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Tuscany: cycling around Siena between wines and spas

09 September 2022

The Tuscan countryside around Siena takes in spas as well as excellent food and wine with these five delightful cycling routes through picture postcard nature

The spectacular countryside around Siena, in Tuscany, offers slow rides immersed in nature with the bouquet of wines and truffles, natural spas and very old villages still pervaded by the presence of the ancient Etruscans. Here are five essential itineraries for a truly complete sensory experience. These enchanting landscapes will also welcome stages of the Giro d'Italia 2021.

1. The Lands of Brunello

A fragrant ride around the Lands of Brunello, home to the great red wine - one of the best known and highly regarded in the world. The route starts off from the Mediaeval town of Montalcino, the homeland of this wine, where the XIV century fortress, the Diocesan Civic Museum of Holly Arts and numerous religious buildings are all well worth a visit. Outside the town, the tour continues surrounded by nature along up and down, unpaved roads in the shade of centuries-old cypresses and holm oaks, passing by sites such as the monumental Abbey of Sant'Antimo and Castelgiocondo castle. The route passes through many vineyards, farms and wine cellars where you can stop and enjoy a fine glass of Brunello.

2. Crossing the Val d'Orcia

Val d'Orcia

This route - characterised by numerous natural spas set amidst the greenest Tuscan countryside - starts off from Castiglione d'Orcia and then winds its way through the evocative landscapes of the Val d'Orcia. Above all, don't miss Bagno Vignoni, with its scenic outdoor thermal basin occupying the entire central square, and Bagni San Filippo with waterfalls and open-air thermal pools free for everyone to enjoy. Yet panoramic roads also lead to evocative suggestive villages such as Radicofani and Campiglia d'Orcia, facing the Cetona and Amiata mountains with enormous views. It is a challenging route recommended for expert cyclists - but is definitely worth it!

3. In the footsteps of the Etruscans in Val di Merse

A circular itinerary dedicated to the Etruscan civilization that begins and ends in the tiny, fortified village of Murlo, the ancient centre of the historical lineage: here, the Antiquarium di Poggio Civitate Archaeological Museum in the Bishop's Palace is home to precious relics brought to light by excavations in the surrounding hills. Cycling along the Val di Merse past ancient mines, the impervious gorge and ravines of the Crevole torrent and the historic village of La Befa, the up and down route along paved and unpaved roads is ideal for mountain bikes. The last stretch leads to the picturesque landscape of the Crete Senesi, where the fortress of Castelnuovo Tancredi and the ancient village of Buonconvento are well worth visiting.

4. Amidst unspoilt nature from Pienza to Montepulciano

A delightful itinerary in the Val d'Orcia ideal even for families, cycling among places of immense historical and artistic value and countryside perfumed by famous local wines. We set off from Pienza, a lovely Renaissance town well worth a visit to its historic centre (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The centre of Montepulciano, bordering with Valdichiana, is also noteworthy: here, in addition to the Duomo and the Torre del Palazzo Comunale, visitors simply must go down into the ancient, evocative underground cellars to taste Nobile di Montepulciano, a DOCG red wine typical of the area. Nor should you miss the climb up to Monticchiello, one of the most characteristic small villages in stone in Val d'Orcia.

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5. Trails around Siena

The cycle route unwinds along scenic trails in the province of Siena, especially the beautiful Pieve at Salti track embracing all the astonishing landscape varieties of the Crete Senesi. Along the way, you will come across the town of San Giovanni d'Asso, home to the delicious local white truffle where, during the harvest season, one of the most important Italian thematic market exhibitions is held. The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore nestled between scenic gullies is also well worth a visit, before descending into the XIV century village of Buonconvento cycling delightfully among all the colours of nature.