We have chosen to drive on peaceful country roads through Tuscany, following the hills up and down, negotiating hairpin bends and meandering through hill-top villages and towns. On these routes we always see cyclists; these are generally on their own or in pairs, in team lycra and are seemingly tackling the ups and downs with hardly a bead of perspiration. Going down some of the hills they can move faster than the Blue Bus around the corners and this is fine. However, having a cyclist on your rear bumper is one thing, what is heart-stopping is when we are going up the hill and a cyclist is riding down and taking the racing line round a blind bend; we see him correct his path and seem to skip to the right. We hate to think the mess Italian lycra would make of the van’s bumpers.
At the well run and peacefully located Camping Vale Gaia near Cecina, they had a folder full of cycling routes from the campsite and we browsed through these to find something suitable for a day out. Most of the routes were around 80 – 100 kms, which on the ups and downs of Tuscany is more than Carol certainly wanted to tackle. We felt like a pair of English wimps choosing the 40 kms route, but had a good few hours cycling and managed to sample more Italian ice cream on the way and fit in a paddle in the Med.
On our way north we had a short stop in Lucca, a handsome walled city between Firenze and Pisa and a cyclist’s heaven. Most of the narrow city streets are traffic free and on top of the walls is a tree-lined traffic free road and footpath.