Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tuesday guided tour and Wednesday day at the beach.

Tuesday, I did my first real guide day for Dominick with Van support.  Roberto, the van driver picked me up then we were at Florence by Bike when it opened to pick up the bikes.  We drove to a beautiful hotel outside of Tavernelle and picked up the Taylor family.  A very nice family from Florida, who Dominick set up with a week plus worth of accommodations and fun activities.  My day was the only day for riding, and we drove from Tavernelle to San Donato in Poggio where we started our tour.  We rode up the hill to the turn off for La Piazza, where we descended , then climbed a little, then completed the descent to the valley floor.  Everyone was doing pretty well at this point.  I take so many different ability levels out that it is enlightening to see what everyone terms a difficult climb.  I thought the road from San Donato was mostly flat, but doing it slowly with others, it definitely climbs.  Anyway, everyday is an education.

From the valley floor, we turned and started the climb toward Panzano, what I would consider a gentle climb, but again, every one's perception is different of what is steep versus gentle.  They made it up the hill pretty well, with only Rich, the father having some difficulty.  Roberto picked him up with the van, and we regrouped and started the descent to Lucarelli, took a third break, then started the climb to Radda.  Everyone did pretty well, and Rich and one of the sons decided to ride in the van around 1/2 the way up.  The remainder of us joined in the van when we needed to so we could be on time for our planned lunch.  We drove through Radda, then were dropped in Castellina and walked through Castellina on a route that Roberto suggested, which was quite nice.  We then drove to Podere la Cappella for an amazing lunch, wine, dessert, etc.  Beautiful spot, welcomed like family, a perfect table for 7 on their family terrace, amazing food, and one of the owner's joined us eating.  Really a wonderful experience.

After lunch, Natashia, one of the owner's who joined us for lunch, took us on a tour of their small cellars and wine operation.  They only produce around 2000 to 12000 bottles a year, depending on the year, and it was beautiful to watch that operation.  Super labor intensive and a definite labor of love for the family.  Really fun tour.  Roberto and I then dropped them at their hotel, and returned to Florence, dropping the bikes back at Florence by Bike.  A very different tour for me, with only a couple of hours on the bike, but a ten hour day of being a guide / host.  Interesting and enjoyable.  This will be more like the tours I take for Dominick's company, which I am hoping to do more of.

San Donato to Radda with the Taylor family, van supported. by ridingwithcosimo at Garmin Connect - Details

The Taylor family at the start of the descent, then climb toward Radda.

Wednesday, Emily and I were up quite early, on a bus to the train station by 6:20, and on the way to Forte dei Marmi by 7.  A pretty smooth train ride, and Kate picked us up with both kids and we were off to their rental house, then the beach.  We played in the water, dug sand, made castles only to be destroyed within seconds, lounged, and had a wonderful morning with all.  We returned to the house and the housekeeper had prepared a great lunch for us, pasta, fresh greens, and fresh fruit.  We rode to the local gelateria on townie bikes, then returned to the house.  Between lunch and gelato Vittorio had to go down for a nap.  He and his cousin Leo spent an hour or so simply running up and down the beach after each other, wearing him out.

Kate and I went to the bike shop to get a wheel on her rented townie bike fixed, but they were closed for the mid-day break.  I went back to the beach alone, and enjoyed an hour or two solo.  The crew returned in shifts and Nicco also came from Florence.  We all played many games with the kids.  I had quite a session of "dancing in the water" with Viola, and were all worn out by 6 or so.  Kate ordered some cocktails which were delivered to the cabana, which is pretty luxurious and nice, we relaxed a bit, got showered, the kids dressed, and back to the train.  Back home by around 10:30 for another long but fun day.
Kate and Vittorio on the terrace of the rental house in Forte.

Viola ready to boogie board at the beach.

A couple of cuties - Emily and Viola after showering and
changing to return for lunch.

Torrio with his favorite shovel at the cabana.

Nicco and a friend at the restaurant at the beach club
enjoying conversation and drinks at the end of the day.

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