Panzano
 
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Panzano - San Donato - Sambuca - Badia a Passignano - Montefioralle - Greve - Casole - Lamole - Panzano

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

Market day in progress in Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli Have to climb back up to Panzano first

Last night's hotel was sited some 100 metres lower than the centre of Panzano ... so today's first task was to climb back up to the town.

By the time I arrived in Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli the market was in full swing.

I debated whether to stop at the Café 'La Curva but as I had only finished breakfast some 10 minutes before I broke my cardinal rule and pressed on without an extra shot of caffeine.

Putting the world to rights outside the Café 'La Curva Why go to the market when you've got fruit in your garden? Panzano disappearing over my right shoulder
Panzano spread out over the hilltop
One of many road-side shrines The Siena Road descending into the Pesa Valley

From Panzano I followed the Florence to Siena Road (NO 222) which swoops down into the Pesa Valley.

This is just the kind of road I like ... relatively quiet, descending through sweeping curves, and the slope being sufficient that you can freewheel down but not so great that you are constantly braking.

Crossing Torrente Pessa Loops near Piazza

All too soon I arrived at the bridge crossing the Pesa.

Immediately after I turned off the NO 222 onto a minor road which heads west to climb towards Piazza and San Donato.

Neat walls

Many of the slopes are lined with walls painstakingly constructed to help retain moisture for the olive trees.

Piazza

This being a Sunday I was regularly passed by streams of cyclists on high-end racing bikes and wearing the multicoloured jerseys of their favourite teams.

San Donato

They were invariably friendly ... exchanging waves or shouts of ciao.

San Donato

The road passes the small hamlet of Piazza before climbing on up to the village of San Donato.

San Donato in Poggio was originally a Roman settlement and subsequently the site of a medieval castle. Their successors had the wisdom to build a café.

Panorama
Sheep Vines Approaching Badia a Passignano
Badia a Passignano Suitable for renovation?

From San Donato the route descends back into the Pessa Valley ... crossing the river in the modern town of Sambuca.

After climbing out of the valley I approached the massive walls of the 14th Century castle in Badia a Passignano.

As well as a castle Badia a Passignano has ... like San Donato ... a café.

Overgrown door Looking back at Badia a Passignano

As the castle is closed to the public .. and because there was a service underway in the church of San Michele ... this seemed to be a good time for elevenses ...

After refreshing myself I continued to climb eastward.

More terraced hillsides

The road ascends to over 500 m altitude up the side of Monte Fili.

One bend ...

After cresting the summit the road then descends in a series of elaborate zig-zags towards the hamlet of Montefioralle.

... after another ... which way is this road going?

Montefioralle is built around a single elliptical street. This street gives access to a couple of Romanesque churches and a number of tower houses ... and at least one trattoria.

I was tempted ... but decided to press on to the larger town of Greve in Chianti for lunch.

The road continues its descent ... the final few zig-zags bringing me right into the middle of Greve.

View down to Montefioralle Montefioralle Montefioralle elliptical Via di Montefioralle
Greve's Cafe Lepanto Greve's Piazza Matteotti

Greve is centred around the triangular Piazza Matteotti.

The Siena - Florence road by-passes the square ... so apart from the occasional ape or vespa ... it is relatively quiet.

Local cheese made from sheep's milk Local vinegar and cheese Modern sculpture in the corner of Piazza Matteotti
Greve's Piazza Matteotti .. and Giovanni da Verrazzano's statue Shady arcade lining Piazza Matteotti

I chose to have a leisurely lunch in the Café Lepanto ... before strolling around the shady arcades surrounding the square.

Cycling shirt branded with the Black Cock Gallo Nero (the black cock) .. trademark of the Chianti Classico Consortium

On one side of the square is a statue to Giovanni da Verrazzano who discovered New York Harbour.

Almost every item in the shops round here is branded Chianti Classico ... even cycling jerseys.

The black cock (Gallo Nero) was originally the heraldic symbol of an alliance of barons called the Lega di Chianti ... but now has been appropriated as the trademark of the Chianti Classico Consortium.

Climbing above the Greve Valley
Should I be looking out for peasants? Terraced houses in Casole It's easier with a motor
A friendly enough dog Clock on Lamole's church tower

The return route started innocuously enough with a flat stretch southward along the NO 222. After a couple of kilometres I turned off to begin (what turned out to be) a 400 metre climb.

The road climbs steadily to first reach the hamlet of Cŕsole then shortly after the village of Lŕmole.

Looking down on Casole from Lamole

After Lŕmole the road continues to climb.

I passed about four false summits ... but eventually joined the ridge-top strada biancha on which I'd finished yesterday's ride. This provided five kilometres of descent back into Panzano.

Now is it to be a coffee or an ice cream?

Nice reward for your efforts ... a long descent
 

Kirby James

 
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