Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Bike Ride in Florence

Florence Comune Bike Map
The bike map shown with this post is a map produced by the comune. The map has a lot more detail on the back side, so pick one up. The comune has a program that’s called Mille & Una Bici where you can rent bikes with good rates (Web site – may not work). The tariffs partially shown on the attached image are for that program. However, after spending two afternoons looking in the spots they said you can rent from and not finding anything we decided to use the very professional Florence by Bike - which is easy to find and is open every day. For three hours, for two of us it came to 15 Euros for “city bikes” – though we did use them off road a bit. The folks there gave us good advice and maps. They have a heck of a selection of bikes and biking gear.

If you are not familiar with Florence, it lies in a valley with mountains to the north and south, approximately. Going east following the river you are going upstream. Going west following the river you are going downstream toward Pisa. Our advice, get out of the city (which is better walked) and follow the river trails with the bikes. We walked east a few miles one afternoon a couple of weeks ago and saw the extent of trails in that direction. Today, we went west with the bikes, ending up in Parco dei Renai. Here is one spot in the park we stopped at just to get an idea. (There were lots of folks fishing.) The park is about 8 km from the city center. We went through the Cascine Park and then when we got to the Indian Monument we took a small foot bridge over the Mugnone river (just before it merges with the Arno) (location) and continued on the north side of the river on dirt/paved roads. If you don’t want to go that far, you could just tool around in the Cascine park. There are sunny paths and shady paths to choose from.

If it’s sunny and you go past the Cascine heading west bring suntan lotion, hat and glasses – we have lobster arms because we forgot it and there isn’t that much shade on that side of the river. If you go on the weekend you’ll find plenty of refreshments and food in the Cascine open-air market on your way going or returning. (We stopped and ate roasted chicken.)

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