Mountain biking in Chianti (1)
Please note: The times we have given is for riding without stopping to explore the numerous places of interest en route.
The excursions start and finish at Greve, the little town which is the "capital" of Chianti. Its charming, irregular central square, Piazza Mercatale, is enclosed by loggias where once produce was gathered ready for sale and now is lined with speciality shops. There are frequent fairs and exhibitions in the square, including an annual autumn wine festival. A statue of Verrazzano stands in the square. Born in Greve, the famous navigator was the first European to sight what was to become New York.
Greve - Montefioralle - Badia a Passignano - Panzano - Lamole - Greve
Estimated riding time: about 2 hours 40 minutes (19.5 kms bitumen - 19.8 kms dirt road)
This route is graded difficult for its length and the level of fitness and effort required. As the itinerary doesn't pass through shaded areas it is advisable to avoid riding during the hottest part of the day in summer.
Km 0 / h 0
Departing from Greve take the road to Montefioralle, a steep climb that will put the rider immediately to the test. (bitumen / uphill)
Km 1.3 / h 10'
Montefioralle is a most charming village from which one can enjoy stunning views overlooking the surrounding vineyards and villas. Originally called Monteficalli for the numerous fig trees growing in the area, the fortified village was situated along a roadway called the Guardingo di Passignano which linked the Val d'Elsa, Val di Pesa , Val di Greve with the upper Valdarno. All that is left of the feudal castle is part of the 13th century wall that forms a semicircle around the S. Stefano church, built in the Gothic style and containing several valuable works of art. In the past this village or "borgo" has belonged to several noble families: Ricasoli, Benci, Buondelmonte and Gherardini. The fame of its wine has been documented since at least 1404. At the traffic lights continue along the bitumen road. (uphill)
Km 4.6 /h 25'
Case la Paurosa Turn left at first intersection and then immediately afterwards turn right for Rignana. A challenging descent. (bitumen and dirt road / flat and downhill)
Km 6.6 / h 30'
Take the road on the right. (dirt / varying terrain)
Km 7.9 / h 34'
Take the road on the right. (dirt / downhill, uphill)
Km 9.3 / h 41'
Badia a Passignano. Situated on a hill the magnificent Badia a Passignano, its crenellated towers and walls flanked by dozens of cypress trees, looks like a castle. It is thought the Abbey was founded by San Zanobi, Bishop of Florence, in 890.
It was a place of retreat, penitence and prayer for a group of monks guided by Sichelmo. Two centuries later the monastery adhered to the reform of San Giovanni Gualberto, the founder of the Vallombrosa Abbey who was inspired by the rules of Saint Benedict.
The Abbey witnessed the history and glory of Medicean Florence. In 1810, as a result of the Napoleonic suppression, the monks were forced to leave, the archives and works of art were dispersed and the buildings and farmland were rented. Towards the end of the 1800's any remaining possessions were auctioned; and crenelated towers and walls were added.
However what remains today maintains the great charm of the original edifice: the Corinthian columns at the entrance, the elegant cloister, the courtyards, the frescoes, the refectory, the pulpit sculpted from pietra serena, the enormous kitchen with its huge fireplace and soaring chimney. Turn right at the first and second intersections. (dirt / uphill)
Km 12.2 / h 54'
Case la Paurosa. Turn right, direction Panzano. (bitumen / varying terrain)
Km 18.3 / h 1.19'
Panzano dominates a hill situated between the Pesa and Greve valleys. There is written documentation of Panzano castle dating from 1041. Following the disastrous battle of Monteaperti in 1260 the Siena Ghibellines devastated most of the castle walls, fortress and towers. When Siena fell to the Florentines Panzano enjoyed a long period of peace.
Riding along the main street of the town one can see the castle's arched entrance and the mostly reconstructed building that was the ancient feudal residence of the Firidolfi Ricasoli family.
Beside the castle is S.Maria Assunta church whose bell tower was one of the castle's towers. Nothing remains of the medieval church once within the castle's walls, the artworks of which are now found in the new church. Of note is the renaissance oratory in the Compagnia della SS. Annunziata.
A small village began to develop outside the castle walls in the C12th, known today as Panzano Alto. From Piazza Campana follow the road for Cennatoio-Lamole. (bitumen, dirt / varying terrain)
Km 19.8 / h 1.26'
turn right for Cennatoio. (dirt / uphill, flat)
Km 22.1 / h 1.40'
Poggio al Sodo. Turn left for Ristoro di Lamole-Agriturismo Le Volpaie.(dirt / downhill, flat)
Km 23.7 / h 1.47'
Lamole is situated in a panoramic position. The Romanesque church S. Donato was built in the C13th and restored in the C17th . Riding along the road down to the valley one can see on the left the remains of Lamole castle, today a group of houses. Take direction for Greve (bitumen / downhill)
Km 27.3 / h 1.53'
Pile di sotto. Passing a group of houses you will see a little church - take the dirt road on the right and then immediately afterwards take the road to the left. You will come to the locality Poggio all' Olmo.
Attention! It could be easy to lose your way here. Ride through the group of houses and take the 3rd road on the right - this path is rough and is situated between a vineyard and a wall. Ahead, after the curve, pass by a path on the right (note a wooden gate). Going ahead, the descent will bring you to a house called Le Lastre. Ride through the olive grove, where the path isn't noticeable. Once through the olive grove you will see the path again to the right at the beginning of a wood. Ride through the woods - just several hundred metres. (path, dirt / downhill)
Km 29.3 / h. 2.03'
Beyond the woods, you will come to another vineyard: take the path to the right. Past the vineyard, pass by the path on the left. Further ahead take the road to the left. Arriving at Corti di Sopra, ride straight ahead at the intersection (the road to the right leads to Le Corti vineyard). You will ride past several secondary roads. (dirt / varying terrain, downhill)
Km 34.8 / h. 2.27'
Go straight at the crossroad. (bitumen / flat)
Km 36.3 / h 2.31'
Intersection with the SS 222. Turn right. (bitumen / flat)
Km 39.3 / h 2.39'