This page was last updated Thu 24 May 2018.
Contents: Tours (1)
All descriptions are in English, unless otherwise noted.
|Bike Tour of Tuscany
tour started May 1999
The road from Montepulciano to Pienza drops steeply outside the medieval walls, and I braked cautiously on the sharp turns after coming out through the dimness of the Porta di Grassi into the early morning sun. After almost two weeks of bike touring in Tuscany I had learned to expect these long descents each morning from the medieval towns that guard the highest hills -- and also to expect the equally long, grinding climbs up to them each evening. At first looking down on the honey-colored stones of the Renaissance church of San Biagio, the road wound all the way around it, then below it, before swinging out into the magnificent valley.
It was early morning in May, 1999, and we four NBW riders had the road to ourselves. Siena lay in sunny haze somewhere to the north, and to the south were rolling, poppy-covered fields, scattered olive groves and grape vines, topped by the occasional farmhouse. The descent was enticingly fast and the road was smooth, but I braked to look back up at the church and Montepulciano's jumble of red-tiled roofs and towers above, trying to freeze the memory. Surely, centuries before me this same sight greeted weary pilgrims trudging up from the Monte Amiata hills, or, more likely, soldiers sent from Siena to besiege the town and take it from the Florentines (both cities apparently captured and recaptured poor Montepulciano for hundreds of years, it's a wonder there's anything left). I could empathize with both pilgrim and soldier, having peered up through sweat-stung eyes at many a Tuscan hill town as I pedaled doggedly upwards.