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Cycling the Tuscany Coast: Pisa to Elba

Cycling in Northern Tuscany: Pisa to Florence

Overview

Take an unforgettable cycling holiday in Northern Tuscany. The first part of the trip will take you through the quintessential Tuscan landscape of vineyards and olive groves to Pisa, with its world-renowned Leaning Tower, then continuing to the charming town Lucca, with its impressive city walls. Continue on country lanes to Vinci, Leonardo da Vinci’s birthplace, and visit the museums there to gain insight into the life and mind of the genius. Finally, visit Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance. This is a flexible itinerary allowing you to explore the cultural riches and iconic landscapes of Northern Tuscany, suitable for both beginner and intermediate cyclists looking for an active holiday in a marvellous setting.

Highlights

  • A flexible itinerary exploring the highlights of Northern Tuscany
  • Nature Reserves: the Fucecchio Padule inland wetlands with a great variety of nesting and migratory birds
  • A wine-tasting visit of a traditional cellar
  • Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci
  • Charming villages, quiet roads, cypress tree-lined country lanes and cycle paths along the Serchio river
  • Wine and great Tuscan food

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Pisa

Arrive at your hotel in San Giuliano Terme (Pisa) and take a peaceful and relaxing stroll through the narrow streets of this charming city. Sit down for a glass of local Chianti wine and taste the amazing olive oil produced in the region’s vineyards. Before calling it a night, you can explore the promenade past the chapels and pastel houses lining the banks of the Arno River.

Accommodation: Podere San Paolo or similar

Day 2: Pisa Circular Ride or Pisa to Calci Loop | 25 or 33 km

Bike fitting in the morning. You have two options for the day:

Short route: An easy warm-up ride along small roads and bike paths leads you into the heart of Pisa where you can visit the world-famous Miracle Square along with its illustrious leaning tower. Admire the many sites, churches, towers and town squares, and take a break in the Piazza Dei Cavalieri as you gaze at the architecturally stunning historic buildings that surround you.

Long route: Begin your day cycling through the inspiring countryside between Pisa and the mountain of Monte Serra, stopping for a visit to the grandiose Certosa of Calci monastery. It was founded in 1366 and currently houses a magnificent, renowned Natural History Museum. The second part of the day is spent in Pisa, as in the short route, visiting its many outstanding monuments.

  • Cycling for the day (short route): 25 km, 1.5h, ↑120 m ↓120 m
  • Cycling for the day (long route): 33 km, 2.5h, ↑90 m ↓90 m
  • Accommodation: Podere San Paolo or similar

Day 3: Pisa to Lucca | 24 or 33 km

The route today follows the Serchio River and after 25 kilometres, you reach the charming town of Lucca. You have enough time to visit the town and explore its splendid gardens, majestic bell tower and impressive Piazza Anfiteatro, a 2nd-century Roman amphitheatre. Don’t miss a ride along the tree-lined walls of its perimeter. 

  • Cycling for the day (short route): 24 km, 2h, ↑80 m ↓80 m
  • Cycling for the day (long route): 33 km, 3h, ↑100 m ↓100 m
  • Accommodation: Podere di Rosa or similar

Day 4: Lucca Circular Ride | 33 or 39 km

Choose between two routes exploring the local Renaissance villas in the outskirts of Lucca. Both trips are similar in length, but the easy route is almost entirely flat whereas the hilly route has more elevation gain and offers great panoramic views.

  • Cycling for the day (short route): 33 km, 2.5h, ↑170 m ↓170 m
  • Cycling for the day (long route): 39 km, 3.5h, ↑450 m ↓450 m
  • Accommodation: Podere di Rosa or similar

Day 5: Lucca to Vinci | 29 or 54 km

Ride past Altopascio and the fascinating Padule of Fucecchio nature reserve, the largest inland wetlands of Europe. Marvel at the delightful all-encompassing greenness and perhaps you will spot some migratory birds enjoying a well-deserved rest on their way south. Feeling rejuvenated, you cycle on to Vinci, where the famous inventor/artists Leonardo da Vinci was born.

  • Cycling for the day (short route): 29 km, 3h, ↑250 m ↓250 m
  • Cycling for the day (long route): 54 km, 4-5h, ↑270 m ↓270 m
  • Accommodation: Agriturismo Il Piastrino or similar

Day 6: Vinci Circular Ride, Florence | 8 or 15 km

Gain insight into the genius of Leonardo da Vinci as you explore his birthplace and two remarkable museums about him, that will reveal you his original designs and inventions. When you’re ready, leave your bike at the accommodation in Vinci and take a transfer directly to Empoli to board a local train to Florence, for a night in “the jewel city of the Renaissance”.

  • Cycling for the day (short route): 8 km, 1h, ↑175 m ↓175 m
  • Cycling for the day (long route): 15 km, 2h, ↑450 m ↓450 m
  • Accommodation: The Hotel Park Palace or similar

Day 7: Departure

The trip and our services end after breakfast unless you have booked a transfer to the airport or other supplementary extensions.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Standard accommodation for this trip is in comfortable 3-star and 4-star hotels and agriturismo**, in double/twin en-suite rooms. Some accommodations have a swimming pool. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

**What is an agriturismo? A combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian — It is a farm-stay, but it’s also much, much more. Typically, an agriturismo is an independently-owned farm that the owners have decided to use partially for accommodation purposes in a way similar to English or American bed and breakfasts. One of the best parts of staying in a traditional agriturismo? The food. An Italian agriturismo will usually serve guests food that was prepared from raw materials – vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, and often wine and olive oil – produced on the farm or from other local merchants.

Meals

Breakfast is included each morning. When no restaurant is available on the route, lunches and snacks can either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or in the town where you stay overnight.

Difficulty & terrain

The rides are easy to moderate and mostly follow well-asphalted country lanes and secondary roads. There are some cycle paths and dirt roads around Pisa and Lucca. Near larger towns, you can expect more traffic. The daily distances are approximately 35 km per day, with a minimum elevation gain and optional alternatives, so the trip is practically accessible to anybody (read more about difficulty grades). Before you arrive, you will be sent a detailed information package in digital form, including a destination manual, route notes, maps and GPS tracks, which you can load on any Garmin device or smartphone application that you are used to working with.

When to go

You can start your holiday every day between the beginning of March and the end of November. Spring and autumn months are a preferred travel period if you want to avoid the summer heat of July and August. In September – October, you will enjoy pleasant temperatures and might also be able to catch the regional wine harvest.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended arrival/departure airports for this tour are Florence (FLR)Pisa (PSA) and Bologna (BLQ), all served by major and low cost international flight carriers.

By train or bus

From any airport, you can easily get to the closest railway station. From Pisa railway station, trains are direct to San Giuliano Terme (Pisa). From Florence, you need to change in Pisa Centrale. From Bologna, you need to change in Florence and Pisa Centrale.

From Florence Santa Maria Novella railway station, you can easily reach the airport FLR by bus, whereas you need to take a direct train in case you are flying from either Pisa or Bologna. Check train timetables on www.trenitalia.com.

Inclusions

Included

  • 6 nights in selected B&Bs, hotels and agriturismo
  • 6 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfer on Day 3 and Day 5
  • Private transfer (+ luggage) from Vinci to Empoli railway station on Day 6
  • Access to Navigation app with the detailed route description
  • 24/7 telephone support by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Flights and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourists tax & entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme

Options & Extras

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Bike rental, including bike delivery to San Giuliano Terme (Pisa), theft insurance and collection from Vinci
  • Additional nights along the way (upon request)

Bike Rental

In case you would like to rent a bike from us, we can offer you a standard trekking bike, road-bike or an E-bike. All our bikes are equipped with phone holder, odometer, rear bag, repair kit, and padlock. Panniers and helmets are bookable upon request.

Sample models: Kalkhoff Endeavour 27, Wilier Cento 1 Hybrid, Kalkhoff Endeavour 27 5B. 9G

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