"VAL D'ELSA: A BIKER'S PARADISE"
"Val d'Elsa: A Biker's Paradise" takes the bikers through the heart of Tuscany to experience its unique and magnificent landscapes: gentle hills lined with century-old olive trees, cypresses, Vernaccia and Chianti vineyards and a view of the Appennine and Apuan Mountains. Our biking itineraries intertwine with the pilgrim's walk of the Via Francigena, tracing art and civilization through the Etruscan, Roman, Carolinian, Medieval and Renaissance eras. Along the way, we visit some of its Medieval castles and abbeys, Romanesque churches and farmer's hamlets. A passion for biking combines seamlessly with an appreciation of art, culture and culinary traditions, as we inhale the beauty of the countryside.
The Itinerary below can be customized according to the group's biking ability, from intermediate to advanced, and may also be revised due to weather, changing road conditions, etc. Upon booking, each cyclist will be asked to complete a Biker's Information Form so that all reserved bicycles can be prepared prior to your group's arrival, and custom-adjusted at the beginning of the tour. Detailed elevation maps are provided on a daily basis so that your group can determine whether it wishes to alter the following day's suggested route. Cyclists are always accompanied by a devoted support van with technician to assist at any point along the route. At pre-designated locations, or whenever cycling become too tiring or challenging, cyclists will be transferred by passenger van for the remainder of the day's itinerary.
Your bicycle and personal accessory (such as helmets, etc.) rental fees are NOT included in the tour price. You will receive technical information and the opportunity to select which type of equipment you prefer before departure. You pay these fees directly to the Cycle Shop at the time of your custom fitting.
DAY 1 (Wednesday): ARRIVAL
(Available only for departures from FCO no later than 11am on arrival day.)
Departing from Rome’s airport, we enjoy a pleasant drive as we head for central Tuscany, stopping for a light lunch along the way. After checking in at the hotel, we will visit the nearby biking center where your reserved bike will be custom-adjusted for you. After returning to our hotel, we will gather for Aperitivo (cocktail hour Tuscan-style) on the hotel terrace and a delicious Welcome Dinner in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant.
DAY 2 (Thursday): SAN GIMIGNANO / COLLE DI VAL D' ELSA
Cycling past Longobard defense towers and Vernaccia vineyards, we arrive at the walled, towered city of San Gimignano (17 km), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visit the historic center, the Duomo (cathedral) and the Church of Sant' Agostino to view the twenty-four cycles of the Saint's life - a masterpiece of Florentine Renaissance painting. After savoring a lunch of local specialties paired with San Gimignano's famed Vernaccia wine, we cycle to Colle di Val d' Elsa (21 km), a Medieval village built above an Etruscan settlement. We visit several of its impressive architectural sites and witness traces that influenced Medieval and Renaissance painters, such as the revolutionary painter, Cimabue.
To end a leisurely first day, we cycle back to our hotel (7km) for some R&R before enjoying dinner on your own at your leisure.
DAY 3 (Friday): CERTALDO ALTO / CASTELFIORENTINO / GAMBASSI TERME
In the morning, we cycle through an enchanting landscape to the hilltop village of Certaldo Alto (27 km), the birthplace of Giovanni Boccaccio and his literary masterpiece, "The Decameron" (1349-1351). We visit Boccaccio's home and international library, as well as nearby works of Florentine Renaissance Art, housed in medieval buildings with Etruscan traces. We pause for pranzo in the private garden of an award-winning restaurant overlooking the not-too-distant Towers of San Gimignano, before cycling to the ancient village of Castelfiorentino (14 km), "seat of the first artistic revolution in Tuscany" to view some of its most important works.
Our next destination is the Abbey Church and Pilgrim Hospice of Santa Maria a Chianni, a most important Romanesque edifice near Gambassi Terme (11km). We close the day with sunset views over Chianti vineyards (4.5 km), and a family-style dinner paired with sublime wines produced at a lovely agriturismo, built on the ruins of an 14th Century convent. Following dinner, we transfer by van to the hotel in time for an evening stroll in the garden or a refreshing dip in the pool.
DAY 4 (Saturday): CASTELLO DI SONNINO / ABBADIA A PASSIGNANO / SANT' APPIANO
Departing early for a intoxicating ride (40 km) through Chianti, we arrive at the 13th century Castello Sonnino in Montespertoli. Here we experience the area's olive oil culture and its connection to Renaissance Art. With the Baroness, we tour the Castle vineyards and cellars, and the family's private archives of memorabilia and private documents from WWI. We enjoy pranzo on the garden terrace, and discover the sublime olive oil and wines produced on the Estate. Following lunch, we visit some of Montespertoli's prized Renaissance masterpieces.
After viewing some of Montespertoli's treasures, we drive back to the hotel to enjoy some free time before dinner: La Grande Grigliata Toscana - Tuscan Mixed Grill including the famed Bistecca Fiorentina.
DAY 5 (Sunday): VILLA CALCINAIA & GREVE IN CHIANTI / ARCHEODROMO
After a brisk morning ride (41 km), we are welcomed to Villa Calcinaia, a 14th century Renaissance estate near Greve in Chianti. We sample its exquisite wines and enjoy treasured family recipes prepared by the Villa's private chef. Following pranzo, we take a short van ride to Greve's central piazza for some free time to wander and shop in its numerous artisan boutiques.
Next, we transfer by van to the Archeodromo (archeological site) of Poggibonsi, where we immerse ourselves in the times of Charlemagne (9th & 10th centuries), authentically re-enacted by faculty of the University of Siena.
We return to the hotel for free time, followed by Apericena: cocktails and buffet on the hotel's garden terrace.
DAY 6 (Monday): SIENA / MONTERIGGIONI & MEDIEVAL DINNER
Heading to Rome, the "Via Francigena" passed through the Elsa Valley leaving numerous traces in the territory: Medieval castles, Gothic abbeys, Romanesque churches, and ancient mills and taverns. These historic sites are today's guides as we cycle to proud Siena (37 km). After a short break in the Piazza del Campo, we visit Siena's magnificent Duomo, its awe-inspiring Renaissance Orphanage & Hospital, City Hall and other sites of great artistic and cultural importance. You will enjoy an outstanding pranzo, followed by free time for wandering and shopping in Siena's unique boutiques.
We regroup for a leisurely bike ride through green valleys to Castello di Monteriggioni, the "Gateway to the Middle Ages," as immortalized by Dante Alighieri in his "Divine Comedy." Following a tour of this still-functioning castle-village, you will be treated to an unforgettable experience: Aperitivo & Medieval Dinner, followed by a mystical Medieval walk.
DAY 7 (Tuesday): DEPARTURE for FCO via PORTO ERCOLE
We depart for our hotel near Rome's airport via an inspiring drive along the Tuscan Coast, making our last stop in Tuscany at Porto Ercole for our "Arrivederci Lunch" with an unforgettable view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We continue to the airport hotel for a late afternoon check-in with plenty of time to relax and prepare for your morning flight to the U.S. Dinner on your own.
DAY 8 (Wednesday): Depart from the Hotel to FCO for your return flight