Riding in Tuscany

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tagesk, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    I forgot one thing: Yetserday I rode 1686 km here in Italy, and I did not meet a single bike dyring the whole day. It is true that it was below 10C all the day, but still. Depressing!

    [TaSK]
    #61
  2. RonS

    RonS Out there...

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    Of the places I've been in my life, Florence (the English version of the name) is my favorite town in the world. I could sit in front of the Duomo watching people go by for the rest of my life and be content. Maybe roam up to the Piti Palace, the Uffizi and down the Academia once in a while to contemplate the great works of art that can be found around there as well. Thanks for reminding me of that. Now just how do you expect me to get any work done since you transported me back there?
    #62
  3. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    [​IMG]

    In this picture I parked the bike next to a small side-walk trattoria; absolutely no parking, so a Jaguar with diplomatic plates and my bike were the only one :D.

    I think it can be nice in summer, to sit here in the shade, while the Duomo towers over everything. Have a proper lunch, rounding it off with some Gorgonzola and a glass of powerful red wine to keep it company. Then a sigar.

    [TaSK]
    #63
  4. RonS

    RonS Out there...

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    Stop that, I have work to do:)

    OK, now that you mention it I'll tell you a few of my favorite places in Florence. You've mentioned a few. Namely the Uffizi, the Piti Palace the Medici palace (Piazza della Signoria where the David copy stands today) and the Ponte Vechio. The art in the Uffizi and the Piti Palace has to be seen to be believed. I'm guessing that it is the largest collection of Renaissance art in Italy featuring the works of Michelangelo, de Vinci and Botticelli.

    Next time you are there (it’s only a half a day to get there for you) just behind the Duomo is a small church called Santa Croce filled with frescos by Giotto. When you walk through the doors on your right is the tomb of Michelangelo. He asked to be buried there so that he could watch the angels fly over the Duomo or something like that. Next on your right is the tomb of Machiavelli. Across to your left is the tomb of Galileo (of Pizza fame of course). The original statue of the David is located at the Academia about six block from the Duomo in the direction away from the river Arno if I remember correctly. The original Baptistery doors (done by Pisano) from the Duomo are also on display there.

    Just around the corner from the Duomo is the best Trattoria in all of Italy in my opinion. I forget the name of it but there was a leather store near the Duomo called "David2". If it’s still there, the owner pointed us to it. He is a relative of the Trattoria owner.

    I could spend weeks in that town and never run out of things to see and do. Hell, I could spend the rest of my life wandering around Italy and never run out of things to see and do.
    #64
  5. Slice

    Slice words+pix+wood+bikes

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    Beautiful ride reports! And the food—especially what looks like good, crusty handmade bread—makes them even better.

    You mentioned that you get to ride Tuscany for a living. I'm curious, because I too want to ride for a living, and am looking for ideas. If you don't mind, what is it that you do for a living?
    #65
  6. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    I'm afraid that a moderator will nuke my thread and dump into Vendors or JoMama - Id' like to keep this thread here as a place where fellow riders can fetch ideas of what to do during their vacation in Toscana. So, I'll refrain from telling you here.

    Instead I'll PM you.

    [TaSK]



    (while you wait you can click on the link in my signature)
    #66
  7. Slice

    Slice words+pix+wood+bikes

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    Ah-ha! Thanks for the clarification. I've got it, now. And keep up the excellent ride-n'-eat reports! :wink:
    #67
  8. Watercat

    Watercat . . . gravity sucks

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    TaSK,

    Thanks for your posts and perhaps as you've intended to be the cultural and touristic ambassador for Tuscany - let me say in my case your posts and pictures have had a very strong persuasion in my leanings toward travel to the Tuscan region of Italy!!!!!! :clap

    If indeed I do travel to Tuscany, it will undoubtably be a journey on two wheels!

    Okay, now a question:

    Please explicate this elixir to an ignoramus such as me:

    quote/: This leaves to Tuscan contenders - I need to go there to get an impression. Let us start with Brunello; I have included a picture of a Brunello I found in my cellar. My God, I am looking forward to taste that one! /endquote . . . .


    Please, I'd like a description of this (rare?) treat(Brunello) as I am soon to be 47 and it is yet to cross my lips! I need to know and perhaps, need not be deprived.

    Thanks! :thumb
    #68
  9. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    Location:
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    [​IMG]
    Wikipedia is your friend! A short but accurate and to-the-point introduction can be found here. My drinking experience is that one of the few things that seems to work here in Italy is the wine-classification system. The name Brunello di Montalcino can only be used if the wine has been made in Montalcino, according to the rules for the wine, AND the wine itself pass a set of tests conducted by officials from the Goverment before it is botteled. Every single bottle should have a paper-strip glued to the neck, or over the cork, certifying it has been tested.

    Thus, even there are variations within the Brunello as the producers strive to excel, if they want to call their wine Brunello, there are strict limits to what they can do. For example: No other grapes than sangiovese are allowed, and thus the variations you can obtain is limited. The bottom line is that there is no reason to buy in the upper half of the price range. Normally I stay in the lower third, and I am very happy.

    [​IMG]

    The Brunello is a very powerful wine. It will completely overpower small things like chicken or pasta with vegetables. This is a wine for game and other heavy-weight dishes. For my birthday dinner next week I will serve Bistecca Fiorentina (info here). Remember that the Brunello should be opened at least one hour before serving, and that many bottles have residue (or whatever you call the things that are sinking to the bottom of the bottle) so keep it upright for som ours before serving.

    The picture at the top was taken in Chianti, just south of Siena a few kilometers noth of Montalcino. These fields have been farmed for (more than) 2.000 years and therefore there are no edges left. These are the rolling hills of Chianti! The bottom picture shows part of a Bistecca Fiorentina, a few salsicce, and a bottle of Chianti Classico. Note the paper label just visible on the top of the bottle.

    Oh well - this thread is supposed to be about riding, not eating. But I got carried away, sorry. Tomorrow is Sunday and I'll make a proper ride report for you. Maybe I'll ride down and take a look at the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (info here).

    [TaSK]
    #69
  10. Red Roadster

    Red Roadster Roaming Redneck

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    Hello TaSK,

    I'm really enjoying your photos. I went to Italy in December of 2006. We went to Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento, Orvieto, San Gimignano, Chianciano Terme, Montepulciano, Siena, Florence, Assissi, and back to Rome.

    We went to a few of the places you have posted here. Please do show the inmates the photos of the cellars in Montepulciano.

    I'm off to Germany and Hungary this summer with the daughter.

    At the risk of the mods, I'll see you for an extended stay in the summer of 2010!!

    Ride safe,
    Steve
    #70
  11. gothamAlp

    gothamAlp happy to be here

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    Location:
    flagstaff and/or tucson, az
    benissimo, TAG-liatelli! you brightened my very cold sunday morning on the other side of the world. i spent my 20th birthday with a beautiful girl in firenze, and that was was too long ago. i need to get back, and you have inspired me.

    grazie mille, and continued buon viaggio :thumb
    #71
  12. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    Toscana. Been there twice on my GS. Beyond beautiful. I hope to return in the spring.
    #72
  13. motorrider

    motorrider Ride as much as you can!

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    Location:
    Losser, Netherlands
    Hello Tagesk,

    Great report. Tuscany is very beautiful.
    Look were I was in September. :ricky

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #73
  14. ladygodiva

    ladygodiva Gnocca

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    Location:
    Snow place like home!
    Basta, basta, basta! You're killing me! :D

    It's a beautiful day here and there is nothing I would prefer to riding up to Tuscany through the hills and stopping for a good bottle of red wine, some ribollita, pecorino e miele, whatever ...... :freaky












    Keep it coming, keep it coming :ear
    #74
  15. Watercat

    Watercat . . . gravity sucks

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    Yes, this is it - the place i go for a dose of culture!

    Food, wine, cafe(coffee), architecture, religious structures, countryside, cities and well - um - roads too! Thanks for reminding us what's out there in that fabulous culture that is Tuscany or Toscana (hope I spelled that right).

    I, for one, am just drooling to visit there, but the timing isn't quite right as the exchange rate makes me rethink my intention . . . . . .

    Congrats on the distance ride!!!!!! Looks like you put in some serious seat time on the saddle.

    Thank you for this RR TaSK ! ! ! ! !
    #75
  16. strathbran steve

    strathbran steve Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Ross-shire, Highlands of Scotland
    I just cant wait to go back :bmwrider
    #76
  17. bLaCk 8east

    bLaCk 8east Been here awhile

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    London, UK
    Great stuff. How did you find navigating the streets of florence ? My GPS packed in its was doing so many recalculations trying to find the hotel.
    I got there eventually though :clap

    Attached Files:

    #77
  18. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

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    3,231
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    [​IMG]


    As always, in order to have a nice day, I need to start with a proper breakfast. And that, Gentlemen, is not
    fried sossages, scrambled eggs and boiled tomatoes. No, it is two thin slices of Pane Puglese (bread from Puglia)
    with orange marmelade that my friend Lee has made from the oranges he has in his garden. With this a well
    made cappuccino (neither skimmed milk nor decaf, and very hot). Please note that I am not studying the map a
    s I normally do - I am looking at Google Maps. There is a reason for that, and I will show you something very cool.

    [​IMG]

    But before we get to the cool stuff I must tell you that today's theme is From Behind. Based on my personal
    preferences I always ask my model to show either a full frontal, or a profile (preferrably the right side). On the
    other hand, I am fully aware that pictures taken from behind which reveils all details can have considerable
    effect on people. Mostly men, but let us keep it general. For a particular reason, and, as you understand, not
    because I prefer them taken that way, all pictures today show Bamsefar with his rear end toward me.
    Not that his rear-end isn't worth looking at, at times, but Bamsefar is male and most that prefer things from behind
    have females in mind. I notice here that many uses "she" when talking about their bike. And in that case, from
    behind
    might have it's advantages. Not so with Bamsefar.
    OK, on the picture above you see Bamsefar, from behind, in front of what is probably the best preserved medieval
    town in Toscana: Monteriggioni. It was built by Siena as part of the defence against Firenze. Ah - why from behind today?

    [​IMG]

    If you look very careful at the picture of Bamsefar's rear end, you'll see a yellow sticker. Today all pictures of Bamsefar
    will show his rear end to demonstrate that I have received, and put on, the ADV decal. Yes I know that is cool, but this is
    not the cool thing I am going to show you today.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The lower of these two images was taken from the hill in the right hand corner of the upper picture. So they both show a large
    field. Probably we will ahev sunflowers here in a few month, or corn. Not very exciting. In fact, even if you look very, very closely
    you can't see anything interesting at all. But that is becuase we are standing on the ground. We need to fly, and the best way
    to fly high in space and look down on Earth, that is by means of Google Earth (and the same images in Google Maps).

    [​IMG]

    So seen from space, that flat, boring field suddenly doesn't look so bring after all. It seems we have found the remains of a hippodrome!
    Or maybe an Roman circus (remember Ben Hur?).
    I found this by chance while looking for something else. The image shown above is what Google Maps (click here) and Google Earth (click here for
    the .KMZ file) shows as of today. I have opted to make a copy and show here, because if Google install new images for this point we might not
    see the outline any more. I have no idea what this is, but is surely looks like Circus Maximus in Roma (Wikipedia).
    I have show you where I took the two pictures you can see above. The farm you see from space can also been siin on Picture 1. This gives
    an indication on the size. Measured in Google Earth the while thing is 750 meters (0.5 miles) from end to end.
    To put this in perspective: we are a few km east of Siena. The Romans came here about 300 BC after having defeated the Etruscans state.
    So these fields have been cultivated for more thatn 2.000 years. And sometime during those years, a structure was built here that was visible
    ust when the pictures on Google was taken. Today nothing can be seen!

    Is that cool, or what?

    After having spent more than one hour not smoking a few sigarillos, looking at the field and listning to the silence here far out on the coutryside, I
    went to look at some other very old things. Part two of From Behind in a little while (that is, after antipasti di mare, ravioli su burro e salvie,
    and a salsicce fried in the pan. With a glass of Chianti. Or two).

    Thank you for your attention!

    [TaSK]
    #78
  19. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    61,694
    Very cool indeed!! Thanks for updating this magnificent thread :thumb
    #79
  20. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    3,231
    Location:
    Tuscany, Italy
    [​IMG]


    After having enjoyed the Hippordome (which I could not see, but only sort of feel) I drove a few km
    towards Siena. I came to la Casetta and found a combined trattoria and bar with the same name. It
    was too late for a proper lunch so I can't tell you anything about the trattoria. But the bar, and the owner,
    was the most unfriendly Italian I have ever encountered. Very depressing place. And, in fact, I don't think
    it was too late but rather that she just didn't feel like giving me lunch. Hadn't it been for my excellent mood
    this would have destroyed my Sunday. A sunday without pranzo? Contradiction in terms!
    Bamsefar pictured, from behind, in front of the bar. If you ride to "see" the hippodrome, don't stop in la Casetta.

    I took the highway from Pisa east to Firenze, and then from Firenze to Siena, all in order to quickly get to my hippodrome.
    On the way back I ride slower, on the small and twisting roads of Toscana.

    [​IMG]

    I pass Siena, and go north-west towards Pisa. First stop is Colle val d'Elsa. I snap a picture of Porta Nuova (the new
    gate) built by Lorenzo de'Medici in 1481. The town fell to the Pope after a 60 day siege in 1479, and Lorenzo was
    determined to make sure it next time the town would be able to defent itself properly. Around here, it is not at all odd
    that something from 1481 is considered new. Some other day I'll venture inside and take a look at the old gate. The old
    city walls had been around for about 300 years when this new part was added.

    I continue north-west, towards Pisa. I do not (repeat: not!) stop at San Gimignano (wikipedia). The reason is that the
    town is fake. Well, not exactly fake, but not real. It is true that is was a marketing scoop of unknown genius to call the
    town "The Manhatten of Tuscany". For tourists from some contries, one in particular, this makes the town irresistable.
    Noone lives there any more, there are nothing to be seen but empty houses, and it is impossible to order in Italian inside
    a bar becuase the commeriere will ignore you; there are tourists sitting outside that will pay 6 euro for a cappuccino so
    why bother with you who want an espresso for 80 centesimi? Let it be added to this that I got 130 euro in parking ticket
    with my bike there. Don't go there!
    However, the town looks nice from afar, and I'll show you some photos a day when there is sun.

    [​IMG]

    Happily leaving San Gimignano behind us, passing through the scenic Tuscan landscape with it's rolling hills,
    we arrive in Volterra. I don't know why, but Volterra has captured my hart. We are talking about 3.000 years
    of town-life here. In particular, when the Etruscan city walls around Volterra were completed after 300 years
    of building in the 4th centry BC, there were 25.000 people living there. Roma invaded the city in 298 BC and
    there is a lot of collateral damage. The picture above is taken at Porta di Diana (the gate of the Gods), and
    this gate has been in ruins for 2.300 years. That's something! I like this place, and I hang around not smoking
    a sigar for a while.

    [​IMG]

    After having put out my non-existing sigar, I dash over the valley to take another picture of the
    Etruscan wall. There is a path following it, and you can walk along the 7.3 km (4.5 miles) wall and enjoy
    the stunning view.

    [​IMG]


    I have left the coolest of all pictures from Volterra to the end.
    As you might recall, Augustus was emperor in Roma from 27BC to 14AD (you might have heard this: Now in
    those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. And
    everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city
    . From Luke 2:1. That's owr man!).
    Anyway, Volterra is situaated on a hill (well, more a small mountain), and Augustus also built a large theater on
    the norther slope. By the way, all this is within the Etruscan walls.
    Now, Volterra was almost 1.000 years old when the theater was built. Thus the correct caption to the picture above is:

    The picture shows Volterra.
    In the foregroud, newer Roman ruins.


    Newer Roman ruins? I don't know about you, but for me that consept is mind-boggling. I refrain from taking a sigarillo, but stand for a while
    and look at those newer ruins. Then I go home.

    [​IMG]

    306 km (190 miles) on a gray Sunday.

    Thank you for you attention - I had a nice Sunday (even though I didn't get lunch), and I hope you have had a nice time reading.

    [TaSK]
    #80