When I worked guiding cycling tours in Italy, the first question I got in the mornings over breakfast was
Where are the hills on today’s route?
People had booked their trips having understood the level of difficulty of the trip, but they wanted to know specifically about that day’s hills so that they could pace themselves.
Well, Tuscany has a few hills.
If you enjoy hills on your route, Tuscany is a fabulous place for cyclists. There are lots of cyclists in California, which is also pretty hilly. Californian cyclists: you’ll love biking in Tuscany!
But not everyone wants a steep hill suprising them after a wine tasting. A traveler on one of my trips once told me:
It’s the downhill I don’t like, because I know that I’m going to have to go back up again at some point.
I thought it was interesting that he happened to be the CEO of a large and successful company. A cycling itinerary in Tuscany can include vineyards, small atmospheric towns, amazing food and wine, shopping, and maybe even fields of sunflowers or poppies. All this, and you’re seeing everything at a slower pace.
Most of Italy is covered in hills and mountains. But in general, Tuscany is not as hilly as Sardinia; it’s about the same as Umbria; it’s a little more hilly than the Veneto. If you want to cycle somewhere relatively flat, try the area around Parma and the Po Valley. If you don’t want to spend entire days on a bike, but would like to go for a short ride, try Lucca or do this ride up in the Dolomites.
If you’re considering a cycling vacation, here’s a great podcast from The Amateur Traveler about a week-long trip biking in Tuscany.
Photo by Madeline Jhawar
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