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Murlo, Tuscany

Cycling in the Merse Valley

Delve into the landscapes and history of the Val di Merse by bike

Exploring the town of Murlo and its surroundings by bike will get you closer to both the naturalistic beauty of the Val di Merse and the history of the area's ancient population.

This ring-route itinerary kicks off from the castle town of Murlo, set a few dozens kilometres south of Siena, and features stops at some of the most iconic attractions in the area, such as the Murlo's old mining village, the little hamlet called Befa (plus what remains of its windmill), glimpses of the Crete Senesi and, icing on the cake, the museum Antiquarium di Poggio Civitate, which cherishes archaeological findings dating back to the Etruscan era.

First leg
Old mines and natural gorges

Starting from the car park at the foot of the Murlo castle head downhill on the asphalt road towards the village of Miniere di Murlo (2km). From here continue along a dirt track to a crossroad (2,5km), and turn left, heading downhill towards a wooden bar which marks the beginning of the "Old Mining Railway" educational trail.

The path is never steeper than 4%, and runs along a narrow gorge formed by the Crevole river. It is surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna, with resting points and landslide protection (due to recent landslides you may have to proceed on foot at some points).

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Second leg
Adimiring the Crete Senesi

At the end of the path and after passing the old mill of Befa and fording the river, you will get to the small village of La Befa (6km). Back on asphalt again, turn left and after 300m the road returns to gravel. From here the hardest uphill climb of the route begins, and continues until the junction with the SP 34/c-d ‘Murlo’ road (9km).

At this point the Merse Valley has few trees as we approach the Crete Senesi: on the right the profile of Montalcino is clearly visible.

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Third leg
Cycling into Etruscan history

At the junction, which is marked by huge cypress trees, follow signs for Buonconvento/Bibbiano, crossing the junction for the fortress of Castelnuovo Tancredi, and you will arrive in Bibbiano. From here you should turn left towards Buonconvento on the SP 34/c ‘Murlo’ road.

Head downhill, and after 1.4km, at the bottom of the hill, turn left again onto a dirt road. Continue along this track to La Piana, which crosses part of the Eroica route: the first 4km are flat, then there is a gentle hill of 1.5km before you rejoin the SP 34/c-d road, where you should turn right towards Murlo. After 4km you will be back where you started.

Once you're back in Murlo, make sure you pay a visit to the Antiquarium di Poggio Civitate museum, hosted within the premises of the old episcopal residence in Murlo. Fun fact, from the windows of the museum it is possible to admire the Poggio Civitate and Poggio Aguzzo hills in all their grandeur. Such hills are of prominent importance in the understanding of the Etruscan civilization, as excavations in the area have brought to light the extraordinary findings that are kept in the Antiquarium.

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Useful info

The route is not challenging apart from the hill from La Befa to the SP 34/c-d road. It alternates asphalt roads and gravel tracks; the path near the old railway is at times quite narrow. La Befa is the only place where the Merse Valley touches the railway.