Benvenuti! Welcome to Cycle Bella Italia. We had three great weeks of cycling in Tuscany in 2016 and are now taking reservations for our Tuscany trips in 2017. Book soon to reserve your place. We’ve just completed making the arrangements for one week of riding at Lake Como in September 2017! Below are some details of that trip.
We’re looking forward to three fantastic weeks of cycling and great living in Tuscany. In 2017, we’ll cycle and enjoy some amazing small towns during your visit: Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Assisi, Cortona and more. As of today, we’re already fully booked for the last two weeks of our Tuscan tours, so book now to reserve one of the remaining open spots during the week of June 17.
Tuscany is a land of dramatic views from the vast rolling valleys, acres of vineyards, olive trees and tall cypress throughout the region.
Cycling in the region is superb – long, gently rolling roads with few automobiles. And every 10-20 kilometers, a small village situated most often at the top of a hill, where we can take a break with an espresso or a sparkling water. Every day offers a new route to explore this incredibly beautiful and serene land.
The Chianti area in Tuscany is one of the most beautiful areas in the whole region, as well as the most well-known and popular among visitors. Stretching between Florence and Siena, in the heart of Tuscany, the Chianti wine region is a land of terra-cotta-roofed towns and vineyards stitching sun splashed hillsides. Today, Chianti vintners are producing excellent, nuanced wines that are worthy of these most picturesque surroundings.
The borders of the Chianti region extends over the provinces of Florence and Siena, covering all of the area between the two cities and extending both east and west from that corridor. Greve in Chianti is the region’s principal town and the host of a long-running Saturday morning market. On Piazza Matteotti, the town’s triangular main piazza, there are market stalls that surround a permanent monument to the navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, whose family estate is nearby. Small artisanal shops are also lodged under the porticoes that ring the piazza. In the piazza you can find hand-woven baskets and cutting boards carved from the wood of olive trees. There is a local macelleria, or butcher shop that draws in visitors with the enticing aromas.
Chianti is home to probably the best-known and most iconic of all Italian wines. Although a wine of ancient origin, Chianti has been recognized by its geographical area only since the Middle Ages. The official Chianti wine zone was officially demarcated in the early 18th Century, and the wine’s defining character came about in the late 19th century. Back then, it was made using a wide range of local varieties, including white-wine grapes. The Chianti DOC title was created in 1967, and in 1984 was promoted to the highest level of Italian wine classification: DOCG.
Today, Chianti has moved away from its long-associated image of fiaschi or straw-covered bottles. Local laws require Chianti to have a minimum of 70% Sangiovese (and 80% for the Chianti Classico DOCG). The native varieties Canaiolo and Colorino are also permitted, as are the classics Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to a limited degree.
Chianti’s winemaking vineyards yield more wine than any other Italian DOC, equating to more than 26 million gallons a year, with the area’s most highly regarded wines come from the Chianti Classico zone and Chianti Rufina zone. Rufina and the other six Chianti sub-zones (Chianti Colli Aretini, Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti Montalbano and Chianti Montespertoli) come under the Chianti DOCG, and any wine made in these zones is permitted to use either the name of the sub-zone or simply Chianti.
Chianti is characterized by its red and black cherry character, supported by a bold acidity and mellow tannins. It must be aged for a minimum of four months, and for the added designation of superiore, it has to age for an additional three months before release. The label riserva indicates that the wine has been aged for at least 38 months.
Spring has arrived in Italy. The fields are changing colors as the region comes alive with growth. In less than three months we’ll be enjoying our first week of tours in Tuscany. The temperature in June and July will be warm and the skies will be sunny. We’ll be exploring the many daily cycling routes from our base of operations in Pienza. The cycling is not overly challenging, but it never hurts to start getting some regular miles every week. Our daily rides in Tuscany are normally 35-60 miles with stops in the many villages we encounter on our route.
We’ll return from our ride in the early afternoon, which will leave plenty of time to rest by the hotel pool for a while before heading off to an afternoon excursion. Perhaps a little shopping in a nearby village, a stop at one of the enotecas for wine tasting, or maybe a lesson in making pasta.
At night we’ll dine at one of the excellent small restaurants in the area. There are so many to choose from, where we’ll have the opportunity to taste the specialties of the region and the excellent local wine. A full and very enjoyable day. Sleep will come easy, in advance of another adventure tomorrow.
Arriverderci! A Presto.