I'm hoping to find a small town somewhere in Central Italy where I can set up home base for about a week. I'd like the town to be well-connected to nearby towns by bus and have some easy access points for trails for day-hiking. I will probably not have a car, but would love to rent a bike for short, easy (not too hilly) bike rides (5-10 km). Does such a place exist? The main goals for the week would be to live the slow life outdoors, with lots of time for taking walks, cooking, reading, and resting, while also being able to visit some small attractions. Thanks in advance for your help!
Central Italy is hilly. The only flat places are the small valleys, such as: Valdarno Superiore (between Incisa and Arezzo), Valdarno Inferiore (from Empoli to Pisa), Valdichiana (between Arezzo and Lake Trasimeno), Alta Val Tiberina (from Salsepolcro to southern Umbria), Valdinievole (from Montecatini to Fucecchio), Florentine Plain (from Florence to Pistoia), Tuscan Coast plain (from Sarzana all the way to Grosseto), etc. Unfortunately though, for historical reasons (defense from enemy invasions and disease carrying mosquitoes in the swampy valleys), Italian towns developed primarily on top of hills and roads were built along mountains ridges, rather than the bottom of valleys. As such, you are not likely to find a lot of roads to bike on flat land only, unless you limit yourself to some of the small plains I mentioned. Without a car, Florence is the best base for bus and train connections. It's not a small town though. Generally the towns best connected are the provincial capitals. They are (in no particular order): In Tuscany: Florence, Pisa, Livorno, Siena, Arezzo, Lucca, Prato, Pistoia, Grosseto, Massa e Carrara. In Umbria: Perugia and Terni.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany and Perugia is the capital of Umbria. Obviously they are the hubs of their respective regions. Florence sits in a narrow valley, Perugia is on top of a hill.