Turtle, Ecuador


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2 Reviews

  • Reviewed May 2019
    Timothy Masters

    Overall a great holiday, more about the country than cycling

    This was the first self guided cycling tour we have experienced. The cycling was mainly easy but in one or two places it was better to avoid traffic and push the bikes. The Italian countryside is in places glorious and ever changing. The cities are probably the main event though and a must if you like classical art and history and of course food and drink. The tour guides and maps are very detailed and carefully prepared. The bikes were very good with panniers and water bottles etc. The weather was cool but dry and mainly sunny. In the wet this might not be such a fun trip as there is quite a bit of cycling on gravel tracks. We found it easy to catch the train with our bikes but beware of unscheduled train strikes. The hotels were excellent throughout with plentiful breakfasts. The stops are all in towns and cities so this is not a holiday with stays in the Tuscan countryside.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the best was successfully using some of our few words of Italian learned pre trip! But for me the classical views of the Tuscan hills, olive groves, vineyards, cypress trees and classical villas were captivating and brought us close to the rural life of Italy. Equally the cities have so much to offer, even if it is just enjoying the atmosphere and gentle decay of some of the older centres with their shops and restaurants. Finally there is nothing to beat Italian coffee and ice cream which feel all the more earned after a few hours cycling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The tour was very literally self guided so you are on your own apart from the initial brief and handover of the bikes. This is where the tour could be improved because a 10 minute chat with a tour guide at the end of each day would have been useful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are a confident cyclist used to traffic and off road there is no problem with this tour because the cycling is easy. The longest stretch of 66 Km is on the last day but is largely on a downward grade. But definitely take a gel saddle cover and padded shorts. This trip could be harder work in high temperatures or windy/wet conditions, but the train is a good option if you are not too bothered about the cycling. Otherwise the hilly sections on day 2 and 4 are a bit more of a challenge and there are some fairly short on road stretches where the traffic is heavy with lorries etc and you need to take care and it is safer to get off and push. In cities there are cycle lanes and parks and we had no problems even though the streets are crowded in places. The directions given are easy to follow and the maps and guidebook are excellent.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want a cycling holiday this tour may not be for you. But if you want to see some wonderful Italian cities and countryside with comfortable accommodation, without the stress of arranging it all yourself this tour is a very good option.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    James Barlow

    Biking through rural Tuscany

    This holiday takes you through rural and semi-urban Tuscany, on a loop from Pisa through Florence. We started in Pisa, and spent an enjoyable evening in the city, soaking up the mediaeval architecture and open plazas. Cycling from the city, we headed towards Lucca, a splendid walled city. The ambience and beauty of this city does not disappoint, match by a warm welcome from our hosts. Exploring Lucca by night is truly atmospheric - a must! Splendid place for gastronomes also! Heading from Lucca, we took the loop cycle to the hilly outcrop of Collodi. The winding roads require good map skills and care navigating the turns, but this adds to the interest of the trip. Montecatini was the next stop, an old spa town which was rather quiet; the spas are not open all year - if interested in this aspect, we advise checking opening times before you book. We took a day off here, just to relax and unwind. Heading towards Florence is an amazing part of the trip, as excitement builds as you approach the city. Exploring Florence was undoubtedly amazing, and the gentle cycle back to Pisa was the perfect wind down.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through fragrant Spring meadows teeming with beautiful flowers, out from Lucca, and inhaling the scents of Spring.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Not applicable - self guided

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The season you book is very important depending on what aspects of Tuscan culture and natural beauty you are most interested in. Not all road surfaces are even, with many country lanes and river paths - to us, this added to the experience, but it requires a bit of practice/experience - try a few gentle off-road cycles before you go.