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By bike on the hills of Fiesole

A route for experienced cyclists, in the silence of the Tuscan countryside

Departing from the Fiesole Cathedral, head north along the road in the direction of Olmo and leave it after about 3 kilometers, turning right at Baccano in the direction of Compiobbi. Follow this sign until you reach the village of Montebeni and then take the road on your left for Ontignano. Leaving behind you the view of Florence, soon the houses thin out, downhill alternating with woods and olive trees until you reach on a small plain the parish church of Romanesque origin of S. Maria a Ontignano and the few small houses that flank it on one side.

After a few meters and once you arrive in front of a gate make a right-hand turn; a couple of sharp bends, a steep descent and a small bridge anticipate the presence of a stream, the Sambre, which surprises with a small waterfall and a clear body of water that invite you to stop. It's time to change ger ratios on your bike; short but steep climbs alternate with longer stretches of plain, the dirt road takes the place of tarmac, surrounded by forests. The city is close but forgotten. Squeezed between cypress trees, white dry-stone walls and those of an abandoned farmhouse (the Upper Walnut), you ride the last of the short climbs and then catch your breath on flst ground (ignore the paths coming from your left), ready for the next airy ascent immersed in a beautiful countryside.

Shade accompanies you as you pass another stream, then find another farmhouse and the road sways between hills and olive trees toward the Paiatici Farm. You ride past it by passing under an archway and now, once you find yourself on tarmac again, continue along the narrow main road and turn left at the third hairpin bend following the signs for a cemetery. When you reach downstream the church and the small village of San Donato a Torri near a tabernacle, take a left onto Via Valle, which you will follow for about 3 kilometers, first in open country then in shady woods skirting the Borro delle Falle until you reach Citerno.

At the crossroads turn left on a slight incline that soon becomes a bit more challenging but which will be worth it because, past a farmhouse on your left, you will be greeted by a wide and bright plain where green rows of cypresses and olive trees alternate with the red of poppies and the yellow of wheat. The road soon becomes unpaved again, and immersed in the countryside a few kilometers from Florence.

Flank a rural complex and after a couple of kilometers, near a junction recognizable by the presence of a gate and a laurel hedge, turn left up a short but steep incline. On the right you’ll see the hillock of Monteloro (well worth reaching!) and surrounded by vines after a couple of kilometers of dirt road, you cross the paved road where you turn left accessing the valley of San Clemente: a unique landscape, a harmonious example of the Florentine countryside, among farmhouses, ancient farms and Renaissance villas, tower houses, olive trees, vines and cypresses. Here young Dante Alighieri spent his summer seasons in the company of Beatrice Portinari and the poet Hermann Hesse fell in love with Italy.

A few meters and you turn right onto the Casale San Vincenzo dirt road, again submerged by vines, which leads you to the splendid Villa il Poggiolo and then onto the main road to turn left slightly uphill. On your left, very soon the church of Pagnolle and, on the opposite side, after a series of stone arches, hidden among the olive trees, the Renaissance Villa le Fonti. At the next junction with signs continue straight ahead slightly uphill on Via San Clemente in the opposite direction to the one indicated for Fiesole. Continuing for about 5 kilometers along this scenic road surrounded by nature and away from traffic, you will again cross the main road you were on at the start and that leads quickly back to Fiesole.

This itinerary was created by Giovanni Crescioli/ on the occasion of the cycling world championship in Florence in 2013.


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