Tour Cinigiano – Montecucco
Nestled on one of the highest ridges of the Cinigiano - Baccinello neogenic Basin, on the Montalcino - Mount Amiata - Mount Labbro alignment, in an area geologically dating back to the Upper Miocene, lies the town of Cinigiano. Only a few kilometers away from here is Baccinello, the mining village that became famous in 1958 for the discovery of an exceptional fossil finding: the skeleton of a anthropomorphic ape of the species Oreopithecus bambolii.
From the square of Cinigiano, an amazing bicycle touring route begins that will lead us to discover this fascinating area by crossing, in part, Via dei Biozzi, an ancient transhumance route which connected the Upper Valtiberina to Maremma. Today, history has changed and with it the landscape, transformed by the immense vineyards of a DOC that takes its name from the hill where one of the oldest farms in the area is located: Montecucco.
The use of an electric bike will allow us to easily overcome the steep ups and downs that geological history has littered this area with, enjoying the spectacular openings encountered one after the other along the route.
We let our bicycle flow swiftly along the first 8-kilometer downhill stretch of the Voltina provincial road (Provincial Road 17), then pay attention on the further downhill stretch of Provincial Road 114 Poggi del Sasso, a very low-traffic road that we follow to the small farming town of Pian Taverna. The Ombrone river flows to our left; we have reached an elevation of 40 meters above sea level, the lowest point of our itinerary. Crossing the bridge of a small stream, we follow Provincial Road 114 again, which now changes as it starts to climb. A long and scenic climb goes up the western slope of Mount Cucco, with peaks approaching 15%, until we gain the summit at 289 meters above sea level. The next stretch leading to the village of Poggi del Sasso gives us suggestive views and marks a landscape and territorial watershed, on the left the Ombrone valley opening onto the countryside dominated by the hill on which stands the medieval village of Campagnatico. On the right, the succession of vineyard "hillocks" over which the mighty castle of Colle Massari dominates, with the horizon sweeping to the beech forests of Mount Amiata.
From the agricultural center of Poggi del Sasso, with its small square and beautiful country church, we descend again to the junction with the provincial road Cinigianese (Provincial Road 7), which we follow to the left as far as the village of Sasso d'Ombrone, an ancient Grancia (building structure used to store grain) of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena, placed to guard the bridge over the Ombrone river since before the year 1000.
As if to underline the specificity of this area, full of steep, seesaw slopes similar to the restless spirit of human beings, halfway between Poggi and Sasso d'Ombrone is the community of Benedictine monks of the Monastery of Siloe. In addition to permanent members, the monastery often hosts people who spend shorter or longer periods here, sharing the life of the Community.
Sasso d'Ombrone also marks the turning point of this itinerary. Leaving Provincial Road 7 we change direction, descending to the Ombrone plains until we cross, on the right-end side, the privately-owned Piaggiano road. Now the gradients soften and, as if navigating in a sea of land, we advance into the open countryside for the next 4 kilometers along this rural road with its white gravel surface, typical of the area around Siena and Grosseto of Tuscany. Shortly after the Pianirossi Estate we find the tarmac of Provincial Road 139. The atmosphere does not change and, almost in absolute silence, we reach the fortified village of Castel Porrona.
The ramps of Provincial Road 151 Porrona will accompany us to rediscover the houses and the quiet of the village of Cinigiano, where the chimes of the clock, placed on the Civic Tower, continue to mark the hours of the slow passing of time.