Discover Tuscany’s treasures

Posted 17 Apr 2015

With exquisite Renaissance architecture, impossibly pretty hillside villages and some of the best gastronomy in Italy – not to mention the sculptures and paintings that made the region so famous – it's no wonder that Tuscany has been attracting tourists for generations.

The best way to see it

Tuscany is equal parts natural and manmade beauty – think olive groves and rolling hills interspersed with picturesque terracotta-roofed houses. To truly see the region's contrasts, it's best explored by bicycle. Indeed, the likes of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pienza – a village referred to as ‘the ideal city of the Renaissance’ – and San Gimignano, whose medieval structures perfectly compliment the valley views below, are seemingly tailor-made for touring cyclists.
Pienza and its 15th-century commissioned streets are the starting point of our 11-day Tuscany’s Treasures cycling holiday, which begins in earnest with an 18-mile ride north, via some of the region’s iconic backroads, to San Giovanni d’Asso. The village, which is surrounded by clay hills, attracts fans of truffles from far and wide and the settlement is even home to the only truffle museum in the world. Be sure to sample some of the local produce before heading on with your journey.

Wine, culture and unforgettable views

From San Giovanni d’Asso it’s a 24-mile cycle to the picture-postcard village of Castelnuovo Berardenga – a perfect stop off for wine lovers given its proximity to numerous world-class vineyards. After sampling a glass or two of legendary red or white, it’s onwards to Castellina in Chianti – a quaint city of ancient fortifications, centuries-old wineries and the post-war Church of San Salvatore.
After a night here, it’s time to make the 24-mile cycle west to San Gimignano – a route that takes in more classic Tuscan scenery after a spectacular meandering descent in the direction of the Siena Plains. The final destination bears the moniker of ‘the city of beautiful towers’ – and with 14 to see, some measuring up to 50 metres high, it’s certainly an accurate one – even if originally there were as many as 72.
A further draw of San Gimignano’s UNESCO-protected centre is its collection of ancient Italian masterpieces, namely Taddeo di Bartolo’s ‘Last Judgment, Heaven and Hell’ fresco, painted in 1393, and Benozzo Gozzoli’s ‘Martyrdom of S. Sebastian’. Quaint cobbled streets mean that the town is best explored on foot – though a final pedal through the surrounding countryside is the natural finale to this sublime cycling sojourn.

Why we love it 

Tuscany's Treasures is a fantastic itinerary for two reasons: firstly, it combines Tuscany’s highlights into a super manageable 11 days. Secondly, it’s completely flexible – meaning cyclists can begin and end their holiday on dates of their choosing, or increase or decrease the number of days spent on the saddle. It’s excellent value, too; those wishing to depart on the 4th of June, or the 8th or 10th of July, can do so for just £1,195 – a saving of £100 per traveller on the standard summer 2015 cost.
Prices include international return flights from the UK, transfers, accommodation and bicycle hire, so all you need to do is get to the airport!

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