Obviously, there are a million things to do in Florence, Italy. If there weren’t how ever would the city entertain the some 1.8 million tourists that travel through annually? I enjoyed more than a few fab activities on my recent blog tour there, including a couple adventures on wheels. Ready, set – let’s go! When I started planning my trip to Florence I went the (obvious for me) routes, looking for guided walking tours, city running tours, and hiking excursions. I’m a fan of huffing it to explore my surroundings. On this trip, those traditional methods just weren’t available to me due to scheduling conflicts. Instead, I found a few Florence tours on wheels. It was so exciting to have the wind whipping through my hair as the city whizzed by.
Things to do in Florence: Fiesole Bike Tour
Climb the countryside, then cruise on down to Florence.
Who doesn’t love the romantic idea of riding a bike through the Italian countryside? Lazily pedaling along, stopping for wine tastings, a picnic, incredible views. I assure you, these rides are work. That’s why I loved my ride with Giovanni of Fiesole Bike. Not only did I get a good workout and endless vistas, but I got to learn how to properly ride.
The weather — and ride — couldn’t have been more perfect for my morning out. I took the bus from Florence up to Fiesole (1.50 euros) where owner Giovanni picked me up at Piazza Mino. We drove about 20 minutes to our starting location, smack in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. There, he confirmed that my bike rental fit me (he’d asked for my measurements when I booked) and explained a bit about what he had planned.
Olive trees and vineyards? Yes, please!
The ride included a couple hours in the area, stopping at noteworthy spots where Giovanni talked about the history, culture, and land. As expected, we did a good amount of climbing. I am an active person, but running muscles are very different than cycling muscles. That’s the kicker for me with this ride. Giovanni knew his history and such as a guide, but more than that, he was able to effectively coach me on how to bike based on my activity level.
He explained that a lot of people tend to overestimate their ability level. It was clear he has learned to plan for that and adjusts for clients during the ride. That made the ride so relaxed and what I think makes him such an amazing guide.
Throughout the ride he actually explained how to operate the bike. I know that sounds technical – or maybe too basic – but think about a mountain bike. There are all these gears and brakes. It’s hard to know why you use what and when. Knowing that helps you conserve energy and not burn out early.
As we rode Giovanni stayed close to tell me when to change gears, what gears to change (and the purpose of the adjustment) and how to brake in the safest way. My favorite part was how he kept me alert to the distance of each hill during both climbs and the descent. He’d say, “You see that tree? The climb finishes there.” It made me confident I could do it. And, I did! No stopping on the up or those steep downs. Back pat.
- Duration: Varies. My ride lasted about 3 hours from pick-up to dismount in Florence.
- What’s included: Bike rental (sized to each riders’ measurements) with helmet, a bottled water and a road map (the real fold-up kind) with notations on our route. He also takes pictures during the ride and sends them to participants.
- Price: Various guided ride options are available. Contact me for more information. You can also rent the e-bike for a self-guided experience.
Things to do in Florence: Tuk Tuk Vintage Ape Tour
Two-wheeled Florence action, check! Time for some fun on three!
Riding around in the adorable little Italian Ape car is now officially one of my favorite things to do in Florence – on wheels! Meep Meep!
What is an Ape Car?
Ape, pronounced AH-PAY, is a little three-wheeled Italian car that first came on the scene in 1948 when many Italians could not afford a regular vehicle. According to Italy Magazine, the producer of the Vespa, Piaggio, introduced the vehicle to help with Italy’s reconstruction after World War II. The car was used to transport goods in small, cramped urban areas. As it has evolved it has become a make-shift store, a garbage truck, and even a food truck. The cars can be seen all over Italy, buzzing up and down the little stone streets and countrysides. That buzzing noise gave way to the name — “Ape” means bee in Italian.
There are so many cool things about this tour. First, they arrange for pick-up near your location. Second, it was fun to feel like I was kind of big deal riding around in that beautiful piece of metal. Everyone gaped as we drove by. I know, I know, they were checking out the car, but for those few hours I let myself pretend it was because I’m Gisele Bundchen hot. Seriously, that many looks!
But, I think the coolest part about the Ape is that it has something for everyone. As I said, there are a million things to do in Florence. The Ape tour can be your ride for at least half of those.
Do you want to explore the countryside – done. How about some wine tasting? No problem – designated driver covered! A night time tour of Florence all lit up? Sign me up! Getting married? Madam, your chariot awaits. From custom food, shopping, and sightseeing tours, tell us what you want and we’ll put it together.
I did the countryside tour along some of the teeniest streets I’ve ever seen. One of my favorite stops was at Piazzale Michelangelo with so many people just soaking in the incredible views of the city. My tour started in the afternoon, so the colors were incredible as we looked out over Florence.
It was one of my last activities on my Florence travels and it was so perfect. I was exhausted from all the running around – cycling, eating, wine tasting, and shopping. It felt so good to just sit back and let Brando tell me about the place he is so proud is his home.
Brando explained that the afternoon tour I was on usually goes up to Fiesole with an aperitivo stop at a little wine bar. The wind that day made it difficult, so we didn’t go to that bar, but I still got a treat.
We headed back into Florence and moved outside the main part of the city to a little gelateria that Brando promised me was the best in town. I was not disappointed. That was another thing that was so special to me. Not only was he proud and excited to show me his home, but he made sure I got a little something extra like an out-of-the-way gelato experience. Something you can’t find in the guide books.
Are you ready to experience Florence?
Both tours were fantastic and new to me. I also really enjoyed that these locals were so excited about showing off their area in different ways.
Read more Tuscan Travel Fun:
Drop me a note with your favorite things to do in Florence on wheels! I’m really interested in a Fiat tour for my next adventure.
Ciao ciao! Val