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Three of the Many Faces of Italy

by ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Three of the Many Faces of Italy

Bicycle Tours through Tuscany, the Po Valley and Puglia

 Even the briefest glance at a map of Italy’s long, thin profile — which extends from the snowy Alps nearly to the coast of North Africa — should indicate that there might be some pronounced regional differences. Get to know the country and its people better, and you’ll find that initial impression is spot-on. It’s a country sewn together from dozens of separate histories: prior to the mid-1800’s, the Italian peninsula was a patchwork of city-states, regional powers, and overlapping imperial boundaries for more than two thousand years. It’s a country simultaneously embodied by the sinking cultural treasure that is Venice, the rich river-valley farms (and cuisine!) of the Po Valley, the hills of Tuscany, and the sparkling beaches of Puglia. As many times as we go back, we always find Italy ready to show us more — a fact underscored by the three distinct regions highlighted by this month’s featured bicycle tours: Tuscany, the Po Valley, and Puglia.

If you’re looking for gentle terrain, the romance of Venice, the art of Florence, and a chance to see where some of the best Italian cuisine comes from, you’ll love our popular Bicycling Venice to Florence cycling tour. It winds across the rich agricultural delta of the Po River, from Venice through the great art cities of Ravenna and Faenza, and over the Appenines to Florence, fueled along the way by the rich, quintessentially Italian food of Emilia Romagna.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to see the hills of Tuscany? Tuscany’s iconic landscape, Renaissance history and charming towns have made it a must-see destination. Our Bicycling Venice to Pisa bike tour traverses those famous hills, continuing through Florence all the way to Pisa and Lucca on the coast. Or explore the beaches and thermal spas along the Tuscan coastline south of Pisa on our Cycling the Coast of Tuscany trip – which can be extended to include a stay on a working vineyard and olive farm as the Cycling the Coast of Tuscany Plus! Vineyards and Olive Groves tour.

Far to the south, there’s another side of Italy waiting to be discovered: Puglia, in the heel of Italy’s "boot." While the region is less well-known than Tuscany, it’s a land richly endowed with cultural treasures of its own: our Puglia – Cycling Southern Italy bicycle tour visits two UNESCO World Heritage sites, cathedrals dating as far back as the 12th century, limestone caves and the unique farm cottages known as trulli. The extended edition of this tour adds the ceramic town of Grottaglie and the sunny beaches of the Ionian coast.

With so much of Italy waiting to be discovered, it’s not easy deciding which region to start with. If you need help choosing, give us a call at 1-800-685-4565 – or jump to more information about each of these tours below:

Bicycling amid the olive groves near Magliano di Toscana.

Gallipoli, photographed by customer Burt Peters.