Pisa. Of course, we will stop for a few minutes to admire the alarming angle of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, before continuing on to the River Serchio, whose path we follow to Lucca. Lucca is unusual in that it still retains all its massive medieval walls which completely surround the town.
From Lucca, we continue to follow the River Serchio up the Valley into the Apuan Alps. Towards the end of the day we climb up and over a mountain to Eremo de Calomino just outside Gallicano where there there is wonderful little Agriturismo. We'll have tome to check out the monastery.
We say goodbye to the monks (not really) and head to the village of Bagni di Lucca, at which point we cross the valley and have a big climb. We pass some quaint towns before making our way through Pescia to San Lorenzo.
San Lorenzo provides the perfect base from which to explore. Our ride today is in the "Svizzera Pesciatina". The route is known as “The Ten Castles" route. All of the castles are made of pietra serena stone, which was of great importance during the Middle Ages. Extra credit will be given for doing all 10 Castles. It's a challenging ride.
Today, we do a loop ride today through Altopiano delle Pizzorne. Starting from Villa Basilica, the Altopiano delle Pizzorne ascent is 8.8 km long. Over this distance, you climb 663 meters. The average percentage is 7.5 %. I'm telling the truth, it is a challenging climb. To underscore that statement we start by going through Collodi, home of Carlos Collodi, the creator of Pinocchio. You will ride right under the nose of a 40 foot statue of the fictional character as we make our way to the start of the climb. We then do a loop taking in the towns of Villa Basilica, Crocione, Matraia and Petrograno, before returning to Pescia.
We ride south through Pescia and into the more traditional rolling hills of Tuscany. We pass a number of interesting towns: Altopascio, a way station on the Via Francigena (pilgrims route from France), Fucecchio, known for its fine leather goods and Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci. Once we get to Empoli, you have a choice of either catching a train or riding along the bike path which follows the Arno River into Florence.
There is much to see and do in Florence. Famous all over the world, the ancient Signoria dei Medici is the preeminent cradle of culture and art. It is a true museum under the sky containing countless monuments, including the Duomo, with Giotto’s Bell Tower; Santa Maria Novella; Palazzo Vecchio; and the Uffizi Gallery, with all its unique masterpieces. The charm of Florence is also evident along the Arno River, on the picturesque Ponte Vecchio, and in the workshops of artisans that liven up the lanes of the old town.
6 nites accommodations at hotels and inns
Breakfast and dinners
Stocked support vehicle and driver
Lunches (can be had in local cafes for 10-12 euros)
Beer, wine booze
Entrance fees to museums, attractions
Transfers - Our tour starts in Pisa and ends in Florence (there are many train connections for both)
Rental bikes available or bring your own bike.