The skies were devoid of clouds when we woke. Bruce and I walked to the Hemingway Cafe to meet up with the
IBikeItaly group at 9:30AM. We were a small group of 10 – all American. Bill picked us up in his tour Van and we drove just 20 minutes outside of Florence to the Chianti Classico region to a villa where the bikes were housed. After Bill gave us the mandatory safety and bike instruction lecture, we were pedaling through olive groves, vineyards and through cypress lined streets.
It was refreshing to be out of the busy narrow pedestrian streets of Florence and in the heart of the countryside where the famous Sangiovese grapes grow to make the wine that we drink regularly back at home. The songs of birds replaced the loud city noises reverberating on Florence’s hardscape of plaster, stone, marble and concrete. The air was crisp and fresh.
We biked about an hour before stopping at an olive grove for a short lesson on olive production. The gentle and verdant Tuscan hills stretched out into the horizon like an organized tapestry of olive groves, rows of grape vines, and italian cypress; sparsely dotted with ancient stone farmhouses and villas.
After another hour or so of cycling we took another stop at a vineyard for a lesson on grapes and wine production. Then we had a light lunch at a private vineyard.
Anna the Sri Lankan chef prepared 5 different types of bruschetta: tomato, cannelloni, chicken pâté, salumi, and zucchini. Several house Chianti Classicos and Super Tuscans were poured. The next course was penne with tomato and eggplant sauce. Bill requested his sauce to include Sri Lankan curry powder. He offered me to try his fusion dish. It was so good and different which left me happily confused. Lastly we had house Vin Santo and fresh strawberries for desert.
Along the way back to where we first started, we made more stops along the country path to try wild asparagus, borage flower – which tasted like cucumber, and another type of flower that smelled like onions. We also made a gelato pit stop before heading back to Florence. We rode a total of 15 miles. The entire tour was 8 hours and 83 Euros each person.
I will cross this goal off my list now. I recall, months ago, when it was a cold a dreary day in Vegas, I was at my cubicle at work day dreaming about biking in Tuscany.
Today was one of those sublime days that I will hopefully recall when I’m old and can’t do this kind of thing any longer. I’m really happy that I did.