The region Tuscany is a land of cyclists, it offers a variety of itineraries. Biking is one of the best ways to explore more of this wonderful wine region!
Montepulciano is a scenic hilltop town. It stands on a limestone hill. This area is the right place for road and dirt road cycling routes, but good fitness is required.
The best period for cycling Tuscany on bike are from March to October. Riding in the summer can be hot, but you can bike early in the morning, avoiding the heat of the day. Many find it’s a great time to relax and plan their day.
If you are planning about cycling in Tuscany, the most important biking needs are a good bike (MTB or race), a helmet and a repair kit. Cycling with a helmet is really recommended!
Sylvia by bike
Bike itineraries to Pienza
There are amazing bike routes from Montepulciano to Pienza. The trail types are mostly asphalt and dirt roads. You ride along the hills overlooking the amazing views of Val d’Orcia.
Most of the trails are suitable for advanced – experienced riders. They are quite challenging but definitely worth it!
1) Mountain bike route Montepulciano – Pienza
This is a gravel road and a road itinerary. Ideal for MTB, not for tour or racing bikes. You’ll bike through hills, valleys, olive groves and vineyards. This is a spectaculair itinerary for experienced mountainbikers.
Distance 27 km.
2) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Pienza
Explore this amazing cycle route to Pienza! The start and arrival point is Montepulciano. From here you start the bike tour among the hills of the Val di Chiana valley. Passing Montichiello you’ll see the very best of the iconic Val d’Orcia valley.
Panoramic roads lead you the Renaissance village Pienza. Once you’ve passed Pienza you take the road back to Montepulciano.
Distance 38 km.
3) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Acquaviva – Montepulciano Stazione
This itinerary is almost my daily bike exercise. It is a short ride from the historic centre of Montepulciano to Acquaviva, Valiano and Montepulciano Stazione.
Montepulciano, Acquaviva and Valiano are hilly villages. The biking route around Montepulciano Stazione is primarily flat.
After leaving Montepulciano this road passes the villages of Acquaviva and Valiano. Once you reach Valiano you turn back the way up to Montepulciano Stazione and Montepulciano.
In the countryside of Montepulciano you can see the hospital of Nottola.
It is a nice panoramic ride, it has not many up and downs. Starting in Montepulciano you follow the signs direction Chianciano and Chiusi.
Chiusi is the former Etruscan city in the province of Siena.
Along the road to Chiusi you pass my favorite pizza restaurant “Jamaica”. Jamaica is close to the discotheque La Bussola In. The pizza’s at Jamaica are huge and delicious!
Turning left you take the downhill road to Montallese. When arriving in Montallese turn right and you take the dirt road – cycle path to Lago di Montepulciano (Lake Montepulciano). This path is also called “Il sentiero della Bonifica.”
Sentiero della Bonifica
From there you follow the dirt road to Valiano, Montepulciano Stazione and then the road back to Montepulciano. Cycling uphill to Montepulciano is not easy. The road is not very steep but it is long. For this track you need a reasonable fitness.
Brasato means braised beef. The best part about the recipe “Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano” is that it is an easy and slow cooker recipe.
This meat dish is delicious on a cold winter evening. Springtime is not really the season for a beef stew. But when it’s cold and rainy outside it is the perfect food to warm you up a bit!
There are many recipes of braised beef, but when preparing an outstanding brasato it is important to have high quality meat and good wine.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
What kind of wine would you recommend to use in beef stew?
I prefer a full bodied, robust red wine such as the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
This wine gives a very special aroma to the meat.
For this delicious recipe I use the perfect Chianina beef. This meat is expensive, but it is a very healthy meat and low in cholesterol.
Chianina is probably the oldest breed of cattle in Italy. Did you know that? This animal is also called the giant white cow “gigante bianco”.
Chianina farm Fierli
The homeland of the white Chianina cow is the Valdichiana area. The Fierli family is a four generations farm in Foiano della Chiana. A small town located between Cortona and Montepulciano. Today the family keeps 200 Chianina cows on 100 hectares of agriculture land.
Cecilia is member of the family Fierli. She came up with the rich, warm stew recipe “il brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano”. Guanciale di Chianina cheek in Vino Nobile wine.
The cheek is a hard working muscle that needs to be cooked very slow. It takes hours before the meat is tender, but it is worth waiting for!
Besides guanciale di Chianina and Vino Nobile wine other necessary ingredients for this dish are olive oil, soffritto, salt and pepper.
A soffritto is the Italian cooking base for sauces, soups, stews and many more. It is an aromatic mix of onion, carrots and celery.
Besides the basic ingredients I add bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves and fresh rosemary. Really recommended!
It’s important to bring the meat out of the fridge a few hours before cooking. The meat must come up to room temperature.
In this recipe the marination step is not necessary.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 3 hours at least Serves: 2 people
450 gram of bovine cheek (Chianina) > 1/2 liter of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine
2 tablespoons extra-vergin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 juniper berries
salt, pepper, fresh rosemary
What else do you need
How to cook
Don’t remove the fat before cooking, that gives the meat a unique flavor and texture.
Clean, wash and chop the onions, carrots and celery.
Heat the stew pot over medium-high heat. Brown the soffritto in hot olive oil. Stirring frequently. The soffritto should be cooked until dorata (golden brown).
Add the meat to the pan and season it with salt and pepper.
Pour in the wine and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat, add the bay leaves, rosemary, cloves and juniper berries.
Cover the pot and turn the meat occasionally.
Leave the meat at a low and slow temperature.
The wine will evaporate. Let the wine reduce a bit and add more wine or other liquids when necessary.
After a few hours, when the meat is tender, remove it to a carving board. Slice the meat. Before serving make sure you remove the woody herbs stems and any bay leaves.
Arrange the meat on a serving plate and pour the wine sauce on top.
What to serve with beef stew
Serve warm with mashed potatoes, polenta or roasted potatoes with rosemary.. my favorite contorno!
A delicious antipasto
Antipasto misto di Cinta Senese: coppa, capocollo and speck.
Cinta Senese is an ancient Tuscan black pig with a white belt. They live free and they have a long and good life. The cinta senese meat has a DOP classification. It is top quality meat.
The main course pairs with the high tannic red wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
Red wine and fatty or high-protein foods is a perfect wine and food pairing.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG wine is an outstanding wine in the Tuscany region, available on my wine webshop.
Watch this video recipe to see how to cook il Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!
During the Easter holidays the whole of Italy was classified “red” from 3 – 5 April. In a red zone it is prohibited to leave your hometown except for work and health reasons.
Over the Easter period we were allowed to visit friends and families in their homes with a maximum of two visitors at a time.
Tuscany will remain under the heaviest restrictions until April 20, as I read in a newspaper. The infections are not declining.
Last Saturday I went for a bike ride and pizza dinner with my friends. It’s been weeks since we met. We’re not seeing each other often these days because we do not live in the same municipality. I live in Montepulciano. My friends have a house in Montallese and in Chiusi. Two towns in Tuscany.
Pizza is a social food. A food for family and friends. I never make a frozen pizza at home. For me a pizza is to be eaten at a pizzeria. It must be eaten immediately after it comes out of pizza oven and must be made by an expert!
Our friend in Montallese has recently installed a wood fired pizza oven in his garage. He prepared for us a variety of pizzas. Gianfranco is an Italian pizza chef!
I had a great dinner and I really enjoyed the pizzas. It has been a long time since I have had a so good pizza. Too long…
Pizza with spinach
Pizza with truffle
Pizza with anchovies
Pizza with wurstel
The nationwide curfew from 10 PM till 5 AM is still active. In Italy we usually eat late, around 8 – 9 PM. With the current rules we eat a little earlier.
Online wine tasting
I have celebrated Easter at my home in Montepulciano.
I’ve had a fabulous evening with American people. Together we’ve tasted -virtually- some nice Tuscan wines from the winery Gattavecchi.
The wine estate Dievole is located in the Chianti Classico area, one of the most popular wine region of Tuscany between Siena and Florence.
Dievole overlooks the wonderful vineyards and olive groves. It covers an area of 400 hectares within the Chianti Classico territory in Vagliagli.
Chianti vineyards Dievole
Chianti vineyards Dievole
Dievole is an old winery founded in the 11th century. This Italian winery has a thousand year history.
Today Dievole is owned by an oil tycoon from Argentina “Alejandro Bulgheroni” and is part of a network of wineries in Tuscany: Chianti Classico, Bolgheri and Montalcino.
Dievole Tuscan wines
The winery Dievole produces elegant wines such as Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Vin Santo and IGT white wine. But they make also other Italian great wines: Bolgheri DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
Dievole Tuscan wines
Wine tour and tasting
During the wine tour we discovered the history and the taste of Dievole wines. We were with a small group of 9 persons (it is necessary to pre-arrange this wine experience).
Our guide waited for us at the wine shop. She started with a brief introduction to the wines and the history of Dievole. After a small talk we walked through the vineyards, the historic wine cellars and tasting rooms.
Wine cellar Dievole
Wine cellar Dievole
Wine production Dievole
Wine production Dievole
After the tour we started with individual tastings of the quality wines including good cheeses and local meats.
If you are a wine lover be sure not to miss out the beautiful Val d’Orcia wine region in Tuscany. The land of Sangiovese.
Winery Poggio Grande lies in Castiglione d’Orcia. Castiglione d’Orcia is a small town immersed in the nature of Val d’Orcia. The property is located nearby the ancient medieval “Castello di Ripa d’Orcia” and the village of Bagno Vignoni.
Poggio Grande is a family-run farm that produces wine and olive oil in Castiglione d’Orcia. A visit to their vineyards, tasting room and wine cellar is a unique experience!
The winery is surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. The total surface of their vineyard is about 6 hectares. The care and cultivation work is done manually. The grapes are also harvested by hand each year.
The Zamperini family is the owner of Azienda Poggio Grande. They have been living in this idyllic Tuscan countryside since 1907. Farming is their way of life for generations.
Through years of experience, passion and knowledge, the Zamperini family produces wines with great body and high quality. In addition to wines based on the Sangiovese grape other international varieties are used in the production of fine wines.
Quality olive oil is also made (D.O.P. Terre di Siena certificate).
Wine and olive oil tasting
The wine experience takes place in a tasting room, set in the middle of vineyards and rolling hills. The unique panoramic views of the Tuscan landscape will amaze you!
Poggio Grande is the best place to enjoy local wines. A wine tasting at Poggio Grande consists of one white wine, three (or more) red wines and two different types of olive oils. The wines are served with a selection of local meats and pecorino cheeses.
The wine production has increased over the last years. Winemaker Luca Zamperini and his daughter Giulitta Zamperini produce seven different types of wine.
All their labels on the wine bottles tell a story. One red wine is named after a horse of the famous Palio di Siena: “Scorbutico”. This wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. A wonderful, elegant red wine. Good to pair with local pasta and meat dishes.
A visit to Poggio Grande in the Orcia territory is highly recommended. You’ll find friendly owners, good wines and lovely views.
The Orcia DOC denomination is young, born on February 14, 2000. The grapes used for the Orcia wines are cultivated in the Val d’Orcia area.
The Val d’Orcia has a long history of producing wine. The wine production area is nestled between Montepulciano and Montalcino.
The main production areas are within the communes of Castiglione d’Orcia, Pienza, Radicofani, San Giovanni d’Asso, San Quirico d’Orcia, Buonconvento, Trequanda as well as parts of the municipalities of Abbadia San Salvatore, Chianciano Terme, Montalcino, San Casciano dei Bagni, Sarteano and Torrita di Siena in the province of Siena.
San Quirico d’Orcia
San Quirico d’Orcia
Pienza is my favorite place and I am spoiled for the choice with delicious food and wine…
Orcia wines come in different key styles:
Orcia DOC (Sangiovese based wine)
Orcia Sangiovese DOC Riserva (Sangiovese based wine)
Orcia DOC white (Trebbiano – Malvasia)
Vin santo DOC (sweet wine).
Each year the Novello wine is available in the Val d’Orcia territory. Novello is a wine made from the first grape harvest.
The Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes are the most important white grape varieties in the Orcia region. The white vin santo is blended from Trebbiano Toscano (50%) and other white authorized grape varieties.
Wines labelled “Orcia” must have 60% Sangiovese with at least a year of bottle aging, while wines labeled “Orcia Sangiovese” (Riserva) must consist of 90% Sangiovese with at least two years of barrel aging.
The Orcia Sangiovese wine is not a wine to drink when young. This wine will improve with age.
The blending grapes in the Orcia territory can be Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or native varieties like Foglia Tonda, Canaiolo Nero, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, and more.
Val d’Orcia is a Unesco World Heritage Site. With its curvy roads and rolling hills and cypress trees Val d’Orcia has become the iconic image of Tuscany.
The Val d’Orcia landscape is covered with vineyards, olive groves and the zigzagging cypresses. Alternated with wonderful country houses, abbeys and villas.
Abbey of Sant’Antimo
The region is also popular among hikers. The historical trail “Via Francigena” crosses the villages San Quirico d’Orcia, Radicofani and Bagno Vignoni. All small charming towns worth a visit.
Bagno Vignoni is a unique town with thermal water in the centre. It is a tiny village with typical stone houses.
Bagni di San Filippo
Bagni di San Filippo is one of the most beautiful free SPA resorts in Tuscany, immersed in the hills of Val d’Orcia.
Nowadays this region is famous for its enogastronomic production such as pasta i pici (wheat pasta), honey, pecorino cheese, olive oil, wild boar and wine. It is home to some of Italy’s best wines and food!
Val d’Orcia is also very much appreciated by artists, writers, poets, photographers and cinematographers. Famous movies such as The Gladiator and The English Patient have been shot here.
Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta
Val d’Orcia is one of the magic places to explore whilst on vacation in Tuscany. This is one of the most beautiful scenic landscapes. Val d’Orcia is a region you absolutely have to see!