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First leg

Cycling in the Crete senesi

Siena (322 M s.l.m.) - Montaperti (229 M s.l.m.) - Castelnuovo Berardenga (351 M s.l.m.) - Castello di Montalto (329 M s.l.m.) - Castelnuovo Berardenga

Starting from Porta Pispini, go downhill as far as the strada statale (SS), cross it and get onto the minor road (asphalt in parts) going to Castelnuovo B. via Vico d'Arbia. After the railway underpass, climb for about one and a half kilometres, passing the atmospheric Castello delle Quattro Torri on your right. The asphalt gives way to macadam and the road continues to wend its way past country houses and poderi (smallholdings) until it comes to Vico d'Arbia. From here you soon reach Montaperti, the site of an ancient battle between the Florentines and the Sienese in the 13th century. Then there is a short but steep climb on an uneven surface, after which you continue northwards towards Pianella (without going into the hamlet) until you come to a junction. Follow the signs for Castelnuovo B. along an undulating dirt road that passes woodland and cultivated fields. You soon come to the village of Castelnuovo Berardenga. Carry on, going gently downhill, towards Colonna del Grillo. At the crossroads there is an old and characteristic road sign. Turn left onto provincial road no. 540 and follow it for about a kilometre and a half till you come to a sign for Badia d'Ombrone, where there is the 13th-century Camaldolite abbey. Retracing your tracks a little, follow signs for Montalto, which you will get to after passing the Monastero d'Ombrone with its little white church.
From the beautiful castle (now a private residence), cycle back to Castelnuovo B. for the overnight stop

Starting point Siena 322 m
Length Km 27.4
Time required 3 hours
Difference in height m. 200
Surface 50% asphalt, 50% unpaved roads
Difficulty MC
Difficult climbs None
Maps   Atlante Stradale d'Italia (centro), carta 1:200.000, De Agostini-Tav. 9
Quality of views High
Recommended places to visit Siena and Montaperti
Info Agriturismo Podere S.Quirico (Castelnuovo B.) tel 0577/355206
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Text and pictures Gianfranco Bracci
Translation: Jeremy Carden


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