Last week, I had the pleasure of joining our European guide team in Italy for our annual meeting to kick off the touring season. After three days of joyful reconnecting, thought-provoking sessions on tour innovation, marketing, and an invigorating team ride through the rolling hills of Valdarno, we are more ready now than ever to welcome guests to experience the new and fresh energy that will permeate every Ciclismo Classico tour in 2017.
This year’s meeting took place in a Tuscan residence just above the tiny town of Figline Valdarno, just under an hour’s ride from Florence. Having arrived from chilly and damp Boston, the bright sun and gentle, temperate breezes were a welcoming shock to my system after five months of short days, clouds and April Nor’easters.
By the next morning, I had the chance to absorb all of my Italian surroundings. After taking in the sweeping landscapes, a fresh and tasty lunch and the warm welcomes of the locals and my colleagues, I realized that there is so much more to springtime in Italy than one might realize.
These are the top six realizations that convinced me that la primavera—“the springtime”—is my absolute favorite time to be in Europe.
1. The bright and balmy sunshine that warms the days until almost 8 pm (in early April!) creates an insatiable desire to stay outside, slow down and breathe the fresh, clean countryside air.
2. So much delicious food comes into season: bright and peppery leafy greens, dense cauliflower, rich vegetables and fresh seafood for starters.
3. Landscapes transform from cool, muted greens and golds to fields of sprouting trees, vast stretches of rich and bright primary colors, valleys covered with olive groves, peach, apple and plum orchards, vineyards with budding vines, and so much more.
4. Perfectly warm days (~72° F) make for ideal cycling, when you can ride longer and stop to capture amazing photographs of landscapes and architecture, or just to savor that shot of caffè that will keep you going. The warmth of the day folds into cool nights and a good deep sleep to recharge for the next day.
5. People start to come outside. Farmers, neighbors, shoppers, cyclists, and more fill the outdoor cafes, shops, and restaurants with chatter and laughter, gently awakening the once quieter streets and piazzas.
6. An indescribable renewal of the spirit—a Renaissance of sorts—seems to fill everyone around, creating an addictive vibe of renewed vitality and new beginnings.
Surely, these happenings take place not just in Italy, but all across Europe. Wherever you decide to go, let the spring season entice you to start it right and keep it going. You’ll bring it home with you and it will set the tone for the entire year—guaranteed!