Coed Tuscany Cycling Retreat
Castagneto Carducci, Italy
September 17-24th, 2023
From the shimmering Mediterranean Sea to the rolling hills and ancient villages, while cycling, 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 or E 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 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 Fattoria 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.
What 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, 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 now we have E-Bikes!!. 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:
- 7 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 Campastrello Sport Hotel to Fattoria de Colle and back again
- Day in Sienna with professional guide
- 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 CiccloSport, 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.
What 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 into 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, comprising 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 be 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 cappuccino 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.
What 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 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 or hybrid bike or NOW WE CAN RENT E-BIKES!!!. If you rent, we suggest you bring your helmet, pedals and bike shoes (if you have them). All bikes come with helmets and pedals.
Are bikes available to rent?
Great BMC road bikes (very very good racing bikes) or hybrid bikes are available for rent PLUS new this year we have ELECTRIC BIKES.
E-BIKES ARE SUPER POPULAR IN TUSCANY. The E-Bikes give you a boost on the hills but.. you still get a great workout.. or we have all carbon road 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 to save the travel hassle and damage risk and ride the rentals. We also have basic hybrid bikes available if you prefer to be more upright. 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 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 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. THINK E-BIKES!! 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! 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?
This is a co-ed retreat so some past Questers bring their husbands, some bring partners and some bring best friends and plenty of MOST 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.
A deposit is required to hold your reservation at a retreat. Deposits are $500 for domestic and $1,000 for international retreats. Additional deposits may be required to reserve a single room. All deposits are non-refundable.
We cannot hold your reservation until we have received your deposit. If you would like to reserve an available spot in a retreat 90 or fewer days prior to the retreat date, we require payment in full for the retreat to hold the spot. This is in accordance with our payment policy below.
Payment in full for all retreats is due 90 days prior to the retreat date. If you do not provide payment in full by 90 days prior to the retreat you risk losing your reservation.
A 4% payment processing fee will be added to all payments made using PayPal, Stripe or Venmo.
You are welcome to send in a check or pay by Zelle to avoid this fee.
If you must cancel a reservation, a full refund, less your deposit which is non-refundable, will be provided for any cancellation we receive in writing at least 91 days prior to the commencement date of the retreat. We are sorry but we cannot refund any payments for cancellations made 90 or fewer days prior to the commencement of the retreat.
We reserve the right to cancel retreats with inadequate participant interest. Women’s Quest IS NOT responsible for any personal expenses, such as airline tickets due to changes in schedules or tour cancellations.
Cancellations by Women’s Quest: Women’s Quest reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel or reschedule any retreat due to concerns over Covid-19. As a small company Women’s Quest is unfortunately not able to provide refunds of payments for retreats cancelled by Women’s Quest due to the Covid pandemic. This is primarily due to our financial commitments with the various retreat venues. As a result, in the event Women’s Quest cancels or reschedules a retreat due to Covid-19 Women’s Quest will apply all payments to the rescheduled or following year’s retreat, or to any other Women’s Quest retreat of your choosing through the end of the next year after the year in which the retreat was cancelled by Women’s Quest. Because of the unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances of the outbreak, this policy supersedes earlier policies.
Cancellations by You: If you need or desire to cancel your reservation due to Covid-19, or failure to comply with the requirements of a negative test and being symptom free, this cancellation is subject to the Cancellation Policy above. This is why we urge everyone to purchase travel insurance when signing up.
Covid Waiver and Release
This waiver, release and acknowledgement of responsibilities is unfortunately necessary during this unique time of the Covid 19 pandemic. By signing up for and or attending any Women’s Quest retreat you agree to be bound by the terms of this document. We understand these times are challenging, however, these provisions are necessary to protect all attendees and staff members of Women’s Quest.
Testing For and Symptoms of Covid 19. Irrespective of vaccination status you are required to provide a negative test for Covid 19 taken within 3 days of the commencement of the retreat. This test can be either a PCR test or a home antigen test. Also, irrespective of your vaccination status, you agree you will not attend the retreat if you have any symptoms of Covid 19 immediately prior to the beginning of the trip. These symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea (these, along with symptoms outline in the following link and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control shall be collectively referred to as the “Symptoms”.) More information on symptoms of Covid 19 can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
Symptoms During the Retreat. In the event you develop any Symptoms during the retreat you must immediately leave the retreat and follow protocols outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and all local regulations. We understand this may result in you incurring significant expenses associated with separate accommodation and travel, however, you understand these expenses are not the responsibility of Women’s Quest and must be incurred by you. You agree to be fully honest with Women’s Quest staff in regard to any Symptoms you may develop and agree to comply with a request by Women’s Quest staff to depart as determined by Women’s Quest staff in their sole discretion. As provided below, this is why we strongly urge everyone to get travel insurance covering these and other expenses prior to departure.
Procedures During the Retreat. During the retreat Women’s Quest may, but need not, endeavor to practice social distancing and wearing of masks when traveling in close proximity. You agree to comply with all requests of Women’s Quest staff during the retreat related to these procedures. Any such procedures implemented by Women’s Quest are not a guaranty you will not be exposed to Covid 19 and you understand you are responsible for taking any precautions you deem necessary and providing your own personal protective equipment during the retreat. You also agree to comply with any reasonable requests by other attendees to respect their social distancing and other protective measures (“Participant Requests”.) Notwithstanding the foregoing, you are responsible to comply with all laws and regulations of the locality visited relating to protections against Covid 19.
Waiver of Coronavirus Related Illness; Indemnification. You understand that irrespective of protective measures that Women’s Quest or you may or may not take, you may be exposed to Covid 19 by another retreat attendee, a Women’s Quest staff member and or an individual to whom you may be exposed during, or traveling to or from the retreat. You agree to waive and release Women’s Quest, its officers, directors, staff, employees, contractors, and partners from any claims, liabilities or damages you may incur in the event you contract Covid 19 at any time during travel to, attending or after attending the retreat. You further agree to indemnify and hold harmless Women’s Quest, its officers, directors, staff, employees, contractors, and partners from any loss, liability or damages it or they may incur as a result of your failure to receive a negative test for Covid 19 prior to the retreat as provided above, attending the retreat with any Symptoms, not respecting Participant Requests, and not immediately departing the retreat if you develop any Symptoms.
Cancellation. In the unfortunate event you need to cancel your trip, cannot attend due to contracting Covid 19 or developing Symptoms prior to the retreat, or must leave the retreat due to contracting Covid 19 or developing Symptoms, Women’s Quest cannot provide any refund of any amounts you paid.
Travel Insurance. As provided in this document you could incur significant personal expense in the event you contract Covid 19 or develop any Symptoms during the retreat. As such, you are strongly urged to obtain travel insurance that provides adequate protections against these risks.
Additional Waiver. This waiver is incorporated into and made a part of other waivers you agreed to in connection with signing up for the retreat. In the event of a conflict between these terms and the terms of any other waiver, this waiver shall govern.
Purchasing Travel Insurance
We highly, highly recommend you get travel insurance to cover your expenses and losses in the event you test positive or come down with Symptoms prior to the retreat, develop Symptoms during the retreat, or cannot return home due to Covid related issues. We recommend getting insurance that covers the cost of your trip, medical care while at the retreat, and coverage to pay for the necessary quarantine period if you test positive or come down with Covid. Please remember, if you have to cancel your trip in the unfortunate event you come down with Covid, test positive, or suffer Symptoms prior to or during the retreat and need to leave, Women’s Quest cannot provide a refund since we have to pay your trip expenses well ahead of time.
If you are concerned about travel and the changing environment in which we are living irrespective of your Covid status, we recommend getting travel insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason. This coverage is more expensive, however, may provide you with the coverage and flexibility you desire.
We spoke with Allianz Travel Insurance about travel insurance primarily for Covid issues – trip cancellation, medical treatment and delay in coming home due to catching Covid. From our understanding, Allianz does offer policies providing for trip cancellation due to Covid and extended trip interruption coverage for Covid quarantine periods, however, you should talk to them via the phone to ensure you have the coverage you need. Irrespective of the travel insurance you get, please make sure you talk to a travel insurance agent prior to buying any insurance and make sure you have the coverage you desire and that the policy will cover trip cancellation, medical expenses and trip interruption due to Covid. We are providing this only as our understanding after talking to Allianz and not as a representation of what Allianz will cover. You should do your own investigation including directly calling Allianz or any insurance provider you choose, and not rely on this overview to ensure you get the coverage that is right for you.