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TECHNIQUE

This itinerary, too, is of great natural worth, and covers 54.4 kilometres. The distance is not exceedingly great but it requires a certain amount of training and therefore doesn’t suit poorly trained cyclists.
The course is, for the most part, of medium difficulty, not so much for the length of the climbs, which include intervals that permit you to catch your breath, as for the specific Le Salaiole climb. This climb, though brief, touches a gradient of 20% and must be met in low gears (39/26-28) if you don’t want to risk having to get off your bike. If you are not in a condition to meet the challenge of such steep slopes, you can opt for state road 302, “la Faentina”, which runs from Borgo San Lorenzo to Vetta Le Croci, but which, though easier, is less spectacular.
The itinerary is excellent for training and has the advantage of proceeding mostly along roads with limited traffic and few homes.

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The home of Giotto (Vicchio)The home of Giotto (Vicchio)This tour, which will give us a glimpse of some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Mugello, departs from Vicchio. Everything in this town, the schools, squares, theatres and roads, reminds us of its illustrious sons: Giotto and Beato Angelico. Yet, as we cross the Sieve River in the locality of Ponte a Vicchio, nature and the landscape dominate our thoughts.

 

We pedal along the bottom of the Sieve valley towards the town of Borgo San Lorenzo. Cultivated fields, farm houses, and farmers working the land attract our attention and hold it on these plains. Once past the town of Sagginale (8.4 km), near the town of Borgo San Lorenzo, we turn left towards Salaiole leaving the bottom of the valley behind us and cycling towards the hills that lead to Florence.

 

This 5 kilometre stretch is one of the most breathtaking in Mugello. The road becomes narrow but the condition is tolerable and it rises gently. The traffic, virtually non-existent, allows us to move back in time to an era prior to industrialization. We pass three manors in succession – Votandi, Vitarete, La Bartolina – three outstanding architectural structures that bear witness to the historical agricultural wealth of the land and that seem to continue to carry out their age-old vocation. It is easy to imagine rural life before the introduction of cars and industrialization, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a carriage drawn by oxen coming round the bend.

 

Once we pass the hamlet of Il Poggiolo though (fountain at 13.2 km), the road leaves the small Torrente Fistona valley and we snap back into the present. We start to ascend what is a renowned climb for every amateur cyclist in Mugello: the Le Salaiole climb.

 

A shot of the countryside near Sagginale (Borgo San Lorenzo)A shot of the countryside near Sagginale (Borgo San Lorenzo)Though less than 2 kilometres long, the climb presents an average 10% gradient that touches 20% in some spots. The ascent requires all the arm and leg strength we can muster, as well as the lowest gears, to avoid the greatest humiliation for any self-loving cyclist – that of having to get off ones bike and walk the way. After 15.3 km, fortunately the climb comes to an end and, continuing through the woods, we can “catch our breath” as we ride down to state road 302, Brisighellese-Ravennate.
We merge into this road by turning left towards Florence. The road, which is wide and excellently paved, rises up at a 3-4% gradient through the Fosso di Polcanto. The traffic is constant and at 20.3km we reach Vetta alle Croci. Once across the pass, some 200 metres later, we turn right towards Bivigliano.

Again, we enter the woods, thick woods, and after a quick descent followed by a steep yet brief climb, we cycle gently uphill for a couple of kilometres through a pine wood. At 23 km from the start of the course, we reach the crossroad that leads to Monte Senario (3,7 km alternative route with an average 7% gradient, which suits more powerful cyclists! description from Vaglia) –  on the top of which a convent bearing the same name stands overlooking the entire, incredibly breathtaking, Sieve valley.

We cycle towards Bivigliano, reaching this quaint locality, which stands at 600 metres above sea level (the highest point of today’s excursion), and at 26.4 km from the start of the tour. The town’s exceptional location, set among chestnut woods that dominate the Carza River valley, and its short distance from Florence make it an ideal place for anyone who wants to abandon the city smog and to commune with nature.

View from the Montesenario conventView from the Montesenario conventOnce outside Bivigliano and past the Poggio Uccellini Campsite (28.3 km) we turn right towards Polcanto. We find ourselves riding through a road lined with chestnut woods; it is gently rolling with a few steep but brief climbs. A couple of kilometres later, on the left of the road, we can admire the Buonsollazzo Abbey. This structure, presently private property, is extraordinary for its location in this dense forest and for its remarkable size.
Several hundred metres later, we find the small Tassaia church and, at 32.1 kilometres, a one kilometre descent. The road is uneven and runs entirely through the woods, which are at times terribly thick. At 33 kilometres from the start of our tour, a fresh water fountain allows us to quench our thirst and maybe, given the amount of energy expended, even stop for a snack.
However, at this point the worst is over and the road starts to descend, sometimes quickly, until we reach the town of Polcanto (35.3 km), where, on our left, we again meet state road 302. The tarmac road is in good condition and gently dips towards the bottom of the valley giving us the opportunity to admire the breathtaking landscape, which is at first woodland and later farm land.
At 45.7 kilometres from the start of the course, we meet the intersection that goes to Sagginale and, moving right, cycle back along the same route towards Vicchio, which we reach 54.4 kilometres later.

 
 
 
 

THINGS TO SEE !

VICCHIO
Situated on an escarpment near the Sieve River, Vicchio conserves the ruins of fortifications built by the Florentines in the 14th century, as well as S. GIOVANNI BATTISTA CHURCH and the PRETORIO PALACE in the main square. Near the Misericordia oratory, we find the house in which BEVENUTO CELLINI lived.
The town houses the MUSEUM OF SACRED ART AND POPULAR RELIGIOUSNESS "BEATO ANGELICO", which exhibits a collection of paintings, crucifixes, sculptures, and liturgical furnishings from sacred dwellings in Mugello.
Suggested sights:

  • HOME OF GIOTTO (Vespignano)
  • Barbiana Church, in which Don Milani was the parish priest (which can also be reached by taking the S.O.F.T. tour on foot).

Vicchio City Hall
Tel. 055 843921
Fax 055 844275
www.comune.vicchio.fi.it

MONTESENARIO CONVENT
This hermitage, which was erected in 1241, overlooks the entire Mugello valley. The complex was expanded and enriched by order of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1539, and renovated in the years to follow.
Near Pratolino we find VILLA DEMIDOFF with its magnificent park, which preserves traces of numerous artificial grottos, and the gigantic statue of the Apennine by Giambologna.

The Convent and park are in the town of Vaglia
Tel 055 500241
Fax 055 407545
www.comune.vaglia.fi.it

 

This itinerary, too, is of great natural worth, and covers 54.4 kilometres. The distance is not exceedingly great but it requires a certain amount of training and therefore doesn’t suit poorly trained cyclists.
The course is, for the most part, of medium difficulty, not so much for the length of the climbs, which include intervals that permit you to catch your breath, as for the specific Le Salaiole climb. This climb, though brief, touches a gradient of 20% and must be met in low gears (39/26-28) if you don’t want to risk having to get off your bike. If you are not in a condition to meet the challenge of such steep slopes, you can opt for state road 302, “la Faentina”, which runs from Borgo San Lorenzo to Vetta Le Croci, but which, though easier, is less spectacular.
The itinerary is excellent for training and has the advantage of proceeding mostly along roads with limited traffic and few homes

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