Eating and drinking well and appreciating great art and architecture is what a lot of people come to Tuscany for. But taking it all in on two wheels adds something to your explorations of medieval hilltop towns and fields of grapes and other fresh produce – and it's not just that spending all day pedalling means you can fully sate yourself in the evening without feeling guilty - it's also that this more leisurely way of getting around means you can't help slowing down a bit and letting the Tuscan attitude towards quality of life take over. And that's just delicious.
There are numerous potential cycling routes running though Tuscany, from day trips round flat valley regions, to jaunts amongst the vineyards and hilltop towns, to artistic pilgrimages, to more strenuous rides amongst the hills of Chianti, to long distance trips stopping in major cities from Todi to Florence to Siena to Pisa to Rome.
These three examples will hopefully help to inspire, but if planning isn't your thing then you could follow one of them to the day or let one of our Cycling Travel Specialists do some of the work for you – though not the pedalling bit!
Renaissance ideal Pienza's main treasures are the Duomo, with its slightly Germanic influence, the Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo Borgia. After exploring Pienza loop around to equally charming Monticchiello – via the beautiful villa they used as the backdrop for the film 'The English Patient'.
This morning's ride cycles relaxingly downwards between the olive groves and grape vines, presenting you with a glimpse of the Radicofani tower. Stop in Montalcino for lunch accompanied by a glass of Brunello.
Siena is today's final destination: Set on three hills, the city is drawn together by winding alleyways and steep steps.
Today's route heads up into the hills of Chianti, through Radda and on to Castellina. On a ridge between the valleys of the Arbia, Elsa and Pesa rivers, this medieval town has a massive fortress castle with a huge 14th Century tower.
Tuscany’s San Gimignano is known for its architecture - a recognizable postcard image. As well as the architecture, the Collegiata and the People’s Palace carry significant art collections.
Most famous for its leaning tower, Pisa is best seen at a walk rather than a cycle: a stroll around the Piazza del Duomo and the historic quarters could lead to the 12th century San Pietro a Grado or the magnificent Duomo.
9kms east of Pisa is the pretty commune of Calci, after which you'll start to catch glimpses of the peaks of Monti Pisani. Once over the humps, cycle on towards Lucca, yet another charming medieval city with UNESCO World Heritage status.
Leave Lucca bound 21kms ride to Altopascio, an important rest point on the pilgrims trail between France and Rome. After Altopascio the route skirts the edges of the photogenic marshes of Fucecchio before pulling in to Vinci.
Vinci is most famous for its most famous son: Leonardo da Vinci. Despite the spotlight Leonardo brought down upon the town, it still looks much the same as it did in his day, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.
This pretty Tuscan commune with its small, well stocked museum of traditional Tuscan art and ancient enclosing walls is south of Florence and south east of Siena in the watercolour scenery of the crete senesi.
Murlo's best features are quite different to Buonconvento's : it has the hill of Poggio Civitate – an ancient settlement being investigated for its archaeological value. Plan to arrive early to see the excavations on your way through to La Befa, which is a hamlet with only about a dozen houses, all of them charming.
Today's riding take you right into the heart of the Brunello wine region – all the cycling is on the pretty back roads lined with olive groves and vineyards. Cycle upwards towards Tuscany's highest point, lava dome: Monte Amiata.
Today's cycle finishes in Montalcino, worth stopping at for the fortress, the Pallazzo Comunale and the delicious red wine: Brunello di Montalcino.
It's uphill again to the Monte Oliveto Maggiore Benedictine Monastery, one of the largest in Tuscany, but it's the colour of it: sunset coloured bricks against the sandy coloured soil, that makes it so memorable as far as visitors are concerned.
Though this itinerary isn't particularly strenuous, it's always nice to sink into hot water after a few days riding, and in the case of this itinerary it's a legitimate part of your journey: part of any visit to thermal springs town Bagno Vignoni.
The final days ride takes you back to now familiar Buonconvento via San Quirico d’Orcia. Once on the Via Francigena, one of the main roads through Europe in the Middle Ages, San Quirico d’Orcia still has the same medieval street plan it did when it became part of Siena midway though the 13th Century. After lunch it's an easy cycle back to home base, the whole days cycle is around 34kms.
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The landscape of southern Tuscany varies from steep valleys and volcanic slopes dotted with spa towns to forests, lush vineyards and olive groves along the wide river banks. Seeing it by bike ensures you see as much as possible.
There are numerous cycling routes through Tuscany, from day trips round flat valley regions, to more strenuous rides amongst Chiant's hills, to long distance trips stopping, and dealing with the traffic, in major city centres from Todi to Siena.
Pisa and Florence, the starting and finishing points of this cycling trip are two of Tuscany's most famous names, lauded for their art and architecture; but in between this route winds though smaller, though no less beautiful or historic villages.
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