A friend recommended that we take a bike tour through Tuscany. Although my sisters and I are not avid cyclists (not even close...none of us have really been on a bike in close to 10 years), we rose to the challenge and chose a beginner level course called "The Gelato Ride" with I Bike Tuscany. A van, driven by Elizabeth, our wonderful tour guide, picked us up in front of our hotel at 9:30am and drove us up into the countryside. This tour started off with a gelato demonstration at a gelateria in Castellina and a tasting of close to 15 different gelatos...all I can say is YUM, YUM, YUM!!! The gelato shop owner was incredibly kind and took pride in his craft. We then had some free time to shop and explore the town before mounting our bikes and riding the downward winding slopes of the Tuscan countryside dotted with vineyards and olive groves. The ride was so serene and picturesque that we could not help but stop on many occassions to bask in the quiet loveliness of those hills (and take some pictures too, of course). This was the PERFECT relaxation excursion imaginable after our weariness of the hustle and bustle of Florence (and other larger cities). After completing the leisurely 21 km downhill ride, the van took us into San Gimignano, for more exploring time. We ate a late lunch there and had time to shop around. We found many shops that hand-crafted their own original products (instead of selling cheap stuff from China). From there, the van took us back to the front door of our hotel.
Our tour guide, Elizabeth, took care of everything from start to finish, and it was most pleasant to let someone else do this for us for a whole day. Keep in mind this is a full day tour - the van will drop you off at your hotel maybe between 5:00pm and 6:00pm. There is not an exact end time of the tour because it's Italy...where time is flexible. To get the ride you want on the day you want, try to book it about a month (or more) in advance. You will need to fill out the contact form on the website first, but then they are very good about communicating with you via e-mail, and feel free to ask as many questions as you like. They are quick to respond and give thorough explanations. Although this tour was on the higher side of our budget, it was WELL WORTH every euro. You will not regret taking this tour, but trust me, you might regret it if you don't.
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