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Scorcio della Val di Chiana

Arezzo Province, a tour by bike

Cycling through dramatic Province of Arezzo

Here are some of the highlights of the Province easily accessible by bike routes.

A path along the Canale Maestro della Chiana passes through the orchards and vineyards of Civitella in Val di Chiana. Here you can also see the important structures built in the 19th century in order to channel the waters of the side canals into the Canale Maestro. Here starts the agricultural soul of the Chiana Valley. Tuscany is known for its wine and extra virgin olive oil, but this part of the valley is particularly famed for its production of pears, apples and plums.

The modern, concrete structure that you can see today has, in fact, a very long history. In the 14th century the five different bridges crossed the Chiana Marsh. These were later changed to a two-arch bridge, and in 1589 six more arches were added. Sluice gates regulated the flow of the river and to prevent the waters from flooding. Then in 19th century a new brick and iron bridge was built, after the Canale Maestro was widened. It was badly destroyed in the war, and it was reconstructed using reinforced concrete, which is the structure we see today.

Appeared 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 is where the Grand Duchy’s farms stored 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. Built in 1115 it belonged to the monks of the Abbey of Santa Flora and Lucilla until 1797. The waters were 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.

Cortona is visible from the hills to the and can be reached by a 12 km detour and a tough final climb.

Foiano della Chiana, just touched by the cycle path, is the place where the oldest Italian Carnival takes place, dating back to 1539.

At the 40 km mark, between Foiano and Marciano della Chiana, where the path crosses at right angles, you can take an extremely short detour to the right (east) in order to look at the ‘Colmata di Brolio’ [Brolio reclaimed land]. The ‘colmate’ are important hydraulic works where the land is artificially drained. Special stone enclosures hold back the water deposits coming down from the hills. 

On the left, you can also see the Fattoria del Pozzo which once belonged to the ‘Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano’ (Order of the Knights of St. Stephen) and was established in 1802, separating it from the Font’a Ronco Estate which was too large to be managed.

The cycle path continues through the centre of Castiglion Fiorentino, an Etruscan and medieval town where many interesting events take place such as the ‘Maggio Castiglionese’ and the ‘Palio dei Rioni’.

There are also many things to do if you leave the main cycling route (from Marciano and Foiano.) This route passes through beautiful Arezzo countryside with its vineyards, farms and cypresses on the hills of Lucignano, famous for its highly original shaped town plan. It continues onto Monte San Savino, a historical and extremely important Renaissance art centre, as well as its unique and original and artistic pottery creations.

Near the 49 km mark, the cycle and pedestrian path passes near the ‘casello idraulico [water lodge] of Frassineto’ before crossing at right angles the wide road that connects the farms of Font’a Ronco (which cannot be visited) and Frassineto. This route shows the extent of the land reclamation carried out by the Grand Duchy’s farms and how essential it was for local agriculture.