fb track
Photo ©Enrico Caracciolo

Cycling from Pitigliano to Grosseto along the Via Clodia

Welcome on the consular road built by the Romans to connect Via Cassia to Via Aurelia, in order to keep in contact with all the conquered Etruscan cities.Via Clodia was a forefront communication road: The road was 4 meters wide, with wharves, bridges, and hydraulic works for defensive purposes, rest areasevery 20 kilometres and a flooring made with slabs of paving. In the Middle Ages the dissolution of the material of this beautiful road began and today,excluding certain sections easily recognizable for the "immortal" blocks of paving, little remains of this road but the soul and path, which, in the heartof Tuscany, develops from Pitigliano and the other "tuff" towns, up to Roselle, at the gates of Grosseto. This is an unmissable location for curioustravellers who love discovering territories with an emphasis on verticality.

Here, history, both known and hidden, can be touched. Welcome to the heart ofEtruria. Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana are the vertices of a triangle that steers clear of boundaries and calendars. Here, time is a river that flowsthrough and consumes everything: Pitigliano is tuff, partly a child of Mother Nature, and partly built by man, but there is no solution of continuitybetween the hoof and the houses, the towers, the roofs that appear as sculptures without foundations. And the tuff, better than any other stone, has theability to preserve the secrets of time in its infinite pores, to slowly be consumed, dissolve and disappear in the game of life. The same goes for Sorano,as seen from the valley of the river Lente or from the top of the Orsini Fortress; from up there the village looks as if suspended, placed on itself, in aprecarious balance.

The journey passes through the quarry roads, canyons carved by man, obscure wounds that cut through the mountains of tuff. Initially built to reach theburial grounds, these roads were then used as actual communication routes when Sovana became a point of reference for trade. There, inside the tuff, thesky is a clove sometimes invisible, and the silence remains trapped between the imposing walls of yellow stone; the steps, the trampling of the leaves, thebreathing, and the few words are absorbed by mosses and by the tuff's pores. You cannot see the sky, nor can you gaze at the horizon and, as in a game offantasy, time itself expands at the expense of confined spaces.

Via Clodia sneaks between the maquis and cultivated fields, reaching Poggio Murella and Saturnia, famous for its thermal waters, spectacular for itsstretch of Via Clodia, still in perfect condition near the Porta Romana. At this point, the landscape opens up, towards a shiny sky, with wavy profiles ofearth, as if sketched. The Maremmana directrix is a sensory journey: it begins with a taste of the legendary pecorino Mancianese and ends in front of asincere goblet of Morellino; in between, you can take a refreshing bath in the waters of Saturnia.

The last stop is Roselle, an important Etruscan and Roman city, lying on a hill overlooking the Maremma plains. An impressive wall line gives away theimportance of this place, which offers considerable archaeological evidence such as an atrium house with the impluvium, a house with two rooms, and ovensto bake pottery. The amphitheatre, the forum, the house of mosaics and the public baths date back to the Roman times. Like many other places crossed by ViaClodia, Roselle expresses all its charm of archaeological sites, ignored by large tourist flocks. Up there, the soul of the wild Maremma is simplybreathable, strong in character and unpredictable, hospitable and welcoming to travellers moving and pandering to the rhythms of Mother Nature, on thetraces of history.


Cycling Tour

From Pitigliano, we take the road to Santa Fiora and after 10 km, we arrive in Sorano. From here, we rapidly descend to the valley of the Lente River andthen head back, passing near the quarry road of San Rocco, into the SP 22, headed to Sovana, a place of great historical and archaeological interest. Wethen cross the bridge over the river Fiora, and climb steadily up to San Martino sul Fiora. Just before the village, the historic route of the Via Clodiabegins on the left; today it is a country road with challenging slopes (first downward and then upward) that arrives to Poggio Murella. Through this road,we reach first the Terme di Saturnia and then the village of Saturnia. This path with an ancient paving passes under the Porta Romana, steadily descendingto the bridge over the river Albegna. We now cycle on the provincial road of Usi, one of the most beautiful roads of Tuscany, surrounded by a vastlyfascinating landscape. Once we get to the SS223, we fold on the left, towards Murci. With a wavy trail, Via Clodia goes through Scansano, where the finaldescending toward the Maremma plains begins. The last important stop of this route is the passage through the Roselle Archaeological site, not far from thecity of Grosseto, where the route ends.