DAY 4: Lucca to Vinci
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.