When you’re searching for new adventures and places to ride this year, look no further than Chianti, Tuscany’s beautiful bike park.
A few years ago, we were having lunch with L’Eroica founder Giancarlo Brocci and he shared with us his vision to create his home region of Chianti into a big “bike park”.
Building on his success with L’Eroica (the vintage bike gran fondo of epic proportions), the bike park involved a grassroots cycling program for juniors, continued protection of the white gravel roads from being paved, and promoting ciclo tourism through advocacy and cycling events – including attracting a UCI Professional Race to the region – the now famous ‘Strade Bianche Pro Race‘ which takes place in March each year.
For us, this conversation was all it took to confirm our decision to make Chianti our Italian HQ, which keeps delivering unexpected and beautiful surprises every year.
Chianti is situated between Florence and Siena and is just sublime. The territory is made up of large tracts of forest, endless vineyards and hundreds of thousands of olive trees. A collection of villages and small towns are connected by an amazing array of small tarmac and gravel roads. There are days when you head out for a spin, even in the middle of the tourist high season, and you’ll still only see a handful of vehicles.
Here we share some of the aspects that make Chianti a cyclist’s paradise.
Stone Hamlet History
A ride in any direction will take you to another impossibly beautiful stone hamlet or small village that you just have to ride through yourself, to feel the tranquility and history that reside in the cobbles, as you try to find the piazza or a bar for another espresso.
Each season in Chianti delivers a different and beautiful experience; Spring with the still green landscape and wild flowers, a Summer of golds, ochres and olive green, and the sound of cicadas, and Autumn with the yellows and reds of the leaves and the fresh tilled brown soil, all with the prospect of rain and the smell of porcini in the air.
The cipressi (cypress pine trees) are literally everywhere and they add something to the landscape that is unexplainable. They stand quiet and still like the guardian of the landscape as you pass on by.
There are many old roman roads that have been preserved through the action of Giancarlo Brocci and his L’Eroica Gran Fondo. The success has been enormous, giving birth to the professional one day Strade Bianche race and the gravel riding movement.
Siena’s Historic Campo
No ride in the region would be complete without a visit to Siena’s Piazza del Campo. As you bump along over the cobbles and take a quick left turn, the whole piazza opens up before you! It’s a very cool way to see the centre and the perfect place to have another coffee, while taking your time to absorb it all.
The Chianti Hill
The riding in Chianti is nothing short of amazing. They say that for every 25kms you ride, you’ll climb 400m. With that in mind, every time you roll out there will be a climb somewhere. The upside is that the average percentages are between 5.5% & 7% and the descents are open and free flowing where you can see through the corner….. just awesome to take the hands off the brakes and enjoy the spectacular views.
If you’re interested in joining us in our home region of Chianti this year and would like some more details or have any questions, please contact us anytime via email.
Damian and Nancy