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Gaiole in Chianti and the white roads of the Eroica
Fabulous scenery, ancient castles and a classic cycle race

It’s heaven for cycle tourism enthusiasts. We’re referring to Gaiole in Chianti, in the heart of Tuscany: it is no accident that since 1997 the town has been the birthplace, starting point and finishing line of the Eroica, the cycle event on classic bikes (the most ‘modern’ date back to 1987) and in strictly vintage Bartali & Coppi-style clothing, which attracts 5,000 competitors or more. This year it’s happening on the white roads around Florence and Siena on 1 and 2 October.

There’s a choice of several routes, longer or shorter and with more or less incline. The most heroic of heroes choose the long route: 212 km with almost 4000 m height difference, taking at least 15 hours. But the cyclists are rewarded with breathtaking countryside, vineyards as far as the eye can see, sections of the historic Via Francigena and delightful villages offering a warm welcome, like Radda in Chianti, Volpaia, Montalcino, Buonconvento, Siena itself and Castelnuovo Berardenga with the Dievole estate – not forgetting magnificent castles and fortifications along what’s known as the Road of Castles; these include those at Vertine, Meleto and the stunning Castello di Brolio, right next to the route.

Here’s a tip for extra splendour and taste: try and arrive in the evening, when the castle is lit by flaming torches, book a traditional yet innovative dinner at the Osteria and a room in an elegant guest house, perhaps Brolio Agriroom, inspired by the Eroica style.

Whether you’re here for the race or purely for pleasure, these white roads are among the loveliest you’ll find; this is a sustainable tourism experience that boosts body and soul with nature and history.

(Eroica photos by Paolo Martelli)

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