Reflections

Inspiration is not just a matter of luck

Inspiration is not just a matter of luck.

There are ways to stimulate the mind to think differently, with an open mind, more creatively. There are also places, for example, which are seemingly insignificant that could become super inspiring, whose valorization depends only on the interpretation – scientific, cultural, symbolic – attributed to it.

One of these places is definitively Mount Ceceri in Fiesole.

Imagine. You are on the verge of a breathtaking cliff, on Mount Ceceri in Fiesole. The view of Florence from there is terrific. Your attention, your mind, where are they focusing on?

Around the year 1500, two friends were standing right on Mount Ceceri in Fiesole. Their attention, their minds were not intent on admiring the panorama of Florence from there, their focus was to carry out an experiment that was going beyond the imaginable. An experiment that would have really changed the course of history.

Monte Ceceri in Fiesole, with its modest 400 meters high, was the perfect place for this truly unique experiment.

The two friends were Leonardo (da Vinci) and Zoroaster (from Peretola).

Leonardo da Vinci and Zoroaster da Peretola were on Monte Ceceri in Fiesole for the precise choice of Leonardo. That was the place where the genius decided to test, for the first time, the invention that according to Leonardo “would have astonished the universe”. It was time to try “Il Grande Nibbio”, it was time to let the human being to fly like a bird.

Built with two large wings composed of membranes, to be operated with pedals and levers and a cockpit for the pilot, the genius-designed flying machine had a wingspan of about 18 meters.

In the codex on the Flight of Birds, he wrote: “The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the words with amazement, all writings with his fame, and bringing eternal glory to those whose nest (magno Cecero n.d.a) whence he sprang”.

Zoroaster really stood the first flight from Monte Ceceri (Magno Cecero during Reinassance) in Fiesole. Today, that point is easily identifiable thanks to a large stone on which it is carved the famous phrase of Leonardo.

The hardy Zoroaster was able to glide for about a thousand meters and then fall disastrously into the countryside under Fiesole.

Leonardo called his flying machine “Il Grande Nibbio”, inspired by the homonymous birds he saw on the way to go to Fiesole.

This place, where presumably Leonardo and Zoroaster studied the flight modalities for days, planned the experiment, dreaming together to change the history, has huge emotional power.

Instinctively, I feel I should speak in a low voice, to not disturb the “spirit” of the genius that is still in this magical place, looking beyond the horizon.

Interestingly, the valorization of this place, seemingly insignificant, depends only on the interpretation – scientific, cultural, symbolic – which is attributed to it.

On top of Monte Ceceri my eyes remain enchanted contemplating the panorama of Florence from this privileged point of view. Leonardo, perhaps, was “just” envisioning precise trajectories traced in the air, visualizing the possible descending parables of his Grande Nibbio.

It is impossible to guess what the Genius was really thinking standing in front of the cliff,  but a stop at Mount Ceceri in Fiesole to look in the void and imagine Leonardo da Vinci in action is really inspiring.

Each of us has a challenge to overcome, and maybe this magic place, and the silence could give us some inspiring thoughts.

Leonardo was not “only” a genius, but a genius who believed in his ideas and willing to translate those into practice.

What is the piece that is missing to your puzzle? Are you at the beginning and struggling to see the big picture or maybe you are just close to the end, but the last step is more complex than you were thinking?

Perhaps, standing up “with Leonardo”, on top of Monte Ceceri, could help you to visualize what you need to do.

This is what characterizes the bike tour of Tuscany Quintessence. Each tour is a Tuscan distillate, alchemy of adventure, art and history, nature, wellness and food, to involve the senses, to unleash unknown energies and create unforgettable experiences.

The experience on Monte Ceceri in Fiesole is just one of the stages that are part of the bike tour “Fiesole e-bike tour from Florence“.

If you are passionate about Leonardo, see also “Biking with Leonardo“; it is a bike tour around Anchiano, Leonardo’s hometown.

Questions? Please keep in touch with us.

Hosting friends or relatives from abroad?

This post is mainly dedicated to those who are living in Tuscany and that are getting frequent visits of friends and relatives from abroad.

Subtitle: Entertaining guests for an extended period? a kind of a part-time job!

The fact that you are living abroad is a great incentive for friends and relatives to come and visit you. They take 2 birds with one stone! Hosting friends and relatives is always a great pleasure! For about 6 months I lived in the USA and I still remember the feeling of proudness to show “my USA” to visitors.

At the same token, some time was a bit frustrating too because the desire to spend time with them did not always match with the time that I could actually dedicate to them due to the busy work-life balance.

When the visit was for few days, I was fostering independence, giving them my list of “must visit places” in sequence to optimize the travel logistics with all the related details like open/closure time, costs, managing also time expectations on my involvement.

For long stays, sometimes I was suggesting them a mini-vacation within the vacation. In some cases, a few days excursion could be the perfect solution to maximize their desire to visit the territory (especially for long distance travelers) but also to release the potential pressure of entertaining guests for an extended period.

But also suggesting a mini-vacation requires a bit of attention. This mini-vacation should contain all the top elements/experiences that they are expecting to enjoy, and should be safe as well. In Tuscany, a mini-vacation should include quality moments dedicated to local food and wine, as well as the visit to some of our Tuscany jewels like Pisa or Lucca or Siena, etc.

A recent analysis of trends in tourism is highlighting 5 main characteristics of the “ideal vacation”. The keyword is “experience” and more specifically:

  1. Personalization for a special travel customer experience
  2. Getting off the beaten track/seeing or doing something new
  3. To be active and outdoor
  4. High adrenaline activities
  5. Interaction with locals

An additional data point? three in four millennial’s said they’d rather buy an experience than a physical good.

In terms of mini-vacation in Tuscany, there are several amazing opportunities but perhaps a bike tour is really the one that is capable to match all the 5 requirements. At least based on my experience.

A bike tour would also allow them to enjoy the beauty of Tuscany countryside in a very relaxed way. The fact that not all the guests are expert bikers could be easily overcome by the adoption of electric assisted bikes that can be beneficial to everyone from non-riders to ingrained cycling enthusiasts.

An e-bike widens the possibilities of cycling being viewed as a viable transportation option as well as a sustainable leisure activity. And if you are lucky and you have time to spend with them? Wow, this is perfect, this would be THE GREAT EXCUSE to join them for a bike tour in Tuscany, to explore places you have always visited perhaps “from the window” of your car.

Florence and Tuscany, in general, are a lot more than “just” Uffizzi. The vast majority of the tourists are dreaming of Tuscany countryside, but they rarely have the opportunity to go outside Florence.

Let your guests be privileged, suggest them a bike tour in Tuscany, maybe an e-bike tour operated by TuscanyQuintessence!

Sometimes the logistics associated with a bike experience is complex, in fact at Tuscany Quintessence our mission is to keep things simple and to create the perfect conditions for your UNFORGETTABLE vacation in Tuscany. Living emotions that will last forever.

Take a look at our tours and call us in case you need more info.

Take care,

Alberto

3 reasons why you should ride an electric assisted bike

Subtitle: An Ironman on e-bike.

1. Electric assisted bike is very fun.
2. Electric assisted bike is more fun than you think.
3. Electric assisted bike will magically make you fall in love.

Few weeks ago, I invited Leonardo Nocentini, one of my best friends, to take part in a Tuscany bike tour with my electric assisted bikes. I was keen to get his valuable opinion on the tour, on the bikes etc.

Let me say that Leonardo is not “one of us”, he is one of the strongest triathletes in the word. He took part 2 times to the final race in Kona of Ironman world championship.
Regardless of his superpower legs, he was really keen to try an electric assisted bike and immediately accepted my invitation to join me for a daily e-bike tour in Tuscany.
Of course, I was looking at him trying to read his feelings on his face also because Leonardo is not able to lie.

A big smile

You may believe it or not, but after a few meters, on his face I noticed a big smile. He was really surprised about how fun was cycling with this kind of bikes. A real joy also for me!
The fact that someone like Leonardo appreciated electric assisted bike for a bike tour, was the proof that e-bikes are really fun, and are for anyone!

And I was smiling too; in fact I was able to match Leonardo speed, with just a little additional help from my e-bike! 

Tuscany Electric Bike Tour with Tuscany Quintessence

And you, have you ever considered using an e-bike for your next active bike tour in Tuscany? 4 considerations…

Trust me, the e-bike can help you make this type of active vacation a reality. Here 4 considerations of why you should evaluate electric assisted bike especially for a bike tour in a region like Tuscany where the spectacular roads are rarely flat:

  1. Couples – Based on recent statistics (Bike Summit 2019 by Legambiente), 35% of bike tourists are couples. Often they have different skill levels. Sometimes the less patient (or less interested) spouse tries to step beside the enthusiasm, but eventually slows down or rides behind the party – it’s not much fun for anyone.
  2. Family  – Children or grandparents cannot have the same speed or distance as the rest of the family. E-bikes offer a solution for everyone to participate in and maintain a fun training level.
  3. Novice bikers – Some hope cyclists have anxiety about their ability to keep up with their party. With e-bikes they do not have to worry about being too slow and will be able to enjoy the views and the tour at the fullest.
  4. Experienced cyclists – Even experienced cyclists can enjoy the benefits of an e-bike. In this case, the pleasure is also connected to the fact that perhaps for the first time, they will be able to share a bike this amazing ride experience with their friends or their significant other.

This is the real game changer! We have several amazing Tuscany e-bike tours, from 1 day to 5 days that are combing a cycling experience with art&history, nature, food, and wellness.

Our goal is to help you to make this type of active vacation in Tuscany a reality, we want to exceed your expectations.

Learn more at Tuscany Electric Bike Tours

More details on our e-bikes? see page e-bikes!

Tuscany Bike Tour: Outdoor Team Building Activities

Have you ever seen the big boss sweating and being definitively out of his comfort zone during an outdoor team building event like a bike tour of Tuscany or a day trip from Florence? I did, and it was very fun but also an unparalleled learning experience.

Despite the fact that the program of our team building was “secret” I knew that it was an outdoor team building activity and I was really interested to see his behaviors under this unique and funny circumstances.

Yes, when you are a leader, everybody is looking at you. This is an honor but also a huge responsibility. I was keen to see if he would have been capable to adapt to this “crazy” event and continue to be the leader I always admired.

But this outdoor team building activity was an event that – of course – was involving the entire business unit, not just the boss. A lot of people were there, my office-mates as well as other colleagues that – up to that moment -I did not know very well.

A day out of office

Far from the office, immersed in the Tuscany countryside, our look was almost the same: blues jeans and sneakers. I do not know why but I started to perceive my colleagues under a different perspective, looking more at their “human side”. Perhaps – under specific circumstances – we build up (invisible) protective walls to protect ourselves for fear of looking bad.

The execution of this outdoor team building activity was very fun and this enabled us to be more relaxed and open among us. At the same token, this opportunity allowed us to see and appreciate different behaviors that were coming to the surface.

Thanks also to the environment and fun it becomes much easier to overcome certain challenges, we are more inclined to listen and to collaborate.

Observations

I still remember a new hire, very quiet and shy becoming all in a sudden a “lion”, being able to successfully guide his teammates in this “role play” demonstrating leadership traits and negotiation skills never noticed before.

And the boss? He was able to genuinely step back to provide the space for others that were able to lead the team during the exercise better than him. In that occasion, I – like many other colleagues – had another proof of his natural attitude to lead by example and not by the chain of command.

In the days following this outdoor team building activity, colleagues were more inclined to share their ideas and support projects with a much more positive attitude. We all had a strong perception of more collaboration across the board.

A successful team building should really target to take create the conditions to “unlock” the value in relationships and work in this new environment to build trust, collaboration, and an open environment. A new opportunity for people to think together, enhancing perspective and mutual contributions, so that new creative ideas emerge.

Team building is both an art and a science and the leader who can consistently build high-performance teams is worth their weight in gold.

At Tuscany Quintessence we value outdoor team building activity; we can help you to identify the experiences that better matches your need, up to the full planning and execution.

Tuscany Family Bike Tour and Outdoor Activities

Tuscany bike vacation that involves family – Let me focus your attention on 3 key factors to be assessed during the planning phase.

Tuscany is a great region for outdoor activities. In particular, I really love family bike tour vacations; I think that this kind of experience is really an amazing opportunity to connect in a new way, in a new environment, in a new fun way that involves the entire group. Tuscany bike tour – like many others of course – should be carefully planned, taking into consideration several important dimensions.

2 positive aspects and 1 point of attention to consider before starting for a Tuscany bike tour with family.
Tuscany bike tour with family creates lasting memories.

When we are in a hurry, sometimes we lose out on opportunities to connect and relate to others. While we bike, we are not in a rush; start chatting becomes spontaneous. While you are immersed in a wonderful and inspiring environment you can perceive the sense of freedom, of the simple things. Our mind is open, and we are more inclined to listen and share. Those conversations are becoming unforgettable moments. Bike riding is also giving a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that is absolutely rewarding.

A Tuscany family bike tour is a slow tour.

Someone said that the traveler may arrive at mental relaxation state through temporal deceleration and spatial distance from the pace and complexity of modern life. I truly believe that bike tours are a great enabler for the “temporal deceleration. The slow travel approach of a bike tour – in fact – forces you to slow down, to feel your body, allows you to perceive and learn the harmony among the environment, to take time to explore local history and culture. Your approach with small towns, local people is more profound, giving you also the true feelings of the region that you are exploring.

Tuscany family bike tour – Different ability levels could prevent to ride together.

You can have a strong riding partner or the kids or grandparents that are may not able to go the same speed or distance as the rest of the family. It is not infrequent having someone to take a separate itinerary or take public transportation or van to meet at the day’s destination. This is not the “family vacation” that you have in mind, right? Therefore my strong recommendation is to use electric bikes (e-bikes). E-bikes are allowing everyone to participate and maintain an enjoyable level of speed removing the anxiety over their ability to keep up with the rest of the group. The renting cost of an e-bike is a bit higher vs. standard bike but the investment pays off. Definitively there are many other factors that are relevant to the success of your Tuscany outdoor experience. Just to mention a few:

  • experience of the local tour leader;
  • quality of the bikes;
  • no just biking: it is important to have additional activities to do like cooking classes, wine tasting, and relaxing… like a SPA.

I still have quite a fresh memory of the biking vacation I did with my family in 2013.

My kids were very young at that time, but they were absolutely engaged. Biking was very fun for them, and they still remember that vacation with a certain sense of proudness for being able to accomplish such a challenge.

With careful planning, we did pay attention to not overstretch them in terms of overall distance, elevation gain and complexity of the roads. If you are not an expert of the region, it is easy to underestimate this “elevation gain” dimension. For this reason – and several others like a great place to rest, panoramic views etc. – a knowledgeable bike tour leader makes the difference.

We also managed to alternate biking days with no-bike days (a day in the SPA, at the zoo etc.) to ensure the right mix of experiences for the kids and for us as well.

Based on experience, our Tuscany bike tours are designed to combine bike adventures with incredible opportunities like art & history, nature, food, and wellness. In Tuscany, you can find thousands of opportunities to satisfy your desire for a great vacation with your family.

Please, take a moment to review the page of our Tuscany bike tour; those proposals have been designed to create a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy Tuscany outside the “tourist main roads“.

6 rules for a successful Tuscany bike tour with your partner

Sunday in Tuscany – If you are looking for a special Sunday in Tuscany, a bike tour with your partner is a great opportunity for having fun together and to increase your emotional bond.

In order to transform your Sunday bike tour in Tuscany in an unforgettable experience, it is important to be conscious of some critical aspects that could become a source of tension. Here you can find 6 suggestions based on my personal experience. Once you figure out what works best for the two of you, the satisfaction will be huge.

Between work, family time, and everything in between, it can be tough to find time to spend together. For this reason, I have considered the “Sunday bike tour in Tuscany” as a moment to recharge the batteries together in an active and healthy way.

I love all kind of bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, long excursions or crazy races like 24 hours MTB competition or triathlon. For this reason, my wife was a “bit” skeptical in joining me for a bike tour in Tuscany. In fact, despite my good intentions, our first time did not go very well. Likely, I have been able to get a second chance and this time I did not fail. Lesson learned!

If your partner doesn’t cycle but has expressed interest of  bike tour with you, you have a great chance. Your attention should be proportional to your bike ability/bike love: the more you love biking, the highest is the risk of underestimating the critical aspects. Here you can find my bits of advice.

Sunday in Tuscany – 6 elements to consider for the perfect bike tour:

  1. Enthusiasm is good but too much enthusiasm could be a problem. It is easy to forget how long it took for us to master basic cycling skills, and in your enthusiasm to show them how fun it is, rushing them into rides that are easy for you but not for them is definitively not the right approach.
  2. Sharing info is useful but doesn’t overwhelm her/him with too much information too soon. Cover the basics first and make sure they’ve got it before moving on.
  3. Enjoy the ride and take it easy. Your goal is to keep it fun so that they enjoy the rides. Remember, it’s easy for experienced cyclists to ride too fast without realizing it.
  4. Breaking the ride into smaller chunks can make it easier to keep going. Something special to see or do is a real best practice.
  5. Quality bike and the right gear can make the difference. On this aspect, I am a fan of e-bikes. In these cases, e-bikes can really make the difference.
  6. Cycling fashions can help get your partner even more excited about cycling. It is also an opportunity for an unexpected gift.

Sometime, experiences done during a vacation could help the couple to discover a new way to stay together in a healthy and fun way, and this would be amazing and the beginning of a new chapter together.

Our friendly bike tour leaders would be delighted to accompany you during this experience. We have several e-bike tours across Tuscany that would allow you to discover the region in a slow, romantic and healthy way. We believe that our mix of ingredients like our wine tasting experience, the  museums or the wonderful SPA will exceed your expectations.

Take a look at our Tuscany electric bike tours and call us if you need more info or if you are looking for something different/special. We would be happy to help you materialize your dreams!

Sunday in Tuscany - Bike tour with my wife
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