Bicycle Tours In Tuscany ...
Tuscany By Bike
Seeing Tuscany by bike will be one of the best riding adventures you may ever have.
The famously hilly and picturesque Tuscan province, is positively groaning with historically significant sites, wonderfully colorful festivals, gorgeous landscapes, charming villages and amazing foods & wines ... and it has so much on offer cyclists
Some Of The Most Popular Itineries Will Include:
Check out our Weather Watch below, to see the best time of year to see Tuscany by bike.
Tuscany By Bike - Top Places To Visit
If you want to experience one of those 'classic' bicycle tours in Tuscany, that will take you winding through quintessential Italian landscapes of gently, rolling hills dotted with shapely cypress trees and fields of sunflowers - then you need to ensure you get yourself to the Val D'Orcia (or Valdorcia), region in Tuscany.
Val D'Orcia is world renowned for its classic Tuscan landscapes and fragrant red wines such as the famous, local drops from Brunello di Montalcino and the Rosso di Montepulciano... the best thing too about seeing Tuscany by bike is that you can visit these gorgeous wineries for wine tastings and not have to worry about drink driving issues!
In this region of Tuscany biking is pretty easygoing or perhaps to be more specific - pretty and easygoing. The hills are gentle and rolling and the distances between places aren't too great.
Special places to see in this region include the ancient towns of Buonconvento, and Bagno Vignoni famous for its main piazza which is - a thermal pool, the monks at the secluded Sant'Antimo Abbey and the medieval, hilltop village of Radicofani.
Other 'must see' sites are: the ancient fortressed town of Montalcino, the beautiful Renaissance square of Pienza, the peaceful Orcia Valley , the enchanting gardens of San Quirico D'Orcia and last but not least the gorgeous walled city of Montepulciano, which was known as 'The Pearl' of the 16th century, because of its beautiful Renaissance buildings and magnificent Piazza Grande.
In 2004 UNESCO annexed the entire valley, of the Val d'Orcia, onto its list of important World Cultural Landscapes.
Seeing Tuscany by bike can be hard work ... although admittedly, somewhat pleasureable work. To ease the stiffness of your aching legs and saddle sore body, make sure you pay a visit to one of Tuscany's many thermal spa regions.
Perhaps the most famous natural Tuscan thermal pools and waterfall is the Cascate del Mulino. The Cascate del Mulino and and Cascate del Gorellos thermal springs are located in the Maremma district, in the small town of Saturnia.
Saturnia's ancient thermal springs were enjoyed by both the Etruscans and Romans alike. The sulphur- rich pools are a relaxing of 99.5 degrees fahrenheit or 37.5 degrees celsius, better still - they are free to visit and open all year round!
Saturnia mythology has the thermal springs being created by Jupiter's thunderbolt, which fell and struck the land during a battle with his foe Saturn. Legend says the warm natural pools sprang at the very point at which this wayward thunderbolt struck the Tuscan earth.
Saturnia has developed an exclusive and expensive 'spa and health' industry based around these therapeutic waters.
Another beautiful thermal region in Tuscany is Bagni San Filippo, which is located in inside the Orcia Valley Park, in the province of Siena.
Bagni San Filippo is home to the amazing Fosso Bianco thermal formations. Fosso Bianco has a lovely natural spring which tumbles down into big and ancient white calcareous concretion pools and then flows on into several other smaller waterfalls.
The hot sulphur, calcium and magnesium-rich waters of Terme San Filippo are believed to be effective for helping respiratory, ear-nose-throat and osteo-neuro-joint diseases. The waters have been recorded, as far back as in the Middle Ages, as being used as an effective health treatment - indeed the famous Medicini princes and their families are documented to have used the pools for their wonderful healing and therapeutic properties.
Not only the waters but also the thermal muds are used as a natural therapy for skin conditions such as varicose eczemas, psoriasis, neuro-dermatitis, eczema, juvenile androsacea-acne.
Other thermal baths for you to heal, recharge and relax at, after biking Tuscany are:
- Terme Antica Querciolaia
- Bagni di Lucca
- Casciana Terme
- Montepulciano Terme
- San Giuliano Terme
- Terme di San Giovanni
- Monsummano Terme
- Gambassi Terme
- Montecatini Terme
- Terme di Venturina
- San Carlo Terme
- Parco Termale di Stia
- Terme di Petriolo
- Bagno Vignoni
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - AREZZO
Arezzo is a beautiful walled town located high above the floodplains of River Armo. Once a great Etruscan capital this medieval town has been the birthplace of many great and famous Italians.
At the heart of the Arezzo is the charming Piazza Grande, around which lie many beauutiful buildings including: The 13th century Romanesque apse of Santa Maria della Pieve, the Episcopal Palace, the Vasari Loggia, the Palazzo Cofani-Brizzolari and the (Fraternita dei Laici - Palace of the Lay Fraternity - a 14th-15th century palazzo.
As in all Italian cities Arezzo has swags of other lovely churches, muesuems, ruins ampitheatres and palazzo to visit.
Annually, Arezzo hosts a terrific medieval festival called the Saracen Joust - Giostra del Saracino
It is a colorful event which sees the local townsfolk dressing up in medieval costume and cheering on their own competing 'knights' in a jousting competition. The 'knights' are scored for accuracy when they charge at a wooden target that is attached to a carving of a Saracen king .
The event is great fun and well worth stopping for on your bicycle tours of Tuscany.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - CORTONA
Cortona is another small hillside Etruscan town and home MEAC - the Museum of Etruscan Academy of Cortona. MEAC has a collection of very important and valuable Etruscan and Roman antiquities.
The centre of Cortona town is presided over by Palazzo Comunale, which sits grandly on the main square of Piazza della Repubblica. The town's architecture is essentially medieval but has some fine examples of Renaissance construction.
Definitely worth seeing in Cortona is the early Italian Renaissance painter - Guido di Pietro A.K.A Beato Angelico's- beautiful panel-painting altarpiece - the 'Annunciation of Cortona', which is housed in the Museo Diocesano - Diocesan Museum.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - FLORENCE
Do not, if you love art, culture and architecture, undertake any bicycle tours of Tuscany, that do not include Firenze A.K.A Florence.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany, birthplace of the Renaissance and one of the greatest centres for art in the world.
Spanning the River Arno is the walled heart of old Firenze city, which in 1982, was designated a 'World Heritage Site' by the UNESCO.
It is home to the Filippo Brunelleschi's magnificent domed cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as The Duomo.
Contained within Florence's walls are also the:
- Uffizi Gallery- one of the finest art museums in the world
- Bartolomeo Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune at the Piazza della Signoria. Also at this location are replicas of statues by other eminient sculptors such as Donatello, Cellini, Ammannati, and Giambologna. The originals have been moved to muesuems for safekeeping.
- The church of San Lorenzo which contains the famous Medici family chapel.
- The Pitti Palace former home to the Medici family, now a museum - with amazing galleries, collections and adjoining outside are the incredible Boboli Gardens, whose grounds have beautiful sculptures and are elaborately landscaped.
- The San Giovanni Baptistery. embellished by Lorenzo Ghiberti with his 'Gates of Paradise' images.
- Giotto's Bell Tower
- The historic old bridge Ponte Vecchio which spans the River Arno
- Bargello a muesuem of sculpture featuring masterpieces by artists including Michelangelo, Donatello and Giambologna.
- The Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno home to Michelangelo's David and his incompleted Slaves.;
- The Santa Croce basilica, resting place of Galileo, Rossini Dante, Michelangelo, Foscolo, Marconi and Machiavelli to name but a few. Because of its illustrious role-call of dead the basilica is also known as the Tempio dell'Itale Glorie - Temple of the Italian Glories.
.... and so the list of cultural delights goes on and on.
There are so many amazing historical sites in Florence, that if you want to really see it all, you almost need to forget about travelling Tuscany by bike - and spend your whole time exploring this incredible city.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - LUCCA
Lucca was a city founded by the Etruscans, colonised by the Romans and existed as an independent 'Republic' for over 500 years. It had a very turbulent history but still managed to remain independent until 1805 when it was conquered by Napoleon. In 1847 Lucca became absorbed into theTuscany region and eventually became one of the many 'Italian states'.
Lucca is famed for its 'Renaissance-era' city walls, which have been retained intact - despite urban expansion and modernization - and cleverly transformed from a military fortification, into a pretty, treelined 'pedestrian promenade', around the old town.
Within Lucca there are more than a dozen rich and ornate medieval basilicas with intricate arcaded facades and bell towers, the famous Academy of Sciences which was established in 1584, an ancient Roman amphitheatre, places, piazzas, academies, libraries, muesuems, villas and gorgeous gardens including the 1820 botanical garden of Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca.
Birthplace of many great composers such as Giacomo Puccini, Luigi Boccherini, Nicalao Dorati, Alfredo Catalani, Francesco Geminiani and Gioseffo Guami, it is not suprising that Lucca is host to the annual Lucca Summer Festival which every year features major international singing stars.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - MONTERIGGIONI
Possibly the most famous 'walled village' in Italy is the Tuscan village of 'Monteriggioni', - home to a mere 80 permanent residents.
The village was was built in 1213-1219 on a summit overlooking of the important Cassia road. Its strategic position enabled the Senesis to control and defend the Elsa and the Staggia Valleys against their traditional Sienese enemies.
Perched high on its hilltop, the turreted town of Monteriggioni, is encased by 623 yards or 570 meters of strong fortified stone walls, which are interdispersed with 14 towers and only 2 gates - The Senese Gate and The Florence Gate.
Today, there is a 'walled walk' around the stone fortifications which affords fabulous views of the outlying countryside.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - PIENZA
Located in the Val d'Orcia, Tuscany, is Pienza one of the most perfect examples of Renaissance 'urbanism'.
The village was rebuilt by the locally born, humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini who was later to gain immense power as Pope Pius II.
Pope Pius had his entire childhood village rebuilt as an 'ideal Renaissance town'. He used unique humanist urban planning concepts to create a place he loved - where he could retreat to escape the pressures and chaos of Rome.
In 1996, this perfect town of Pienza was declared a World Heritage Site with UNESCO.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - PISA
Although famed for its 'Leaning Tower', there is actually a lot more to Pisa than just this iconic monument.
Pisa is situated at the mouth of the River Arno, where it flows out into the Ligurian Sea
In the north of Pisa's old town centre is the architecturally stunning The Piazza del Duomo A.K.A Piazza dei Miracoli or theSquare of Miracles.
Sitting in the Piazza del Duomo is the Duomo or cathedral with its 'leaning bell tower', the Baptistery of St. John and the Camposanto Monumentale- monumental cemetery.
Around Pisa there are many beautiful palaces, over twenty historically significant churches, world class education institutes, pretty bridges, villas and towers.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - SAN GIMIGNANO
San Gimignano, is a beautifully preserved medieval village, renowned for it's numerous towers. Purported to once have had 72 towers, San Gimignano still has 15 standing today.
San Gimignano, was once part of the Via Francigena, which was an ancient pilgrim road - extending from Rome, across Europe through France & Switzerland and ending in Canterbury, England.
The town is focused around four main piazzas or town squares: the Piazza delle Erbe, the Piazza della Cisterna, the Piazza Pecori, and the Piazza Duomo where the old cathedral or Collegiata is found.
Other attractions in San Gimignano are Sant'Agostino, a former church and now gallery housing artworks from some of the Italy's greatest Renaissance painters.
Located in the old area San Gimignano is a wonderful muesuem called SanGimignano1300, which amongst other fine displays, has amazing model replicas of the Via Francigena pilgrammage routes and life as it would have been in medieval San Gimignano.
Another gallery containing the works of artists such as: Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico di Michelino, Filippino Lippi, Pier Francesco Fiorentino and Pinturicchio, is the Communal Palace - once home to the great rulers of the city.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - SIENA
Siena is a gorgeous medieval Tuscan city, which for centuries rivaled Florence for regional supremacy.
The city retains a lot of its former glory and is definitely worth a visit, if you are touring Tuscany by bike.
In the heart of Siena city lies the beautiful Piazza del Campo - ancient town square - which is presided over by by Gothic town hall known as the Palazzo Pubblico and the iconic Torre del Mangia or 'Tower of the Eater'.
Built in the in the 12th-13th centuries Siena's magnigicent Duomo - cathedral, is a wonderful example of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture.
The historic medieval centre of Siena has been listed as a 'World Heritage Site' by UNESCO.
Within the ancient city walls are many significant cultural and historical sites, churches, cathedrals, fortresses, botanical gardens, muesuems, villas and galleries.
The most famous event in Siena is the 'Palio di Siena' an exciting horse race that is held in the Piazza del Campo twice each year. The first race takes place on the 2nd July in honor of the 'Palio di Provenzano' - the Madonna of Provenzano. The second race takes place soon after on the 16th August - in honor of 'Palio dell'Assunta' - the Assumption of Mary.
These amazing events are prceded by a magnificent pageant, called the Corteo Storico.
The 'Palio di Siena' races are then held - with ten competitors riding horses (originally buffalos), bareback three times around 'Piazza del Campo'.
Bicycle Tours In Tuscany - CHIANTI PROVINCE
The main 'winery' bicycle tours in Tuscany tend to focus around the vineyards in the panaromic Chianti region.
The borders of the Chianti region are ill defined, but roughly extend over the provinces of Siena and Florence, including all of the lands between the two cities and stretching eastward out towards the Valdarno and westward to the Val d'Elsa.
Blessed with picture perfect rolling green hills, striped with pretty rows of grapevines and silvery olive groves, Chianti really is worth a visit.
All throughout this region there are ancient fortresses, medieval castles and walled stone villages perched on top of the rounded Tuscan hillsides, places such as the utterly charming turreted village of Monteriggioni.
Down in the fertile valleys below, winds the Greve River. On its banks are fascinating places to explore like ' Badia a Coltibuono - Abbey Of The Good Harvest ', which is a monestry with vineyards, that was established in this Chianti valley back in 1051 AD.
Speaking of vineyards, it would be criminal to cycle Tuscany by bike and NOT stop to visit a winery - even if you don't drink.
There are some amazing vineyards to tour that will offer you the chance to explore their wine cellars, learn about wine-making in Chianti and sample their produce. One such vineyard is the illustrious Baron Ricasoli's winery and home - Castello di Brolio which produces wines of world renown.
Other terrific villages to check out are Castellina, Greve, Gaiole, Panzano and Radda.
The Sparkling Etruscan Coast - Bicycle Tours In Tuscany
If, on your bicycle tours in Tuscany you find you are hankering for a glimpse of the Ligurian Sea - then you can always cycle your way down the western Etruscan Coastline to the ancient Etruscan port of Piombino.
This historical region was, once the heart of the pre-Roman Etruscan civilization. Modern-day Piombino is a thriving town and home to approximately 35,000 Tuscans.
From Piombino you can board a ferry and make the 12 mile or 19 km harbor crossing to the beautiful island of Elba. Elba is a stunning place and home to about 35,000 permanent residents.
The island of Elba is blessed with gorgeous beaches lapped by crystal clear waters, charming & colorful hillside and fishing villages, thick forests & pretty peaks, beautiful medieval fortresses & ruins, and of course Italian vineyards!
Cycling along the western coastline and countryside will take you through the picturesque villages of Marciana Alta, Marciana Marina, Marina di Campo and Fetovaia.
On the eastern end of Elba, overlooking a sparkling harbor is Porto Longone, a magnificent Spanish fort that was constructed in 1602. This site is now home to the popular resort - Porto Azzurro.
Other great spots to ride to are Capoliveri & Rio Marina. The cycling to the east is very challenging so make sure you are up for it.
Bicycle tours in Tuscany are delightful - especially with the lovely mild Tuscan climate. As you would expect the hilly, mountainous regions tend to be cooler for cycling than than the valleys and coastal regions.
Best time 'weather-wise' to go biking Tuscany is from March - June or September - October.
The rainiest month is generally November but October, December, March and April, also see a fair bit of rain too.
July - August are the warmest months with average highs of 86 degrees fahrenheit or 30 degrees celsius ...
And lows of 63-64 degrees fahrenheit or 17-18 degrees celsius
If you plan to be biking Tuscany in the winter months, remember that although the days are generally sunny and mild the nights are cold, especially in the more mountainous regions.
December - January are the coldest months with average highs of 52-54 degrees fahrenheit or 11-12 degrees celsius ...
And lows of 37-40 degrees fahrenheit or 3-4 degrees celsius
Did You Know?
The modern Italian language originated in the region of Tuscany?
The average Italian eats 55 pounds or 25 kilograms of pasta a year?