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Itinerary through the Crete Senesi, the land with no sweetness of trees

Gullies, hills and biancane await us along this bike route

The poet Mario Luzi wrote: “La terra senza dolcezza d’alberi, la terra arida che rompe sotto Siena il suo mareggiare morto” (The land with no sweetness of trees, the barren land that breaks under Siena its dead tide). Gullies, hills and biancane (dome-shaped reliefs with a characteristic chiaroscuro color) await us along this itinerary, which from the City of the Palio will lead us to the Crete Senesi.

We leave from Porta Pispini, beginning to ride towards the locality of Due Ponti. Here, at the large roundabout, begins a stretch of bicycle route that we will ride along for about a kilometer as far as the locality of Fango Nero. Paying attention at the crossing, we continue on Strada del Ruffolo as far as Arbia, where the Crete begin.

Our route is comparable, on the map, to a large triangle, and the entire first part (the first side) takes place on the Strada Lauretana, in the direction of Asciano, on a strip of asphalt that cuts through a rough terrain and that, after a couple of kilometers from Arbia, begins to climb sharply as far as the first vertex of the triangle, in the locality of Podere Casanuova.

At this point we leave the Lauretana and turn right, to begin the second side, following the directions for Monteroni d'Arbia. For those wishing to plunge even more intensely in the charm of the Crete, the detour to the “Sito Transitoriois possible; this stretch, which is all on dirt roads, is recommended for bikes with agile gear ratios. The detour begins at the point where the climb on Via Lauretana begins; instead of continuing on asphalt, we turn left onto Strada di Leonina, taking a long avenue of cypress trees that clearly marks the territory. After about 2.4 kilometers, we reach the Transitional Site, an installation consisting of a double sculpture (a seat and a large stone window) created in 1993 by the French artist Jean Paul Philippe, all set in a landscape that will enrapture you with its beauty.

To those who make this detour, we then recommend continuing along the dirt road until reaching the small village of Mucigliani and from there, taking a right-hand turn, rejoining our route.

We now resume our description from the previous point, where we leave Via Lauretana in the direction of San Martino in Grania and Monteroni d'Arbia, taking a dirt road that is part of the gravel cycling classic, "Strade Bianche".

Paying attention in the steepest stretches, we begin to go down decisively toward the alluvial plain of the Arbia, not without a few uphill climbs that we need to tackle with commitment, skirting on the left the ruins of the ancient parish church of San Martino in Grania.

At the bottom of the valley Monteroni d'Arbia awaits us, where we can make a refreshing stop and visit the famous 14th-century fortified mill. Just before the village, our eyes will notice the Castle of San Fabiano. To close the second side of our triangle we will take the Provincial Road of Grotti that will take us to the village of Radi along a paved road with some fairly steep stretches.

At Radi we make a right-hand turn to take our third and last side along a dirt road that for a few kilometers (about seven) will lull us amid gentle descents and slight climbs, always offering us beautiful views of the city of Siena, in front of us.

The final recommendations concern the last, more challenging stretch of dirt road and the final, unavoidable miles back into town along the busy Cassia.

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