Last Modified: 12 Nov 2013
Tuscany: Cycle Siena and Chianti
Trip code: ZZXI
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2014
Ride along the quiet roads of classic Tuscany!
Tuscany has been a classic destination for the British since people set off on the 'Grand Tour' to acquaint themselves with the knowledge and customs of European art and society. The appeal of the fine Renaissance cities and beautiful countryside has not faded over the intervening years. This trip covers two distinct regions of Tuscany - well-known Chianti and the less-visited area of Crete, south of Siena. Le Crete, with its classic scenery of lonely hilltop villas surrounded by cypress trees is home to some of the best towns and villages in Tuscany. Siena contains the fabulous Campo, one of Europe's most beautiful city squares and scene of the famous Palio horserace. Continuing north, we enter the Chianti region, which fulfils most people's idea of what Italy should be like, with mediaeval villages, vineyards and ancient woodlands and hills reflecting the warm sunlight. We end our tour in the magnificent city of Florence, considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. Following quiet roads, we mix point-to-point and circular rides to make a perfect cycle tour of this region, without the need to transfer at the beginning of each day.
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 San Quirico
Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy.
Your trip normally begins at the hotel in the afternoon of day 1. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the final joining instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. These instructions will also include information about where and what time to meet the group.
After the trip briefing, hire bikes will be issued to those who booked them, and the leader will arrange an optional group meal.
The next day we follow an ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, towards Pienza, a charming town full of history and culture. From here we cycle to the wine centre of Montepulciano, famous for its Vino Nobile. We then head towards the medieval village of Monticchiello and on to Bagno Vignoni before making our way back to the hotel.
Cycling distance: approx 60 km
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 2 Itinerary
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Siena
Today's classic day of riding shows Tuscany at its most picturesque. We follow quiet roads as we head out of San Quirico with a first stop at Montalcino. We then descend on gravel roads via Castiglione del Bosco and the road to Murlo. From here we ascend the short, but steep, Rospatoio Pass and take a lovely road section via Ville di Corsano as we approach the beautiful Gothic town of Siena.
The well-preserved medieval city of Siena is a stunning sight with its combination of Gothic and Romanesque styles. The city is built on three hills, so be prepared for some ascents and descents as you explore the town.
Cycling distance: approx 60 km
There is plenty to see in Siena, and its sights are best explored on foot, as the town is compact, but hilly. There are many museums and buildings of interest to visit, such as the impressive Duomo and the Campo, Siena's wonderful main square.
Siena offers some great shopping opportunities, particularly ceramics, leather, clothes, and paper products. The city is full of specialist food shops and enoteche (wine shops) where you can do some wine tasting. The Campo, or central piazza, is where the famous Palio bareback-horse race is run twice a year.
Alternatively you may choose to head out for an unguided ride.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Itinerary
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Castellina
From Siena we head directly into the heart of Chianti. Our route takes us via some lovely small villages and hamlets, as well as some spectacular vineyards and castles, such as that of Castello di Brolio. Here there is the option to taste some of the area's finest wines. We then cycle via Gaiole and Radda in Chianti, with options to ride to the abbey of Coltribuono, before our final section to Castellina in Chianti, where we stay for two nights.
Cycling distance: 55 km
The following day we take a circular ride from Castellina, travelling through some lovely countryside before taking an amazingly scenic descent into the lower valley. From Poggibonsi we head towards the distant towers of San Gimignano, nestled between hills and small hamlets. San Gimignano is sometimes crowded, but this does not take away from what is one of the most interesting places in Tuscany. We spend a few hours enjoying the atmosphere, walking by the walls, and admiring the town's high towers. Our return route passes through the quieter Colle di Val d'Elsa, and on to the walled town of Monteriggioni before returning to Chianti and the quiet roads leading to our lodge. There is the option to transfer by vehicle back to Castellina from Monteriggioni.
Cycling distance: 56 km
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Itinerary
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Florence
From our hotel in Castellina we first ride to a spectacular panoramic road via San Donato in Poggio towards Panzano in Chianti, before taking a back road via the lovely walled village of Montefioralle, and then to Greve. Here we have time for lunch and to admire the market square before heading towards Stada and Impruneta, home to terracotta production. We finally take a panoramic road towards Florence, cycling all the way to Piazzale Michelangelo for a final group photo. We should arrive in Florence early afternoon, giving you time to begin exploring this beautiful city.
Florence, the cultural heart of Tuscany, bursts with religious treasures and Renaissance masterpieces. It's been said that during the second millennium, a third of Europe's most important artists lived in Florence. The minds and talents of the Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all flourished here.
The principal sights of this beautiful 'outdoor museum' are easily discovered on foot - the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River front, the many statues and monuments of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, the 13th-century Duomo, Baptistry and Belltower and the Santa Croce Church.
Cycling distance: 62 km
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
As there is so much to see and do in Florence we recommend you stay an extra day. Please speak to our sales team if you would like to book extra nights in Florence.
Hotel (1 nt)
- Tuscany: Cycle Siena and Chianti Single Supplement (MWI)
- Local Bike Hire - Tuscany: Cycle Siena & Chianti (MWI) - Exodus (MWI)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
This region is famous for its rolling hills, so be prepared for some climbing in places. Most days will require a reasonable level of fitness. Distances per day vary from 50-65km; there are options to make the days longer if required. There are no transfers to or from hotels on this trip: all the rides are designed to be door-to-door. There is one free day in Siena and two circular rides, where vehicle support is not provided.
We aim to use quiet roads where possible, but sometimes we need to pass busy sections in order to reach the quiet roads on the other side. Sometimes the most scenic routes are on tarmac, with a possibility to cross onto some dirt / gravel roads (locally known as 'white roads'). Simple route notes are provided, so the group can spread out on certain sections.
The trip contains 5 days of cycling, with an average of 58 km (37 miles) per day. Terrain is 85% tarmac and 15% east gravel roads (mostly optional).
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest EUR1-2 per person per day for local guides.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline EUR3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
Summer temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius, which can be uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Please consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
Bike hire is not included in the cost of the tour. Bikes can be hired in advance, for more information please speak to our sale team. You can also take your own bike. Please check with your airline on any restrictions.
You can also take your own pedals and saddle if you prefer. All the hire bikes are adaptable to be fitted with personalised bike parts.
Maximum of 15 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Hotel (8 nts)
We spend the week in 3 and 4 star hotels. All hotels are high quality and some have swimming pools. All single and twin rooms have en suite facilities.
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
All breakfasts are included and are Continental in style, consisting of coffee or tea, bread, jam and/or honey.
Vegetarian choices are available. If you are vegetarian please advise us when you book.
Bicycle, Support vehicle
Your luggage is transferred from one hotel to the next for you. We use a minibus and custom-built bike trailer to transport the bikes and your luggage. The minibus is used as a support vehicle during the rides.
If choosing to hire a bike, we use Ridgeback Momentum hybrid bikes with 27 gears and front suspension forks. The bikes are fitted with hybrid tyres, and an adjustable height stem, so we can get the bike to fit you as well as possible. Bike hire should be arranged at the time of booking. Please note that in a few locations, there is a limited number of bikes available locally, and very occasionally late bookers may be required to bring a bike from home.
The trip has two leaders, one who cycles with the group and acts as a mechanic, helping with any bike problems. The other leader drives the support vehicle and transports the luggage from one hotel to the next.
Via Santa Caterina da Siena, 43
Phone: 057 7897080
Fax: 39 055212101
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Viale Machiavelli 25
Phone: 93 055229351
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
Cold tap water in Italy is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap or public water fountains. A “NON POTABLE” caution will be posted In areas where water is not recommended straight from the tap.
BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
Plenty of people choose to bring their own bikes on our cycle trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles.
Please note that helmets must be worn when riding on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
EXTRA BIKE BITS:
You may like to bring your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or over gel cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it's your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle at the end of the trip. We can't guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.
A helmet, eye-protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and water bottles or hydration system (e.g. camelbak). Please note that helmets must be worn when riding off-road on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
RECOMMENDED CYCLING CLOTHING::
Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof / windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting day pack.
FIRST AID KIT:
You should bring a small, personal first aid kit with you including items such as high factor sunscreen, lip balm and chamois cream if required.
You will also need to bring the following equipment with you:
- Hand pump
- Spare tubes, patches and glue
- Tyre levers
- Multi tool
- Spare set of brake pads.
The support van carries a range of tools and 2 track pumps that you are free to use to assemble your bike, and make any adjustments during the trip. Basic spares are also carried but we are never too far from a bike shop in case you need a specialist part. Every night the bikes will be put in a garage/shed but it is best to bring a lock, just to ensure yours is safe.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches that modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Once you’ve left your feedback with us you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.