Today’s objective: ascertain whether a cycle ride through the Chianti would be fun, what would be the reality? Would a week of shoveling snow in DC followed by a week of skiing in Utah prepare me for this exercise?
The Siena countryside on bicycle
I met Marco, our bike leader, a friendly Sienese man and my CET colleague, Anna at Porta Collia at 8:30 am. Local shop keepers were just opening up and going about their business, old ladies carrying fresh bread home from the bakery. The sun was shining, the sky was clear blue, the mist was rising slowly in the valleys and the air was fresh. We were fitted out with our bikes and hopped into Marco’s car for the short but delightful drive to Queriagrossa. The bikes arrived in a separate van and a few minutes later we hit the road.Near the end of our ride
Near the end of our ride
There was a total tranquility about the countryside. Very few cars and people, the birds were singing and before us the rolling hills of Tuscany, the contours of which are defined by the lines of cypress trees swaying in the breeze, and the rows of vineyards, dotted with farms and tiny hamlets. Several of which we rode through and paused at the fountain to refuel. Picture perfect.
The first part of the ride took us on a steady climb uphill. A farmer tending to his field looked me with his weather beaten face and with a toothless grin said ‘è dura!’ Indeed it was hard. When I thought we’d never reach the top I shouted from the back ‘I have to take a picture, it’s so beautiful!’ Marco knew my real reason for a stop but I did try to catch the essence of the beautiful landscape around.
We made it to the top and were rewarded with a tour through Castellina in Chianti. The Tuscan stone against the blue sky was gorgeous. It was market day and young families were out for a walk, at the park or kicking a football around the square.
From Castellina it was an exhilirating free wheel downhill. We could catch our breath, feel the wind in our hair and truly enjoy the scenery.
Next stop: a winery. A wood fire was burning inside the tasting room. A most enjoyable stop this would be. Guests would sample here but we were moving on today. The rest of the route took us through country lanes past lovely villas, over tiny streams and along the endless vineyards. When we arrived back at Querciagrossa it felt like my Arc de Triomphe. Marco had said it would take about 3 hours, we did it in 2 hours 35 despite all my ‘photo stops’. Brave ragazze!
Italian country tastes along the way
28 hilly kilometers later I can honestly say it was a wonderful way to see the countryside. The Italians laugh when the English say ‘molto pittoresco‘ but it really was.