Skyline near Corsano   Digg!

Siena - Vescovado - Murlo - Lucignano d'Arbia

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

Early morning cleaning in sight of la Torre del Mangia Siena's Il Campo in the early morning light

The day started with an early stroll around the empty streets of Siena followed by a leisurely breakfast.

Siena was gradually awakening with shops and bars opening to serve people on the way to work and to get ready for the stream of tourists.

Shop opening to sell panini

The centre of Siena is almost completely pedestrianised - in any case the central streets are so narrow that only the smallest vehicles can get through. On entering the city centre cars are photographed and charged in the same way as in London.

Croce del Travaglio and Via Banchi di Sopra

The most expensive shops are found in Via Banchi di Sopra ... but it doesn't look as if Versace expects any visitors this early in the morning.

Postcards hint at some of the sights to come ...

Siena is built on an incredibly hilly location and almost none of the central streets are straight ... you often find yourself going full circle and returning to the same spot. The slopes mean that as you walk around unexpected vistas are constantly opening up.

One of Siena's narrow streets following the curve of Il Campo

After loading up my bike I headed south to find the Corsano Road.

View backwards to Siena

I imagined that with Siena on the top of a hill it would be all down-hill ... at least to begin with ... however just beyond the city limits I encountered a 15% up-hill stretch. This provided a good excuse to stop and look back over the city.

Panoramas open up at every turn
A small lake with bare hillsides behind

South of Siena the countryside opens up ... the road undulates gently and sweeps from side to side through classic Tuscan scenery.

Cypresses lining the approach to Corsano

There are a few small lakes and some of the hillsides are bare ... which is characteristic of the clay Crete soils.

After crossing the small Torrente Sorra at 200m altitude the road begins a gentle climb through the village of Corsano.

Climbing gently past vinyards.
Glimpses of the wooded slopes of Le Monache ahead

The route climbs past numerous vinyards and olive groves.

The ruined Castello di Crevole

Ahead are views of the wooded slopes of Le Monache which rise to just over 500m.

After the climb the road begins to descend through woods ... twisting and turning.

Pretty dangerous along here!

Soon the ruins of Castello di Crevole are reached ... and after the previous climb this seemed to be a good place for a picnic stop. On a clear day the views stretch right back to Siena.

The Etruscan village of Murlo

The route then continues to the town of Vescovado followed by a diversion to the village of Murlo.

Murlo is the oldest occupied settlement in the area ... having Etruscan roots ... but the nearby settlement at Poggio Civitate has been dated to 6th-7th century BC.

Don't drink here

Scientists from Turin University noticed that some of the current inhabitants of Murlo bear a striking resemblance to faces captured in Etruscan art so they have been comparing DNA from the inhabitants with that from Etruscan skeletons ... to test the theory that current inhabitants retain some of the original Etruscan DNA.

Shuttered window in Murlo

I chose to have my lunch ... and siesta ... in Murlo to avoid the mid-day heat.

View southward from Murlo

When the temperature had cooled a little I climbed back up to Vescovado and began the descent towards Lucignano in the Arbia valley.

Small climb before Lucignano

After the day's climbing the route to Lucignano was mainly downhill.

The final stretch before Lucignano

The roads had all been good quality tarmac and relatively free of traffic ... which made for a relaxing day's cycling.


Kirby James   Digg!