ITALY BY BIKE: THE WAY IT SHOULD BE DONE
After visiting small villages amidst the pastoral scenery and alpine beauty of the region of Tuscany, I truly feel there is no better place to ride a bicycle. For the past five years I have been obsessing over the creation of this project. Yes, most bike touring companies will offer this kind of trip, but you will find that they all follow the same routes through the wine and tourist areas.
My heritage is full Italian. I was the first person on either side of my family to be born outside of the country. Our roots run deep. One grandfather was a Baron, while the other was Goat herder searching for a more profitable life in the US. The house that was left to me was built in 1783 and was seized the Germans and then the Americans during WW2. ?xml:namespace>
The villages we will stay in are Italian through and through. Most likely you will have to use your hands to communicate with the locals because they don’t speak a lick of English (besides, half of the Italian language is hand gestures! Ha!).
Highland Tuscany typifies Italian cuisine where the ingredients are simple and delicious. The peasant foods are the foundation of all Italian meals and of course, must be washed down with delicious red wines. Food will be collected in the small specialty stores and butcheries found throughout the different villages while vegetables will be harvested from the home garden. Hearty meals will prepared by my mother with recipes that have been passed down from her grandmother.
In my opinion, the only way to experience Italy is on a bicycle. Whether touring or day trips, you don’t get closer to the people than on the road at the pace of a bicycle. Short stops to take in an espresso or a panini (or gelato!!!) are the perfect way to see the passion and personalities of Italian culture.
The roads, built years ago by horse and buggy and used for goat herding, snake through the terrain, constantly turning to expose a new incredible vista. We will climb mountain passes and ride past vineyards, ancient churches, castles, lakes, and rivers.
Although most of the daily rides will begin and end at our villa, we will take several opportunities to stay overnight in other unique locales.
These places are riding distance from the house, and we will take different routes to and from these destinations to see more of the landscape. Overnight outings will be to such places as Cinque Terre, Island of Elba, San Geminagno, Siena, and Pisa. All reside in the region of Tuscany but have drastically different landscapes and attributes.
Mileage will vary based on the day and the energy level of each participant. My goal is to average 70 miles per day with ample stops along the way to take in culture and coffee. Many of these days we will have a “sag” wagon that will follow to transport gear and anyone who may need a break during the day. All levels of riders are encouraged to join us. I am confident that we can accommodate everyone each day.
\The excitement and sometimes stress of road cycling has to do with dealing with vehicles. In the highlands of Tuscany it is less populated and has considerably less traffic than many other areas. With that said, we will run into cars on the road, and I have found that Italians are very respectful to cyclists. It is a national pastime with its history rooting back centuries. You will see Ferraris speeding down the road but generally they will give you plenty of berth on the road. However, for added precautions it is required that your insurance policy has international coverage, or please purchase additional travel insurance.
Italy is a country where leisure and family are the most important parts of life, and we want to convey this to our guests. If you feel that a day of rest is important, we can provide a detailed itinerary for you to see other towns via foot, train or bus (or allow you to just sit back and relax at the villa for the day). Bagni Di Lucca is the local center of our villa and worthy of a exploration. It dates back to Renaissance times as a spa and health destination. The marbled baths are filled with volcanic thermal waters and are a perfect way to rest tired legs after a day of riding. Bagni has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it exemplifies a typical and classical Italian town. A walk through town will take you back in European times.
Meanwhile, Lucca, the provincial center of the region is a wall-fortified city that was used during the Roman revolution. This tightly spaced city exudes Italian flavor. From rustic restaurants to chic boutiques, it is a true blend between old and modern worlds. An easy bus ride or a 40km bike ride will give you a day of exploration to satiate your senses.
It is my goal to make this the best bike trip possible. I have thought long and hard about how each day can be orchestrated to maximize your cultural and cycling experience. However, each participant must understand that this is the first time I have taken on the creation of such an adventure. You all know my experience as a mountain and ski guide. With this trip, I am breaking exciting ground for my own business. Cycling is a relatively new passion for me and I see it as a perfect way to show you this incredible part of the world. Please understand that while there might be hiccups in the organization of this journey, I guarantee a grand adventure!
For example, this incredible villa with 9 bedrooms, a full cellar for wine processing, and many reading and smoking rooms has only one bathroom.
When the house was remodeled it was only my grandparents living there. We have installed a great outdoor shower and hope to have another built earlier this summer, but that still only leaves one toilet. The kitchen is a bit small as well, but my mother and helpers are able to cook up some savory meals anywhere. Keep in mind that while I have ridden and driven these roads before, I may need to consult my map and ask for assistance at times. We might take a “wrong” (in parentheses because its all beautiful) turn somewhere, but I will always find our way home.
In return for a little understanding on your part, I am making this trip very affordable compared to other companies. I am just trying to cover our costs for operating and make a little money to put back into the house for future trips.
I am offering this trip only to people with whom I have spent time in the past and who are up for a good adventure. It is my intention to create a full flavored experience with unforgettable memories from the seat of your bicycle and nights around the outdoor dinner table with bottles of wine and laughter. Everyone who has been invited is already a fairly strong ride and a fun personality to boot. It will be a family experience with Petit (my wife), and my mother all working (when they have Talus, who will turn one while we are there, under control). I will do my best to match people up based on their desires and abilities, and I really think that everyone will have a great time together.
We will be using the Pisa International Airport for pick-up and drop-off for the trip. If you choose to travel to other locales in Europe/Italy, we can make sure that you are taken care of in Pisa. If you haven’t done any travel in Europe, a train ride is a classic experience. You can choose a bigger airport and travel to Pisa via the Eurail. Check http://www.eurail.com/ for schedules and fares.
Pick-up and Drop-off at the airport will be every Sunday. Due to the nature of the trip, everyone’s itinerary will be a little different and we will do our best to make sure that you aren’t waiting too long.
Booking will be a revolving door situation beginning August 29th and ending October 6th, on a first to sign up/ first served basis. We will never have more than 9 people in house at a time, and we encourage everyone to stay for two weeks. Payment will be adjusted for shorter and longer stays.
The house configuration is such that there are two bedrooms with two single beds and four bedrooms with one queen bed and how you choose to sleep will factor into the cost of your trip.
Rates for a two week package per person:
Double occupancy with queen bed: $2300.00 USD
Double occupancy with two single beds: $2500.00 USD
Single occupancy with queen bed: $2700.00 USD
* If you don’t mind sharing a room with a someone you don’t know we will do our best to match individuals.
- Transfer from Pisa International Airport on Sunday’s (addition for other days of the week)
- Room in classic Italian villa
- Homemade breakfast and dinners paired with Italian wine prepared in Canapali
- Daily bicycle guiding with vehicle support and riding snacks
- Occupancy when cycling on overnight excursions
- Travel resources for off day visits
- Use and assistance of bicycle repair and maintenance equipment
Foreseeable Additional Expenses:
- Airfare and overland travel to/from Pisa International Airport
- Additional baggage fees for transporting bicycles (see your airline carrier for requirements) Cost estimate: $150.00 each way *
- Travel Insurance with medical coverage. **
- Daily coffee and eating breaks during cycling excursions.
- Dinners during overnight excursions
- Souvenirs, gifts, maasage and gratuity/tips
* Bicycles will be available to rent at Poli bicycles in Lucca. Average cost for road bikes will be $40.00 per day and will depend on quality of the bike.
** Travel insurance is a good idea for any international trip. Coverage will include emergency evacuation, hospital charges, lost baggage, damaged to baggage, emergency trip cancellation, etc. Cost based on cost of vacation. Estimated cost: $175.00
Girdwood is a quaint little ski town with BIG mountains all around. Our mail comes "general delivery", there is a small "mercantile", numerous tasty restaurants, friendly locals, a warm coffee shop, a box of organic vegis and fruit (a rarity in AK) delivered twice a month, and lots of fun snowplay to be had. It is a world away from Cuba and Argentina... another adventure unfolding... as we prepare for the TRUE adventures of marriage and parenthood!
Sending snowy hugs your way.
P and D
A winter wonderland, indeed. Today more snow falls gracefully, covering this quaint town and putting smiles on skiier's faces.
This wandering life continues to wander. I am setting up massage "shop" in our house and hoping for a week or two working out at the remote heli-ski lodge in the Tordrillos. And when we return in late April... only 1 month until we get... MARRIED!
Tomorrow David will be 33... and living his dream.
I breathe deeply... in awe at the life inside of me.
SO MUCH LOVE!
This... is Pichilemu. We heard of it from a friend of David´s and decided our week "vacation" between Aconcagua trips would be well spent on warm beaches near crashing surf and quaint villages. Quaint it is... though is seems like a carnival in full swing! Churros and cotton candy... pollo y papas fritas... mutant large corn on the cob... pizzas... empanadas... a small amusement park filled with rides and magicians... zip lines set up on the beaches... trampolines... street performers... craft booths from all over the world... music... and, yes... the Circo Internacional (the circus is in town!) We decided we couldn't miss it and stood in line a couple nights ago with many excited Chilean families to enter the large colorful tent filled with precarious looking contraptions. The bleachers were small crooked narrow pieces of wood, on which we packed in with kids and parents. An endless stream of cheap plastic blinking annoying toys were offered until, alas, the grand show began!
A bit of hilarity ensued as we struggled to understand the vague humor of the annoying clowns and stare in wonder at the young girl in what seemed an outfit more appropriate for the Bush Company spin hula hoops on all of her extremities. A family of four rose to the top of the tent on what looked like a double giant hamster wheel... more bad clown jokes... some impressive juggling by muscular Chilean boys in tight spandex... trapeze... the grand finale...finale... finale...
One of the great joys of travel is that we never know what might be around the next corner. That is one of the wonders of life, I suppose... even when we are filled with expectations and self-perceived "readiness"... the random wildness of life never ceases to awaken us to the moment.
So here we are enjoying a sweet little piece of Chile at the Pichilemu surf hostel... beautiful beaches... fun surf... bikes to borrow... and plenty of time to relax and read and explore and share moments.
We eagerly watched BBC as Obama was sworn in to office on the 20th, just a few hours after I landed in Mendoza and was greeted by David fresh of his first Aconcagua trip. The whole world is hopeful for positive change... and now we begin.
By Tuesday evening we will be on the overnight bus back through Santiago and into Mendoza, Argentina.
Another amazing journey to share...
Abrazos to all!
Soon I'll be in the summer days of Mendoza and up on the mountain with David. Meanwhile, friends and bike rides and snow play and dance and massage and writing and exploration... looking forward to catching some waves in San Diego!
Onward and upward...
Love to all.
You can follow the climb as I will be giving detailed dispatches with photos from Adventure Consultants website. The address is
So much to write about during these past two months but this adventure called life continues to grow everyday. Cuba....what can you say. Christmas with new and old family was a delight and sharing time on the snow. Now in Argentina, I try to play catch up with my memory, trying to impregnant all these great times into my mind.
I send love from Argentina and wishing everyone a Happy, healthy, adventurous New Year
- Feb 27th- April 20 Helicopter Skiing in Alaska www.chugachpowderguides.com
- Jan 21st Aconcagua Argentina Mountaineering Climb www.adventureconsultants.nz.co
- Dec 27th Aconcagua Argentina Climb www.adventureconsultants.nz.co
- Dec 6 Costa Rica Surf and Yoga adventure www.lotusexpeditions.com
- Oct. 29- Nov 11th Antarctica Ski Cruise www.skicruise2008.com