Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Onto the Tuscan countryside

April 21, 2004: We chose to abandon the chaos of Florence today and go on a biking tour of the Tuscan countryside. Organized by David, originally form Denver, now a native of suburban Florence, it was a welcome change from the Duomos, Piazzas and Palazzos! He is a very knowledgeable guide and proved to be quite entertaining. It cost us about €60pp @ We didn’t have reservations but got lucky – David does not take more than 10 people on his tour. We met as Ponte Vespucci (another bridge on the River Arno parallel to Ponte Vecchio) and drove in his van to his suburban apartment. The rest of the people of this tour were also from the States – Agatha & Phil (from Rochester), Jessica (backpacking in Europe and from somewhere in the states), Bill, his wife who were visiting their daughter Beth (studying in Florence) from Wisconsin. We grabbed our bikes at David’s apt along with helmets and bottles of water. David drove us to San Andrea, a small Tuscan town south of Florence in Chianti. We visited the Michiavelli vineyard and Winery. What a charming little town! We saw Michiavelli’s home (above the winery) where he was banished from Florence. After tasting some local wine, we headed out on our bikes to San Casciano. The ride was amazing – through lush green hillsides with vineyards and apple orchards all over the place. Lunch in San Casciano was at a really cute ristorante called ‘Nello’. I had the ‘Taglieteri ai Funghi’ – mushroom pasta and it was excellent. Dessert was ‘Panna Cota with Chocolate’ – yummm is all I can say! The rest of the bike tour was through Cerbaia, Chiesanuova, Spedalatto and then back to San Andrea. It was the most breathtaking country-side with quaint little towns along the way. We were back in Florence by around 5 pm. This gave us plenty of time to catch the sunset, eat some more gelato (orange & coconut) and have dinner at ‘Quattro Leoni’ – recommended by the Fodor’s guide. This is a moderately expensive place but the food is excellent!

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