Coed Tuscany Cycling Retreat

Castagneto Carducci, Italy
Cost: $3500
September 17-24, 2017

Women's QuestFrom the shimmering Mediterranean Sea to the rolling hills and ancient villages, we’ll absorb the essence of Tuscany and allow our senses to run wild. From the honey-soaked light of the morning glowing over the olive trees, to the golden rays shining through the vineyards in the evening, we will discover the blissful rhythm of Tuscany. We’ll bike the most charming roads in the world, and delight your taste buds with spectacular local foods, all while learning about our surroundings: art, architecture, history, and the art of making olive oil, wine, cheese and authentic Tuscan cuisine.

All ability levels are welcome and each bike ride is guided. The high staff-to-participant ratio means you’ll have someone to encourage you, as well as teach you cycling tips, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. This is the trip you always promised yourself you’d take. Come join us in the “La Dolce Vita” sweet life.

 

Where We’ll Go On the Tuscany Co Ed Cycling Retreat
We will split our time between two spectacular regions of Tuscany: the authentic, unspoiled countryside of the Etruscan coast on the Mediterranean Sea, and Val d’Orcia, known as the heart of Tuscany, with gentle, carefully-cultivated hills peppered with picturesque towns and villages.

Some of the towns we will be visiting and riding through are: the Etruscan city of Montalcino, Pienza (the jewel of the Renaissance), Monastero di Sant’Anna (where the English patient was filmed), Castagneto Carducci, Sassetta, Suvereto, Montescudaio, Bolgheri, Monteverdi and Populonia. We’ll have a full day to savor the charms of mystical Siena, considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy. An expert local guide will lead us into the heart of Siena’s history and art.

Our home base for the first portion of the retreat is the lovely Campastrello Sport Hotel (www.campastrellosport.com) in the Etruscan coast region. Set in a beautiful Mediterranean garden (voted in the top 10 in all of Tuscany), the hotel is modern but built in charming, traditional Tuscan style. 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 homestyle Tuscan cuisine.

We’ll spend three nights here, exploring the Etruscan coast by day — a cyclist’s paradise of rolling hills and quiet roads through some of Italy’s most prized vineyards. Stretching from medieval village to medieval village, our select routes take in glorious views with sublime spots to stop for a cappuccino or a gelato.

For the next portion of our adventure, we’ll head inland to the magnificent region of Val d’Orcia, where we’ll spend two nights at Fattoia de Colle (www.cinellicolombini.it). Set in a spectacular setting of cypress-lined lanes, ancient stone villages, and undulating hills studded with castles, Colle is a working wine and olive oil producing estate with beautifully renovated farmhouses and a main villa for our lodging. The estate also includes a small chapel, two swimming pools, and a gourmet restaurant preparing our sumptuous Tuscan meals from fresh, local produce.

The proprietor of Colle, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, is the producer of award-winning Brunello di Montalcino wines. Her signature vintage, Prime Donne, is produced solely by women.

On our daily rides we will visit Montalcino, the elegant wine town, jewel-like Pienza, considered the most perfect Renaissance town in Italy, Sant’Anna, the graceful monastery where the English Patient was filmed, and, if time permits, 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.

We come back to Campastrello Sport for our last 2 nights of the tour. We are planning on an extension to the island of Elba as well.

 

Women's QuestWhat to Expect:
Most mornings we will begin with yoga to awaken our senses and limber our bodies before enjoying a buffet breakfast with foamy cappuccinos. Then we’ll pedal the Tuscan roads, famous for their cypress trees, lack of traffic, and friendly drivers. Our afternoons will be spent exploring villages, doing art projects or creative journaling, swimming in the calm sea, and rekindling the spark for life. Poetry, and creative processes for clarifying your heart’s desire are sprinkled into the mix of all our adventures, bringing mindfulness to our Italian adventure.

Throughout the retreat, you will have personal and individualized professional instruction and guidance during all activities. Our staff consists of world-class athletes and coaches, who will offer you heartfelt support and instruction. We’ll create small riding groups to ensure everyone rides with others at a similar ability level. Riding options are provided for beginners to accomplished riders. And, all rides are fully supported with a bike mechanic and a sag wagon (full of fruit, water, cookies and, of course, chocolate).

To compliment your cycling, we also offer hiking and running adventures on trails lined with olive trees, and on roads leading to wonderful places. For instance, at Fattoria de Colle we can run/hike to a cheese maker’s house!

 

Included in the Price:
• 8 days, 7 nights accommodations at comfortable, charming, and authentic family-run Tuscan establishments
• 6 dinners, four lunches, and daily breakfasts – all amazing food, in true Tuscan spirit! And all snacks.
• Daily road cycling rides, guided by our professional staff.
• A bike mechanic and sag wagon with spare parts.
• Transportation from Camastrello Sport Hotel to Fattoria de Colle and back again.
• A guided visit to Fonte di Foiano, rated one of the best olive oil presses in Italy.
• A cooking class in a renovated Tuscan farmhouse with our friend and culinary artist Chicca.
• Lunch and a wine tasting at the winery of Giovanni Chiappini • Picnic on the beach at the tranquil Baratti Bay, the beach of the Etruscans • A day with world-renowned artist Rolando Stefanacci.
• A visit and guided tour of the magnificent town of Siena.
• Wine Tasting in the heart of Brunello country.
• A visit to Cicclo Sport, a Tuscan bike shop with even more local color than the sunsets over the Tyrhenian Sea.
• Yoga classes (daily, or as demand dictates).

* Airfare and transportation to and from the airport and bike rentals is not included in the cost.

 

Women's QuestWhat are the accommodations?
We will be staying in two 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 25 meter 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, home-style, Tuscan cuisine. Come settle in to the sweet life in Tuscany: we don’t run you ragged packing and unpacking every day.

Our home for the second portion of our adventure will be historic Fattoria del Colle. Set in a spectacular setting of cypress-lined lanes, ancient stone villages, and undulating hills studded with castles, Colle is a beautifully renovated borgo, or hamlet, comprised of an 18th century manor house and surrounding farm buildings. The borgo also includes a beautiful swimming pool, trails through the olive groves and a gourmet restaurant preparing our sumptuous Tuscan meals from fresh, local produce. Colle is a working winery and the harvest should be in full bloom during our stay.

From Colle we will return to our home base at Campastrello for two additional nights which includes a special night of cooking and festivities at a local’s home.

When moving from Campastrello to Colle we will be checking out of Campastrello. Since we will be staying at Colle for only two nights you should plan on bringing a small bag (anything that works as a carry on is perfect) to Colle since we will be luggage space constrained while traveling. You can leave your big bag at Campastrello and pick it back up when we return.

 

What will the food by like?
We’re in Tuscany, one of the two foodie provinces of Italy so you can just imagine. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample the delicacies since in Italy it’s either time to eat or almost time to eat.

Our breakfasts are buffet style with local meats, cheeses, egg dishes and handmade crostata or torts along with muesli, cereals, yogurt and fresh fruit. And of course accompanying breakfast are cappuccini and coffees to your liking.

We provide incredible lunches both at a family run winery and at an artist’s estate. Both are wonderful and uniquely Tuscan experiences and both will be warmly etched in your memory for years. We’ll also enjoy a Tuscan picnic at Baratti Bay one day crafted from local fare. You will enjoy lunch on your own a few days in Siena, Pienza and Montalcino to allow you to better explore these medieval towns.

Dinners are a real treat. At Campastrello we’ll enjoy an antipasto buffet, delicious pasta dishes and classic Tuscan entrees. While at Colle we’ll enjoy the best of the Val d’Orcia both at the Fattoria del Colle restaurant and at a hyper local, slowfood restaurant in Trequanda which is a real treat.

If you have any dining preferences and or allergies we can likely accommodate your needs. Gluten free and vegetarian options are available and to date we’ve been able to easily accommodate any allergies. Just let us know.

 

Women's QuestWhat will we see?
Set in ancient olive groves near the Mediterranean coast, our first hotel is the 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. 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 enjoy a wine tasting and lunch at a beautiful family owned winery that has recently produced a 100 point Super Tuscan wine. In the Val d’Orcia we will stay in a similarly idyllic setting and visit many beautiful towns and sights which may include Montalcino, the elegant wine town and jewel-like Pienza, considered the most perfect Renaissance town in Italy.

 

What is a typical day?
Most mornings we will begin with yoga to awaken our senses and limber our bodies before enjoying a buffet breakfast with foamy cappuccinos. Then we’ll pedal the Tuscan roads, famous for their cypress trees, lack of traffic, and friendly drivers. Our afternoons will be spent exploring villages, doing art projects or creative journaling, swimming in the calm sea, and rekindling the spark for life.

Throughout the retreat, you will have personal and individualized professional instruction and guidance during all activities. Our staff consists of world-class athletes and coaches, who will offer you heartfelt support and instruction. We’ll create small riding groups to ensure everyone rides with others at a similar ability level. Riding options are provided for beginners to accomplished riders. And, all rides are fully supported with a bike mechanic and a sag wagon (full of fruit, water, cookies and, of course, chocolate).

 

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 water, snacks, and mechanical assistance—and serving as a sag wagon if you desire. If you are an avid cyclist, you are welcome to bring your road bike, or you can arrange with us to rent a road bike. If you rent, we suggest you bring your helmet, pedals and bike shoes (if you have them).

 

Are bikes available to rent?
Great road bikes or hybrid bikes are available for rent. The rental bikes tend to be all carbon bikes from BMC, Colnago, Bianchi and other top manufacturers. The bikes are so good the guides coming over from the US never bring their bikes and opt save the travel hassle and damage risk and ride the rentals. Bike rental is usually 250 Euro per week which is paid directly to the bike shop in cash in Italy. There is an ATM next to the bike shop so you can get that out when we visit the bike shop. The shop can also provide helmets but we usually recommend people bring their own.

 

What will the swimming be like?
The part of the Mediterranean Sea near our home village is referred to as the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is warm, clear, and generally tranquil, providing excellent salt-water swimming. Bring your goggles, sunscreen, swimsuit, and love of the sea! Also, both of the hotels at which we will be staying have wonderful lap pools.

 

Tell me about the yoga?
We begin each adventure-filled Women’s Quest day with Colleen’s unique “Awakening the Senses” Yoga. This gentle but powerful practice draws inspiration from Gyrokinesis, Qigong, and Tai Chi, and is a perfect way to prepare the mind, body and senses for the activities of the day.

 

Do I need to be an athlete to attend this retreat?
No. We consider “Everyone an Athlete” and we welcome all ability levels. 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.

 

Women's QuestAm I in good enough shape to do the camp?
Yes! Beginning, elite and everyone in between riders will love the Tuscan countryside for bike riding at its best. A variety of options are available for our rides depending on each person’s comfort level. If you can, we suggest you start a training or workout program at least 3 months beforehand 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.

 

Do I have to participate in everything on the schedule?
You do not need to participate in everything; you can pace yourself so that it is the perfect amount of activity for you. We fully support you in doing as much or as little as is right for you in the moment. The schedule gives you a sense of the flow of each day. It is subject to change, depending upon the needs of the group, weather, etc. We will go over the schedule each day at breakfast.

 

What is the average age on this retreat?
We have a wide range of people who attend our retreats, from 15-70 years young. Each retreat will vary. Please contact us if you have questions about the ages on a specific retreat.

 

What if I come alone?
The majority who attend our retreats come by themselves. This is a co-ed retreat so some past Questers bring their husbands, some bring partners and some bring best friends and plenty of people come alone. Italy is a safe and easy country to travel as a single female. English is widely spoken and we are here to answer any questions about travel that you may have. Although you may come alone, you will leave the retreat with new, lifelong friends!

 

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.

 

What weather can I expect?
Tuscany in the Fall typically enjoys temperate weather. Daytime temperatures are generally in the mid 70’s and nights tend to be cool, but of course temperatures can have significant swings. When it rains in Tuscany it POURS, so do bring rain gear. Visit: www.weather.com and type in Pisa, Italy to check the local weather forecast before departure.

 

Women's QuestCancellation policy for international camps:
• If you must cancel, a $500 deposit is NOT REFUNDABLE*
• Full refund, less deposit, will be given with at least 91 days notice *
• Within 90 days of your camp, sorry but absolutely no refund will be given
*no exceptions will be granted to the above policy.*

Please note: We are sorry but injury and illness do not disqualify you from any of the above cancellation policies. We are UNABLE to transfer deposits or any payments from one year to the next.

We reserve the right to cancel retreats with inadequate participant interest, in which case all money paid to Women’s Quest will be refunded. Women’s Quest CANNOT be held responsible for any personal expenses, such as airline tickets due to changes in itineraries or tour cancellations.