Have you ever wondered how lovely it would be to discover the most fantastic places in Italy? But not the most typical big cities, but those places where you can just hop on your bike and cycle around to see the country’s hidden treasures? Our aim is now to help you to do exactly that, and to show you how much you can discover as a cyclist in Italy!
In this first blog article we would like to introduce Pistoia and its province, which is located in northern Tuscany. Why should you pick Pistolia? Because even though we are in the beloved Tuscany there is no mass tourism here. This means that this is an ideal place for those who would like to see cycle around to see the authentic Italian landscapes and also for those who would like to have a fantastic and relaxing time with their family.
The province is quite large and it includes both large flat valleys as hilly and mountainous sections. That makes the area even more interesting and suitable for cyclists. In connection with the latter the the Valley of the Ombrone river, the Valdinievole and the Pistoia Mountains are all worth mentioning as fantastic places to visit. To make the cyclist’s life much easier there are also tried and tested cycling routes around the region that you can check out here: http://www.mapmyride.com/it/pistoia-tuscany/. The good thing is that you can find information about the length and the elevation of the various routes so it is easy to pick the one that suits you best.
In case you are looking for things to do with children here are our top suggestions. First of all the little ones would definitely love the Zoo of Pistoia, which is about 10 km outside the city. This means that it is within an easy reach for those on their bikes. Here you have 7 hectares to discover with more than 400 animals. With regards to opening times the zoo is open every day, on weekdays from 9.30am until 6pm and on weekends from 9.30am until 7pm. To avoid disappointment please note that the ticket office closes an hour earlier! In terms of prices for adults it cost 15 Euros, and for children (aged 3-10 years) it is 11 Euros. There is also a senior ticket for adults over 65, which cots 14 Euros. For more information visit the Zoo’s website here: https://www.zoodipistoia.it/en.
The other great place for children (probably smaller ones more ideally) is the Pinocchio Park in Collodi, with its adjacent Garzoni Garden and Butterfly House. Did you know that The Adventures of Pinocchio was inspired by Carlo Lorenzini‘s time in Collodi? The park and the garden are ideal if you would like to spend time outdoors. Here you can find out more about the story of Pinocchio and can take a lovely walk around the gardens where you can find sculptures and models of the story dotted around. In terms of the prices in high season, a special ticket allows you to visit the Pinocchio Park, the Garzoni Garden and the Butterfly House at the cost of 20 euros for the full ticket and 16 euros for the reduced. The Park is open from 8.30am to sunset. More information in English can be found here: https://www.discovertuscany.com/pistoia/the-pinocchio-park-in-collodi.html.
In case you fancy a walk in the charming medieval city centre within the old walls then the first and most important thing for you to see is the Piazza del Duomo and its 67-meter tall bell tower. This is one of the main emblems of Pistoia and certainly one of those worth seeing. If you climb the tower you can see the town from a new, truly breath-taking point of view. For more information about the Piazza del Duomo click here: http://www.discoverpistoia.it/en/topics/arte/3670-21-04-welcome-to-pistoia.html.
If you would like to find accommodation in Pistoia you can check on Booking.com (http://www.booking.com/city/it/pistoia.en.html), and also on Tripadvisor (https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotels-g194851-Pistoia_Province_of_Pistoia_Tuscany-Hotels.html) .
And before you start your journey, please remember the importance of cycling safety. Cycling between the lovely hills of Italy is truly idyllic, but we should also mention that our Italian cousins are not leading the way when it comes to safe and slow driving (let’s put it this way!). Furthermore, if you are with children please make sure that you all wearing safety helmets and maybe high visibility wests if your trip might finish after sunset. We hope you have a lovely time and a safe journey!