Looking out over the terracotta roofs, you can see the glorious dome of Florence’s cathedral. Little in this fabulous panorama has changed since the city's Renaissance heyday. But reaching the viewpoint at Piazzale Michelangelo, on the steep hill to the south of the River Arno, is a trek that deters many visitors.
It would be a hot walk under the Tuscan sun and the zigzag gradient puts off all but the most professionally Lycra-clad cyclists. But now there is a new, easy and exciting way to reach this lofty look-out; by electric bike.
Tackle this route on one of the latest e-bikes and you’ll be enjoying a gelato from a stand at the Piazzale and taking selfies with the fantastic Florentine backdrop within minutes. A little thing like a hill won’t interrupt a tour of a glorious Italian city when all you have to do is simply press a button on your handlebars. An e-bike can ride up an incline as if it doesn’t exist.
A little thing like a hill won’t interrupt a tour of a glorious Italian city when all you have to do is simply press a button on your handlebars
The next big thing in urban transport
A tour of any of the great Italian cities such as Florence, Rome or Milan becomes even more memorable using an e-bike. Visitors can cover far greater distances and climb gradients with ease. It takes no time to master and it soon becomes great fun. That’s why electric bikes are the fastest-growing fashion in urban transport. And for travellers, they allow you to get close to the real street-life of the places you visit.
In Florence, for example, you can tour the galleries, churches and shops of the centre, but also escape to outlying suburbs. Wind your bike through the daily bustle of the market in Sant’Ambrosio or head up the hills across the river to explore the hipster bars and galleries in Santo Spirito.
An e-bike extends your range beyond the city where you are staying. In Florence that means many typical Chianti vineyards and olive-oil farms are within reach of a relaxing e-bike ride into the hills. One of the highlights of the outlying area is the hilltop village of Fiesole, an unspoilt collection of Roman remains and Renaissance villas among beautiful gardens and wonderful distant views of the city. It’s just five miles from the centre, far enough to deter most tourists… apart from those with e-bikes.
The road less travelled
An e-bike adventure can provide a far more authentic taste of Italian life than a crowded bus or a snail’s-pace walking tour. The freedom of your own two wheels means you are more likely to stop at little-known wonders such as the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio in Milan, said to contain relics of the Three Wise Men, or find yourself escaping a traffic jam in Rome by taking a memorable shortcut down a narrow cobbled alleyway, rows of colourful washing flapping overhead.
An e-bike adventure can provide a far more authentic taste of Italian life than a crowded tour bus or a snail’s-pace walking tour
E-bikes will soon be heralded as a breakthrough in sustainable city tourism. There are no emissions, they are silent and don’t clog up the streets. With a range of up to 70 miles, it is possible to really explore. For example, in Milan you could see everything from Da Vinci’s Last Supper in the centre to the iconic San Siro football stadium, which is beyond the city ring road – a distance that’s no problem for e-bikers.
In Cortina you could explore the historic city and let the e-bike tackle spectacular mountain foothills, too, while e-bike tourists in Viareggio can cruise the coastline in both directions or head inland to the lakes, waterways and trails of the Migliarino Natural Park.