On this tour designed for beginners, you will build the skills necessary to be more confident on a bike. You’ll also experience all of the joys of cycling in Italy: the wind in your hair, the colors, smells, sites, sounds, amazing food and wine, Italian culture, all in a supportive atmosphere.
You will visit medieval hilltop towns, abbeys, a sleepy lake, a winery, and the “Town of Bread" all while learning the basics of cycling and bike touring from our guides who are also certified cycling coaches.
Stefano Boggia and Sara Giorgini are giants when it comes to cycling coaching
We'll only have two bases for the week. This is a format that allows guests to familiarize themselves with an area with the added bonus of not having to pack more than once. We’ll also get to to focus on skill sessions not far from our hotels.
We start in the countryside in the village of San Miniato along the Arno River. From there, we will explore part of the hill country area with a visit to a family-owned winery, a Medici family villa (Unesco site), and Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo. We'll also visit two Italian artisanal businesses to dive deeper into the cycling culture and trends: Daccordi (bikes and frames) and Parentini (wear).
Lucca, our next stay for three nights, was a former Roman colony and its city center has been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Its city walls are among the best-preserved of any Italian town and they are rideable. The way to Lucca will be partially along the Via Francigena (Francis way). We'll ride our bikes on this ancient path like modern pilgrims. We'll also ride along Lake Massaciuccoli where you might hear the echoes of Puccini's operas.
From Lucca, we will push ourselves inland all the way to the pre-Apennines to reach the lovely town of Castelnuovo Garfagnana.
Overall, there's no better place to push the boundaries of your comfort zone and to become a better rider.
I am a former professional cyclist and cycling has been my profession for a long time. I’ve had over 60 victories in my career. I now work with my wife at Daccordi, an iconic bicycle brand (her father is Luigi Daccordi). I test bikes and new components and I am in charge of fitting riders to their bikes thanks to my expertise as a biomechanics technician.
I am a certified coach with FCI – the Italian Cycling Federation – and British Cycling.
I love all forms of cycling and I like when things get technical such as in cyclocross.
I train and coach adults and kids and I apply proven protocols to improve my
students’ skills without leaving out the fun factor, which, as my young students remind me, is a great motivator.
I live in San Miniato (Tuscany) with my family. I’ve led cycling tours all over
Europe including some Giro d’Italia and Tour de France-centered itineraries.
A peculiar wine region with 2000 years of tradition in winemaking
Villages of San Miniato, Vinci and Castelnuovo in Garfagnana
Traditional Altopascio Bread tasting
Stunning cycling along rolling hills covered with vineyards and quaint medieval villages
Leonardo Da Vinci’s native house and village
The Villa Medicea in Cerreto Guidi, an UNESCO World Heritage site
Massaciuccoli lake and Natural Reserve
Transfer to San Miniato
We start with a late morning shuttle from Florence to the village of San Miniato.
San Miniato will be our base for the next three days. As with many Tuscan villages, it sits atop a hill and is dominated by a castle. Unlike other Tuscan villages, it still maintains an authentic feel which means it is quieter and better suited for our bike lessons.
Skill focus: we’ll start with a theory session that will cover the various parts of a bicycle and how we control a bicycle while balancing, braking and turning. You’ll familiarize yourself with the components and controls to start understanding how they work.
San Miniato - Toiano loop - 18 or 27 miles - Rolling
Today’s ride has three little climbs, but all the efforts will be rewarded by the beautiful landscape we ride through.
We will climb up the ancient road to Palaia, a Medieval village situated among green hills. After a coffee break inside the medieval walls of the village, the next stop will be the ghost town of Toiano, where nobody has lived since the murder of a girl in the 1940s.
After some rolling miles in the beautiful Val d’Era we deserve a lunch with a wine tasting at Podere Pellicciano where they produce one of the most genuine wines of the region in vineyards that have been cultivated since the Roman Age, around 2000 years ago.
Skill focus: cadence and shifting. One very important skill of cycling is pedaling at an efficient cadence. Cadence is measured by pedal strokes per minute (how fast you turn the pedals). We cannot improve our cadence without learning when and how to shift.
San Miniato - Vinci loop - 12 or 24 miles - Rolling
One of the icons of this area is without a doubt Leonardo Da Vinci, and with today’s ride, we will discover where he was born and lived in the first years of his life.
Allegedly, Leonardo drew a bicycle prototype around 1490. The Tuscan genius, who dealt with architecture, anatomy, engineering, sculpture, scenography and a lot more, drew a rudimentary bicycle: two wheels of the same dimension, a sort of handlebar rudder and a chain transmission activated by a pedal crank mechanism. You’ll visit his native grounds that perhaps inspired his art and inventions.
We have to climb some hills to reach Cerreto Guidi, the town where Lorenzo De Medici used to spend time receiving his guests in the beautiful Villa Medici, part of a Unesco World Heritage site.
The road which leads us to Vinci is hilly and characterized by a huge number of olive trees. And among the olive trees, there is the last steep climb which leads us to Leonardo’s native home.
After a visit to Leonardo’s home, the road to the medieval village of Vinci is easy.
Skill focus: Breaking and balancing. The act of cycling has to do with balance and balance comes with establishing some confidence in how the bicycle behaves on two wheels. You’ll learn how to properly slow down, break, and balance at slow speed, which is harder to do than when you have momentum.
San Miniato - Lucca - 29 miles - Flat and Rolling
Today’s ride is a roller coaster journey along the historical Via Francigena. We avoid the busy road which leads to Lucca by riding our bicycles through the little forest of the Montefalcone Natural Park.
We’ll take a break in Altopascio, the town famous for its bread! Did you know that Italy has a bread town? Altopascio has always been considered the “bread town” because it is a naturally welcoming place. Pilgrims used to pass through here and still do today, as they travel along the Via Francigena.
Lucca, the city of the 100 churches, needs no introduction. It is not just a charming city with thousands of historical points of interest, but is also a very cyclist-friendly city, with the city center off-limits to cars and a beautiful cycle path around the city walls!
Skill focus: Riding on uneven terrain and unpaved roads. Gain confidence riding over roads with less grip and uneven surfaces. Learn how to cope with small obstacles and cracks in the road.
Lake Massaciuccoli loop - 25 miles - Rolling
A long, flat ride around the Massaciuccoli Nature Reserve. This place is not only a real paradise for birders and naturalists but also an area with historical points of interests like Villa Venulei, an ancient Roman Villa built in the first century BC. There is also a musical connection between Lucca (where today’s ride starts), and the Massaciuccoli Lake: the famous author of Opera, Giacomo Puccini, was born in Lucca and then moved to the west side of the lake. The author of Manon Lescot, Tosca, Madame Butterly and many other successes chose this place to spend his life, and nowadays his home is a museum.
The ride back to Lucca is easy and mainly flat.
Skill focus: Riding safely as a group.
Lucca - Castelnuovo Garfagnana loop - 15 miles - Steady Climb
Our last ride takes us into the Appennino Natural Reserve, a MAB-Unesco Area. It’s a green area highly appreciated by tourists in summer and where we will face the biggest climb of our tour.
Riding along the Serchio river we can see the Devil Bridge in Borgo a Mozzano, an incredible medieval structure still walkable today. But our goal is Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, a historic town located in the middle of the Garfagnana Valley, with a beautiful castle titled to Ludovico Ariosto, one of the most important poets in Italian history, who lived here 500 years ago.
Skill focus: turning. Learn how to master turns and switchbacks. Braking, leaning the bike to turn and “seeing” the right trajectory are all part of today’s skill focus.
Italy is a mountainous country and much of the terrain is made of undulating/rolling hills. The area of Tuscany covered in this tour is no exception, and while we do make an effort to utilize flat terrain when possible, most of the good stuff in Italy is at the top of a challenging climb. You’ll have the opportunity to push yourself at your own pace to make it to the top while knowing that our support van is there and you can get in at any time. This trip is not a contest among guests. Rather, it is a challenge for yourself and a chance for you to learn new skills and improve your riding in a supportive environment where you are encouraged to ask questions. Remember, the bike is a tool to help you experience the Italian countryside with all five senses. Take the time to enjoy it and take it all in.
It's often pointed that Tuscan cooking has its roots in "cucina povera" - peasant cooking. In truth, though, that can be said of most Italian cuisines. It's true, though, that Tuscan cooking is a simple one. There are no reductions, no fancy sauces, no elaborate creations, no heavy complicated seasoning. Throughout Tuscany, olive groves and wild herbs are everywhere. Many of the best olive oils produced in Tuscany are reserved for use as a condiment at the table, rather than as an ingredient in cooking in the kitchen. Some of the best Italian reds are produced in Tuscany: Chianti, Brunello, Nobile di Montepulciano, not to mention the super-tuscans.