Bicycle Hidden Tuscany Plus! Tufa Towns

Bicycle Hidden Tuscany Plus! Tufa Towns

The Etruscans gave Tuscany its name and after the classical age the epicenter of Tuscany moved to the valley of the Arno River to the north of Siena, and this area of (southern) Tuscany was largely forgotten--until today. Modern Italians have re-discovered this scenic area for its landscapes, villages, and historical sites and we're happy to offer you an opportunity to discover it, too. Cycle through important Tuscan towns including Volterra and San Gimignano, visit smaller gems like Massa Marittima and Castiglione della Pescaia, and enjoy spa hotels such as the one near the important Etruscan site of Populonia.

A more remote part of Italy, this ride between two famous Italian destinations--Tuscany and Rome, offers a wealth of culture and remarkable scenery.

***If this sounds great but you prefer a shorter tour check out our Bicycling Hidden Tuscany itinerary.***

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Tour Style: Classic Hold-A-Space/Questions Request Custom Date Download Itinerary Tour Map
  • Trip At-A-Glance
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
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Trip At-A-Glance

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 12 Days
  • Total Distance / 449 km (277 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 50 km (31 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 3.0 Classic
  • Countries / Italy
  • Begin/End / Shuttle to Volterra / Shuttle to Viterbo
  • Price / From USD$4895
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Fabulous Tuscan food flavors (olive oil, tomatoes, basil and rosemary and pecorino cheeses), Thermal spas, Volterra, Ridge rides looking out across vineyards, cypress trees, olives, and the Tyrrhenian Sea, Etruscan tombs and ruins, Three 2-night stays, Tufa towns of Pitigliano, Sovana, Sorano, Two-night resort stay in Sovana, cycling along ancient volcanic craters, Viterbo and its papal palaces.
  • Includes
    12 days, 11 nights' accommodation; 8 dinners with wine, 1 picnic lunch, all breakfasts; guided tours of Pupulonia, Hildebrand tomb, ancient olive oil press and tasting, traditional ceramic work; and the usual (see below).

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Classic tour at the Classic Tour Style page.
  • Arrive / Depart
    Florence (FRL), Pisa (PSA) or Rome (FCO)
  • Overall Tour Level
    3.0 difficulty level 3.0
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    61km / 1293m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 4.5
    3
    52km / 559m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    4
    73km / 825m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 3.5
    5
    27km / 335m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 1.5
    6
    40km / 627m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    7
    44km / 269m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    8
    Transfer day
    9
    38km / 544m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 2.5
    10
    66km / 972m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 3.5
    11
    56km / 1036m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 4.0
    12
    Last day

Terrain Legend

Gently rolling Gently rolling hills

Rolling hills Rolling hills

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
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DAY 1: Arrive in Volterra

Highlights: Etruscan Volterra

Arrive today in Volterra, one of Italy's most famous Etruscan towns. Volterra was one of the nine most important Etruscan cities in the pre-Roman era; you'll be here two nights so you'll have the chance to explore its Roman theater and cathedrals. We'll take a test ride after we fit bikes today to make sure everything is fitting right.

DAY 2: Loop ride to San Gimignano

Highlights: San Gimignano and its towers. Alabaster shops in Volterra

Our loop ride today takes us to San Gimignano. Famous for its medieval towers, San Gimignano is one of the best-preserved 14th century villages in Europe. Have a rest, enjoy a coffee in the famous Piazza della Cisterna, and explore this fabulous town. We'll offer a shuttle back into Volterra for those who would prefer to avoid the climb! In the afternoon we have a special visit planned inside the Laboratory of an Alabaster carver. You'll learn more about the ancient technique that is still used by these artisans.

  • Distance: 61km (38mi)
  • Gain: 1293m (4241ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 4.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 3: Heading towards the coast

Highlights: A great ride through Tuscan hills and coastal lands

Today we head through rich farmland and remote villages where you will have fantastic views of the surrounding hills. You'll note a striking change in the landscape as we leave the central Tuscan hills for the fertile coastal lands. It's a great day for photographs!

  • Distance: 52km (33mi)
  • Gain: 559m (1834ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 4: Bicycle through the northern Maremma region

Highlights: Wine village of Bolgheri, Maremma region of Italy, outdoor pools

We have another scenic ride in store today as we bicycle through the Maremma region of Italy, famous for its "cowboys" and small, medieval towns. The first part of our ride is along the coastal plain; this entire section underwent agricultural reclamation from the late 19th century through Mussolini's rule in the early-mid 20th century. Swamps were drained and roads and other infrastructure were built, and the region is now rich in olive oil and wine production. We pedal through the tiny fortress town of Bolgheri, famous for its red wines, including "Sassicaia". Talk with the locals if you can find one; according to one spry 89-year-old we met in the town square, there are only twenty-six residents left! Another gentle forested climb brings us to a gliding downhill which customers have called, "the best ride in the world" and ends in a tiny stone village, worth a peek before continuing on. Our hotel pool is perfect for soothing tired muscles after four days of cycling.

  • Distance: 73km (46mi)
  • Gain: 825m (2706ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 5: Loop ride to Populonia and the beach

Highlights: Etruscan sites, beaches, Medieval architecture

We've planned a casual bike ride today to give you a sampling of history and geography from the Etruscan time through the Renaissance. We head first to the ancient Etruscan port of Populonia, the most important Etruscan port town. We'll have a guided visit of the tombs and the "industrial" area, learning about the Etruscans' practice of metallurgy, where they mined tin and iron from local deposits and processed them into valuable commodities for trade throughout the Mediterranean. After our visit, you can ride to the village for the view, enjoy some beach time, have lunch by the sea, return to the pool or head off for some more mileage.

  • Distance: 27km (17mi)
  • Gain: 335m (1099ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 6: Bicycle to Massa Marittima

Highlights: Cycling remote country roads, the hilltop village of Massa Marittima

Today's ride takes you into the interior as you follow several river valleys. Our destination tonight is the lively hilltop village of Massa Marittima. Massa Marittima is known as the "figlia nobilissima" (noble daughter) of Pisa and Siena. Its origins lie somewhere in the High Middle Ages, when the hills around the city were mined for minerals. In the 10th century, the city was the seat of the Bishop of Populonia, but the city's golden age came in 1225, when it became an independent municipality. Take time for some sightseeing or relax by the pool.

  • Distance: 40km (25mi)
  • Gain: 627m (2057ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Castiglione della Pescaia

Highlights: Cycling remote country roads, fishing port of Castiglione della Pescaia

Todays ride takes you further into the interior before bringing you Castiglione della Pescaia on the coast. Although it is a busy seaside resort in July and August, for most of the year Castiglione is a bustling market center and fishing port. Our hotel sits in the old city center under the 17th century walls built by the Medici family's Grand Duke, Ferdinand I.

  • Distance: 44km (28mi)
  • Gain: 269m (882ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Sovana and Etruscan tombs

Highlights: Sovana, stone carved roads, Hildebrand tomb

We'll shuttle to our next destination, Sovana. This beautifully situated Etruscan town is literally carved into the local tufa (volcanic stone). Enjoy a picnic lunch at an agriristoro and a guided visit of the monumental Etruscan Hildebrand tomb, one of the most famous and well-preserved tombs of the area and within a larger necropolis where we can wander through the canyon-like alleyways, all of which are sculpted from stone. Settle into our hotel or head to the center of town to sit and enjoy a drink, surrounded by remarkable tufa stone buildings.

DAY 9: Loop ride to stone villages

Highlights: Pitigliano and Orsini Family Palaces, Etruscan archaeological sites, Sorano

Our loop ride from Sovana takes us to the striking towns of Pitigliano and Sorano, both of which are perched high on a cliff of tufa stone. Similar to Sovana, these towns have Etruscan origins and impressive archaeological remnants. Built between the 10th and 15th centuries, they were held by important Roman families--the Orsini (Pitigliano) and the Aldobrandeschi (Sorano) families until their fall to the Medici's, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Their elaborate palaces still stand in the center of both towns.

  • Distance: 38km (24mi)
  • Gain: 544m (1784ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 10: Bicycle to Tuscania

Highlights: Heart of Etruscans, Pianiano, Tuscania

We bicycle through a landscape that characterizes southern Tuscany as we head to northern Lazio, a region most widely known for its capital city, Rome. We'll ride along ridges flanking old volcanoes that created the crater lakes of Bolsena, Vico, and Bracciano. Enjoy a stop in the tiny village of Pianiano, a charming place with a diverse history. It's origins are rumored to come from an ancient cult of Apollo and Diana, and it was once a refuge for Albanians escaping Turkish religious prosecution in 1785. We will then ride to Tuscania, home to the Etruscan Archaeological Museum which features several artifacts found in the numerous nearby Etruscan necropolises.

DAY 11: Punta del Lago on Vico Lake

Highlights: Viterbo, ceramic visit, historic olive press, lakeside hotel

We enter Viterbo through its 11th and 12th century city walls, a spectacular welcome to a remarkable city. Viterbo was once the Pope's summer residence, and for a time, the capital of Italy when the Papacy was thrown out of Rome between the 12th and 14th centuries. Viterbo's Papal Palace is an impressive site – and did we mention the town has healing thermal waters? Today, many artisans make their home in Viterbo. We'll visit a ceramist and a historic olive oil press in Viterbo before continuing to our hotel in tiny Punta del Lago, situated on the smallest and highest of the volcanic lakes in this region- Lago di Vico. We'll enjoy a special dinner this evening.

DAY 12: Shuttle to Viterbo

Highlights: Viterbo

We'll leave the lake together this morning and shuttle you to the Viterbo train station. Stick around to enjoy this ancient city or Rome is well-connected by train.

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Arrive in Volterra

Your tour starts with a complimentary ExperiencePlus! shuttle pick-up on Day 1 at 12 noon at the Meeting Hotel in Florence, the Hotel Plaza Lucchesi (your spot on the shuttle is already saved for you).

We will be glad to arrange your pre-tour stay at the Meeting Hotel for you upon request. Note that we will not sleep there as a group and the stay there is not included in the tour price.

Flying into Florence (FLR) and continuing to the Meeting Hotel:

  • Taxi from the airport to the Meeting Hotel (25 min/EUR 30)

Or airport shuttle:

  1. Vola in Bus shuttle to the Firenze S.M. Novella train station (20 min/EUR 6)
  2. Taxi from the train station to the Meeting Hotel (10-15 min/EUR 10-12)

Day 12: Departure Information

Shuttle to Viterbo

Your tour ends with a complimentary ExperiencePlus! shuttle drop-off at the Viterbo Train station on the final day of the tour around 10 a.m. (your spot on the shuttle is already saved for you). Schedule your outbound flight for the following day.

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying out of the Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO).

From the Viterbo train station to the Rome Airport:

  1. Train from Viterbo Porta Romana to Roma Termini (2.5 hours/fares vary)
  2. Leonardo Express from Roma Termini to the Rome Airport (32 min/EUR 14) or Taxi (30 min/EUR 48)

Look up Italian train schedules at Trenitalia.com or Trainline.eu. Questions? See our information on taking trains in Europe here or ask us.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To Do Today!

3–6 Months Prior to Departure

  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed. As you make your plans refer to the Getting To and Away sent to you in your booking confirmation email it provides meeting times and the starting and ending hotels and shuttle information when applicable.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights. Please refer to the Getting To and Away sheet you received in your Reservation Confirmation Email.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program www.experienceplus.com/training.
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 Weeks–2 Weeks Prior to Departure

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your Getting To and Away information and one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Classic Tour Style

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Classic tour at the Classic page.

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