Up and down the Chianti hills on the traces of vintage bike riders

We have already devoted a post to an itinerary in Chianti, but this time we are writing about a vintage bike race, called Eroica”, that every year, on the first Sunday of October, runs on the gravel hill roads (strade bianche) of the most spectacular areas of the Sienese territory: the Chianti, the Valdarbia and the Val d’Orcia. Last year we went to Chianti right on the day of the race, and if you visit this area next Sunday, October 6th, it is highly likely that you will come across the riders that take part in this peculiar event: only bikes made before 1987 can participate and riders must dress in vintage costumes (wool jerseys, leather shoes, etc.).

The race dates back to 1997 when the first edition was organized to safeguard the gravel roads that have been featuring these vicinities for centuries, from being gradually replaced with asphalt.  Its name literally means “the heroic”, that must be how the riders feel during the race: the roads go up and down, their surface is rough and if some damage to the bikes or tyres happen, there aren’t support cars to be of help, the food stops don’t offer energising drinks and snacks, but authentic Tuscan food such as cured meats, stews, cakes and litres of Chianti wine. The ethos of this race is the celebration of the old values of cycling: sacrifice, effort, sweat and tears.

Installation in Pievasciata

The competition starts from the beautiful hamlet of Gaiole in Chianti (here’s a post of ours dedicated to this gorgeous place), and there are different distances to suit all levels of riders, from the 38 km that the majority tackle to the 75 km, and the full 205 km that covers Chianti but also large parts of the Valdarbia and the Val d’Orcia. Moving from Gaiole towards Siena on the SP2,  in Casavecchia you can take the gravel road to Pianella and get to  Pievasciata that, thanks to the collaboration between public entities and private investors, is being transformed into a hamlet of contemporary art.  On the road you will admire curious art installations enriching the already magnificent landscape, whose beauty is acclaimed all over the world, but the focal point is the Chianti Sculpture Park, a permanent exhibition of sculptures and installations as an integral part of a mystical wooded area, that every year beckons growing numbers of visitors  (http://www.chiantisculpturepark.it). Continuing on the same gravel road to Pianella, follow then the indications to Castelnuovo on the SP62, pass it and continue  on the SP408 towards Gaiole: make a couple of stops along the road, one for visiting  the nice hamlet of San Gusmé, the other for admiring the magnificent Castle of Brolio. After a few kilometres you’ll be back to the starting point, on time to be present at the arrival of the heroic riders that end their race again in Gaiole.

You can follow this itinerary naturally by car, but also by motorbike, Vespa or, why not, by bicycle, to feel a little heroic as well!


 Mappa dell’itinerario

Visualizza Castelnuovo Berardenga Eroica in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori

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