is the gateway to an area of Tuscany which is a harmonious marriage of
nature and history, and this tour of the most significant points of the
Crete Senesi begins at the city of the Palio. Travelling by bike (perhaps
the best way to visit the gentle hills of one of the most beautiful stretches
of countryside in the world), we will explore the Crete Senesi in the
Valdorcia, an area whose name - creta means 'clay' - is a sign of its
vocation for producing terracotta, which is also widely used as a building
material in the beautiful hilltop towns of the area.
There is a long and established tradition of producing terracotta in the
area that takes in Asciano, Trequanda and the important centre of Sinalunga.
Massive oil jars and plant pots are still fired using the 18th-century
serpente method, and here you can find modern factories and traditional
artisan workshops side by side. Tradition and modernity coexist in an
enchanting landscape. And in this environment of rounded clay hillocks
and gullies, of beautiful roads and country houses, tradition and modernity
both play a part in the production of fine wines.
Wine has been enjoyed and appreciated since ancient times and one could
cite many hundreds of references to the nectar of the Gods. The Etruscans
are known to have produced it, as did the Romans. In the Middle Ages,
wine was very expensive because the barrels it was transported in along
rough tracks and roads often broke during the journey. In the Renaissance
period it was largely a prerogative of the rich. Only in the last few
centuries has it become more freely available for everyone, though ironically
its popularity seems to be waning among young people, who tend to prefer
beer or other gassy drinks. But wine remains the ideal accompaniment for
the culinary specialities of the Western world. As everyone knows, Italy
can boast many fine wines and Tuscany is one of the foremost regions in
the country for wine production.
|Brunello: a masterpiece of wine
“A woman and a glass of wine cure all needs. He who
neither drinks nor kisses is worse than dead.” Goethe
“…bubbling wine in a sparkling glass…”
“May God take away water from anyone who does not drink
wine.” Anonimo fiorentino
Brunello di Montalcino, red wine par excellence and an essential feature
of any self-respecting banquet or ceremony, is produced and aged in the
Valdorcia. Vines occupy about 1300 hectares of land, and the 135-odd wineries
working in the area produce approximately 4 million bottles a year. Apart
from this famous wine, Rosso di Montalcino, Moscatello and other fine
wines are also produced. All this has given rise to a flourishing wine
tourism and we think that to enjoy the area to the full the best way to
visit it is by the most ecological of all means of transport - mountain
bike. Cycling along the unpaved roads that rise and fall over the undulating
hills, you can enjoy this corner of paradise with the calm that it deserves.
Gazing out to the horizon your eye can drink in and linger over the fantastic,
continually-changing views. And then, in the evening, the numerous agriturismi
of the area will welcome you Tuscan-style… with pappardelle sulla
lepre and a glass or two of good wine.