Working as a Backroads Trip Leader in Tuscany certainly has its perks. Besides the great food and wine, there is a fabulous cycling culture supported by an excellent infrastructure of well-paved and well-marked roads. Over the years I've created a list of my favorite rides in the region, some featured on our Backroads trips and others a combination of local favorites. Here are my top five bike rides that showcase the best of the heart of Tuscany, the idyllic region between Florence, Arezzo and Siena.
The best known town in Tuscany is surely Florence, but have you been to Arezzo? The city center itself is gorgeous, the people are still genuine and the town looks so authentic that Roberto Benigni chose it as the setting for his Oscar-winning movie, Life is Beautiful. From bottom to top (it's a hilltop town!), here is the perfect tour of Arezzo.
Montalcino, famous for its spectacular Brunello wine, is a lovely hilltop town we visit on many of our Tuscany Biking trips. The medieval town dates back to the beginning of the 10th century, famous mainly for its tanneries and as a stop for pilgrims on their way to Rome along the Via Francigena. Nowadays Montalcino is a popular tourist destination, with people coming from all over the world to taste its wines: authentic Brunello wine cannot be produced anywhere but within its city limits.
In the weeks before the race, I spent a lot of time basking in the glory of telling my friends that I'd be riding a 12-speed steel-frame bicycle on gravel roads in Tuscany. I did not, however, spend a lot of time actually visualizing myself riding a 12-speed steel-frame bicycle on gravel roads in Tuscany. Ten minutes into the race, I found myself flying down a loose-gravel hill in predawn darkness with only dim candles lining the curving road, and it became apparent why this famous bicycle race is called L'Eroica, or "The Heroic" in English.