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Combining Activity and Wine in Tuscany & Umbria

June 15th, 2007-- by Allan Wright

I have been to the Tuscany and Umbria regions of Italy five or six times. It is a great wine area, with major appellations such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile of Montepulciano, and Sagrantino in the Montefalco area of Umbria.

It is also a fantastic area to be active. In fact, Zephyr has run a guided bicycle tour in Tuscany and Umbria for years and we now have four self-guided bicycle and hiking trips in the area.

What is difficult, however, is combining the two: wine and active travel. Sure, it is easy to jump on a bicycle and stop into a winery from time to time. The problem, however, is this. The major appellations listed above are pretty distinct and to get from one to another (except Montalcino’s Brunello and Montepulciano’s Vino Nobile, which are close) is not easy, unless you spend hours in a car or bus. Not the best for an active wine tour.

As a secondary challenge, the biking in Tuscany is not easy. The entire area if composed of rolling hills, and while avid bicyclists will love this, casual cyclists will be pushing their bikes more often than they like. Umbria, on the other hand, is a cyclist’s dream with a big flat valley floor with more challenging riding up to the occasional hilltop town.

I was in Italy in February (a great time to be there) and finally came up with a strategy for what I think will be a spectacular active wine tour in Tuscany & Umbria.

The solution? We have set up an eight-day Bike & Hike Adventure in Tuscany & Umbria for September, 2008. All the hiking will take place in Tuscany and all the hiking in Umbria. Plus, we’ll visit three of the major wine areas and rarely have to shuttle by van.

We’ll start in Montepulciano, the heart of central Tuscany and the home of Vino Nobile wine, with a walk from the small town of Montefollonico six kilometers to our hotel in Montepulciano. On this and every day we’ll have the opportunity to stop at two wineries for a tour, tasting, and often a chat with the winery owner or manager.

The next three days we’ll walk from town to town as our luggage is shuttled forward for us. We’ll hit the major wine region of Montalcino and its Brunello wine but also visit wineries in the sub-appellation of Sant’ Antimo. The great thing about walking through this area of Tuscany is that, for the most part, you simply walk from one town to the next along paths and gravel roads, often built on ridge tops. The views to either side are amazing.

After our four days in Tuscany, we’ll shuttle the hour and a half to Umbria and the Torgiano area, another major sub-appellation. We’ll then bike on consecutive days to Spello, Assisi, Bevagna, Montefalco, Trevi, and Spoleto, never once getting in our car and always having our luggage shuttled for us. We’ll taste great reds and whites from umbria, including the famous Sagrantino from Montefalco. We’ll also tour a local olive oil factory and sit down to meal after meal of incredible Italian food.

If you have been to Tuscany and Umbria, all this will ring a bell and you understand why I am slathering on the praise. It is simply a fantastic area for an active wine tour. If you haven’t been there before, I’ll admit I find it hard to convey how much I love this area of the world. Each time I travel to Italy, I think about whether I should just pick up and move there, working from home via the internet. Perhaps after September 08 and our wine tour there, I will.

Tags: Allan Wright · Italy

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Johanna // Sep 29, 2008 at 6:59 am

    I’ve never been to Tuscany and Ubria but I was in Rome, last week. I loved wines and people, “donna ardea” was the name of the winery. Try it!

  • 2 Monica Bussotti // Jan 8, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I’m a Tour leader and Sommelier working in Tuscany.
    If you need information, advice, tips do not h esitate to ask.

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