DAY 4: Lucca to Vinci

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Stories -

46.1km 11.9km/h 337m el­e­va­tion

To­day would be the long­est leg of the tour: Lucca to the small town of Vinci, res­cued from ob­scu­rity by its most fa­mous son, Leonardo.

The road skirted Lucca’s mam­moth walls be­fore leav­ing the city and giv­ing way to coun­try­side. Our first stop was in Al­topas­cio, for cof­fee at the Paolo Mon­tanelli café.

We con­tin­ued to the vil­lage of Querce, for lunch at the Trat­to­ria Fer­retto. Although we sat out­side, the in­te­rior of this restau­rant is an an­ti­quar­ian’s dream. Any­thing but gar­ish, the dec­o­ra­tions in­clude a vin­tage mo­tor­cy­cle and a cab­i­net filled with col­lectable minia­ture liqueurs.

Our route then took us past

the Fucec­chio Na­ture Re­serve, home of the largest in­land wet­land sys­tem in Europe, and a bird­watcher’s haven. It then wound in a leisurely way along sec­ondary roads, over low hills, with al­ways an olive grove or vine­yard in sight. We passed a mi­cro win­ery, where the grapes were be­ing squeezed in a big hand-op­er­ated press, as they have been for gen­er­a­tions.

Our ac­com­mo­da­tion was the Agri­t­ur­ismo Il Pi­as­trino, a pretty con­verted farm­house with a long (and ridicu­lously steep!) drive­way lead­ing to its front door. But the el­e­va­tion gave us lovely views of the farm­lands be­low, and Vinci in the near dis­tance – a re­ward for our long­est day in the sad­dle.

The climb­ing here was bru­tal, but as on the day be­fore, well worth it.

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