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A city bike in Florence, ItalyI am finally back in the U.S. after a really great trip to Italy. I spent an exhausting couple of days in Milan at start of the trip for Salone del Mobile and other Design Week events. After that, my wife and I traveled to Florence and Rome for a much needed week of vacation. I chose to travel light and leave the laptop at home this trip, so needless to say I am a bit behind on the blog and emails. If you sent me anything in the last couple weeks, please be patient. I have only been in my office a couple days this month, so it will definitely take a while for me to catch up with work and get back to regular posting.

I took a lot of pictures on the trip…and it probably won’t surprise any of you that many of them feature bicycles. I’ll post a few of those to my Flickr account when I get a chance to sort through them all. Most of the city bikes I noticed on the street were from Italian brands, but I did see quite a few road bikes from American companies… definitely a noticeable increase from what I observed on my last trip to Italy (in 2003). On that previous trip, the vast majority of road bikes I saw were Italian, but this time I also spotted road bikes from Specialized, Cannondale, Scott, Trek, Felt, and Cervelo (Canadian I know, but close enough). I guess that follows the same trend in the pro peloton over the last five to ten years, so it was not a surprise to see that the sponsorship and marketing efforts (especially those of Specialized) have paid off. Of course, I also noticed bikes from Italian brands that I have never seen in the States; Denti, Carraro, Saccarelli, and Milani are just a few that come to mind.

Florence to Siena ride with I Bike TuscanyOne of the highlights of our trip was a beautiful ride from Florence to Siena with I Bike Tuscany. Marco, the owner of the company, picked us up at our hotel, set us up with bikes and helmets, and provided great support for the ride (which included a stop for wine tasting in the Chianti region). Since this was a combination business trip/ vacation, we wanted to travel light, but didn’t want to miss out on riding while we were in Tuscany. We had briefly considered renting bikes to explore the Tuscan countryside on our own, but I didn’t have much time for planning since I was in China the weeks prior to this trip. In the end, the full service single day tour with I Bike Tuscany turned out to be perfect for us. Every detail was planned for us, so all we had to do was be ready to ride on the morning of our scheduled pick up. The ride really was one of the best parts of the trip and I would recommend it without hesitation to anyone visiting Florence.

Florence to Siena ride with I Bike Tuscany(Note: I paid for this tour, so my endorsement is not based on a freebie or discount. It was just a great overall experience that I want to share with any of you who might be interested.)

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10 Comments

  1. Richard Masoner April 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm -  Reply

    Italy! Welcome back. It looks like you had an awesome trip. And don’t feel bad about the slow response on emails — that’s what vacation is for :-)

    • James Thomas April 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm -  Reply

      Thanks, Richard! It was a great time…la dolce vita…exactly what I needed.

  2. Mark April 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm -  Reply

    Welcome back. How do the auto/truck drivers treat bicyclists in Tuscany?

    • James Thomas April 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm -  Reply

      Thanks, Mark. We had no problems with any drivers on our ride. Overall, they seemed quite friendly to cyclists…but it is hard to tell from a short trip. We did see quite a few other riders along that route, so I think the drivers are probably used to sharing the road with cyclists.

    • Sarah C April 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm -  Reply

      Auto/truck drivers are VERY patient in Italy – outside of the large cities. France has my favorite drivers in the world, Italy second. Drivers are a bit less patient in Spain and Germany, but overall they are much better than in the US all over Europe – both in patience and skill (or maybe just lack of distraction).

  3. Bob April 25, 2011 at 11:45 pm -  Reply

    Siena is my favorite city in Italy. A decade ago, my new wife and I did a big European vacation. In Italy, we hit the Cinque Terre, Siena, Orvieto, Rome, and finally Venice. Siena had the perfect balance of pedestrian friendly city plopped in the midst of exquisite Tuscan countryside.

    • James Thomas April 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm -  Reply

      I really loved Siena too. It seems less touristy than Florence, Venice, or Rome, and the Medieval architecture around the Piazza del Campo is amazing. It really is easy to sit on the square and imagine what the town was like 1,000 years ago. Now that I have seen Siena, I would love to go back when the Palio is running. That would be quite an experience.

  4. Marco April 26, 2011 at 11:47 am -  Reply

    Thank you James! I really enjoyed your company and our day here in Tuscany. Hope to see you both again soon!

    Marco

    • James Thomas April 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm -  Reply

      Thanks Marco. Hope to see you again soon too…maybe for a longer tour next time. I’m already itching to go back with my road bike.

  5. Ross Nicholson April 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm -  Reply

    You lucky …. !

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