Stripey fields   Digg!

Dievole - Vagliagli - Radda - Gaiole

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

Warning signs for cars ... no mention of bikes? Villa Aiola

After a leisurely breakfast the day began with a climb back up to the main road at Vagliagli.

Beyond Vagliagli the road descends past the ancient fortress of Aiola which last saw active service in the 16th century.

Peaceful lake just north of Aiola

The solid walls of the fortress are capped by a Renaissance villa ... so conversion of old Tuscan buildings has a long history.

The road continues to descend to a large lake then runs alongside the Arbia for a few kilometres before beginning to climb towards the hill town of Radda in Chianti.

Patterns in the fields Patterns in the fields
Patterns in the fields Patterns in the fields
The southern approach to Radda No danger of me exceeding the speed limit

Radda in Chianti is sited some 540 metres above sea level and like most hill top towns in Tuscany offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

View north from Radda Bar sign

The first priority after the climb was a refreshing drink ... fortunately Radda is well supplied with cafés.

After quenching my thirst I explored the back streets and alleys of this small town.

Quiet back streets

The town has an elliptical plan ... so almost no street is straight.

Hidden alleyways

The narrow high sided alleyways provide a cool and quiet escape from the sun, and at almost every turn you get glimpses of the nearby countryside.

The next priority was lunch. Bar Sandy, just outside the old walls, has views back down the hill I had just climbed ... and allowed me to forget the hills ahead.

Views over the countryside open up at every turn Bar Sandy One of Radda's original defensive towers
Chianti Classico road sign

From Radda my route first took me down into the valley of the Torrente della Piana.

Just outside the town is the headquarters of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium. Their symbol the black cockerel, once the emblem of the ancient League of Chianti, is displayed all over Tuscany.

The League is still in existence ... but instead of defending their lands against military invasion ... it aims to protect the environment.

Tower on top of Radda's defensive walls View north from Radda Countryside near Radda
Florence 54 and ... ... Siena 29 totals 83 km ... how come I did more than 250 km?

Just outside Radda the road signs indicated that it was 29 kilometers to Siena ... I seemed to have done more than 60.

Patterns Patterns Patterns
The 16th century Villa Vistarenni

At the head of the valley is the large estate of the Villa Vistarenni. The villa stands on the site of an Etruscan settlement and the original cellars excavated from the rock over 1,000 years ago are still in use.

The villa contains apartments for hire ... with the optional use of mountain bikes.

The estate of Villa Vistarenni
Puddles on the strada bianca View back to Radda

After leaving the Villa I was lucky to avoid a heavy downpour ahead.

After splashing through the puddles I crested a ridge to get a last view of Radda in the distance.

From the ridge the final kilometres to Gaiole in Chianti were mainly downhill.

View from near Capannole View over Radda

In Gaiole I turned to climb up to the 12th Century church of Pieve di Spaltenna.

This simple Romanesque church has a dramatic view over the Radda valley.

Luckily for me the adjacent monastery, Castello di Spaltenna, has now been converted into a very comfortable hotel.

The tower of Pieve di Santa Maria a Spaltenna The outside of Castello di Spaltenna The courtyard of Castello di Spaltenna
No door Door Door

Kirby James   Digg!