I mentioned last week that we booked a last minute biking tour around Florence.
We thought it would be fun to learn a little more about the history of the city and maybe see a few things we hadn’t discovered before. What we didn’t think about were the crowds.
Let me paint a little picture of what Florence is like mid-July: it’s sweltering hot, with thousands and thousands of tourists, all visiting the same sites, not just fighting for room on the ground, but in the air as well with hundreds of selfie-sticks flailing around, trying to get the perfect Instagram-worthy picture. Now add to that crying children, grumpy teenagers and overheated adults attempting to wrangle their group together while simultaneously trying to pose for a family photo…selfie-stick sometimes included.
Suffice it to say, it’s hard to walk through the streets of Florence during the summer on foot. It was damn near impossible on a bike. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first hour was quite pleasant. We rode up to Piazzale Michelangelo through tree-lined avenues with large, beautiful mansions on either side of us. We took in the view of Florence with our tour guide pointing out different buildings and the significance of each.
We then biked back to the city. And by biked, I mean flew down the hill, with no helmets, dodging the crazy Florentine drivers. We started weaving our way through the side alleys of Santo Spirito and made a gelato stop at La Carraia, which my Mom had just told me was rated the number one gelato spot in Florence.
It lived up to its reputation.
Then it got interesting. We crossed over the bridge to Piazza del Duomo. That’s right, we rode our bikes directly into the most visited square in all of Florence. At this point, I basically stopped listening as I was only concentrated on not running people over and not getting walked into.
We proceeded to another ridiculously busy square and when our tour guide suggested we go over the Ponte Vecchio, we tried to dissuade her because of the crowds. Alas, we got to the bridge, and for whatever reason, she decided to go for it. It was brutal. It took 30 minutes to walk to the middle, snap a picture, and walk back.
Yeah, we were the crazies on the bikes, trying to push through this.
All in all, I can’t say I’d recommend the bike tour. Yes, I learned a little about Florentine history. And yes, the bike ride up to the Piazzale Michelangelo was enjoyable with a rewarding, beautiful view. But the stress and annoyance of trying to bike through thousands of tourists, all giving you the evil eye (because let’s be honest, what’s going through your head when you see people riding a bike through a crowd?) is less than ideal.