Simone Ciabatti is a guide, a businessman and a proud Florentine who wants to share his city with others-and to do it in the most inventive way possible. For years, Simone has run his company, Accord Solutions, with an eye toward the innovative. His Segway tours, gelato tastings and last-minute Accademia visits are all done in the spirit of opening Florence up in a totally unique way.
This summer, Simone took innovation to a whole new level when Accord began operating rafting tours on the Arno River. As my family and I clamored down to the boat launch near the Arno “beach” at San Niccolò I realized that never before have residents and visitors been able to experience Florence quite like this-the Biblioteca Nazionale, the Uffizi, the city walls, the Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor all take on a completely new feel when seen from the water. Though riders can choose to sit back and relax while the staff does the rowing, we opted to grab an oar and paddle ourselves. Simone assured us that no experience was necessary-the river was calm and there would be a staff member on board the whole time. Trips, which run from San Niccolò down to the Pescaia di Santa Rosa, vary from one to two hours, depending on whether the group is accompanied by a local guide regaling riders with historical anecdotes and stories about the river and the architecture surrounding it.
The excitement of the boat, the physical activity and the novelty of the incredible views was a huge hit with the kids, though it is guaranteed fun for any local, student or tourist who wants a deeper connection with Florence (it will also get you the most enviable photo-ops ever!) A 15-minute safety talk prior to push-off and life jackets for all guarantee a safe and secure trip. Boats hold up to 15 people, and three boats can go at a time, making for a great group activity. Accord also offers rafting on the nearby Sieve River where riders will get even more action with a true whitewater experience. Gather up the kids, get your friends together and take to the river for a great combination of sport, fun and culture.
“Arno River” Rafting Tour
Piazza Poggi, in front of the San Niccolò gate
Tour runs once a day at 5pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from April through October – Price: 25 euro per person without guide;
39 euro per person with guide. Reservations required;
for more information, see www.accordsolutions.it
or call 055/2697622.