100 Reasons to Love Tuscany with Topbike Tour Leader Annabelle Drew
There are hundreds of reasons to love Tuscany. For a start, the varying landscapes are rich and provide so much pleasure to travel through, especially by bike! From the breathtaking landscapes of rolling hills dotted with cypress trees we all know from postcards to the medieval hilltop towns beautifully bereft of cars. From the high Apennine mountains covered in forests of oak and beech (and yummy wild mushrooms!) to the popular beaches of the Tyrrenean sea, there is eye-candy everywhere. And cycling through these areas allows you to take it all in.
Then there’s the food. It Is AMAZING. So many delicious world famous pasta and meat dishes (wild boar is one of our favourites) on offer, and then you taste some lesser known gems. The Tuscan cuisine prides itself on never wasting food. Over centuries, the Tuscans have developed recipes using parts of food we would otherwise discard – offal, stale bread, vegetable stems – to create mouth-watering dinners. And of course we can’t forget about the Tuscan wines – notably Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. Coffee and socialising. As with all of Italy, it’s so important in Tuscany. There must be a bar for every 20 people in each town. No one seems to have breakfast at home.
We came to Tuscany in the 1990’s to live while racing push bikes and were smitten. Jamie raced with the amateur Italian team ‘Monsumanese’ in 1996, then with the Australian National Team based near Pistoia in 1998, then turned professional with Selle Italia in 1999, in Lamporecchio. All these posts meant living in Northern Tuscany for the cycling racing season, between March to September each year. Meanwhile, I took time from my job in Perth to join Jamie for a month or so for each of these years, racing for Italian professional women’s teams Fanini, Molteni and Edilsavino, including racing the Giro d’Italia in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Even with the job of training and racing at hand, and poor as church mice, you can’t help but fall in love with the surroundings, the architecture, the art, the people and the culture. We almost bought a run-down boarding house in 1996 with the dream of bringing Aussie cyclists to Italy and later we became engaged on the Ponte Vecchio, Florence in 1998. And… we finally bought a property in 2016. Yes, we are italophile tragics!
Working the wonderful work-life-balance-bonanza for Topbike Tours, as Tour Leaders on the Tour of Tuscany we hope to share this fantastic area with all of you both as cyclists and as local Tuscan enthusiasts. While many of our fond Tuscan memories are linked to our cycling history, it’s not hard to understand why we have such a strong connection to this region. Maybe it’s because they say that the Tuscan dialect/accent is the ‘pure italian’!