Just when we were about to leave Tuscany, the sun came out (after three days of rain) and bathed the city of Lucca in a shade of gold. Our group of travelers took the opportunity to explore Lucca, biking through the city centre towards the Tuscan countryside. Armed with nothing more than our bikes and cameras in hand, we set off from the historical centre, paddled up to the city walls of Lucca and headed out to the green fields and olive groves.
Our guides, Emilio Bertoncini and Serena Scalici, from Eco Guide, provided an entertaining biking experience, providing us with snippets of historical info and interesting legends along the way. As certified nature guides, both Emilio and Serena are passionate about eco-tourism and nature. Besides running these biking tours, they organize hiking trips to the nearby Monte Pisano, night walking tours in Garfagnana (the Apuane Alps) and fun-filled kids’ walks. In Emilio’s words, these tours were set up to educate people on how to appreciate our nature.
Seeing Lucca from a Whole New Perspective
Weaving past groups of teenagers and couples, we snapped shots of Lucca from the cycling path atop the city walls. Instead of walking through its narrow alleys, we were seeing it from above this time – a completely new perspective that got us all hooked.
As we continued to snake past crowded car lanes, we left the traffic behind us and made our way towards the countryside. Within minutes, the urbanscapes were replaced by rolling green fields and cute country cottages.
Grey renaissance buildings gave way to yellow Tuscan mansions and cobblestoned paths were overrun by green patches and brown earth.
Our destination was the Nottolini Aqueduct, an abandoned water aqueduct hidden amidst the dense foliage of the Lucca countryside. Built in 1851, the aqueduct was designed by the famous Luccese architect, Lorenzo Nottolini (you’ll find his work all over Lucca).
Biking alongside the arches of the aqueduct, we finally found ourselves at the temple-cistern. Back in those days, this neoclassical cistern collected water from the natural springs and directed them towards the city.
My Verdict of the Biking Experience
Despite being a rather crappy biker, I thoroughly enjoyed the biking experience – it was a great way to see the countryside and it was a good balance between adventure and leisure.
Maneuvering the muddy paths leading towards the aqueduct was quite an adventure for me, but certainly an easy feat for experienced bikers. Once back in the city, paddling through the park at sunset was a relaxing way to wind down and end the journey.
Whether you´re a novice like me or an expert cyclist seeking challenges, exploring Lucca on two wheels definitely gives a whole new perspective to Tuscany.
*This bike tour lasts three hours and starts from the APT Tourist Office Piazza S. Maria at 4.30pm. Bookings must be made by 2pm. The tour costs 20euros (not including bike rental fee). A minimum of 1 person per group and a maximum of 15. Please refer to www.eco-guide.it for more details.
This experience was made possible by Avventurosa and Casa Gentili, but all opinions are my own. Read more about my travels in Tuscany, Italy here or follow me on Twitter with the #TuscanyTrip hashtag.