Friday, 31 January 2020

Where to rent an e-bike in Tuscany?

As more and better models of e-bike (electric bike) become widely available in Tuscany, we are lucky enough to have access to a new and wonderful way to explore the Tuscan countryside. Standard bikes are already hugely popular in Tuscany, especially among male Tuscans of all ages as well as with many visitors. On weekends from Spring through Autumn, you can see them zooming along in their thousands over the scenic routes, especially the Chiantigiana highway that traverses Chianti between Florence and Sienna. The one adjective that applies to all of these riders is "fit".

cycling in Tuscany
White road cycling in Tuscany

Then there are the rest of us . . . keen on enjoying the outdoors and getting a bit of exercise but not quite up to tackling the Tuscan hills on racing bikes. Fear not, Dear Reader, the answer is nigh. The electric or assisted bicycle, commonly known as the e-bike or ebike, is a bicycle with pedals like an ordinary bike but with, in addition, a generator and an electric motor powered by accumulators (rechargeable batteries) which are recharged by the generator on downhill or easy, flat stretches. I tested one of these recently during a brief warmish spell and I can say that they're incredible. You can tackle the Tuscan hill roads, including the unpaved strade bianche without breaking into a sweat (or perspiring, in the case of ladies). This really puts at your disposal the most attractive way to explore Tuscany outside the big art cities. Very little sound, fresh air blowing through your hair and the option to stop for a "photo opp" or a rest or lunch whenever the spirit moves you. Riding an e-bike really does bring you effortlessly into close contact with rural Tuscany.

Where to rent an e-bike in Tuscany?
E-bike in Tuscany

This brings us to the question of how to rent an e-bike in Tuscany.There are e-bike rental outlets in many of the larger towns in Tuscany - just keep your eye open for a bicycle and Vespa repair shop. In general, these outlets provide e-bikes for those keen on self-guided bike tours in Tuscany. In contrast, I took the opportunity to join an organised e-bike tour with Tuscany Quintessence, specifically their four day Via Francigena Tour, which included both accommodation along the route and meals (they also offer a seven day version of this e-bike tour). It was a fabulous experience that I don't hesitate to recommend strongly.

More about Tuscany Quintessence Tuscany e-bike Cycling Tours.

My post about self-guided bike tours in Tuscany.

Tuscany e-bike rentals


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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Thieves in the trams in Florence

I generally don't like being the bearer of bad tidings on this blog, but a warning for visitors to Florence. There are now thieves in the trams of Florence. It seems that pickpockets have discovered easy pickings in the Florentine trams and at the tram stations. The latest arrests were two attractive Bulgarian gypsy women, ages 19 and 23, whose modus opparandi is for one of the them to jostle and if possible unbalance their target while the other steals the victim's wallet or purse (and to claim to be pregnant upon arrest so that they can't be held pending trial). The youngest had been arrested at least six times in 2019 for similar crimes on public transport and her friend had been investigated for theft last year.

pickpockets on Florence trams


What can you do about it?  If you detect someone trying to pick your pockets or you see that happening to someone else, create a noisy fuss. The Florentine public are fed up with this kind of thing and will come to your assistance. The latest arrests resulted from exactly this - the pickpockets were spotted in action and members of the public blocked them from slipping out the door of the tram until the carabinieri arrived.

Tips on how to avoid pickpockets in Italy.

Useful info on bus and tram tickets in Florence.

Tuscany Toscana
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Travel Guide!

Up-to-date news on what to see and where to stay in Chianti and all of Tuscany.

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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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Sunday, 12 January 2020

Florentine villas and gardens: American and English expatriates in Tuscany

Your favorite blogger's sources tell her that a fabulous opportunity is coming up during November 2020, namely a week long "workshop" organised by Villa Gamberaia, devoted to the Florentine villas and gardens of American and English expatriates in Tuscany during the later 19th and early 20th centuries.

Florentine villas and gardens: American and English expatriots in Tuscany
The parterre of Villa Gamberaia

Villa Gamberaia, celebrated for its unique gardens and splendid views over the city of Florence and the Arno Valley, has long inspired American and British landscape designers, from Charles Platt and Cecil Pinsent to Ellen Biddle Shipman. In the early 1900s, it was the favorite meeting place of Bernard and Mary Berenson, Janet Ross, Vernon Lee and Arthur Acton, who gathered for tea, dinners on the terrace and talks on art and literature with their hostess, the Romanian princess Jeanne Ghyka and her American companion, artist Florence Blood, two very talented women who created the magnificent parterre d’eau.

The number of participants will be limited. A small group of guests (probably 6-12 persons) seeking both a tranquil setting away from crowds of tourists and a convenient base for visits to Florence and to the neighboring villas of Fiesole and Settignano, will be accommodated in the Villa Gamberaia guest-houses. All visits, on-site lectures and workshops are planned and will be conducted by art historians and landscape architects resident in Florence.

I can't reveal the details yet, but the week will include lunches and aperativi at villas, gardens and other sites in and around Florence that are otherwise almost impossible for the ordinary visitor to access. There will be lunches and dinners at Villa Gamberaia.

Click the following link for more information on this unique one week exploration of  the Florentine villas and gardens of the American and English expatriates in Tuscany.


Tuscany Toscana
Don't forget to visit my Tuscany
Travel Guide!

Up-to-date news on what to see and where to stay in Chianti and all of Tuscany.

Tuscany Travel Guide


vacation accommodations in Tuscany

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

All content copyright © ammonet Infotech website promotion 2020. All rights reserved.