On your bike! 3-day cycling tour in Tuscany

WIN a bike and cycle accessories of your choice worth €350! Enter before 31st August to be in with a chance.

For more challenging cycles routes Tuscany comes recommended by Andy Costa from ItalyBikeTours.net. His bike tour ventures along the coastal roads of Orbetello, before winding through thick forest canopies, the clifftop and medieval town of Pitigliano and the world-class vineyards of Montalcino…

Distance: Approx 112 miles
Terrain: Quiet roads and suitable for most bikes
Grade: Medium-difficult with plenty of rolling hills and a number of steep climbs.

Perhaps the best thing about this route is the solitude you will experience. The ride is almost entirely on secondary roads, with very little traffic – especially compared to other cycling in Tuscany trips. It may be listed as a three-day bike tour, but if you have not the inclination to refuse a few glasses of the good stuff, you had better allow a few extra days for enjoying some wine-tasting in Tuscany – but more on the bottle later!

The route begins in Orbetello, a coastal town with historic Spanish walls and miles of sandy beach curving around a lagoon, which interestingly, only reaches a depth of one metre. From here the route veers inland through the fields of Feniglia and reaching Pitigliano.

On day two you will pass by ancient Etruscan tombs and around Tuscany’s largest volcano, Monte Amiata. The final day ends in the world-class wine country of Montalcino – what better way to end your trip than savouring a glass of Brunello eh?! – Dear me, we are back on the bottle again.

When to go

Lowland Tuscany gets unbearably hot in the summertime. Ideal times to cycle are in May, early June, September and October. This route keeps off major road so traffic will be relatively light except perhaps for the last mile leading to Montalcino.

Getting there & around

Regular trains run between Rome and Orbetello (€7.55; €3.50 extra for bike; 2 hours). From Florence, you will need to change at Pisa (€13.80 plus €3.50 extra for bike; 3.5 hours). Be sure to purchase tickets in advance (supplementary bike tickets are NOT available at all stations). For more information about putting bikes on trains in Italy, visit Trenitalia, the national rail website where you can find train times and book tickets too.

Click on map for detailed cycle route

The Route

Day 1 – Orbetello to Pitigliano

7- 8 hours, 51 miles

Begin at the tourist office in Orbetello and head through the beautiful Riserva Naturale Duna Feniglia Park which is surrounded by water and a great spot for birdwatching. After 6km of gravel paths you leaving the park and head south out of town and along a coastal gravel path with pine trees and glorious sunflowers.

You will be leaving the coast and heading inland. After a few minutes turn left – there is no sign so take a look at the map – and veer around gate and onto a path on the left. Continue along this road passing Lago di San Floriano on your left. Turn right onto Via Selva Nera which turns into Via Giacomo Puccini to Capalbio.

From here it a straight road past Lago Acquato, through the town of Sgrillozzo and then turning right on to the SR74 leading you through Manciano and eventually, after a few steep climbs, to Pitigliano. This is a beautiful medieval village perched atop a rocky cliff and an ideal place to stop for the evening, relax and refuel. There is a tourist office if you need any more information about places to eat and things to see.

Day 2 – Pitigliano to Castel del Piano

5 hours, 34 miles

Don’t let the distance fool you; today’s ride may be shorter, but it is more strenuous than yesterday’s. There are plenty of sharp ascents and exciting downhill rides to keep adrenaline junkies happy too.

Leave by way of the arches you came through yesteday. Turn right at stop sign then head on to the SP46 to Sovana (with a 1.1-mile climb). Only 5 km outside Pitigliano are tombs belonging to the Etruscan culture (who pre-dated the Romans). Similar – but less impressive – tombs can be found just outside Rome.

The first part of the ride is an easy, steady ascent to Castel Azzara, where you should stop for lunch. Follow route SP 34 for the rest of the day. From there, expect a number of sharp descents into rolling farmland before the route enters dense forest. The ride to Arcidosso is perhaps today’s most challenging; once you’ve arrived, it’s an easy run into Castel del Piano.

Day 3 – Castel del Piano to Montalcino

4 hours, 27 km

If yesterday was the hardest day, today is the most beautiful – a seemingly never-ending alternation of inclines and descents, with the most difficult stretch being the climb to Montalcino. There are plenty of places to stop for lunch en route, although Montalcino offers the most variety.

Begin on SS323 which becomes SP160 through Seggiano and later connects with the SP55 just before Monte Amiata, an area which you might like to explore. The SP55 turns right onto Via Bassomondo and later, at a roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Viale Pietro Strozzi to Montalcino.

Many cyclists hop on a train from Montalcino, though the town and surrounding wine country are well worth enjoying for several days.

Tuscany wine-tasting

Many local wines here are world-class and while some are, of course, very expensive, you can also find excellent and cheaper table wines, ‘Vino da Tavola’ as they are known in Italy. The DOCG Brunello di Montalcino wine is the most well-known. It is made from the Sangiovese grape and is often called Sangiovese Grosso. Others to try include Ciliegiolo and Canaiolo and for whites, Trebbiano, Malvasia, Moscadello, Vernaccia and especially a Biano di Pitigliano.

If I tell you that it is an easy donwnhill run from Montalcino to Buonconvento on the SP14 (Via Circonvallazione), SP45 and finally the SR2, perhaps you’ll be encourgaed to carry on. From Buonconvento, you can catch the train to Siena.

Need accommodation? Search for hostels in Tuscany.

Adam Costa co-wrote Business In A Backpack, visited dozens of countries and writes for a living. Catch his hard-won advice on cycling at ItalyBikeTours.net.

Like this? Related posts:

Thanks to Luca Violetto, br1dotcom, riccardo08 and niky81 for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 + 18 =