Climbing again after a sharp dive into the undergrowth, the earth remains good and not too clayey, and every so often the woods give way to arable fields. I rejoin the Via Chiantigiana, a true slalem of hairpin bends. Every few yards I want to stop and take photos of the panoramas, and just as often I see names of famous wineries along the way, pointing to their centuries-old headquarters.
Opting for dirt tracks is more than a technical challenge: it’s a way of not having to share the road with cars, only with vines. Cycling in total peace, without ever worrying about vehicles barrelling up behind you, is a very good reason for choosing gravel biking in place of other pursuits.
Strada in Chianti welcomes me with its distinctive smell, the scent of hills and vegetation, exaggerated in the winter months, getting into my nostrils. Vineyards and olive groves extend as far as the eye can see.
It’s only a few hours ago since I left the city behind, but in that time I’ve ridden ancient roads and seen old observatories. I come back to Florence via Grassina, leaving the Chianti and its smells behind me, happy in the knowledge that they are never far away. I’m tired and smiling.