Friday, May 8, 2009

Cycling from Florence to Siena

Today Leif, Rebecca and I went on a "business trip". We cycled from Florence to Siena. Leif and Rebecca are bike tour guides and Leif was training Rebecca to learn this route which she will be guiding next week for a group coming in from the U.S. .Rebecca has already been guiding tours for some time and knows the roads very well. Today's ride was meant to learn the specifics of the route, points and stories of interest, the rest stops (for lunch, caffe', wine-tasting and gelato) and hotels where the tour group will be lodging along the route. Leif invited me to join them today so I can start training to guide these tours in the future too. Wow! I always imagined that perhaps in another life, I would have been a bike tour guide in Italy. Maybe this is the beginning of that other life.

So, here I am in my favorite place in the world, riding my bike in heaven and seeing every detail through new eyes. We cycled the Via Chiantigiana through Strada, where Leif pointed out the gelato stop and the notable maccelerria. Then on to Greve where we cycled to the espresso stop in the piazza. Then on to the fun climb through Panzano, and to Radda, which would normally be the first hotel stop. We visited the 2 hotels and took a quick view of the borgo and then took a glorious road to Castellina where the tour would stop for a wine tasting, and then on to Siena, where we stopped for a gelato and some photos in Piazza del Campo. We then rode on to Monteriggione and Poggibonsi, and took the train back to Florence.

Needless to describe the sensations of riding to these glorious destinatons on a perfect spring day with the poppies blooming everywhere, the intoxicating smell of pine and the sight of sheep in the meadows below the hilltop castellos. To see it all from the perspective of a tour guide was a new, but natural feeling experience. I got to learn what they think about, what they need to be aware of, what kind of questions they need to answer, how they need to be prepared, what they need to know about the destinations, the area, the alternative roads to take, how to deal with different types of riders. Rebecca asked alot of good questions and I learned alot from her and Leif.