fb track
In bici in Valdichiana

Valdichiana: cycling in the area

Cycling from Ponti d'Arezzo to the Monk's Lock along the Maestro Canal

Map for 43.017036,11.948444
The final section of this journey travels along the Canale Maestro della Chiana and passes through the orchards and vineyards of Civitella in Val di Chiana. Here you can also see the important structures for the intake of water built in the 19th century in order to channel the waters of the side canals into the Canale Maestro.

Shortly before the 56km mark, you’ll pass Ponti d’Arezzo. The modern, concrete structure that you can see today has, in fact, a very long history: in the 14th century the Chiana marsh was crossed by the ancient Siena-Arezzo road by way of five small bridges. Later, they were changed into a two-arch bridge, and in 1589 six more arches were added. Sluice gates were supplied to all of them so as to regulate the flow of the flooding river and to prevent the Chiana waters from joining those of the Arno. A new brick and iron bridge was built in the 19th century after the Canale Maestro was widened and deepened. Bombed during the war, this hydraulic system was reconstructed in its present version in reinforced concrete. Thus, it is the fifth framework of today’s bridge.

Along the next part of the route, going towards Arezzo, there is a mixture of traffic that passes very close to the Ponte alla Nave. It was described in one of Leonardo da Vinci’s maps in 1502. In those years, it was already an important construction along the road connecting the Valdarno and the Val di Chiana. Near the Ponte alla Nave, the path is bound by the Magazzino del Grano [Corn Warehouse], which was built by the Santo Stefano Knights’ Order. This is where the Grand Duchy’s farms deposited and stockpiled their agricultural produce before it was sent on to the Florence market.

After having traveled for about 60 km, the journey is almost over and one of the greatest and most impressive hydraulic works of the area, the Chiusa dei Monaci (The Monk’s Lock), can be admired. It already existed in 1115, and belonged to the monks of the Abbey of Santa Flora and Lucilla up until 1797. The Chiana waters acted as a source of energy for the mill where the monks made flour. Only much later was it supplied with sluice gates to regulate the water flow, and it has been in its current form since 1839, based on the design of the engineer Alessandro Manchi.

The cycle path also finishes here. From this point, the centre of Arezzo is only 6km away. The Canale della Chiana (The Chiana Canal) continues flowing until it reaches and enters the Arno River. This is where the main river is dominated by the Romanesque Ponte a Buriano, which is very likely to be the bridge which you can see behind the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s great masterpiece.