There are many great places in Italy, but there is something truly special about Tuscany; the ambience, the roads, the people, the food…… the list just goes on and on.
Our journey began in Tuscany and we love it. We can’t keep away, returning year after year, and this year will see us run three cycling tours to Tuscany in 2018, as well as a custom cycling tour for a group of 8.
This is a special land that people have called home for a very long time, starting with the Etruscan civilisation in about 800BC, and with a landscape that is diverse, breathtaking, and different during every season; rolling through the Val d’Orcia in summer with its endless fields of sunflowers in bright yellow and green is a stark contrast to months later after the land has been tilled and its barren rolling hills are dotted only with stands of cypress pine. It’s beauty in equal measures.
There is a level of authenticity to the region; a connection to community, seasons and traditions that bring you back to enjoying the simple things. Whether it’s the eating of or preserving of foods that are local and abundant, to only eating foods that are in season, or the daily gathering in the local piazza for an aperitivo and an unwinding of the day before wandering home for dinner, that speak of a softer approach to life.
The art and the artisans, and there are many in the region, all with the desire of craftsmen that not only create function, but timeless beauty as well. This is an unmistakable ethos regardless of the craft; from ceramics to knife making, glass wear to bike building, it’s an ethos that runs deep in the hearts and passions of its people.
There is a slowness of life……. a calmness, a pace of life that is not laziness, but an underlying belief that everything will get done in good time, which is the antithesis of how most of us live; trying to get as much done as possible so we can “rest”, only to have more things come at us, before we even get to the resting.
And then of course there is the riding, and it’s seriously good. You roll through the cobblestoned streets of ancients hamlets and villages, as well as along quiet country lanes surrounded by incredible panoramic views of hills, olive groves, vineyards and other medieval hilltop towns, all while embracing the winding roads, challenging climbs and exhilarating descents.
Is it flat? No.
Is it hard? Yes, in places it is tough but it passes; it’s a really beautiful challenge that doesn’t break you and never gets to the point of unenjoyable.
Tuscany is hilly. They say that in Tuscany, for every 30km you ride, you will climb 400m, which makes for a very rewarding day on the bike and in my view, some of the best riding in Italy. On our Tour of Tuscany, we don’t tackle any major mountains or overly long climbs; a normal climb in Tuscany may be between 3.5 to 5k long with an average gradient of 5.9% ,and any time that we take on one of these it’s because there is a high reward at the top in a beautiful heritage listed stone village or over the other side, a spectacular view that is just unmissable.
This is riding where you can’t keep the smile from your face. A smile of pure joy that comes from deep within…from a place where what you feel and all that you see, seem to be in harmony.
Which brings us to L’Eroica; the monumental event held in Chianti every year that has captured the hearts of many and one that I doubt I will ever tire of; where you share with thousands of passionate, like minded riders on old steel bikes some sensational terrain….as you really put your body and mind to the test in equal measures.
These elements make up the essence of what we believe makes Tuscany the special place it is and they are the things that we delicately weave into all of our Tuscany cycling tours so that we can share what is “behind the tourist curtain”; the little pieces of Tuscany that get under your skin and you don’t even notice until you’re gone.
For an unexpected journey, in a land of elegance, beauty and dreams, Tuscany has your number.