Siena skyline   Digg!

Siena - Castelnuovo Berardenga - Pieve Asciata - Vagliagli - Dievole

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

Glimpse of the black and white cathedral Metal rings .. for locking your bike to? The contrade of the snail
Siena Rooftops

This trip started in Siena which I find to be a much more attractive place to stay than the better known Florence which seems to be completely over-run with tourists.

I spent an afternoon window shopping before having an evening meal in il Campo ... Siena's dramatic central square.

The following day I was up early ... although not as early as most Sienese ... to start my trip north across the Chianti region of Tuscany.

Want some fruit ... ... or pictures ... ... or more pictures?
Fountain Handbags in this seasons colours Evening meal overlooking il Campo
Leaving Siena behind
The Torre del Mangia disappearing into the early morning mist The countryside begins to take over

As Siena was left behind its distinctive features disappeared in a combination of the early morning mist and wood smoke from numerous bonfires in the surrounding valleys.

Siena is a relatively small city ... with the countryside right on its doorstep ... so in no time at all the classic elements of the Tuscan landscape begin to appear.

Wisteria in full bloom Classic Tuscan landscape

Olive groves, vinyards, cyprus trees and hill top dwellings, ranging from barns to castles, all appear within a few kilometres of the city boundaries.

Castello delle Quatro Torri 1:50,000 Map The first of many 180° bends
Farmhouse ... and hill
Fields retaining their spring-time colour The road winds across the Arbia valley

I headed east towards the Arbia valley.

The minor road zig-zags gently through the open countryside (mostly) avoiding the steepest gradients.

The road briefly joins the Torrente Arbia The road become a strada bianca A isolated cypress
Another farmhouse surrounded by vinyards ... Ready for the winter ...

The road descends to cross the Torrente Arbia and then climbs to pass the hamlet of Montaperti.

The road continues eastward before climbing to the small walled town of Castelnuovo Berardenga.

In the approach to the town were diversion signs ...

Flowers A fruit stall ... now where are the bananas?

I ignored them ... and found that they had been set up to route cars around the street market that was underway beneath the town walls.

Amazing ... a bike shop Church overlooking Piazza G. Matteoti

Hidden behind the market stalls I discovered a bike shop ... where the owner was servicing a rather un-trendy bike with a chain guard.

Direction signs Stalls lining the road to the main piazza

The market gave me the opportunity to purchase some bananas ... in case the going got tough in the afternoon.

The next priority was to find a café for lunch.

The main piazza had been dug up and roped off ...

The cafe

... but just around the corner in Piazza G. Matteoti there was a small and, judging by number of patrons, popular café.

Do you want to swap bikes?

No excuse was needed for me to stop for a drink and some panini (so that saved me thinking too hard).

While I was enjoying my lunch two sporty cyclists arrived and compared each other's bikes ... however both declined to swap their lightweight bikes for my sturdy mountain bike ... I wonder why?.

Torre dell' Orologico Way in

After lunch I followed the narrow back streets up to La Torre dell' Orologico.

The tower was built in the 14th Century and converted to a clock tower in around 1755.

Patterns in the newly ploughed fields

After leaving Castelnuovo Berardenga I turned back westward to head towards the Arbia Valley.

Circular towers seem popular in these parts

Gradually the sky began to darken and distant rumbles of thunder could be heard.

The route passed through open countryside before descending to re-cross the Arbia and reach the village of Pianella.

Descent to cross the Arbia and reach the village of Pianella

Soon afterwards the heavens opened and I took shelter behind a small barn until the storm passed.

Springtime blossom

After the enforced break the route climbed on a ridge through Pieve Asciata up towards the hilltop village of Vagliagli.

Farmers using traditional tools

From Vagliagli which was the highest point of the day (511 m) I dropped down towards the Dievole estate.

Villa Dievole is at the heart of a modern wine estate producing over half a million bottles a year ...

Dievole sign

... I was only able to make a modest dent in this total.

I saw hailstones ... but no snow

Dievole was probably the most luxurious hotel I stayed at ... I parked my bike away from the BMWs and Mercedes and showered before searching out the café ...


Kirby James   Digg!