Thursday, September 6, 2012

Florence by Bike guiding tour 9-5-12

On Wednesday, I had a trial run doing a tour with another guide, Leif, for Florence by Bike, the shop that sponsors the team I am on and ride with, who rents bikes and has a couple of tours they do.  It was an interesting day.  I had ridden with Leif before, with the team, and he suggested, along with Paul at the 4 Seasons, that I contact Florence by Bike to take out tours for them.  We had a group of 4 Swedes and 1 Australian and did their longer tour to Impruneta.  Leif has been doing tours for them for 8 years and knows the drill well.  To summarize, we did everything slowly and deliberately.  It was fine, though.  We left town using bike paths as much as possible, and eventually hooked up with a little used road that climbs to Piazzale Michaelangelo.  From there, we rode on the Viale to the short climb to Poggio Imperiale, then took the road I normally take to Galluzzo.  On the way, we stopped a few times, and stopped longer for photos at the Piazzale.  At Galluzzo, we had a "real break" of 20 minutes and most of the group had cafe and a pastry.

From Galluzzo, we climbed to Pozzolatico, then up through Mezzomonte and Monteoriolo.  This was again, done quite deliberately and slow.  One of the riders had to walk portions of the climb.  I offered to "push" her, but she was determined to walk the steeper sections, but walk quickly.  We took a few stops on the way, then turned off for a lunch at Villa di Riboia.  It is a beautiful Villa almost to Impruneta.  The Villa has been in the family for generations, and in the past, the owner's son worked for Florence by Bike, and they arranged to do the lunch for tours there.  It was a great lunch, and Leif assumed the role of host, explaining some things about the villa, talking about the food and wine, which was very traditional "Tuscan".  The wine was from grapes harvested on the property.  It was a charming lunch, and probably a good 1-1/2 hour to 2 hour break.

After lunch, we rode toward Impruneta, turning off on the road through Bagnolo, where Leif had arranged for a tour and tasting of a very small vineyard.  Our host, Marco, was the current head of the family that has owned the vineyard for many generations, since the early 1800's.  He was an excellent host and explained the wine making process very well.  It is a very small vineyard, producing around 25,000 to 30,000 bottles per year.  After the tour, we had a tasting of two reds and a truly excellent Vin Santo.  I am a fan of Vin Santo, and it was easily the best I had ever had.  Marco explained they had won many awards for the Vin Santo, and was very happy with my obvious enjoyment of the wine.  The two Swedish couples purchased wine and olive oil, which they took back in panniers provided by the shop with their rental bikes.

At this point, it was already after 5, so we finished the descent into Tavernuzze, then returned to town on the main road to Porta Romana.  From there, we rode through town via the centro, returning to the shop. I will check in with the shop today, but it would appear that I am now set to do tours for them as needed.  I have explained that I take out my own tours, and will be available on and off based on my own clientele.  Leif sent Monica, who runs the tours and is one of the owners of the shop, an email recommending me as a guide.  We shall see how it goes.  No matter what, it was a good experience, and seeing Leif deal with riders who are not as fit as anyone I have taken out was valuable.  You can check out details of the ride at the following web address:

Florence by Bike guiding tour 9-5-12 by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

A terracotta circle at a manufacturer we stopped at outside of Impruneta.
Impruneta is famous for their terracotta.

The view from the yard at the Fattoria Bagnolo vineyard.

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