Health & Fitness: Annie Reiff pedals through the best of Italy

Health & Fitness: Annie Reiff pedals through the best of Italy

The Tombolo Talasso Resort provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day in the sun, capturing the essence of leisure and tranquility

The Tombolo Talasso Resort provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day in the sun, capturing the essence of leisure and tranquility

Earlier this fall, Fonda resident and dedicated cyclist Annie Reiff embarked on a 10-day adventure in the heart of the picturesque Italian countryside accompanied by her daughter Amy Larson. 

This once-in-a-lifetime adventure became a reality for the two women thanks to a chance encounter on a plane.

“I was on a flight a few years ago and my seatmate was telling me about Vermont Bike Tours,” Reiff remembers. This unique company designs and plans bike tours for adventurers all over the globe. The more Reiff and her seatmate chatted about the idea, the more her interest was piqued.

Reiff’s love affair with biking dates back to the 1970s when she turned to cycling as a means of muscle recovery following a skiing accident.

“I just never stopped,” Reiff says with a chuckle, her spirited demeanor reflecting her unwavering dedication to biking.

Not long after learning of the tour company, Reiff and her daughter soon began to think about what their perfect biking vacation would be. Vermont Bike Tours offers several options for adventurers from tours through the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Europe and more.

First, the Rockies

Initially, Reiff says, her daughter was interested in a tour through the Canadian Rockies. Reiff was right on board with that idea, however, the duo instead decided to do their own tour of these mountains. 

“Amy is from Idaho, so the Canadian Rockies are practically in her backyard,” Reiff says with a smile. 

Reiff and her daughter crafted their ride through the Canadian Rockies on their own, filling Larson’s 4-Runner with bikes, tents, kayaks and provisions for their journey. 

The two women enjoyed their adventure, however, the allure of Vermont Bike Tours persisted, driving Reiff and Larson to explore their options for a 2003 Labor Dayescapade.

Ready for “Coastal Villages of Tuscany”

When the two women called to set up their trip with Vermont Bike Tours, they weren’t exactly sure where they wanted to go… but they knew for certain what type of trip they were going for on their unique adventure. 

“We told the woman on the phone that we wanted to go somewhere that focused on countryside, food, people  and wine!” Reiff recounts with excitement. And Vermont Bike Tours certainly delivered with its “Coastal Villages of Tuscany” bike tour –– a perfect blend of warmth, beauty, and culinary delights.

“Everywhere we went, it was somewhere warm, beautiful and DELICIOUS!” Reiff exclaimed with a smile. Reiff is quick to note that the food and wine were incredible on their own, however, there was so much more to it all. 

“The entire experience is what made it incredible,” Reiff says. 

“Every time we went out to eat the waitstaff was always so friendly,” she adds. “The food was delicious, but the company made it all spectacular.”

For 10 days, Annie, Amy and their group immersed themselves in the charming villages of Italy.

E-bikes ease the trip

The group had e-bikes for their tour, which Annie found especially helpful. Each day saw the tourists riding around 40 to 45 miles and the e-bike experience allowed Reiff and her fellow travelers to focus more on the tours, even during some of the rockiest and hillier areas.

“I was able to sort of relax and enjoy the ride more,” Reiff smiles. While the tour was planned down to each specific detail, Reiff and Larson were pleased with the flexibility the tour guides allowed as the group traveled through the Italian countryside. 

“Everything was on schedule, yet we also felt like there was room for flexibility,” Reiff explains.

During their Italy adventure, Reiff and Larson stayed in five hotels, each offering a unique experience. 

Morning gatherings at 7:30 or 8 a.m. marked the beginning of each day. A sumptuous breakfast spread set the stage for their adventures. The variety of fruits, cheeses, pastries and eggs was a perfect reflection of the regions culinary richness.

Hotels are sanctuaries

The tour included visits to vineyards and olive oil-pressing facilities, unveiling Italy’s gastronomic heritage. Their accommodations weren’t just places to sleep; they were sanctuaries designed for relaxation, with saltwater or mineral swimming options just steps away.

Evenings were spent immersing themselves in local culture, touring villages and savoring the region’s vibrant flavors. “It was a real experience,” Annie said.

“I don’t have a bucket list,” the Fonda woman says, “but if I did, this tour would be on it!” she continues thoughtfully. “There was this amazing ambiance of joy and fun and living life.”