Crete Senesi is located a few kilometers from Siena and is famous for its lunar landscape.
For years, the area around Asciano provided grain to busy Siena and was built around farms and other isolated buildings in the countryside where entire families dedicated themselves to working the fields-, which revolved around grain, vineyards and olive groves.
During the 1960s, the end of sharecropping led to many of the structures being abandoned before being reclaimed by Sardinian shepherds who brought sheep farming to Tuscany.
Still today, men and sheep populate the hills of the Crete, which become surreal around Chiusure and the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore where the clay earth has formed great gashes in the countryside—open wounds of a sweet yet bitter land. Travertine is found in abundance here, especially in the Serre di Rapolano area. San Giovanni d’Asso is celebrated for its delicious white truffles. Don’t miss the famous November truffle fair in the town’s 15th century castle.
The Crete become gentler and the sky even bigger in the area near Buonconvento where the Arbia and Ombrone streams meet. Biking in the Crete is an amazing experience for those who love a beautiful and challenging ride. Bring plenty of energy and snacks for your ride.
Highlights: among the many trails, there are two gems that best communicate the magic of the area: a piece of the Monte Sante Marie (Asciano – Torre a Castello) and the via di Pieve a Salti (Buonconvento – San Giovanni d’Asso). Both are white gravel roads to bike on all-terrain mountain bikes. City bike lovers should check out the legendary Laurentana from Siena to Asciano and on to Chiusure, Monte Oliveto Maggiore and Buonconvento.
The magic of Monte Sante Marie Departure and arrival point: Asciano Length: 30 km Height difference: 440 m Type of road: asphalt and dirt Type of bike: MTB, hybrid Difficulty: medium
The trail runs through 17 km of dirt road and 13 km of asphalt. It is not very long but does have steep inclines not to be underestimated. In particular, the beautiful dirt road between Asciano and Monte Sante Marie is characterized by various inclines that require a certain stamina.
Travertine caves and thermal waters Departure and arrival point: Rapolano Terme Length: 18 km Height difference: 210 m Type of road: asphalt Type of bike: city, hybrid Difficulty: Easy
Easy trail, good for beginners. Runs through the heart of the Crete but is quite close to the travertine caves that the area is known for. Rapolano Terme is the perfect spot for a relaxing stop at the thermal baths.
Beautiful dirt roads Departure and arrival point: Buonconvento Length: 43 km Height difference: 600 m Type of road: asphalt and dirt Type of bike: MTB, hybrid Difficulty: medium
Journey through the heart of the Crete with departure from Buonconvento. Pass by the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and go through the via di Pieve a Salti, one of the white gravel roads that best captures the essence of the Crete Senesi.
Above the “waves” Departure and arrival point: Buonconvento Length: 79 km Height difference: 1,240 m Type of road: asphalt Type of bike: city, hybrid Difficulty: difficult
Tough trail continuously climbing the Crete Senesi hills. Though not too steep, the trail is frenetic and rarely flat. Ideal for well trained cyclist looking to better their performance; bike tourists will find unforgettable views of the Crete.
Mechanical assistance: Real - via Roma 46/50, Asciano, tel. 0577 719138, bike rentals and sales, technical assistance and information on area trails.