Hills, wine and la dolce vita! On this training week we will again, together, be exploring one of Italy's most attractive regions - Tuscany! On our rides we shall discover the varied scenery around Florence and Siena, and enjoy new experiences and gorgeous landscapes every day. Early May was the choice for this trip for a reason: the fields of broom are still a lush green, everything is in bloom and the weather is pleasant. The rides give us a chance to dig really deep.
After the long journey here our legs will, no doubt, be a little stiff, so we’ll treat them to a bit of a loosener and familiarise ourselves with the area. In the process, though, we’ll bump into one highlight straight away - the small village of San Gimignano which will charm us with its archaic quaintness! The groups will also get to know each other on the square in the centre of town.
Today we’ll tackle an extremely out-of-the-way area - the thickly wooded region to the north of Massa Marittima. To do this, we head out of Colle di Val d'Elsa to the south over the typical hills. With few people living around here, we shall cross with cars only rarely. As we reach the woods, the hills we so love (?) are replaced by rather longer, but always easy, climbs and gentle undulations. The way back takes us on one of the few major roads. Nonetheless, the traffic will be acceptable and the bunch will be able to flow smoothly.
On the longer ride we get as far as Castelnuovo on a nice rise. The cute market square in the centre of town there is an invitation to take a break. After that, a long ride through thick woods, on which, happily, the hills are replaced by gentle undulations.
Today we head into the well-known wine-producing area, Chianti, for the first time. We get to Castellina on a somewhat busier road, but one whose views will compensate us for crossing with the odd motorised vehicle. We then penetrate ever more deeply into Chianti, passing countless vineyards until we finally land up back in Castellina. An extremely nice descent then takes us back towards Colle di Val d'Elsa, where we might round off the day with a delicious drop of that very same Chianti.
Today's ride is quite rightly known as one of the highlights of our trip! We will get to see the awesome scenery of the Crete, which lies to the south-east of Siena. This region is also the venue for the well-known, annual ride called l'Eroica, which takes in gravel roads (called ‘Strade Bianche’). We, though, stick to the tarmac. On the approach we ride around Siena, because we’ll take a closer look at the town on our recovery day ride. Immediately thereafter we dive into the Crete hills and find the sort of views that we know from postcards and photos of Tuscany. The way back takes us over the quiet Passo dell'Incrociati, which won't tax us too much. Could it be that one or two people fancy a little dual prior to the recovery day?
The groups on the longer ride get to enjoy a little bit more of Crete. To this end, once past Siena we set off on a loop that takes us deep into this typical Tuscan countryside. The rest of the ride is identical to the shorter version.
Now that we've acquired some lasting memories of the delightful countryside around here, today it's time to give our legs a bit of a rest. In so doing, first we ride the tranquil Passo di Celsa, after which we’ll already have got most of the day's elevation gain under our wheels. Our next stop will then be Siena. Passing through the city will no doubt involve traffic. But we’ll also see some of its famous architectural highlights and imbibe some of its magic over an espresso.
Today we return to Chianti. We may still have positive memories of some of these roads, when we ride them in the opposite direction today. In general, we’ll be moving a little more to the south-west, towards Lecchi, where we’ll be in the middle of our familiar Chianti countryside.
Today, again, the longer option is largely identical to the shorter one. We separate in Lecchi, so that we can head far to the south-west, to San Gusmé. But...you can never have enough Chianti, either in terms of the wine or the scenery!
Today we're going to explore the area to the west of Colle di Val d'Elsa! Crossing numerous hills, we first come to the larger town of Pomerance, where we can treat ourselves to our first hot drink. We’ll then make our next stop in Volterra. This medieval village is strikingly located on a hilltop, so it can be seen from miles around. So we have our goal firmly in our sights on the 10 km ride up to it. The rustic charm of the village square is then our well-earned reward for our efforts. On the ride home we only face a few hills, which we go over in fine spirits.
The longer option is almost identical. Just that we also include the climb to the small village of Micciano on our way to Pomerance. The ascent isn't easy, but it has numerous bends. In Micciano, which consists of just a few houses, we can walk up a viewing tower that has breathtaking vistas. The rest of the ride is then the same as the shorter option via Volterra.