Cycle in the Treadmarks of Coppi and Bartali
Posted by Ruth Anne (13/02/2015)
Tuscany is a really popular destination for cycling lovers, thanks to its beautiful countryside, challenging hilly terrain and its association with two of the world’s all-time great cyclists – Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. However, it’s not just world-class athletes who can enjoy Tuscany by bike, there are routes all over the regions with lengths and difficulties to match any fitness level.
Bartali’s FlorenceGino Bartali won the Tour de France twice, in 1938 and 1948, and the Giro d'Italia three times, in 1936, 1937 and 1946. He was one of Italy’s (and the world’s) most prominent cyclists during his career and he was born in the small town of Ponte a Ema, in the south-eastern part of Florence. Today, the town is home to a museum dedicated to him – del Museo del Ciclismo “Gino Bartali”, which is a must-see for die-hard cycling fans.
Cycle anywhere in and around Florence and chances are you’re pedalling along the same street Bartali once rode, but one of the most popular rides is from Florence to the nearby city of Siena.
Suggested route:There are a loads of different ways you can cycle from Florence to Siena (or vice versa) but we recommend going via Impruneta, Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti. This is a fairly challenging 45 mile route, but takes you through some beautiful countryside and Castellina in Chianti is well worth hopping off your bike for and taking a look around.
Elba and Fausto CoppiBartali’s greatest rival was fellow Italian Fausto Coppi. He won the Tour de France twice, in 1949 and 1952, and the Giro d’Italia five times, in 1940, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953. In his declining years, Coppi spent time training on Elba, attempting to regain his form. If you ride the road from Rio nell'Elba to Porto Azzurro you’ll come across the “Fonte di Coppi”, a fountain where the great cyclist used to quench his thirst.
Elba is the largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago and one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s also a real haven for cyclists, with a wide variety of road and mountain biking routes. Elba has something to offer every kind of cyclist, whether you’re an experienced technical cyclist looking to work on your hill training, a mountain biker wanting a challenge, or a family hoping to enjoy a more relaxed bike ride together, you’ll find multiple routes to match your needs.
Suggested route:The Mount Orello route is particularly popular with intermediate mountain bikers, offering breathtaking views and only moderately difficult slopes.