Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Biking in Tuscany

I had about ten days of traveling solo between Yvonne's departure for Hong Kong and my flight to Estonia for my brother's wedding. I spent a few days on the Cote D'Azur, thinking I would relax in class like a movie star. Suprised to discover that the beaches suck (think driveway gravel) and classy meant that the Che Guevara t-shirts for sale at the beachfront stores were decorated with rhinestones. I still had a nice few days relaxing in the sun and continuing to overeat (so much for my all fruit diet) before traveling to Florence, Italy.

When I graduated high school, my older sister and I spent a summer month on the requisite whirlwind tour of the highlights of western Europe. I had fond memories of Italy, Florence in particular, and decided to spend a few days there before catching my plane out of Milan. Somehow my memories did not include the huge hoards of tourists and tour groups in Florence! It only took me a couple of days to visit most of the noteworthy museums and churches in Florence and grow totally overwhelmed with the crowds of people. So, my last day in Florence I signed up for a day trip bike tour of the Chianti countryside.

Bicycle Tuscany was the cheapest, most convenient and best group I could find and I would definitely recommended this company to anyone else visiting Florence looking to get out into countryside for a break. They picked seven of us up in Florence in the morning and drove us out to the country house where they keep the bikes. We all got fitted out with gear and started a leisurely ride with a great view of the wineries and olive orchards. Our first stop was at a winery that was the former residence of Nicolas Machievelli and we got a tour of the cellars and a glass of wine. Then we stopped in one of the nearby villages for a great lunch of pasta and more wine. (At this point you may be getting the idea that this wasn't any Lance Armstrong endurance race and you would be right.)

After lunch we had just enough hills and incline to make us feel like we were actually getting some excercise and another couple of quick stops for soda and water. If it weren't for my allergy to olive tree pollen and my constantly watering eyes, it would have been a perfect day!


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