The first couple days in the Umbria region were almost magical. Riding through the olive groves and vineyards, passing by the fig trees that were offering their ripe luscious fruits brought special significance to this region of great spirituality. (These fruits are all mentioned in the Bible.) Experiencing the places where Francis of Assisi had his illumination, along with countless others who are nameless, reminds the visitor that all these churches, chapels, and basilicas are there because of the Italian people's expressions.
This was our sixth European bike tour. It was our first tour in Italy, and also the first tour we had done that was almost completely on roads (as opposed to dedicated bike trails). That said, we felt somewhat vulnerable, especially in heavily populated areas. Italian drivers are not overly aggressive or careless, but they do like to drive fast. Pavement conditions on several roads were pretty bad, especially near the edges where one would ride. Distances on the daily rides were about right given the riding conditions, there were interesting things to see and the written directions were excellent. The accommodations on this tour were outstanding, the food remarkable, and the hospitality of the Italian people warmed our hearts. Of the six tours we have taken, this is the first one where we gained weight after five days of riding!