Biking in Montepulciano

Biking in Montepulciano

Biking in Montepulciano – Tuscany

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!

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.

Val d’Orcia

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

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.

Distance 27.6 km.

4) Road cycling route Montepulciano – Chianciano – Montallese – Montepulciano Stazione

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!

Pizza Jamaica

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.

Distance 53 km.

Happy cycling!

 

Virtual Brunello wine tasting

Virtual Brunello wine tasting

Virtual Brunello wine tasting

For those who cannot travel to Tuscany I have decided to organize a new perfect stay-at-home activity: a virtual Brunello di Montalcino wine tasting!

The focus of this online tasting is on learning and having fun. I have hosted several virtual wine tastings but I can say that tasting Montalcino wines -virtually- with other tasters was a different and unforgettable experience.

“Everyone enjoyed it. We had a good chat and the time with Bruno was wonderful.”

Virtual wine tasting Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

You do not need to be an expert to enjoy the wine Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Just trust your taste and senses … and relax!

During the online tasting I will provide a presentation, show a video and introduce you to the winemaker.

Vasco Rosso Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Pian delle Ginestre is a small winery run by the Natalini family. They love their land and their wines. Bruno Natalini’s wines are special. His wines tell you the story of its territory.

In addition to the Brunello, the winemaker produces other wines like Toscano IGT and Rosso di Montalcino.

To join the tasting you need two bottles of wine: Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG from the line of wines Vascorosso named after the famous Italian singer Vasco Rossi.

Vasco Rosso Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

After the wine tasting you’ll have wine leftovers. This is brilliant! Because following the virtual event, you can continue to practice tasting the wines for a few days.

Interested? I’d love to hear from you!

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Today Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most known and expensive wines. Brunello is not just a drink. It is an elegant and prestigious Tuscan wine with the ability to age well for years. It is one of those wines you should have tried at least once in your life!

Consortium Brunello di Montalcino

The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. No other grapes are allowed in a Brunello wine. Brunello di Montalcino is a high tannin wine. This is one of the unique characteristics of this important wine. This wine gets better with age.

Before drinking the wine needs aeration, let it “breathe” at least 2 hours. A perfect match with this wine is steak (protein), seasoned cheeses and cured meats.

I always enjoy drinking a glass of Brunello, especially when I can share my love and passion for this wine with friends.

Montalcino

At present there are 250 wine producers in Montalcino. The total area is 24,000 ha of which 4,600 ha are used for viticulture. Each year around 11 million bottles of wine are produced.

Montalcino is a hilltop village surrounded by Crete Senesi and Val d’Orcia area. It is a town worth visiting. Not only for the wine but also for its unique beauty!

 

Montalcino Tuscany

 

Wine tasting in the Orcia DOC territory

Wine tasting in the Orcia DOC territory

Poggio Grande winery

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.

wine tasting

wine cellar

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.

meat dish

A visit to Poggio Grande in the Orcia territory is highly recommended. You’ll find friendly owners, good wines and lovely views.

Contact details of winery Poggio Grande: info@aziendapoggiogrande.it

Orcia DOC

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.

Pienza is my favorite place and I am spoiled for the choice with delicious food and wine…

Orcia wines come in different key styles:

  1. Orcia DOC (Sangiovese based wine)
  2. Orcia Sangiovese DOC Riserva (Sangiovese based wine)
  3. Orcia DOC white (Trebbiano – Malvasia)
  4. 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

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.

Val d’Orcia

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

Val d’Orcia

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

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!

Pecorino cheese

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!

 

Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta in San Quirico d’Orcia Tuscany

Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta in San Quirico d’Orcia Tuscany

Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta

Between San Quirico d’Orcia and Pienza is the Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta. It is an amazing territory, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta is a tall bright building surrounded by cypress trees.

How to get there

To visit the chapel by car you need to follow a dirt road until you reach a free parking place. From the parking place it is 10 minutes walking to the chapel. The chapel can also be reached by a hiking trail through the hills.

Spring 2020 | Val d’Orcia Tuscany

The surrounding landscape is really awesome. The rolling hills of the Val d’orcia offer an incredible sight. It is one of the most wonderful places in Tuscany!

Story

The chapel was built around 1550. The “Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta” used to be the home of the Madonna sculpture made by the artist Andrea della Robbia. The chapel was restored in 1884 and the statue was moved to the Church of San Francesco in San Quirico d’Orcia where it can be seen today.

Spring 2020 | Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta

San Quirico is a small and nice hill town in Tuscany.

San Quirico d’Orcia Tuscany

Today

The chapel is locked, you cannot go inside. It is private property. The facade is decorated with stone from Rapolano and a small rose window.

The Chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta is one of the most photographed locations of Tuscany. I have visited the Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta two times within the last months. Last spring, just after the lockdown and today September 20.

I am determined to visit the chapel again, perhaps accompanied by a good red wine in the neighboring fields.

September 2020 | il Convento Rosso di Montepulciano DOC

 

Visit Pienza in the Val d’Orcia valley

Visit Pienza in the Val d’Orcia valley

Visit Pienza

Last week I visited Pienza in the Val d’Orcia. Pienza is a tiny village situated 20 km from Montalcino and a few km from Montepulciano.

Pienza

This period is a unique chance for me to visit places in Italy without lots of tourists. Italy has opened its borders to European tourists from early June but the Coronavirus still keeps tourists away. Some Italian visitors from other regions arrive in Tuscany but not (yet) people from other countries.

Few people were around in Pienza. Pienza is a popular place to travel. For many people Tuscany is a dream destination for its beauty, scenic landscape and historical villages.

Tuscany is so special and unique. It’s not surprisingly that Val d’Orcia has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pienza is the most renowned village in Val d’Orcia. In 1996 UNESCO declared this town a World Heritage site.

History

Pienza was redesigned in the late 15th century by Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini). The original name of the village Pienza is Corsignano. Pope Pius was born here. He decided to change Corsignano into an ideal city to be called Pienza.

Today Pienza houses wonderful buildings like the Palazzo Piccolomini “Pope’s palace”, the Cathedral and town hall. These attractions are definitely worth a visit.

How do I get to Pienza

Pienza is located only 12 km away from Montepulciano. You can reach this village easily by car. There is free parking outside the historic centre. For example in the Via della Madonnina. Here you find enough parking space.

Parallel to this street is a wonderful walking path to the centre. The views over the landscape are stunning.

You can also take the bus from from Montepulciano to Pienza and vica versa. By bus it’s about 25 minutes travel time.

Val d’Orcia

The town Pienza is as small town with a population around 2300. In the main street Corso Rossellino is a pretty strong smell of cheese. The Pecorino cheese of Pienza is one of the best and popular Tuscan cheese. Many tiny shops in Pienza sell this amazing Pecorino cheese.

You should taste it, it’s really yummy!

Cheese farm in Pienza

The Pecorino cheese is a soft or semi hard sheep cheese produced in Pienza. It is one of the most delicious Italian cheeses made from sheep milk (ewe’s milk).

Personally I know Fattoria Pianporcino in Pienza. This cheese farm produces different Pecorino types like Pecorino fresco, Pecorino semi-stagionato and pecorino fully stagionato.

The owner of Pianporcino is Giuseppe Bussu (on the right-hand side of the picture). 

This photo is from before the Coronavirus.

Fattoria Pianporcino

For a cheese tasting and visit reservations are recommended. Especially now with new measures and restrictions.

E-mail: info@fattoriapianporcino.it
Address: Podere Pianporcino 109, 53026 Pienza (SI)

Pecorino cheese

Pienza is also called a “Slow Food” place for food and wine lovers. In the historic centre are many wine shops “enoteche” where you can taste the local wines (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino).

The restaurants offer traditional local dishes like Tuscan pasta “i pici”, antipasti and different types of cheeses.

Pienza is also a romantic destination with the two streets called Via dell”Amore and Via del Bacio.

Pienza

Pienza