Rome to Florence 2015: off road cycling through peaceful and amazing landscapes
Message from Karl (owner of Oak Bay Bicycles)
At Oak Bay Bikes we are passionate about bikes, riding and places to ride. Through this passion we discovered an off road trip through Tuscany, a destination on every riders bucket list. This ride threads a backcountry ride through picturesque landscape that pops out of forests and farms into idyllic hilltop villages. Without a doubt, there is no other guided ride through Tuscany that explores the ancient routes and trails like this. Your Italian hosts will insure you experience the best in local cuisine, boutique accommodation and off course, serious riding. Please contact us for a chance to hear more, we’d love to share our experiences. Andrew, Scott Martin and Karl have combined for 5 tours so there’s little doubt we love this trip and will return for more. Visit PA Cyclism for more info and a complete list of other exotic cycling destinations.
Message from Andrew
As a cyclist with a thirst for adventure, when the opportunity came up to work with Oak Bay Bikes and Project Adventure Cyclism to venture through Italy how could I decline. The memories and photos will speak for themselves, as there is no better way to visit a foreign country than by bicycle. PA Cyclism offers the opportunity to experience Italy’s picturesque countryside, back roads and historical trails. Let PA Cyclism take care of details such as dropping your bag off in the morning, preparing meals, and organizing Italian villa-style accommodation, which lends the trip a 5-star experience. Having these details taken care of lets you focus on the beautiful scenery and challenging riding each day. Not only was this a life changing experience on a bicycle, I also learned so much from the Italian culture and made some wonderful new friends along the journey. A benefit to experiencing this tour through Oak Bay Bicycles was that it offered a North American connection to the PA Cyclism crew. I will definitely make this trip again.
May 8, 2015 – Rome
Arrival of riders in Rome. Briefing of presentation. Overnight in Hotel.
May 9, 2015 : Roma – Bracciano
1st Stage – Kilometers 95 – Elevation 1,000 metres
We start in the center of Rome, with a view of some of its most famous monuments. After the inevitable group photo with the Colosseum in the background we take a bike path that follows the Tevere River and leads us out of the city. We enter the quiet Roman country-side, cycle through the beautiful Veio Regional Park with some interesting single-track sections. After lunch we will continue toward Bracciano Lake facing the wind that always blows from the sea to the interior during the afternoon. When we will spot the Bracciano Castle it’s time for the last downhill that will lead us to our hotel, right on the shore of the lake.
May 10, 2015: Bracciano – Tarquinia
2nd Stage – Kilometers 76 – Elevation 1,700 metres
We leave the peaceful shores of the Bracciano Lake for a stage that will lead us north, with continuous climbs and descents through the Tolfa Mountains. We can have an espresso in Canale Monterano before entering the Natural Reserve that we will cross through on a nice gravel road. Here it will be possible to admire the Maremman Cows, with their big horns, grazing quietly.
After a fast descent in the forest we will cross the Mignone river on an old, unused road. After a pretty steep uphill and a brief section on the old railway we will enter into the Tarquinia area, full of historical Etruscan tombs and ruins. On the last climb of the day we will enter Tarquinia through the old door “Porta Castello”, where our day ends.
May 11, 2015: Tarquinia – Lago di Mezzano
3rd Stage – Kilometers 80 – Elevation 1,200 metres
We start with an easy secondary road that will take us to Canino and the beginning of the Brigant Path, an old trail used until the 19th century by the outlaws that lived in this area. Near Castro we will experience our first Via Cava, old roads carved into the typical stone of this area named Tufo. After lunch we will cross the Lamone Forest on one of its nice forest roads. This forest resembles the one mentioned by Dante in the first part of his Divine Comedy. The last part of the day is the most difficult, with steep uphill that will reward us with stunning views of the countryside and the sea – if we are lucky! We will spend the night in the idyllic Mezzano Lake agritourism, tasting the fabulous food produced and cooked by the owner of the farm.
May 12, 2015: Lago di Mezzano – Saturnia
4th Stage – Kilometers 70 – Elevation 1,200 metres
From Mezzano Lake we ride up to the little town of Latera. We are now riding in the Alta Tuscia, an area rich in Etruscan monuments. We visit the historical centers of Sorano, Pitigliano and Sovana before joining the nice winding road that will bring us to Saturnia. The stage is mostly on wonderful country roads. After our lunch in Pitigliano we will ride into the spectacular ‘Vie Cave’: old roads built into the rocks by the Etruscan – the ancient inhabitants of Italy. We will spend the night near Saturnia, and have the chance to enjoy its famous hot springs.
May 13, 2015: Saturnia – Monte Amiata
5th Stage – Kilometers 55 – Elevation 2,200 metres
Today is the day for the climbers. We have to reach the highest point of our tour on Mt. Amiata at 1,400 metres. Mt. Amiata is an ancient volcano, now covered with a dense beech forest. We will reach the top following the Albegna River that we will cross several times during the day. We start the ride from our agritourism and, after 3 kilometers, cross the Albegna River for the first time. We now have a steep, 5 kilometer climb to Rocchette di Fazio. After passing the river again on an old bridge, we follow a trail under the little town. We take another difficult trail and cross the river once more. When we arrive in Roccalbegna, we fill our water bottles from one of its numerous fountains. We then climb into the Natural Reserve of Monte Labbro at 1,000 metres, followed by a downhill ride to Aiole. Finally, we take the final forest road that brings us to Monta Amiata, first crossing a nice chestnut forest and then entering a shady beech forest that is interrupted only by a few nice meadows.
May 14, 2015: Monte Amiata – Pieve a Salti
6th Stage – Kilometres 73 – Elevation 1,500 metres
We leave our cozy hotel near the top of Mt.Amiata and enter the forest to ride some fun single-track. After arriving at the Capo Vetra Shelter, we take a wide forest road until Vivo d’Orcia. It is a nice, long descent that will lead us in the Val d’Orcia Artistic, Nature and Cultural Park and the Province of Siena. At Castiglione D’Orcia, we take our first Strada Bianca or White Road. We can visit the little town of Bagno Vignoni, famous for its main square that is actually a natural pool. After a technical uphill section we will stop for lunch near the beautiful Sant’Antimo Abbady. We then continue on white roads to Villa a Tolli, over Lume Spento Pass, and into Castiglione nel Bosco. Our final destination is the farmhouse of Pieve a Salti, located just outside of the beautiful center of Buonconvento.
May 15, 2015: Pieve a Salti – Fonterutoli
7th Stage – Kilometres 55 – Elevation 1,000 metres
From Pieve a Salti we ride to the historic center of Siena which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is well known for its cuisine, art, museums, and medieval cityscapes. In this stage we will ride part of the Eroica Route, a permanent bicycle route of about 200 kilometres, mostly on White Road. We will have lunch in Siena and stop to see the Piazza del Palio where the famous Horse Ride is held twice a year. After lunch we will enter the Chianti Hills where the famous wine of the same name is produced. Our final destination is the spectacular Fonterutoli Hamlet in the heart of the Chianti Classico region.
May 16, 2015: Fonterutoli – Firenze
8th Stage – Kilometres 80 – Elevation 1,700 metres
The last stage brings us to the heart of our final destination: Florence.
From Fonterutoli we follow the Eroica route until Radda in Chianti. Here we start climbing to the beautiful town of Volpaia where we can stop for an espresso. From here we enter the forest that will lead us to Monte San Michele, the highest point of the Chianti Hills. We will ride mostly on the ridge of the Chianti Hills until we reach Poggio alla Croce, where we have a beautiful view of the Valdarno. From here we follow secondary roads and a beautiful single-track that offers amazing views of Florence. We enter the city through a bike path that follows the Arno River and end our tour, after crossing Ponte Vecchio near The Duomo. Our journey ends in a typical Osteria where we can taste the famous Fiorentina meat and the delicious cookies called Cantucci with a taste of Vin Santo.
End of tour and services. Participants can continue their travels in Italy or return to Rome on their own.
Over all the trip was fantastic. The food and accommodations surpassed expectations. The route was complex and varied and the sights were something else. Kayla V. Canada
I was looking for a more challenging MTB type of trip, and this trip delivered! A great multi-day MTB challenge, with the bonus of being able to do it in Italy! Italy brings the culture, food, and espressos that you just don’t find at home! Ernie B. Canada
- Check out Andrew Sherry’s complete blog from the 2014 Rome to Florence trip.
- Images from the 2014 Rome to Florence trip.
- Karl and Andrew share their views on this adventure.
- PA Cyclism Website (more information on this and other cycling adventures)