Bike Tour of Tuscany
Have you ever gone on a trip to Europe and after signing up for a bike tour, ended up taking an ice bath at the end of the night in your hotel to quell the exceeding soreness of your legs?? Me too!! Well, since we have that in common, I will tell you my version, and then you can tell me yours…
In October I was happily taken with my husband and his company to spend the week sightseeing in Rome. My husband was busy with work prior to the trip, so I ended up planning our itinerary. Ok, that’s a lie. He was busy with work, but I decidedly took the lead in planning out our itinerary. And it was fun. To plan, that is. But also the actual trip was fun and interesting, to say the least.
The first two days in Rome we saw many of the renowned sites, which were just as amazing as you may think. We viewed The Sistine Chapel, Coliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Borghese Gallery, Arch of Constantine, and the Vatican.
These sights were all part of walking tours, and apparently someone in our group wearing a pedometer reported a distance of 12 miles!
On Wednesday my hubby and I ventured off on our own via bullet train to the famous city of Florence where we saw and appreciated Michelangelo’s The David, The Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and the medieval bridge called Ponte Vecchio. Florence won me over by the end, and I felt rather sad to be leaving. I soon had other things to worry about, however, as we realized we were going to miss our train back to Rome. As the clock ticked, we ran like crazy people all over Florence, unable to locate the proper station and missing our train. (But thankfully we wiggled our way out of paying an additional fare after pleading our case to the ticket-taker.)
So after all this, and as I foresaw in the months prior to the trip, I had thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to get out of the city and do a bike tour for a day, out in the countryside?” Thus I had found a bike tour company called Top Bike Rental in Rick Steve’s book, and signed up on their website to do a 14-hour day tour, starting at 8am, and finishing at 10pm that night. Well, I guess you could say it was ambitious of me. And you would be right. But you guys, I saw a picture of a town we would be visiting that is from 800 B.C. and is only accessible by a walking path!! And I was sold! Plus, the tour company said they had something called an e-bike, which is a bicycle with a little engine that can assist you on the uphills. So I thought, well even if it is 7-8 hours on a bike, I’ll use the e-bike and therefore will be set!
We woke up Thursday at 6am, and were at the tour company by 8am. We met our tour guide Bruno. Somehow Bruno and Adam talked me out of the e-bike (since they are heavier) and into a normal trek bike. I later rued the hour I went without my engine bike after the 3rd or 4th long uphill slog. But anyway, we rode our bikes to the train station and boarded a train to the Tuscany countryside. From there we got on our way towards the town of Civita, elegantly perched atop a cliff. This was my main focus as we rode down hills, and pedaled long, long uphills. The countryside was lovely and it was a treat to see the vineyards and country farms and houses along the way. I stayed focused on the goal of seeing Civita. Finally we arrived at lunch time, where Bruno handed us each two sandwiches, a bread and cheese sandwich, (delicious) and a salami and bread sandwich. We saw from an overlook the fairytale city of Civita and I was in heaven. Then Bruno said we had an hour to go walk across the bridge and explore the city on our own. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was one of the most picturesque places I had ever been. The hour went by fast and I practically jogged throughout the small town to see it, taking pictures and trying to imagine what life had been like there. (Only 10 people still live there now and it has been deemed unsafe since the cliffs are continuing to collapse and send buildings down the side.) I took about 30 pictures and then we had to leave. But it was all I hoped it would be and more. Next we biked several more miles to the town of Orvieto. This city is home to a very unique and massive church. By this time my legs were telling me, in no uncertain terms, that I would pay a high price for my immediate and strenuous demands. To which I replied, in my mind, ‘if you guys will let me off the hook this one time, I’ll guarantee to probably never put you through this again.’ No deal.
Bike Tour of Tuscany Schedule
We arrived at Orvieto about two hours later aboard a unique trolley car up to the old city. We disembarked from the trolley, and rode our bikes up the hill to the city center where we saw an amazing sight: a STRIPED, gigantic church. The church was black and white striped, like a zebra; only these strips ran horizontal. We toured the church and were fascinated with the artistic mosaics inside depicting a miriad of biblical events, most interestingly the resurrection.
Finally, to end the tour, we stooped down into a nearby wine cellar turned quaint restaurant and ate a delicious dinner, sampling many items from the menu. (Included in our tour price) The weather turned a bit cold and windy, so we bundled up and biked back to Orvieto’s train station, rode the train to Rome and continued pushing our pedals from the Rome station back to the office of our tour company. This followed by a cab ride back to the hotel, where I was, at that point, walking as if I had just run a marathon. And I had, in a different way.
When we got to our room I sent my hubby on an errand to immediately fetch a bucket of ice, which he did, and I filled up the tub with cold water, dumped in the ice and FORCED myself to get in and sit in it for 2 minutes. Mind you, we’d been outside all day and in the cold weather, so all I really wanted was a hot shower and to get in a comfortable, warm bed. But this is a testament to ice baths because I climbed into bed that night with only mild soreness, and was able to walk normally the next day.
So the moral of the story is, when you sign up for an all day bike tour of the Italian countryside which turns out being about 37 miles of riding hills, for which you are physically ill-prepared, you can make it through if only you have a romantic and dreamy destination to see, and can also get yourself into an ice bath that night.