Bella Toscana!

22 September - 9 October 1999

In late September, Robert and Liza made their way to Pisa, Italy, for a much anticipated bicycle tour through the hilly Tuscany region (with Vermont Bicycle Tours), followed by a week in Florence for museums, art, and gelato...not to mention watching the World Road Cycling Championships on television. Here are a few (well, ok, nearly all!) of our photographs from the trip.

Click here for Liza's trip journal.

Click photos to enlarge

The famous Torre Pendente
The famous tower is actually the
(bell tower) for the adjoining
Santa Maria Assunta cathedral (which itself is
sinking, although less noticeably). Note the
steel cabling from the tower going off to the left.
(The foundation was laid in 1173, but the
structure began to sink on the south side
before the third story was completed.)
The builders attempted to correct the
situation with counterweights on the north
and by slightly increasing the height of the
walls on the overhanging side, to no avail.
Construction was halted for nearly 100 years,
resuming in 1272; these builders tried to
counteract the tilt by angling the axis of the
upper stories more towards vertical. As a result,
the tower not only leans, but has a definite curve
to it. It's currently about 16 feet off from vertical.


A hacked photo with us both
in it :-)

The freestanding Baptistery,
under renovation when we
were there

Robert at the Camposanto,

Robert on the train

Liza at the Pisa train station

Robert with Renate and family -
Waldo, Manuel, and Clara at
their home in Castelnuovo Val
di Cecina

Robert emerging from a church
in Volterra with his cousin Renate

Liza meets the tour bus
outside the Hotel Grand
Duomo in Pisa

On the road to San Gimignano

Each day there were short and long
rides, was sometimes hard to decide
which way to go

Liza and Robert in San Gimignano,
tired but happy after a good day's ride

The "big tower" in San
Gimignano - one of 72 towers
of which 13 remain

View from San Gimignano


Casole d'Elsa

Liza on a quiet side
street in Casole d'Elsa

"Are we there yet?" - Robert
in Pievascola en route to

Olive groves at Villa Cennina

Villa Cennina, interior

Robert enjoying a glass
of wine in the garden at
Villa Cennina outside

Next to Siena!
Siena is said to be second
only to Florence in art and
architecture, as evidenced by
the Palazzo Pubblico, built

Cycling group in Siena waiting to
see the Palio al Cinema film

In Siena, the buildings watched you!

Santa Maria Assunta in Siena

Liza resting on the steps of the
cathedral in Siena

Love the green and white
marble striping

The Italian gothic cathedral,
Santa Maria Assunta, in

Siena's Piazza del Campo, site of the
famous Palio horse race

Monte Oliveto Maggiore, an abbey
founded by a follower of St Benedict
in 1313 and largely build 1387-1514

Admiring frescoes at Monte
Oliveto Maggiore, an abbey founded
by a follower of St Benedict in 1313
and largely build 1387-1514

Francois of VBT preparing
our bicycles after our abbey

Robert smiles despite having
just ridden up a 15% grade

Liza celebrating a tough climb

Another hilltop destination - Trequanda

On the road!  And it's flat!

Liza too!

Liza with tour leaders Francois
and Denis most of the way up the
last climb of that day

Robert and Liza still on the road
to Pienza

Last stop on the tour -
Pienza - Liza at the gate
to the town

Courtyard of our hotel, Il Chiostro
di Pienza

Our view from our hotel
in Pienza

Fellow cyclists on the road from
Pienza (on hilltop in background)

Robert and Liza outside Pienza

Montepulciano, with the Church of
the Madonna di San Biaggio in the

Locking up the bikes in

Shopping for olive oil,
wine, cheese, salami in

With roads this narrow, you can
see why a Vespa would be the
vehicle of choice

View from the window at the Villa...

Cycling tour group photo

All roads lead to Rome?

But we went back to Florence...
Florence skyline - a bit smoggy - but
the dome of the cathedral still

Robert rubbing the snout of the
good luck boar, Florence

Hard to get lost in Florence -
just look for the dome of the
cathedral, which dominates
the skyline

A bit of detail from the
facade of the cathedral,

Robert and the throngs at the
fabled bronze east doors of
the Baptistery, executed 1425-1452
by Lorenzo Ghiberti, depicting
scenes from the Old Testament. 
(Actually these are casts, the originals
are indoors somewhere.)

Santa Maria Novella church,

Robert at the Ponte Vecchio,

The Piazza della Repubblica,

Our hotel in Florence - see Robert
in the window?

The Porta Romana in Florence

Facade of the church San
Miniato del Monte, Florence

Robert outside Vivoli's,
world's best gelati, Florence

The facade of the San Andrea
church in Pistoia

There is only one David -
and a lot of copies