Sunday, 15 July 2007

Sightseeing in the Tuscan Archipelago by Bike

Bicycle Tours - Italy's Tuscan Archipelago
by Luc Lacasse

The Tuscan Archipelago is actually a string of seven islands, including Capraia, Gorgona, Giglio, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri and Elba all located on the west coast of Italy.

Elba is the largest in the string with a population of about 38,000 people and easily accessible by ferry. It is a very busy touristy location not far off the Tuscan coast with a cooler climate than central Italy, but with all the same dramatic volcanic cliffs, rugged landscapes and sandy beaches. With a small data base of rental rooms and a large vacationing population, especially in the peak European holiday season, it is a must to plan ahead and avoid the panic of not finding suitable accommodation.

On these islands bicycle tours, Italy style typically takes you to the less trafficked west side of Elba Island with climbs through the central volcanic mountains with the option of challenging the peak of Monte Pomone for the more aggressive riders. Pizza’s made in volcano heated ovens are one of the key rewards for all your physical efforts.

The coastal areas offer a range of aquatic diversions from scuba diving and sailing to catching a few rays on the beautiful beaches, a great change from saddle sores and strained muscles acquired climbing the interior mountains on your bicycle tour. Italy is definitely not for the weak hearted!

There are also opportunities for horseback riding in the interior although I’m not sure that helps the rear. Guides are ready to take you on climbing expeditions or on challenging hikes if you decide to park your bike for a day.

Elba is large enough to offer some challenging rides for a number of days, with the advantage of more mild summer temperature than that found on the mainland. But after that if your agenda is not to sit and enjoy the beautiful weather and extended sandy beaches you may want to expand your geography to explore other bicycle tours of Italy on the mainland, maybe the Dolomite Mountains or Sicily a larger volcanic island further south.

Luc Lacasse is an avid cyclist with 10 years of racing motocross and mountain biking under his belt. He is the author behind a website designed to share his knowledge gained as a bicycle enthusiast and mechanical engineering student.

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