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Savor the Tastes of Tuscany on a Biking Tour with VBT

The Maremma region, located in Tuscany’s southwest corner, is a wonderful place to visit and explore its preserved Etruscan traditions, rugged mineral-rich hills, 400 miles of picturesque coastline and booming agritourism industry. In Etruscan times, the naturally marshy lands were drained by underground canals in order to make use of its nutrient-rich coastal plains. In the latter years of the Roman Empire, maintenance of Maremma’s canals was not kept up and the swamplands returned. However, a movement to reclaim these once fertile farmlands began in the 1800’s and by the early 20th century the region was once again bustling with farms, grazing cattle, vineyards and olive groves. Today Maremma is a popular destination in Italy to visit agriturismi (aka farm stays), which are working farms with renovated, historic lodgings that have pioneered the way travelers experience Italy’s farm to table movement.

VBT’s Tuscany by the Sea biking tour perfectly partners scenic and rewarding bike routes with stays at locally La Parrina Signowned agriturismi that facilitate an authentic experience of growing, preparing and tasting local and organic Tuscan food.  VBT travelers will love the nights spent at the Antica Fattoria La Parrina, a 4-star country resort and agriturismo that was featured in Condé Nast traveler. The Parrina is located just a few miles from white sandy beaches and sits on 1,200 acres dotted with vineyards, farmlands, fields of grain, olive groves and 19th century buildings. Today, the farm produces its own wine, olive oil, vegetables, fruits, flowers and tasty cheeses and the main villa has 13 guest rooms and 6 apartments for rent.

Cooking Class
While staying at the Parrina, we’ll get to taste authentic Tuscan recipes made with mostly organic, healthy ingredients. On the second night we’ll take part in a cooking class conducted by our hosts at La Parrina where we’ll learn how to prepare typical Tuscan cantucci—delicious almond cookies that are best when dipped in sweet Vin Santo wine. During our visit we’ll also take in the sunset while enjoying an aperitivo out on the terrace overlooking the scenic property and enjoy a group dinner at the hotel’s farm to table restaurant.
VBT Tuscany by the Sea Biking Vacation

Later on this unique biking vacation, we’ll visit the commune of Orbetello on the Tyrrhenian Sea. There, we will cycle by its famous eponymous lagoon and stop to meet some local fishermen. As we tour their fishing boat in the lagoon and learn about the fishing industry in Maremma, we’ll get to try some delicious fresh fish paired with local wine. You’ll have the rest of the evening free to dine on your own in Orbetello. We hear Baraka, a steakhouse and tapas restaurant that specializes in both traditional and contemporary Italian recipes is a favorite stop for the locals—it is even listed as the #2 restaurant in Orbetello by Trip Advisor.

Pasta CookingThese are just some examples of the delicious Tuscan cuisine you’ll discover on our Tuscany by the Sea biking tour. To learn more about this popular vacation and to see the available 2014 departure dates, please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

The Masserie of Puglia

Coccaro door

At VBT we know how important your travel accommodations are to the overall experience of your vacation. We pride ourselves on carefully selecting authentic and charming places to stay at while on tour which accurately reflect the atmosphere of your destination. Italy’s Puglia region is home to historic fortified farms that the locals refer to as masserie (or singularly, masseria).  These large farms—which were fortified around the 16th century to ward off attacks by pirates and brigands—feature high boundary walls, angular towers, drawbridges and watchtowers. Inside the walls, families worked and lived alongside their own church, oil mill and oven to bake bread. These farms would also house cisterns for water, storage rooms for tools and hay, stables, and everything else needed for day-to-day life. Here are some examples of masserie that you’ll stay at while on our Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast ​ biking vacation.

Masseria Torre Coccaro
Located about halfway between the town of Fasano and the coastal hamlet of Savelletri, the Masseria Torre Coccaro Cocarro_Cooking Class Lunchis a 16th century farm known for its watchtower and the centuries-old olive groves and carob trees that surround it. It blends the characteristic whitewashed look of historic masserie with the amenities of a 5-star resort like offering finely prepared cuisine from local ingredients grown on site. The Torre Coccaro also features an onsite Aveda Health Club uniquely set in a series of caves. Its multiple jacuzzi pools are kept at a variety of temperatures and its hammam bath offers beauty treatments and relaxing massages. After an enriching day on the road, the beautifully designed swimming pool, nestled among the olive trees and palms, is perfect for a refreshing dip.

Biking to Ostuni_Masseria & Trees panorama

Masseria Torre del Diamante
masseria del Diamante
The Masseria Torre Del Diamante is located in the countryside of Fasano that is dotted with century-old olive trees. Born from a historical core of an ancient masseria, it was carefully renovated and expanded while respecting the original materials. Torre del Diamante also has amenities like a wonderful pool, large manicured gardens, a restaurant featuring traditional gastronomy and a panoramic view over its enchanting natural setting.

Masseria Montelauro
Otranto’s Masseria Montelauro is a farmhouse that was originally built in 1878 and later restored with full respect Masseria Montelauro Exteriorfor its original design and architecture. Each room has its own entryway to the masseria’s lush gardens which retain all the colors and fruits that traditionally adorn the Puglian countryside. Spend some of your free time here relaxing in the swimming pool, which is in the inner courtyard and surrounded by an inviting orchard.

 Masseria Montelauro pool


These are just some examples of the unique accommodations you’ll stay at on our Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast ​biking tour. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

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