The campanile bells that peal through medieval streets, ripple across vineyard-laden hills, and fade into the Tuscan air mark more than the passage of time – though they’ve been ringing in just this fashion for hundreds of years. They define the city from which they toll. They summon fierce civic pride that has waned only slightly since the days when the Medicis waged intercity conflict. For countless Tuscans, these bells mean home.
So much of southern Tuscany seems to have emerged from the earth itself. Tiny villages huddle within walls and rise atop hills as if divinely sculpted from the very stone upon which they perch. Quaint farms – many of them transformed into countryside agriturismo inns – offer up a bounty that finds its way onto famed Tuscan tables. Along its cycle-friendly Wine Roads, soils bear vintages so bold they can only be called Super Tuscans … and olive groves produce smooth elixirs beloved by the Medicis themselves.
You might think such a stunning landscape is enough to stir the senses. It certainly is. After all, who would find cypress-lined byways and forests of cork and pine disagreeable? But then there’s the palm-dotted Tyrrhenian seascape. Southern Tuscany was long uninhabitable thanks to the rise and fall of its marshes. So these sparsely developed lands still conceal ancient Etruscan treasures. And closer to shore, crescent beaches draw you in for a swim, as Elba and Giglio – isles that seem exiled from this spellbinding mainland – look on with envy.
To be the envy of your fellow cyclists, join VBT’s Tuscan Coast bicycling vacation.