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La Bella Toscana: Lucca, Montecatini and Pisa

Cycle along the Serchio and Arno rivers and through quaint villages in the heart of Northwest Tuscany. Along the way we’ll stop to enjoy the thermal spas of Montecatini and visit the hometown of Leonardo da Vinci.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 18 - 40 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking Activity
  • Ideal for energetic beginners to more experienced riders.
  • Airfare Packages Available

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Why You'll Love This Tour


La Bella Toscana: Lucca, Montecatini and Pisa ​

The soft sunlight, rolling countryside, and hearty flavors of Tuscany fired the imaginations of the greatest artists of the Renaissance. Tuscany is not just a picturesque countryside; it is also the home of cities filled with art and incredible monuments. This tour explores three of these cities: the secret Lucca, the more famous Pisa, and the elegant Montecatini. Complement these discoveries with opportunities to cycle along gentle bike paths, past green foothills, olive groves, small villages, and a shallow lagoon teeming with birds. Visit the hometown of Leonardo da Vinci, and sip a cocktail under the magnificent cupola of Tettuccio terme complex.  You’ll also sample the region’s wines and local delicacies at a home-hosted meal and a winery visit during this incredibly ‘bella’ vacation!

Cultural Highlights

  • Share lunch with the Ginori Lisci family on their villa’s manicured grounds
  • Ride to Lake Massaciuccoli, home to more than 100 species of birds
  • Tour medieval Lucca with a local guide
  • View the beautiful 15th- to 19th-century summer homes along Villa Way
  • Sample wines crafted from century-old techniques
  • Discover the genius of Leonardo da Vinci in a castle museum
  • Ride a funicular to the peak of Montecatini Alta for spectacular views
  • Gain an insider’s view of Pisa from a local historian
  • Discover why Pisa is beloved for more than its Leaning Tower

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain and moderate hills with some stretches on well-traveled, unpaved bike paths. It is ideal for both beginning and experienced cyclists. Our VBT van support shuttle is always available for those who need assistance with the hills.

Average Daily Mileage: 18 – 40 miles
Average Cycling Time: 2 – 4 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Lucca
Apr 68º/46º  May 75º/53º  Jun 84º/58º  Jul 89º/63º Aug 88º/63º  Sep 81º/58º  Oct 69º/51º

Average Precipitation (in.) – Lucca
Apr 2.2  May 2.9 Jun 2.2  Jul 1.6 Aug 3  Sep 3  Oct 3.5

What’s Included:

Biking Tour Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in 3- and 4-star hotels
  • 13 meals – 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • 8 nights in 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels
  • 14 meals – 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • Transfers

AND, the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions:

  • Pre-trip: Florence – 2 nights for only $345
  • Post-trip: Rapallo – 2 nights for only $345

Both Vacation Options Include

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $395 | Land Only Single Supplement: $295

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2016 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

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Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Florence

Depart the from home for Italy. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive in Florence

VBT Air Package guests: Upon arrival at the Florence airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. VBT’s local representative will meet you outside the customs area in your arrival terminal and will be holding a VBT sign. Your representative will help you transfer (approximately 50 minutes) to Lucca, where you will spend the next three nights.

If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes after the expected meeting time due to delayed or lost luggage, please let our Airport staff know by calling or sending a text message to +39 347 857 4265. Our drivers are generally able to wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands, after which you will be responsible for your own transfer. However, they might be able to reschedule your transfer if they are aware of the delay. You may also contact our One Call travel assistance to advise of your delay, and they will contact our transfer service.

Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 2:00 pm. You may store your luggage with the reception desk.

Lucca is a medieval city surrounded by high city walls dating to the Renaissance. A guided walking tour is included in your bike program in a couple of days. In the meantime, you are welcome to explore on your own, using VBT’s City Information as your guide. You are sure to be enchanted by the maze of the quiet streets in the city center, mostly closed to car traffic. In the evening, relax in one of the city’s restaurants, and sample the local cuisine.

Hotel: Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell’Alba
Alternate Hotel: Hotel San Marco

DAY 3: Meet Trip Leaders in Florence / Transfer to Lucca

VBT No-Air Package guests: Your tour starts at 2:00 pm at our Lucca hotel. Your Trip Leaders will be in the lobby wearing VBT staff garments. Please have lunch before meeting your group and Trip Leaders. If your arrival at our Lucca hotel is later than 2:00 pm or if you are delayed, please call the hotel and ask the front desk to pass the message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.

VBT Air Package & Pre-Trip Extension guests: The morning is yours to explore Lucca’s churches, shops, and cafés. At 2:00 pm, meet your VBT Trip Leaders in the hotel lobby. They will be easy to recognize, as they will be wearing VBT staff garments. Please have lunch before meeting the rest of the group.

Early in the afternoon, attend a safety and bike-fitting session followed by a short warm-up ride over the city’s famous Renaissance walls. These large and well-trodden avenues have been refashioned for pedestrians and bikers. Later this afternoon, gather for our welcome cocktail at the hotel, sampling local wine and cheese. From here, we walk to our trattoria for our dinner of Tuscan specialties.

Hotel: Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell’Alba
Alternate Hotel: Hotel San Marco
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 3.3 miles (5.3 km)

DAY 4: Ride to Massaciuccoli / Home-hosted meal / Optional Evening Concert

We cycle out of Lucca this morning to ride along an easy and unpaved bike path lining the Serchio River. After a few miles we join the gentle rolling piedemontana route at the foothills of the Apuan Alps—not too far from where Michelangelo personally chose the big blocks of marble from which he crafted his iconic sculptures. Before noon we reach Lake Massaciuccoli, a shallow lagoon hosting more than 100 species of permanent and migrating birds. Later we meet the descendants of the Ginori Lisci family—of the world-famous Italian housewares brand—for a prepared lunch on the manicured grounds of the Ginori villa. Here we find tracks of Giacomo Puccini, the famous composer of La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, and La Fanciulla del West, who lived just across the lake and was a good friend of Marchese Ginori. Our host Donatella will teach us how to prepare a Tuscan specialty, before sitting down and enjoying a delicious meal with our hosts.

This afternoon, we return to Lucca for a walking tour with our local guide. This is the hometown of Giacomo Puccini, and we will hear more about him. From April 1 to October 31, a one-hour concert with arias and duets from the great masterworks of Puccini, Verdi, and other Italian composers is performed at 7 pm every evening in the San Giovanni Basilique in the city center. This is an optional event (the cost is 20€ per person) and can be booked on site or beforehand at Dinner is on your own in one of the many enticing and cozy city osterias.

Hotel: Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell’Alba
Alternate Hotel: Hotel San Marco
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 15 or 31 miles (24 or 49.7 km)

DAY 5: Ride to Montecatini Terme / Lunch at winery / Cocktail at Terme Tettuccio Complex

We leave the city walls of Lucca and ride along the Serchio River on a scenic unpaved bike path for a few miles. Our route continues then along the ‘villa way’ on the lower hills of the Appennino Tosco Emilianowhere the noble and rich families of Lucca built their beautiful summer homes between the 15th and 19th centuries. Along the way, we stop to take pictures of Villa Torrigiani, the best example of Baroque architecture in Tuscany.

A country road lined with big umbrella pine trees leads us to our lunch stop, the Fattoria del Teso winery. Here we sample local Vermentino and Vin Santo, still prepared as they were 100 years ago, accompanied by delicious specialties like fagioli al Vermentino, crostini toscani, and sheep’s cheese with a blueberry and balsamic vinegar marmalade. We resume cycling to Montecatini Terme. People have been coming since the 14th century to “take the waters” in this town, considered Italy’s capital of natural hot springs. We arrive at our hotel in time to enjoy the swimming pool and perhaps one of the hotel’s famous Thai massages.

Later tonight, we meet for a cocktail at the Terme Tettuccio, the heart of the Terme complex which dates back to the 1920s. It is not rare during our cocktail to bump into the rehearsal of an open-air concert hosted in this magical and imposing setting. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Hotel: Grand Hotel Croce di Malta
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 17 or 36 miles (27 or 58 km)

DAY 6: Funicular ride up to Montecatini Alta / Bike to the hometown of Leonardo da Vinci

This morning a funicular ride takes us up to Montecatini Alta for spectacular views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside. Then, we start our ride on winding, gently rolling roads past olive trees and through small towns in the Valdinievole valley. In the town of Vinci, we arrive at the Castello dei Guidi, a former castle and home that now functions as a museum dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. Here, we’ll learn about the incredible inventions of the local genius.

Back in Montecatini take your time to soak in Montecatini’s thermal springs, or browse the fashion shops of this small but lovely town. You have time to enjoy a massage at the Thai Silk Spa in our hotel (, or perhaps soothe sore muscles with one of the thermal water treatments offered at the nearby Terme buildings (see below for more details, or visit the website at Or you might shuttle to something really unique: a thermal steam bath at Grotta Giusti, a unique millennial grotto in the nearby hamlet of Monsummano Terme. Rejoin your travel mates this evening for dinner at our hotel restaurant.

About Montecatini’s Thermal Springs
The Terme is a complex of nine buildings, each with its own character, staff, and range of treatments. They are located at short walking distance from our hotel. To enjoy the hot natural thermal springs, the easiest and quickest way is to access the Thermal Pool, open from March to October. It is located in the building called Terme Redi. The ticket costs €12 euro; no reservation is required, and the total time allowed for the bath is 60 minutes. The thermal pool is fed with 91° Leopoldina thermal water, excellent for rheumatic troubles and vascular disease.

A vast range of relaxing thermal water treatments and aesthetic treatments is available at the Terme Excelsior, also within walking distance from our hotel. Reservations are requested. Visit the website to become familiar with the range of packages. Our local staff and Trip Leaders can help you book in advance when you arrive in Italy.

Hotel: Grand Hotel Croce di Malta
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 16 or 20 miles (25.4 or 31.9 km). Additional moderate ride option: 21 miles (35 km).


DAY 7: Ride to Calcinaia / Walking tour of Pisa

This morning, we’ll enjoy a beautiful cycling experience to our next destination. We enter a forested area known as Le Cerbaie, coasting along the protected marshlands of Padule di Fucecchio. We’ll stop on the way for an included picnic lunch prepared by our Trip Leaders.

Later this afternoon, after settling in at our fine country hotel, we shuttle into Pisa where, with our local guide, we’ll see one of the most outstanding piazzas in the world: the Campo dei Miracoli, or the Square of Miracles. Here we’ll view the famous Leaning Tower, the cathedral, baptistery and cemetery.

Visitors are allowed inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but at a strictly managed schedule dictated by the time on your entry ticket. We recommend you book in advance online at (click on Ticket Office) and read the information provided. There are about 290 steps to the top; visits typically last a maximum of 30 minutes, including the climb and descent. If you are not at the entrance at the precise time on your ticket, you will lose your reservation. The entrance fee is €15 euro and can be paid at the ticket office in the square. The cost is €18 euro if you choose to book in advance online. Please note that you cannot carry large backpacks. This visit is not recommended for travelers who experience claustrophobia or vertigo.

To visit the other great monuments in the Campo dei Miracoli such as the Baptistery, Duomo, Cemetery, and Opera Museum, you can buy tickets onsite.

Pick a local restaurant for your dinner on own tonight among the many cozy cafes in town.

Hotel: Calamidoro Hotel
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 26.5 or 32.5 miles (42 or 52 km)

DAY 8: Ride in undiscovered Tuscany: Casciana Terme and Colline Pisane

This morning we shuttle south of the Arno River to start a beautiful bike ride far from car traffic and tourists in a little secret part of Tuscany. Our rolling route follows the Pisa Hills Wine Trail, on the Colline Pisane or Pisan Hills and offers great views of the vineyards producing the famous Chianti wine. Lunch is on your own in the small hill-top town of Peccioli.

In the afternoon, we have an easy route partly on a bike path, which will take us back though Pontedera to our hotel.

At the hotel, relax by the hotel pool and get ready for our festive farewell dinner at our hotel restaurant with more delicious Tuscan specialties.

Hotel: Calamidoro Hotel
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 27.4 or 37.2 miles (43.8 or 59.6 km)

DAY 9: Transfer to Rapallo / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: You will be transferred to your choice of Pisa Airport (arriving at approximately 9:30 am) or our hotel in Rapallo (arriving at approximately 10:30 am).

You are responsible for your own transfer to the airport for your flight home if you do not leave from Pisa airport.

VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the lively city of Rapallo in Liguria and check into our luxurious hotel. The only 5-star deluxe hotel in the entire Riviera di Levante, the Excelsior Palace Hotel is located in a wonderful setting and convenient point for your excursions. Rapallo is a small town on the sea and a gateway to Cinque Terre and Portofino. Our local expert will be at the hotel on your arrival. They can guide you on an orientation tour in Rapallo and help facilitate your excursions in Cinque Terre and the lovely surroundings. Your hotel room may not be available until 3:00 pm; you may store your luggage with the reception desk.

If you have chosen the independent Post-Trip Extension to Rapallo, you will remain at this hotel for three nights. Our local representative can answer your questions and facilitate your discovery of Cinque Terre and Portofino over the next few days. VBT’s City Information includes recommendations for restaurants, museums, and transportation in the area, and will help you explore on your own.

Walking is the best way to discover Rapallo. Travelers come from all over the world to hike the spectacular walking paths of this region. Rapallo’s Sanctuary of Montallegro, accessible by cable car, is the most important religious center in the Tigullio area. If you’re feeling energetic, the walking path leading up to the sanctuary has its own reward—the lovely San Fruttuoso Abbey. Lace-making also has a long tradition in Rapallo; the 17th-century Villa Tigullio houses a Lace Museum.

Also worth noting is our luxurious 5-star deluxe hotel, which has a unique setting facing the bay to the east and the headlands of Portofino to the west. You’re sure to enjoy its refined ambiance, panoramic restaurants, scenic swimming pools and poolside bar, fitness club, private pier, and access to the sea for swimming.

Hotel: Excelsior Palace Hotel
Meals: B

DAY 10: Depart for home

After breakfast* this morning, you will transfer to the Genoa airport (approximately 40 minutes, depending on traffic) for your departing flight. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated transfer time**.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**Please note: VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell'Alba

Located within the walls of historic Lucca, Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell'Alba is an ideal starting point from which to discover the wonderful city center of Lucca. Renovated from Villa Bottini’s historic stables and a 14th-century church, Hotel Ilaria provides a cozy atmosphere. Here you can find quiet, spacious, and elegantly furnished rooms with modern comforts. WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Grand Hotel Croce di Malta

The Grand Hotel Croce di Malta, adjacent to a lovely park, provides a relaxing and quiet base for your exploration of Montecatini. After visiting the famous natural springs of Montecatini, relax further at the hotel’s luxurious Thai Silk Spa, famous for its Thai massages. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Excelsior Palace Hotel

Inspired by the elegance of the early 1900s, when the property was first opened, the Excelsior Palace delivers 5-star luxury and service. Its dramatic coastal setting in the town of Rapallo offers stunning views of the Portofino coast, which you can enjoy from one of the many terraces or from the infinity pool. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the ferries that whisk you to Cinque Terre. Make the most of your stay with a massage or spa treatment at the hotel’s Wellness and Beauty Spa. Free WiFi is available in the lobby.
Free WiFi Included

Calamidoro Hotel

This classic Tuscan hotel offers a beautiful spot from which to enjoy your time in the region. After rewarding cycling days, stroll its manicured grounds, tee off at its practice golf course, or swim and relax in the pool. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci

Located in two former Renaissance palaces, the Palazzo Minerbetti and the Palazzo Strozzi del Poeta, Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci is located on one of Florence’s most elegant shopping streets and is close to all the important monuments of the city. Featuring a rooftop garden with panoramic views of Florence, the hotel offers guest rooms decorated with frescos and antique furniture. Typical of historical Italian palaces, each room is different in layout and size. The historic paintings, antique pieces from the 17th to 19th centuries, and elegant chandeliers in Murano glass are all part of the charm. All guest rooms have a private bath with hair dryer, satellite TV, telephone, minibar, safe and air conditioning.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel San Marco

The Hotel San Marco is a small, 3-star hotel with 4-star comforts. It s located a stroll away from the city walls of Lucca and a few steps from our cycling route. Originally a tobacco factory, the main building was converted into a church during World War II. Its recent renovations have transformed it into a trendy hotel. Its most unique feature is the outdoor swimming pool and cozy terrace—a true treat in a city center devoid of swimming pools. The staff is very friendly, and the owner, Monica, is often around to ensure that every detail is being tended to. WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Lucca to Pisa Bike Tour Photo Gallery
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Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With LOw-Cost Trip Extensions

Pre-Trip Extension - Florence

2 nights for only $345

Post-Trip Extension - Rapallo

2 nights for only $345

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