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Tuscany

Siena and surroundings: two wheels, endless emotions

From the city of the Palio there are several itineraries for cycling lovers, towards the Crete and the hills of Siena. Also suitable for families. And world champions.

25 July 2022

The scenery is where one of the key stages of the UCI WorldTour - the top world cycling calendar event - has been held for years, namely the Strade Bianche, a road cycling race staged every March in the province of Siena. The route combines the main characteristics of two other classics - the Paris-Roubaix for its stretches on uneven road (in France on cobblestones, in Tuscany on dirt - “white” - roads) and the Tour of Flanders for its short stretches with very high slopes. A difficult race, reserved to the most fearless cyclists, which attracts cycling fans from all over the world to Siena. Back with our feet on the ground, or on the pedals, around the official route used for the championship race, there are many other routes within everyone's reach for discovering the Siena area by bicycle with friends or family.

1. Cycling in the Siena area

We set out by bike from the heart of Siena, Piazza del Campo, on the classic streets of the city center, paved with the typical pietra serena. Then we head east in the direction of the Logge del Papa (late 1400s), alongside the church of San Martino with its wonderful baroque facade. Once past the Contrada della Torre area, you will find yourself in front of the Basilica of San Clemente in Santa Maria Dei Servi (Contrada of Valdimontone), from where you can admire a beautiful panoramic view of Siena. Leaving Valdimontone in the direction of Porta Romana, built in 1327 along the city walls near the ancient Via Cassia, continue along some neighboring streets, and enter the district of Nicchio, then gradually cross the remaining streets to arrive in Via del Casato and back to the starting point: Piazza del Campo.

2. On two wheels between the gates of Siena

One of the most characteristics features of Siena are the gates to the city that can be found along the ancient defensive walls, and the beauty of this route lies precisely in the fact that it takes you across the most beautiful ones. So, Porta Romana, Porta Pispini and Porta San Marco will be important stops on this excursion. You'll learn about one of the city's oldest water sources, pass under the famous inscription "Cor magis tibi Sena pandit" (Siena opens a heart to you that is bigger...than the gate you're walking through), and discover Baroque and Renaissance treasures in a unique environmental setting. There will also be a picnic area where you can take a break, maybe do some exercise on the open air gym equipment nearby, or finally replenish your water supply. The route treats you to a final twist: you arrive in the breathtaking Piazza del Campo.

3. Via Lauretana, a paradise for cyclists

The ancient Via Lauretana is now a cycle route leading from Siena to Cortona, along part of a hiking route that is recognized as one of the “Cammini Toscani”. Along this route you can join the Via Francigena and the Sentiero della Bonifica. The many detours you will encounter help you avoid areas prone to road traffic, and will allow you to enjoy the very best of this beautiful route, spanning alternate short asphalted sections and long stretches of dirt roads. There are six possible stopping points along the way, with bike points located in the most important places. The stretch that departs from Sinalunga, passes through Montepulciano, and leads to Cortona is challenging but absolutely beautiful. The more expert, fitter riders among you could finish the tour in one day, but our advice is to take at least 48 hours and experience it slowly, taking the time to enjoy the many beauties you will meet along the way.

4. Cycling between sheaves of wheat and sunflowers

A route that winds through the rolling hills of Siena and, starting from one of the city’s gates, Porta Romana, you will pedal through the open countryside following the signs marked Via Francigena Sud. Along the route, the Certosa di Maggiano can be reached along a succession of dirt roads and short stretches of asphalted road, in the tradition of the "white roads". The scenery is that of the Val d'Arbia, where gentle climbs and easy descents await you. Here, in the summer, you'll find some of the fields planted with sunflowers in full bloom, or more wheat fields just after harvest, with their round sheaves lying along the slopes. Whatever the season, you will discover the charm of Grancia di Cuna, an imposing red brick building, and one of the best preserved medieval fortified farms. It is also one of the most interesting architectural complexes in the entire province of Siena. Once your eyes are filled with wonder and your heart is brimming with emotion, you can complete the excursion by pedaling in the direction of Porta Romana and returning to Siena.

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