Tuscany is considered a paradise for people who love biking, from professional cyclists to amateurs who just want to slow down and enjoy the surrounding landscape. One of the advantages that Tuscany has to offer to cyclists is the variety of unique landscapes, ranging from dirt roads of the countryside to off road with a mountain bike, from the cobbled streets of the small villages to the paths along the rivers.
Tuscany has a long tradition in cycling. Just think about the fact that legends like Bartali, Cipollini and Bettini trained here in this territory that is mostly hilly. For this kind of activity, Tuscany is great all year round, but consider there are months that are a bit rainy (during winter) and months that are too sunny during the midday hours (July and August).
Below you’ll find the 5 most scenic bike itineraries in Tuscany. If you’d like to add a route, suggestions are always welcome.
1. Elba Island
An alternative way to visit Elba Island is by bike and this is possible all year round. The island is mostly mountainous and the up-and-down slopes are a delight for mountain bikers. There are endless paths with different difficulties. You can start with an easy one, the 12-kilometre-long path of Mount Calamita, near Capoliveri. The former iron mines and some interesting examples of industrial archaeology characterize this path. The Capoliveri legend cup is held here.
If you want a difficult path, try the mountain bike excursion along the ring on the sides of Mount Capanne. It is about 20 kilometres long, mostly on the asphalt but with a 30% of dirt road. The start and the end of our journey is in the small village of Sant’Ilario, an urban and architectural gem. During this path you should extend your excursion to the village of Poggio, which boasts streets and buildings arranged in an ellipse along the contours of the hill.
Another challenging path of Elba Island is the one that goes from the evergreen forests near the sanctuary of the Madonna del Monte to the foot of Monte Capanne, dominated by granite and mouflons amidst the ruins of old Romanesque churches. The path arrives in Chiessi and it is probably one of the most scenic on the island because it offers stunning views of the islands of Capraia and Corsica.
Within the most scenic paths of Tuscany we can add a little bit of vintage and include the Eroica path, which covers many beautiful areas of the region crossing the Chianti around Siena, the Crete Senesi and the Val d’Orcia. Over the years it has become a must for cycling lovers and the appointment is every first Sunday in October. The starting point is in Greve in Chianti and the race is made up of stages that range in distance from 38 to 200 kilometres, mainly on dirt roads: this is why the name of the event literally means “heroic”. L’Eroica has also a food and wine tradition; in fact, the stops along the race are places of fun and enjoyment, where cyclists can eat Tuscan specialties. Read more here.
3. Apuan Alps
Discovering the Apuan Alps on two wheels is really a different way to experience history and beauty. There are many opportunities for cycling lovers along the trails and dirt roads in the Park of the Apuan Alps. Below we suggest some scenic and exciting paths, but remember that none of these has dedicated signage, so bring a good map or a detailed guide with you.
The first path is “Castelnuovo di Garfagnana – Gragnanella – Sillicano – Careggine – Vergaia – Poggio” This challenging route passes through picturesque villages with beautiful views of the Apuan Alps and an exciting descent on Lago di Vagli. You can cover the distance of 22 kilometres in about 4 hours.
Another path is “Barga Station – Gallicano – Trassilico – Fabbriche di Vallico – Turritecava – Ghivizzano Station”. It is a ring itinerary of 37 km of exceptional beauty, challenging in the first part. You can cover the path through natural environments and landscapes in about 4 ½ hours. A very challenging and scenic path passes through Camporgiano – Casatico – Roggio – Campocatino – Gramolazzo – Ugliancaldo – Monzone and can be covered in 6 hours offering a distance of 45 km.
Other two routes are the Monzone Station – Equi Terme – Il Solco – Equi Terme short route into one of the most charming valleys of the Apuan Alps and Lunigiana and the Tour of Mount Corchia, a very challenging route of 22 km to be avoided in winter.
4. Fiesole and Florence
The itinerary that goes from Fiesole to Florence city centre is so scenic that has been chosen by the 2013 World Cycling Championships in Tuscany as one of the stages for the competition. Fiesole is located northeast of Florence, just 8 kilometres on a hill above it, so imagine how beautiful is the view from there… and if you’ve seen it you know it! The most popular itinerary here is the one that goes from 475 m above sea level at the Duomo in Florence city centre. Read more here.
Another detailed itinerary here.
5. Chiana Valley
There is a 60-kilometre-long path that connects Arezzo with Chiusi called “Sentiero della Bonifica”. The beginning of the path can easily be reached from Chiusi train station. It is an easy path, where you can combine cycling with bird watching along the Chiusi and the Montepulciano Lakes. The next piece of the Bonifica path follows the banks of the Canale Maestro and shortly after the Callone di Valiano, an important eighteenth-century work built to regulate the flow of water between the Chiusi and Montepulciano Lakes. A detour in Cortona is highly recommended even if it’s at 12 kilometres (it is visible from the path). Read more here.
Is it possible to take a bike on a train? Yes, it is, and here’s all the info.