Discover Tuscany’s Maremma Region with VBT

Tuscan landscape
A hidden gem in the western reaches of Tuscany is the unspoiled Maremma region. Ancient traditions thrive here along the rugged coastal farm lands. Once the territory of the butteri—horse riding cattle herders—the area is becoming a must-see travel destination that is perfect for active travel enthusiasts and foodies alike. We’ll ride through rolling foothills and smooth vineyard laden landscapes before retiring to our farm hotels—known as agriturismi—and enjoying meals so fresh that the vegetables were picked mere minutes before being served.

Giglio Island View
They say that drama defines all things Tuscan and nowhere is this truer than in its westernmost reaches. Just add water—in the form of the azure Tyrrhenian Sea—and this cypress-dotted region of Italy is transformed from glorious to sublime. Hill towns don’t merely perch atop earthen mounds; they seem sprouted from the soft limestone tufa that hoists them above pristine fields. And ancient subterranean caves, believed to have been carved centuries ago by Etruscans—the area’s original settlers—are now used as labyrinthine wine and olive oil cellars.

That’s only one hint that you’re not in central Tuscany anymore. If you need more, put your nose to the air and Orbetello windmillbreathe in the aromatic macchia scrub of lavender and rosemary that perfume the countryside. Listen to the whisper of palm trees in soft sea breezes. Admire precise rows of prickly pear cactus, laid long ago to delineate farmers’ lands. And a visit here isn’t fully realized without feeling white sand between your toes and wading into the sea, the green island of Giglio shimmering in the distance.

Agrituismo
A new trend, agritourism, is taking hold in this land whose marshes once made it unfit for the building of civilizations. All the better that yesterday’s murky tidal flats attracted hundreds of species of birds that are here to stay, herons and storks among them. In keeping close to nature, rustic farmhouses in magnificent settings have been converted into elegant inns, where the makings for dinner are plucked straight from the garden—and cheeses appear on your plate courtesy of resident goats.

To learn more about how you can visit the Maremma region on VBT’s popular Tuscany by the Sea tour please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit vbt.com. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Learn about Civil War and Native American History in Mississippi with VBT

Longwood 12
If American history interests you then our Mississippi: The Natchez Trace ​biking vacation is your perfect active vacation destination. Beginning in Jackson and ending in Natchez, this tour fabulously combines Civil War and Native American history with Antebellum architecture, southern cooking, peaceful cycling routes, and the beauty and hospitality of the Deep South. Here are some of the highlights that travelers will discover on this 6 day adventure with VBT.

Vicksburg
Bikers at Vicksburg Battlefield in Mississippi - D1-C2- - 300 ppi-10
Although Vicksburg is only the 17th largest city in Mississippi it has played a huge role in American History. The Bikers at Vicksburg Battlefield in Mississippi - D1-C3-0222 - 300 ppicity, originally a part of the Choctaw Nation, is perhaps best known as the site of one of the most famous civil war battles in Mississippi, if not the entire war. Upon the conclusion of Siege of Vicksburg in 1863, the Union army had full control of the Mississippi river. During our two night stay in Vicksburg we’ll ride from our inn — a transformed Antebellum mansion—through Civil War battlefields and into the Vicksburg National Military Park. Here, a local historian will help bring history alive as we stop at select monuments for discussion. We’ll continue on “the battlefield loop” cycling by many monuments before stopping for a picnic lunch and to learn more about the decisive Siege of Vicksburg. Before we leave, we’ll stop to explore the USS Cairo Museum, a reassembled ironclad Union gunboat that was sunk by a mine.

Windsor Ruins
Windsor Ruins
In Port Gibson—a town General Grant proclaimed as “too beautiful to burn” during the
Siege of Vicksburg—we’ll visit the ruins of the largest antebellum Greek Revival mansion that was ever built in Mississippi. Windsor, as it is commonly referred to, was built by Smith Coffee Daniel II in the years leading up to the Civil War. Tragically, Mr. Daniel passed away at the age of 34, after only living in the mansion for a couple weeks. The mansion was located on a 2,600 acre plantation and originally had four stories, 25 rooms, 25 fireplaces and a school and dairy at the basement level. During the war, Confederate troops were stationed on the rooftop observatory to guard against advancing Union troops. Although Windsor survived the war—the union turned it into a hospital—the magnificent home was later destroyed in a fire started by a thoughtless smoker. All that remains of present-day Windsor are twenty-three columns that stand 45 feet tall—which were constructed of bricks that were manufactured in an on-site kiln—and the balustrade that connected them.

Emerald Mound
Emerald Mound

Emerald Mound—which is designated a National Historic Landmark—was constructed by ancestors of the Natchez Indians around 750 years ago and is the second largest pre-Columbian earthwork in the United States. The eight acre site was built by depositing earth along the sides of a natural hill, thus reshaping it and creating an enormous artificial plateau. The Emerald Mound was used as a ceremonial center by the Natchez between 1250 and 1600.

Mississippi_20100923_341These are just some examples of the historical attractions you’ll visit on our Mississippi: The Natchez Trace biking tour. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit vbt.com. 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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