The Tour de Tuscany: Pisa to Volterra, via Lajatico.
In the last week of September, I decided to tie cycling in Tuscany with a friend’s wedding.
Although it was a present for my husband’s birthday, I can’t take any credit for planning the routes as it’s something that Charlie is incredible good at and thankfully did.
(More on his take on things here)
After pinpointing places to visit, we used Komoot to plan the routes and stops (I’ve included what we had written but not necessarily used thanks to a bike breakdown) and then booked the accommodation which was a mixture of Airbnbs and Agriturismos, with a token hotel in Florence at the end.
FYI, agriturismos are farm stays which are basically rooms or annex on a working farm. Probably one of the best ways to see Italy’s countryside and much cheaper than a hotel. Quite often you’ll be lucky enough to experience their cooking too.
Day 1: Pisa to Volterra via Lajatico.
Distance: 59km. Elevation: 730m.
Stops / Check Points
- KM27 – Peccioli – small town
- KM37 – Lajatico – small town that’s home to Bocelli
- KM38 – Teatro del Silenzio – Bocelli’s outdoor theatre
- KM51 – 7km climb @ 3%, final 2km @ 6% (THIS WAS HORRENDOUS)
After a booze heavy long weekend at a wedding, I was dreading how this was going to feel, however initial enthusiasm helped spur me on after we picked my bike up from EcoRent in Pisa.
If hiring you end up hiring from here, you may wonder where on earth you are and if you’ve found the right place, but don’t worry, it is the right place!
So, Day One consisted of a relatively flat route until the end. It seems Italians like to build their towns and cities on top of mountains, so that final climb up to Volterra was a struggle. Even for cars.
Nevertheless, having completed our first ride of the tour, it was strangely satisfying knowing we cycled there instead of being sat in a car all day.
No Smooth Komoot
Despite ending on a high, there was a low point where Charlie mistook a blue line on Komoot outside of Lajatico for a cycle path.
It was in fact a river.
This saw us walking up a random path and then carrying the bikes through long grass down a hill the other side to reach the road. We also walked past some sort of kennels with at least 500 dogs which barked at us the whole way.
If you’ve ever had 500+ dogs bark at you, it’s fairly loud.
After a fair bit of “nothing too exciting” roads, the first proper stop of the day was Lajatico, home to Bocelli.
It’s a quaint town, at the top of (you’ve guessed it), a hill. a few cafes, galleries and museum all based on opera.
There’s a giant restaurant tourist trap looking place before you get into the centre, judging by the amount of coaches parked outside. As such, sense would say head into the centre.
Lunch: We stopped at a random cafe on a square in Lajatico. Nothing fancy but the sandwich and double espresso did the job.
One of the locals showed us to the town’s tap where we filled up for the remainder of the journey. The water tastes far nicer than anything you’ll come across in London. You’ll find yourself hunting these down along the way, given it was 26-30 degrees at the end of September.
If you look at the stats at the beginning of this post, you’ll see Volterra is a pretty steep climb.
The numbers meant nothing to me until I tried (and succeeded) to cycle up to the town. Although, once we reached the top, there was still a few final steps to carry the bike up.
Accommodation: An Airbnb that was a studio flat for £41/night, almost bang in the centre with a lovely host who gave us a list of places to visit (included in the gallery). Basic but did the job.
Word of warning, the sofa bed was a little uncomfortable if you book this spot.
Dinner: Ombra della Serra, Via Antonio Gramsci, 70, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy.
Decent Italian food, not a tourist trap and was one of the recommendations from our Airbnb host. Can’t really go wrong.