Adventure of the Week: Tuscany: Pisa to Florence Cycling
There are some parts of the world where there is such a concentration of beauty that it is almost unfair to the rest of us. Try cramming rolling hills, vineyards, hilltop villages and some of the most iconic architecture in the world into a small area and you have Tuscany in Italy. The best way to see it all? Get in the saddle and take it all at your own pace on our Tuscany: Pisa to Florence Cycling trip.
In a Nutshell:
Where: Tuscany is in the northern part of Italy, stretching down the north-east coast and almost stretching almost right across the country. Pisa is close to the east coast and you will then wind your way across Italy visiting the stunning towns of Lucca and Vinci, before finishing up in the capital city of the region, Florence. Each of the towns and cities you visit is crammed with beauty and a way of life that will have you considering your retirement plans.
Distance: The choice is yours as far as distances go on this trip. The minimum cycling distance is 107km (although you could shorten this further, by just chilling out on the days where there are loop cycles) and the maximum distance, to experience it all, is 168km. So it is up to you how you experience your Tuscan culture, whether it is all from the saddle of your bike, or if you want to take to your feet and immerse yourself in your surroundings.
Grade: We have graded this trip Easy to Moderate, primarily because you have the choice of how much cycling to do, however, the actual, physical cycling is not the most strenuous either. If you choose to take the longer routes, they have some inclines and require a bit of legwork, but otherwise, the route is reasonably flat. You are mostly cycling on surfaced country roads and secondary roads with some cycle paths and dirt roads around Pisa and Lucca. All the routes are loaded into our Macs App, so there is no chance of you getting lost.
Why Cycle Here?
Firstly, an overview of why you should go to Tuscany in general. Overall, Tuscany is famous for its gastronomy, architecture and extremely friendly locals. If food and drink is something that gets you on a plane, then heading to Tuscany should be high on your list of places to visit. With everything from delicate, fine dining to rustic, hearty dishes that will warm your heart, most of the produce is locally sourced and incredibly tasty.
The wine deserves several blogs on all its own. Tuscany has always produced high quality, big red wines with Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, all being produced under the strict Italian DOC regulations. However, a group of winemakers decided to break free from the strict regulations, creating wines known as the Super Tuscans. Often expensive, but well worth getting down your neck if you can.
Pisa is your starting point and what immediately springs to mind is the leaning tower. This structural oddity is definitely worth visiting, but just as much are the buildings surrounding it. Until it started leaning, the tower was just a pretty bell tower to complement the other three buildings in the 'square of miracles' and it is definitely worth taking your time to wander around the area. Away from this centre point, Pisa is a vibrant university town, with a buzz running through its Romanesque and Renaissance streets.
Lucca is more enchanting, however. It doesn't have such large tourist crowds, so it is here that you will begin to think that Italian life might be the one for you. Beyond its imposing walls, Lucca has a soft heart, with shaded promenades leading to piazzas littered with delightful bars, cafes and restaurants. There is also a second-century amphitheatre and its tree-topped bell tower is well worth climbing.
Then on to Vinci. It will not come as a massive surprise to you who was born here, being that 'da Vinci' means 'from Vinci'. This humble little hilltop town is packed with historical references to Leonardo and gives you the opportunity to see some of the ways he worked. Museo Leonardiano holds the largest collection of models based on the drawings of da Vinci and the lovely little church of Santa Croce holds many of his paintings and was where he was baptised. Also, you will be able to choose from loads of restaurants and bars all claiming tenuous links to the famous man.
Then there is Florence. This is a truly spectacular city, and still the most beautiful city I have ever visited despite it being over 20 years since I have been. The sheer concentration of beauty in this city is overwhelming. Every street is worth walking down, with mindblowing art and architecture at every turn. The entire city is a UNESCO world heritage site and after five minutes here, you will understand why. The museums are almost as beautiful as the wealth of Renaissance masters they hold within their walls. You can get happily lost and find yourself in one of the many churches, and realise that you are in front of Michaelangelo's tomb, then walk around the corner and bump into his impressive David statue (though the original is indoors and costs to get in)
The shopping is first class, with handmade produce being in the Florence DNA and many designers hailing from the city. The cuisine is outstanding and you cant turn a corner without smelling something utterly delicious. Generally, there is just something completely magical about Florence. Just writing about it makes me want to rush back!
Planning and Preparation
Travelling to our Tuscany: Pisa to Florence Cycling trip is simple. Low-cost carriers throughout Europe fly into Pisa as well as some of the larger carriers. Florence also has a smaller airport, but it is only an hour on the train between Florence and Pisa, so no problem to travel back.
If you have any questions about the route, don't hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.