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.***

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
May 19-30, 2019
USD$4895
USD$650
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Sep 1-12, 2019
USD$4895
USD$650
 Book by November 15 and save $200!
Oct 6-17, 2019
USD$4895
USD$650
 Book by November 15 and save $200!

* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 12 Days
  • Total Distance / 449 km (277 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 50 km (31 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 3.0
  • Countries / Italy
  • Begin/End / Shuttle to Volterra / Shuttle to Viterbo
  • Price / From USD$4895
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  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Tufa towns of Pitigliano, Sovana, Sorano, Two-night resort stay in Sovana, cycling along ancient volcanic craters, Etruscan tombs and ruins, Viterbo and its papal palaces, culinary specialties (olive oil and pecorino cheeses), Two 2-night stays, Volterra, San Gimignano, Ridge rides looking out across vineyards, cypress trees, olives, and the Tyrrhenian Sea
  • Includes
    12 days, 11 nights' accommodation; 2 or 3 bilingual tour leaders; 8 dinners with wine, 1 picnic lunch, all breakfasts; guided tours of Pupulonia, Hildebrand tomb, Villa Lante or Farnese Gardens; ancient olive oil press and tasting, traditional ceramic work

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and pre/post tour hotels.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality 27-30 speed bike.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events like wine tastings, cultural visits and chocolatiers.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options.
    • Detailed route map and free use of our traveling resource library.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Florence (FRL), Pisa (PSA) or Rome (FCO)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • 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

    Tour Level Note: A mix of long and gentle, and short but steep climbs. Long rides can be skipped for easier cycling.

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

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: 61 km (38 mi)
  • Gain: 1293 m (4241 ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: Day 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: 52 km (33 mi)
  • Gain: 559 m (1834 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day 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: 73 km (46 mi)
  • Gain: 825 m (2706 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day 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: 27 km (17 mi)
  • Gain: 335 m (1099 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day 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: 40 km (25 mi)
  • Gain: 627 m (2057 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day 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: 44 km (28 mi)
  • Gain: 269 m (882 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day 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: 38 km (24 mi)
  • Gain: 544 m (1784 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day 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.

  • Distance: 66 km (41 mi)
  • Gain: 972 m (3188 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

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: Visit Villa Lante Gardens, shuttle to Viterbo

Highlights: Villa Lante Gardens, Viterbo

We'll leave the lake together this morning to head to visit one of the most impressive Italian Renaissance gardens in the country--Villa Lante in Bagnaia. Enjoy the fountains, geometrical shapes and landscaped gardens which were built to show man's triumph over nature. We'll then shuttle to the Viterbo train station and say goodbye.

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Arrive in Volterra

Lodging: Hotel San Lino

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

Visit Villa Lante Gardens, 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, after a visit to the Villa Lante Gardens, at around 12 noon (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.

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and 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.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-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 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

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

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike comes with a pack for the rear rack, lock, cyclometer (bicycle computer), a spare tube and patch kit and pump, a rear light and in some places a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com. Tracks are available upon request approximately three to four weeks prior to the departure.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • An experience of a lifetime. The Plus was the best. Loved the Tufa towns.

    Cris H., Annapolis, MD - Sept 2017
  • The first part was beautiful as well and should not be missed, but the Tufa towns and the scenery in that area were so gorgeous that I would certainly consider going back and doing a tour there again (as I am with Dordogne next year). Words cannot describe it.

    Michael T., Corona, CA - September 2017
  • What was your favorite experience on this trip? The guides were outstanding, the side trips were very interesting, the other riders were great, and the food was outstanding.

    Lee C., Arvada, CO - October 2017
  • Absolutely Amazing! After my first Experience Plus tour I knew biking was the best way to see a country. I have just finished my 14th tour and am as thrilled now as I was 20 years ago. Love, love, love your tours.

    Terry G., Annapolis, MD - September 2017
  • How would you describe this tour to a friend? Fabulously beautiful and worth the effort. Experience Plus is a quality operation. You continue to provide adventures that are not cruise ship style of travel. We will travel again with you.

    Dede M., Sonora, CA - October 2017
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