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Tuscany: the two-wheeled takeover

Biking has never been more popular, and whether you're a fitness fanatic or are simply starting out, there's a trail for you to blaze in Tuscany

Published 6 Sept 2018, 10:18 BST, Updated 15 Jul 2021, 10:03 BST
Cycling in Elba Island, Tuscany

Cycling in Elba Island, Tuscany

Photograph by Getty Images


Where: Abetone loop via Monte Maiori

How far: Seven miles (easy to medium)

Landmarks: At 4,600ft up in the Apennine Mountains, expect challenging terrain. But there are easier routes, too. A circuit east of Abetone follows roads, woodland trails and mule tracks around Monte Maiori, and climbs to 4,880ft for views from the Verginina di Serrabassa.


Where: Castelnuovo Garfagnana loop

How far: 13 miles (easy)

Landmarks: Where the River Serchio cuts its careful path between the Apennine Mountains and Apuan Alps lies the lush Garfagnana Valley. From outside Castelnuovo's 16th-century castle, a gentle circuit heads out along the shore of little Lake Pontecosi. Picnic by the lakeside church, then carry on to the medieval walled village of Castiglione.


Where: Capoliveri peninsula

How far: 15 miles (easy)

Landmarks: An hour by ferry from Piombino, Elba is best known for its beaches. In the far south east, beyond Capoliveri, are 60 miles of marked bike trails. One loop starts beside the rental shop in Piazza del Cavatore and skirts Monte Calamita. Several short diversions lead to wild beaches unreachable by car.


Where: Amiata Mountain circuit

How far: 20 miles (medium)

Landmarks: From Località Le Macinaie at 4,593ft, the track is rugged and unspoiled, passing two mountain refuges before dipping down to the Abbadia San Salvatore, one of Tuscany's oldest monasteries.


Where: Fiumicello circuit via Monte Ritoio

How far: 13 miles (medium)

Landmarks: The forest uplands on the border with Emilia-Romagna are rich in landmarks. In 1224, St Francis reputedly received his stigmata in the Casentino. One route starts and ends at Fiumicello, ascending to the 3,914ft peak of Monte Ritoio. The last two miles is downhill all the way.


Where: Montecatini Terme to Vinci and back

How far: 30–35 miles (medium)

Landmarks: The town of luxurious spas and liver-soothing waters is at the northern end of one of Tuscany's prettiest roads. The main destination is Vinci, hometown of Leonardo and site of the Museo Leonardiano. It's a short detour to Anchiano for Leonardo's birthplace. On the return, tend weary muscles in the thermal cave outside Monsummano Terme.

Two more to try

Footbike: Florence

A tour of the the city's world-famous sites — from the cathedral to the Ponte Vecchio — is much more fun on a footbike, plus they're suitable for all ages so the whole family can have a go. Think of them as a cross between a bike and a scooter. Footbikes are becoming more and more popular, and these days you'll often see people whizzing around on them not only in cities, but in the Tuscan mountains, where they can pick up some serious speed.

E-biking: Chianti

Starting in Greve, in the heart of Chianti Classico, one great e-biking route climbs up towards a ridge, past vineyards and olive groves, before entering a wood on a dirt road. E-bikes are ideal for hilly trails that would normally be too tough on the thighs, and this route is just that. It climbs up to a fortified abbey, Badia a Passignano, (you'll be thankful for the motor here), before ascending to the hamlet of Montefioralle. Once you've soaked up the views, turn off the motor for the final descent into Greve.

Published in the Tuscany guide, distributed with the October issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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