For my vacation this summer, I am–FINALLY–cycling in Tuscany, Italy, and an area in north Lazio known as Tuscania. I have stayed in some interesting places–a farm practicing sustainable farming and olive oil production (they sell to tony New York restaurants) as well as the typical places in Florence and Rome and a hotel in the Tuscan countryside.
During the time spent in the countryside, the focus has been on cycling. First, an amazing ride to and around Lake Bolsena, and then some rides in Tuscany with Volterra and San Gimignano as lunch spots. What fun! It's been a few years since I've been to this part of the world, and I can report that it certainly doesn't disappoint.
The Italians have a reputation for driving like crazy people–but actually, except for one or two vehicles that I suspect were driven by tourists, the motorists have been extremely polite and conscientious of passing at a safe distance. If they needed to pass at 3 feet, they slowed WAY down. If they passed at more than five feet, they might be going at a good clip. Anyhow, I really appreciate the concern they seemed to show for bicyclists on the road. The other thing that makes me feel safe is that most of the cars are really small. It just feels so different being passed by a compact car versus a behemoth SUV.
As for the bikes, for you equipment nuts out there–we brought our Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pros. We've had these bikes for about five years and they've been ridden in France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, and some islands in the Caribbean. If you are extremely attentive, you may recall that on last year's cycling adventure in Ireland, we purchased and rode on Tern folding road bikes. This year we went back to the Bike Fridays–while the Terns have a nifty design that allows them to fold easier, the comfort and handling during the ride just doesn't compare to the Bike Fridays. The Bike Fridays feel pretty close to a regular road bike, save for a little more flex in the stem. So if you're looking for the best folding road bike, my current recommendation is the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro.
Tuscany is such a beautiful county to ride through. It constantly amazes me how much more I see when I bike through a country, from the flowers on the side of the road to the out of the way places I just wouldn't end up going in a car. I feel so blessed to be able to experience it! Thanks to Bruce Hildenbrand and Paul Goldstein and everyone else who gave me some good advice for my trip.
Editor's note: Though Corinne was kind enough to write this blog while on vacation, she neglected to caption her photos. I have done my best, given my limited background as a person who has not traveled to Italy. – CH