Last week my friends at Tuscany Cycle let me borrow a bike... watch your toes Florence!
I love biking around cities like Florence, Barcelona, Munich, and of course, Amsterdam. It is the prefect way to explore an entire city without killing your feet. I prefer to do bike tours in medium sized cities like the ones mentioned. I am a bit too scared to bike Paris, Rome, or London (and I am on the fence for Berlin). But for these smaller, yet still sizable, cities, bikes are the perfect way to make the most of your time.
Now, I am sure you are thinking that Florence is small and definitely doesn't compare in size to Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, or Munich. Yes, the center of Florence is tiny and you can easily walk the entire historical center. By bike, however, you can explore some of the gorgeous countryside and the Etruscan town of Fiesole just outside the city (Tuscany Cycle also offers bike and Vespa tours further outside of the city in the Chianti region).
My favorite path for biking takes you from the center of Florence, up one of the most gorgeous streets in Florence, the Costa San Giorgio (look for Galileo's house on the right as you near the medieval city gate), around the edge of the valley Florence sits in, and finally up to Piazzale Michelangelo for the best view of the city (this is also my favorite jogging route).
To begin, simply cross the Ponte Vecchio and head south towards the Palazzo Pitti. Turn left at the Piazza Santa Felicita and take the inclined road on the right. This is Costa San Giorgio. Follow this all the way through the old gate, past the fort, and finally to the first stop light. Hang a left at the light and follow this (larger) road all the way to Piazzale Michelangelo, passing the church of San Miniato al Monte across the street on your right along the way. If you are visiting in the spring, I highly recommend visiting the iris garden just east of the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Along the way you can enjoy beautiful villas teeming with flowers and ivy, and historic forts and churches. In just 15 minutes you've left the craziness of the city and entered something of a more peaceful countryside. The route doesn't take long and even if you stop to snap photos or climb to the top of San Miniato al Monte (completely worth it), it shouldn't take you more than an hour/hour and a half to do by bike. If you don't have much time in Florence, this is the perfect way to get a little bit of the gorgeous countryside in as well. If you do have lots of time in Florence, this path never gets old. I walk or jog it a couple times a week!
What are your favorite cities to tour by bike?