Hello and welcome to the Perfuro Gear Blog during these unusual times of 2020. This week I have contacted a number of cycling tour operators to get an idea of their business and what to expect when you book a tour with them and also how the Covid19 virus has affected their business and what they are doing to keep their business going forward in these trying times. I have spoken to a number of tour operators, and I will make separate blogs as they are all worthy of some promotion as well.
Marco, who spends his time between Tuscany and the UK, has been passionate about cycling since he was a child and now he has turned this into his business. Marco has been involved with travelling and tourism all his life working for all types of companies and recently made the change to offer something himself to a recreation that was quality and different.
"Gusto is Italian for taste" and so Marco designs tours that immerse you in the Italian culture and cuisine. You can bet that after his planned day of cycling, you have earned a good meal and a lovely wine to go with it. His tours are mostly self-guided, but can he also caters for guided tours, that extend into the North or the South of Tuscany which can be day tours or travel on a circuit for up to a week staying in a different location daily.
On booking the tour which can cater for individuals to groups, Marco is in contact with you to determine what you would like to get out of the tour and also to understand your fitness level so that he can tailor-make an experience for you and/or your group.
He uses software called Ride with GPS in which you download to your device and he sends you the pre-planned route. The route includes stop off and restaurant suggestions along the way and of course your next hotel stay which is booked in advance. The software runs of GPS data, so you do not spend the data on your device. The application has fully functional visual and audio directions to guide you on your way.
The tours cater for any fitness level and are catered for you; however, he says that they are based on 25~50km per day so you can take in the scenery and absorb the culture in a recreational way but are designed so you have some challenge and earn a great meal. The tours are run on secondary roads and while there is a little traffic, you are riding in the countryside and the motorists are quite used to bicycle traffic as it is one of the main means of transport for the local people. Of course, if you want to go further, that is fine, and Marco can certainly detail a route that can cater to your level. The focus of the tours is to enjoy the rich atmosphere.
He supplies a range of bikes including Carbon fibre road bikes, Hybrid Utility bikes and of course E-bikes which can allow nearly anyone to enjoy the tours. As for bike fit, during the booking process, he takes your measurements and a bike is selected for you that has been serviced and basically altered to suit. You may need to adjust the seat for the final comfort setting.
Marco has two main tour areas in which he focuses. In the north of Tuscany, the distances are shorter, the terrain is hilly but not mountainous, and it is more the industrial area of the region. We are not talking about workshops here, but you come across more medieval villages in which each one is different and specialises in a different cuisine. Part of the tour actually goes to Vinci – the birthplace of Leonardo de Vinci and as such the village is steeped in nostalgia and museums.
To the South, it is a more rural outlook and the villages are spaced more. The distances you need to cover are a bit longer and it is undulating terrain. It is spotted with vineyards and you take in some agricultural tourism where your accommodation is a working farm and 70% or more of the produce you consume is made on the premises. September is the season for the Porcini Mushroom which is only harvested within 4 weeks of a year. The gatherers go out to their secret locations to get this produce and it used extensively in the local cuisines while in season.
Both directions have different outlooks into the Italian countryside and culture and are surely not to be missed.
The Corona Virus or COVID19 as it is known has certainly left its mark on the tourism industry and Marco has also been greatly affected. In some respects, he has some luck on his side as March is still the winter months and so the season for cycling and tourism has not yet started, it starts from Easter usually. However, while the rest of this year is unknown, it is not likely that any booking will be made until some confidence comes back into our lives and we are allowed to move freely about. Gusto Cycling mainly caters for international travellers and so while airlines are not operating and local restrictions are in place for locals and foreigners, it looks like that this year may well have limited custom and we look to next year.
In the meantime, Marco will be having a look at his marketing, updating his social media and website. He plans to detail his tours more visually by getting more photography done so that he can show you the stunning destinations you will visit on your tour.
Please take the time to enjoy this post and feel free to browse the store. We welcome your comments and suggestions.