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Bike tour in Tuscany: cycling through the Val di Merse and Mount Amiata

  • 01/03/2024

Fun, eco-friendly, and economical: the bicycle is the quintessential green mode of transportation, one of the most appreciated by tourists for moving freely and in contact with nature. Among the regions that best meet this need to combine the discovery of new places with a pleasant walk immersed in greenery is Tuscany. Land of hills, sea, ancient villages, and good wine, this region offers cycling enthusiasts a rich selection of routes: if you are about to embark on a short vacation, here are some ideas to plan your bike tour in Tuscany and enjoy the best that this splendid territory has to offer.

 

Cycling routes between Val di Merse and Monte Amiata

The cycling routes that cross the Tuscan territory are many and varied: those we propose here are dedicated to Val di Merse and Monte Amiata. The first, developed along a 174 km route, involves an excursion of about 12 hours, while the second is shorter, winding along a path of about 16 km and can be completed in an hour and a half. Let's take a closer look.

 

Discovering Val di Merse

This Tuscan bike tour offers the opportunity to cross within the same circuit four valleys: Val d'Elsa, Val di Cecina, Valle dell'Ombrone, and Val di Merse. The route unfolds between quiet paths and roads far from city traffic, alternating between asphalt and some dirt stretches. The starting point is Casole d'Elsa, a splendid village of Etruscan origin. From the fifteenth-century fortress, the itinerary begins with 18 km through Val d'Elsa: between ascents and descents, the first stop is Radicondoli: here, in addition to Palazzo Berlinghieri, the seat of the Municipality, worth visiting are the Collegiate Church of Saints Simone and Giuda, built in 1589 on the ruins of a Romanesque parish church, and the Church of Santa Caterina delle Ruote, annexed to the Augustinian Monastery.

Once you set off again, the tour continues towards the village of Chiusdino, another iconic stop due to the spectacular Abbey of San Galgano. Built-in 1218, this basilica with a Latin cross plan is one of the most beautiful places in the province of Siena and owes its fame to the dramatic absence of its roof, which creates breathtaking lighting effects. A pause immersed in the spectacle of the Abbey meeting nature is what you need before getting back in the saddle towards Monticiano.

From here, you descend towards the Basso Merse Natural Park before climbing back up the hill and reaching Murlo: this town is located on the border between the Valle dell'Ombrone and the Val Di Merse area. Here the Etruscan heritage is tangible not only in the numerous archaeological remains but also in the physical traits of its inhabitants: it seems that the citizens of Murlo are direct descendants of the Etruscan people, supported by various studies conducted on the DNA of the indigenous population, the most recent of which dates back to 2007 and appeared in "The American Journal of Genetics".

After admiring the breathtaking view from this splendid village and stopping at the Episcopal Palace and the Church of San Fortunato, the itinerary winds to Sovicille: its picturesque town nestled among the woods is characterized by the typical elliptical shape of Etruscan cities. A walk among the ancient palaces of the historic center concludes the tour of Val di Merse: from here the route presents a final ascent before returning to the valley and reaching the starting point in Casole D'Elsa.

 

A stop at Fattoria del Cerro

For those who, after the stimulating ride, want to enjoy well-deserved rest, there is nothing better than a stop at a winery to taste a good glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, perhaps paired with typical local products: to do this, simply extend the route by just 14 km and reach Fattoria del Cerro, in the Acquaviva area. Here, in the heart of the province of Siena, the winery offers a unique opportunity to complete your itinerary with a full immersion in local production activities: the cellar of the estate is the perfect place to get a close look at the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, which the company also produces under the label "Silìneo" and in the Reserve version. Visitors are also offered the opportunity to book lunch or dinner at the restaurant of Relais Villa Grazianella. Those who wish can also stop for a night of rest pampered by the cozy atmosphere of the eleven rooms overlooking the estate. The elegant spaces of Villa Grazianella can also be visited through a virtual tour: to take a look, and perhaps choose your room in advance, simply follow the link available in the "hospitality" section of the Fattoria del Cerro website.

 

Pedaling through the woods of Monte Amiata

For those who love cycling in the woods, there is nothing more stimulating than a route that winds through the heart of Monte Amiata. This area, particularly rich in mineral deposits, is linked to the mining history of the area and the plants built in the mid-nineteenth century by Italian and German investors. Cycling enthusiasts can venture along the path that winds from Abbadia San Salvatore up to 1,000 meters in altitude, starting from Via Sant'Andrea and proceeding uphill along Strada Vecchia, which connects Abbadia to Piancastagnaio. From here, you pedal along the Provincial Road "Vetta dell'Amiata", then, once you reach 1,000 meters, you descend again towards Abbadia through the forest. Along the way, you can stop for a visit to Laghetto Verde and the Mining Museum Park in Abbadia San Salvatore: here you can discover the mining history of the area linked to the extraction of cinnabar from which, already in Etruscan times, mercury was obtained. The exhibition path unfolds among the spaces of the Clock Tower and the mechanical workshop and tells the daily life of the miners and their hard work: tools, clothing from the time, and a rich gallery of ancient photos keep alive the memory of the community that prospered around the plant between 1899 and 1972. The visit to the site concludes with an underground route: aboard a wagon, you set off to discover machinery and work tools.

 

To conclude… a glass of Brunello!

After the ride, a stop at an agriturismo is always a good idea. Those who wish to conclude their bike tour exploring Monte Amiata with a wine tasting can leave behind Piancastagnaio and Abbadia San Salvatore to head towards Tenuta La Poderina. Here, in the heart of Val D'Orcia, in the locality of Castelnuovo dell'Abate, in front of the suggestive Abbey of Sant'Antimo, the estate offers the opportunity to taste the wines of its production, including "Brunello di Montalcino DOCG", "Poggio Abate Montalcino Riserva DOCG" or "Rosso di Montalcino DOC".

"La Poderina" is also the right location for those who want to extend their mini-vacation with a night's stay. The structure, in fact, has two 50-square-meter apartments with a equipped kitchen, TV, and Wi-Fi: the best solution to rest in the tranquility of the vineyards, lulled by the scents of the countryside.

Pedaling immersed in the silence of small villages and enveloped by the relaxing atmosphere of nature trails is a pleasure waiting to be discovered, which is why Tuscany is one of the most loved regions by cycling enthusiasts, but not only: if you love motorcycle trips, don't miss our article dedicated to Tuscany on the road.​​​​

 

 

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