Tuscany can often be perceived as a busy region especially in the summer months with tourists flocking to the major sights and towns such as Florence, Siena and San Gimignano. But what about those that want to get away from the crowds and see a totally different part of this great region? One idea might be to experience L’Eroica. This is a permanent, signposted route 200km in length which crosses some of the best landscape Tuscany has to offer. The route forms a ‘figure of eight’, stretching from Gaiole in Chianti in the north to Montalcino at the southern tip with approximately half being ‘white’ (unmade) road, common in this part of the world.
The route takes in some of Tuscany’s unique and amazing scenery – in the north you are in the Chianti Classico region sculptured by its abundance of vineyards and olive groves. It then skirts around Siena and continues to the rolling countryside of southern Tuscany onwards to the delightful hilltop town of Montalcino at the most southerly tip. The eastern route takes in the unique Crete Senesi (craters of Siena) which in the dryness of summer and autumn is like possibly being on the moon. En route you will pass delightful villages and hamlets which really are off the beaten track.
Each year there is an official race on L’Eroica when in early October 5000 cyclists on pre-1987 bicycles take this tough course on with an option to do the Complete 200km or three shorter distances. It is a celebration of everything that is great about cycling and a great spectacle to witness.
But why not experience this route for yourself at another time of year? Even if it’s just for a few kilometres it is well worth doing just to get away from the tourist crowds. Bikes can be hired in all the major towns on the route and it is possible to download the official ‘road book’ for just EUR2 from here. Motorcyclists can also follow the route which is ideal for adventure bikes with the entire route being achievable in one day if you have limited time (note: sports bikes might have difficulty in places!).