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  "La Dolce Vita"Tuscany Cycling Retreat for women
This time you'll see Tuscany in Spring!
June 12-19, 2011
Castagneto Carducci, Italy

Cost: $3,500*. (Price may fluctuate with the exchange rate of the Euro).
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Here’s everything you wanted to know about this Tuscan cycling adventure vacation. If your questions are not answered here, feel free to email or call us.

Questions & Answers

Who is on the Women’s Quest staff in Tuscany?

Colleen Cannon is your host along with Julia Ingersoll. We will also have the assistance of our fabulous local Italian guide Riccardo — our unique, support-van-driving, bike-mechanic, accordion-playing, food-and-wine-expert Tuscan. Together, the staff brings experience, attention to detail, enthusiasm and a good sense of humor to La Dolce Vita, so come enjoy life!

Colleen is the founder and director of Women's Quest fitness retreats. She is a world champion Triathlete, whose passions now include horses and music. Colleen leads an active mountain life; skiing, snowshoeing, running, and riding (bikes and horses.) Colleen has mastered the art of living well, playing hard, embracing life and sharing her passion for living..

Julia is a professional artist who has been living and working in the hills of Tuscany for most of the past ten years. Julia studied classical oil painting at the Florence Academy of Art, speaks fluent Italian and French, and enjoys sharing her knowledge of Italian art, history and culture as we ride through the hill towns and countryside of Tuscany. In her past-life as a former top-ranked professional mountain bike racer, she was a six-time national mountain bike team member, North American champion in 1992 and a bronze medalist at the world championships in Belgium but now enjoys cycling more than ever. Julia finds cycling and painting to be reciprocal passions, and enjoys discovering and sharing with others the life-giving immediacy of moving and working in nature. Julia also teaches yoga, both vinyasa flow and restorative sessions will be offered on the retreat.

More staff will be joining us. We have about 4 staff and 10 to 15 ladies on each tour

Will I ride enough, too much?
Yes. The beginning rider and the elite rider will both love the Tuscan countryside for bike riding at its best. A variety of options are available for our walks, runs and bike rides, depending on each person's comfort level. If you can, we suggest you start a training or workout program at least 3 months before you come so you can get the most out of the week. It does not need to be a hard-core program, just get out, play and be active a few days a week. If you just can't find the time, don't worry, there will always be others in the same situation and the supportive staff will help you along.

Am I in good enough shape to do the camp?
Yes. The beginning rider and the elite rider will both love the Tuscan countryside for bike riding at its best. A variety of options are available for our walks, runs and bike rides, depending on each person's comfort level. If you can, we suggest you start a training or workout program at least 3 months before you come so you can get the most out of the week. It does not need to be a hard-core program, just get out, play and be active a few days a week. If you just can't find the time, don't worry, there will always be others in the same situation and the supportive staff will help you along.

What is the bike riding like?
Exquisitely beautiful, quiet little roads wander everywhere through this ancient land, winding past views of the shining Mediterranean sea, up to scenic hilltop towns, past ancient olive groves, and alongside prize-winning vineyards. Italy is the center of the world for road cycling, so immerse yourself in the cycling culture and discover an intimate view of Tuscany at your own pace. A fully-equipped support van will accompany each ride, providing cold drinks, snacks, and mechanical assistance—and serving as a sag wagon if you desire. If you are an avid cyclist, bring your road bike, or you can arrange with us to rent a road bike. If you rent, we suggest you bring your helmet and bike shoes (If you have them).

Are Bikes Available to Rent?
Great road bikes or hybrid bikes are available for rent. Bike rental prices vary depending on the bike, but are reasonable, usually in the $250 to $300 range for the week (we will provide a quote once you submit a rental order.) The bike rental is 200 Euro and that can be paid to the bike shop in cash. There is an ATM next to the bike shop so you can get that out when we visit the bike shop.

What is the running and hiking like?
We will also wander the roads that link the village, vineyards and olive presses near our hotel, and there are lovely routes around the olive-clad hills for those desiring an early-morning run.  So bring good hiking and/or trail running shoes, visor, sunscreen & small fanny pack or camel-back type pack is recommended. At Colle, there are great running/hiking trails right out the door.


What will we see?
Set in ancient olive groves near the Mediterranean coast, our hotel is an ideal base from which to explore the beautiful hilltop villages, prize-winning vineyards, and rolling landscape of this rich area of Tuscany known as the Etruscan Coast. We will discover the labyrinths of stone-cobbled streets in numerous medieval villages which may include Castagneto Carducci, our home village, with its tiny shops, ancient churches, magnificent hilltop views, and delicious ice creams. On our cycling routes, we will visit many medieval villages which may include the wine-making fortress-village of Bolgheri; tour the cathedral and architecture in the beautiful town of Massa Marittima — acclaimed one of Italy's "Most Beautiful Piazzas" in a recent travel magazine. We will travel to Siena, one of Italy's great art cities, and have a cultural tour of the monuments and art treasures—with shopping time to browse the wealth of gorgeous boutiques and shops in this jewel-like town. We learn to cook delicious Tuscan dishes at a local farmhouse, then dine under the fig trees and dance under the stars. In the village of Monteverdi we will visit our dear friend Rolando Stefanacci for an amazing lunch with afternoon talk. We will tour one of Tuscany's best olive oil presses and find out how olive oil is made—before sitting down to a delicious feast prepared from the farm's own gardens and orchards. In the Val d'Orcia we will visit many beautiful towns and sights which may include Montalcino, the elegant wine town; jewel-like Pienza, considered the most perfect Renaissance town in Italy; Sant'Anna, the beautiful monastery where the English Patient was filmed, and the magnificent frescoes in the grand Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, where it is still possible to hear the monks celebrate mass in Gregorian chant.

What will the swimming be like?
The part of the Mediterranean Sea near our home village is referred to as the Tyrhenian Sea. It is warm, clear, and generally tranquil, providing excellent salt-water swimming. Bring your goggles, sunscreen, swimsuit, and love of the sea! At our host hotel, Campastrello Sport there is a 25 meter 6 lane beautiful lap pool.

What if I am new to Italy or Europe?
If you've never been to Europe, relax! You will love it. If you've been many times- you'll be surprised, refreshed, and delighted by our intimate version of the European experience. We will pick you up and always be available for any questions and with a helping hand. You'll feel like part of an extended Italian family at this retreat.

Who can help me with my travel?
You are welcome to plan your own travel or work with your own travel agent. The travel is very simple as you will fly in and out of Pisa and we will do the rest. However, if you prefer, I am excited to introduce you to Heather at The Travel Society. She is a very helpful travel agent with whom I have been working for 20 years. Heather at (The Travel Society, 303-381-7423 or 303-381-0601 or heather@travelsociety.com) has been coordinating cycling trips for years and can help you with whatever you need.

What are the accommodations like?
We will be staying in two unique and beautiful locations for our tour. The first is located just outside of the small, rural hilltop town of Castagneto Carducci, named after the Nobel Prize-winning poet, Carducci. The hotel is situated below the town, about 5km inland from the Mediterranean and 75km south of Pisa. The region was settled by the Etruscans and is known as the Upper Maremma. Our home-base in this region is the lovely Campastrello Sport Hotel. Set in a beautiful Mediterranean garden, the hotel is modern but built in traditional Tuscan style. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, featuring modern conveniences as well as charming views. The beautifully landscaped grounds feature fruit orchards and olive groves, a state-of-the-art Olympic swimming pool, and great views of the village and sunsets. Our meals are specially prepared and served in the hotel's noted restaurant, L'Olivo, which specializes in exceptional, homestyle, Tuscan cuisine. Come settle in to the sweet life in Tuscany: we don't run you ragged packing and unpacking every day. Visit the hotel on-line: www.campastrellosport.com

Our home for the second portion of our adventure will be historic Fattoria del Colle, an authentic working wine and olive-oil estate with beautifully renovated farmhouses and main villa for our lodging. The estate also includes a small chapel, and two swimming pools with expansive views over the magnificent countryside that reflects the quintessential dream of Tuscany. Our delicious Tuscan meals, prepared from fresh, local ingredients, will be served in the farm's lovely restaurant. Combining the beauty of ancient stone architecture with modern comforts, we will retreat to a timeless world at Colle, in harmony with the peaceful and exquisite countryside surrounding us. The estate is located just outside the charming village of Trequanda, south of Siena, where there is a particularly good cappuccino bar as well as important 14th Century paintings in the town church.
Combining the beauty of ancient stone architecture with modern comforts, we will retreat to a timeless world at Colle, in harmony with the peaceful and exquisite countryside surrounding us.
The estate is located just outside the charming village of Trequanda, where there is a particularly good cappuccino bar as well as important 14th Century paintings in the town church.


Arrival and Departure Information.

Arrivals:
Plan to be at the Pisa Airport at noon for a pick up. We will meet you right out front on the grass. Our bus or vans will pick you up for the 1 hour journey south to our hotel.  The airport bus is $50.00 each way. If you miss the bus you can take a cab which will be about $150 American.

Departures:
Plan to depart Pisa in the morning of your last day or you can stay an extra night in Pisa and go to Lucca or Florence. We will return you to the Pisa Airport by 10:00 on the last day of the tour.

Expect airfares to run you from $900-1200 depending on where you fly from and timing (you never know when you might get good deals). Try to minimize the number of transfers so that you don't lose your baggage in transit

If you can, we suggest that you plan to arrive a day or two early to acclimatize.

Some info to ease your mind and aid your packing!

PASSPORT! Now would be a good time to check your passport! You must have at least six months left on your passport from your time of departure! If not, visit the State Department's website (http://travel.state.gov/passport_services.html) or visit your local post office for your renewal. You do not need a visa for your stay.

WEATHER is generally temperate. Daytime temperatures in the 70's and cool nights. When it rains - it POURS, so do bring rain gear. It generally does not rain from late June through September, so it could be dry or we might have a day or two of rain. Visit: www.weather.com and type in Pisa, Italy to check the local weather forecast before departure.

DRESS Italian rural culture is fairly relaxed, however short shorts and tank tops are not advised in restaurants or while sight-seeing. Please bring some smart casual (tending towards the conservative if you’re in doubt) attire to help you to feel more comfortable when out and about. This means, longer walking shorts, skirts, summer dresses, nice slacks, and blouses or tees. Nothing fancy, just nice, easy and casual. Of course, you can go topless on the beach. Plan to do laundry in the sink and hang out to dry (micro-fibers dry fastest).

GEAR
We will run (optional), hike, bike and swim. Bring appropriate gear. Comfortable sturdy shoes, a swim suit, goggles, small towel, and of course bike apparel including: 2 pairs bike shorts, 2 jerseys, lightweight rain jacket, bike shoes and helmet, 2 to 3 water bottles or camel back. All rides are sagged by follow vehicles so you won't need a fanny pack unless you want to carry your camera. We have most tools and the nearby bike store to access. *** You can also buy bike jerseys, shorts, gloves, shoes etc all in Italy at our local bike shop Ciclo Sport. They look really cool when you bring them home because no one will have a jersey like yours!

OTHER STUFF
As with all foreign travel, plan to bring all the prescriptions and lotions that you will need for the trip. Make no assumptions! For example, Tylenol is not sold in Italy. We recommend you be current on your tetanus (check with your doctor, or if you have not had one in 5 years) otherwise, no shots are required.

To get a sense of the flavor for the wonderful area we will be exploring see Cliffnotes on Tuscany, a very local guide to the areas we will be seeing.

How do I sign up?
A $500 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration. You can sign up online with Women’s Quest or send a check. Balance is due 90 days prior to camp. The trip is limited to 20 women so sign up early. We'll send you a profile, schedule of events and activities and local phone numbers after signing up. Prices do NOT include airfare to Italy. Please send information and make checks payable to: Women's Quest 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite E-4 #181 Boulder, C0 80302 colleen@womensquest.com (303) 545-9295 Credit cards are accepted through Google Checkout, see www.womensquest.com for details.

Reservation and cancellation policy:
Refund and Cancellation Policy: A $500 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration. Your spot is not reserved until we receive your deposit. The balance of the payment is due 60 days prior to the Retreat. If you need to cancel anytime between 60 days and 15 days prior to the Retreat, 50% of the payment, less the deposit, will be refunded. We are not able to provide refunds for cancellations less than 15 days prior to the Retreat. Please note that injury or illness does not disqualify you from the cancellation policy. We are unable to transfer deposits and/or payments from one year to the next. We reserve the right to cancel any Retreat and will not be responsible for travel or other costs incurred by you as a result of any cancellation. In the unlikely event that a Retreat is cancelled, we will promptly refund any money you have sent us. We reserve the right to change or amend this policy at anytime.

You must sign a liability release form to participate in camp, and payment does not include airfare or bike rental.

Where can I get Travel Insurance?
We recommend Travelex Insurance Services. You can get an online quote by clicking here!

"There is no end, believe me, to the happiness your body is willing to bear."
--Mary Oliver

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