Cycling in Florence: Our 3 Favorite Rides - Lucca Cycling Club

Cycling in Florence: Our 3 Favorite Rides

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AT_Blog_Profile

Ciao! I'm Alison.

If you're planning or dreaming about cycling in Italy, my job is to make it happen for you.

AT_Blog_Profile

Ciao! I'm Alison.

If you're planning or dreaming about cycling in Italy, my job is to make it happen for you.

If you’re headed for Florence, you’re likely aware of Michelangelo's David, Ponte Vecchio, and the incredible Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. But don’t let those attractions distract you from clocking in some high-quality cycling.

Florence has a respected and decorated cycling history—glory you’ll want to bask in. Giro d’Italia and Tour de France legend Gino Bartali hailed from the area, and in recent history, Florence hosted the 2013 UCI World Championships.

Wherever there’s an established cycling culture, a devout amateur scene is close behind. From weekly rallies to DeRosa GranFondo Firenze to Muretti Madness, Florence has a plethora of options to convene with cycling pals.

The terrain ranges; you’ll find everything from rolling landscapes and steep punchy climbs to riverside valleys and mountain passes. But words are cheap—let me show you what cycling in Florence has to offer.

Here are my three favorite bike rides in Florence.

Our Top 3 Rides at a glance
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    1. Fiesole and Monte Morello (Red)

    In as few as five kilometers and with three hours to spare, you can be away from the chaos and clamor up above the city skyline.

    Via San Domenico — where Marianne Vos attacked to become the 2013 World Champion — winds through the ancient town of Fiesole, showcasing spectacular views of Florence below. You’ll know you’re overlooking the Monte Morello valley when the gradient eases off. Ride on through Pratolino, where a swift sideroad carries you towards Monte Morello. The fir tree-lined tarmac feels alpine and the lack of traffic unimaginable this close to Florence.

    At the summit, you’ll find a restaurant and a viewpoint to enjoy before a technical, switchback descent. Once you’re at the bottom, the route winds through the foothills—or the Florentine burbs you’d never have known existed without the help of your trusty bicycle.

    The moment you think you’re rolling back into Florence, Via della Pietra greets you with a cheeky smile—she’s steep and covered in cobbles but doesn’t talk back. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    Cycling_Florence_Foothills
    The foothills of Florence. Photograph: Alison Testroete

    2. Consuma and Vallombrosa (Green)

    Wow. Just wow. These are the only words required to describe the Vallombrosa Forest.

    To do this ride sans shortcuts, you'll need a full day, some training under your belt, a back pocket full of bars, a camera, and a Top Guide (because it's better that way).

    Escape Florence by heading west along the rolling road that hugs the Arno upstream to Pontassieve. Then take the route along the Sieve River past Rufina.

    See? That's why you need a Top Guide. Not because you need one, but because you want one. We keep it spicy because nobody likes a bore.

    The first climb through Pomino to Borselli is absolutely amazing, but hold your horses because you'll get to the top, see that you've done 900 meters of climbing, and still have Consuma Pass plus the backside of Vallombrosa.

    The summit of Consuma (and the place to fill up on schiacciata sandwiches) has incredible Emilia-Romagna-esque views. Technically, it's Arezzo territory which is undeniably Tuscan, but at the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    At this point, you'll have done a ride's worth of climbing and think surely there's a route calculation error: both in distance and elevation. I assure you, there's not.

    After the last major (and unassuming) climb from Montemignaio is when you finally enter the preserved parkland of the Vallombrosa Forest. Home to the tallest tree in Italy, this magical, one-of-a-kind forest takes me straight back to Canada. Moved by emotion, obviously.

    Monks settled (and cared for) the Forest of Vallombrosa in the 11th century, which explains the abbey you’ll discover on the descent as you exit the parkland. It's 15 degrees cooler up here and where many Florentines escape the summer heat.

    To close off the ride, and once you've gathered your composure, the roads weave up and down through splendidly gigantic villas before dropping you back into Florence. You'll have officially earned your dinner.

    The Balbano climb overlooking Lake Massaciuccoli.
    The Vallombrosa Forest and home to Italy's tallest tree. Photograph: Alison Testroete

    3. Chianti Classico (Blue)

    Easily the most popular ride from Florence, Chianti Classico is accessible to cyclists year-round. In a matter of minutes, the switchbacks of the Chianti countryside are yours for the riding.

    Head out via Oltrarno, Florence's quirky neighborhood "beyond the Arno" that has wonderful restaurants, fun bars, and a happening nightlife.

    With hundreds of possible variations, this route winds through the tried and true Chianti villages: Castellina, Radda, Panzano, and Greve. Being at the heart of Tuscany wine country, you can't miss all the "Gallo Nero" (Black Rooster) or Chianti Classico Consortium symbols.

    Most people wonder, Why so many black roosters? Here's why:

    The Chianti Classico Consortium — trademarked by the "Gallo Nero" — is responsible for protecting and enhancing Tuscan wine. The symbol was historically associated with the Chianti League, an alliance established among several rural towns that adopted the rooster image on their coat of arms.

    To cut to the chase, in 1916, Cosmino III legislated that the wines in the Chianti Classico region should be called "Chianti wines." To this day, only wines produced within the approved municipalities can be certified with the famous Black Rooster symbol.

    At the very end of the ride, back in Florence, don't miss Piazzale Michelangelo and the beautiful fountains below, known as Le Rampe del Poggi.

    Winding road in Chianti, Tuscany

    Has cycling in Florence piqued your interest?

    Sign up for instant access to the first ride, Fiesole and Monte Morello, including a free downloadable 50-kilometer route with turn-by-turn navigation.

    Whether you're in Florence for business or pleasure, we exist to show you a fantastic time on the bike. We're based in Lucca, but our curated rides are also available in Florence and Chianti with local Florentine guides.

    2 thoughts on “Cycling in Florence: Our 3 Favorite Rides”

    1. mariann caprino

      DIY guide is great and wish I had it in Lucca (where i had to create rides for myself based on vague descriptions from the bike shop). I think your price point is a little high – i would definitely purchase a few intermediate rides – i’m not interested in advanced or beginner. something for you to consider, perhaps. fewer rides but targeted to a specific level at lower price point. I don’t need the “things to see” since you can get that from any guide book, but love the idea of stopping points/restaurants along the specific route.

      1. Alison Testroete

        Thanks for your feedback, Mariann. The DIY Guide is an investment and my goal is to wow your pants off with it—that includes customer support for questions (in English). I might even argue that the time spent riding routes with vague descriptions has a higher price.

        If you’re willing to spend some quality time on my website, there’s a tonne of free information including downloadable routes.

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