Garibaldi arrived in Rapolano on August 13, 1867 to treat the after-effects of the wound sustained in the battle of Aspromonte and found relief here by immersing himself in travertine pools filled with miraculous thermal water. This is why the route he often took in a carriage to the thermal baths or to cool off in the woods took his name.
Recently classified on the basis of the Sweet Road format, it has a very good rating of 8.6 / 10.0 mainly due to the low traffic of motor vehicles and the fairly good state of the road infrastructure entirely in asphalt. There is also a good presence of infrastructures for the reception and services for cyclists with a well-equipped rental bike point. Presence of public Bike Points with columns for self-repairing bikes, information and dedicated signs.
For the trip it is advisable to use a gravel bike or MTB but a classic touring bike can also be fine.
The Crete Senesi are a rural landscape. Rain and wind formed, with clay hills shapedshowing the passing of time: harshness and sweetness, roundness and edges, deep ruts and light slopes, the signs of a very long life lived intensely.
The Crete Senesi seems to be a sea landscape when the expanse of green grass hills, move with the wind: waves, as far as the eye can see, up to the horizon. An illusion of infinity, a crystallized space that alienates your soul. Then, a stronger wind rises and the clouds run, changing the colours of the landscape. A herd moves, the sun is reflected in the window of an isolated farmhouse next to a cypress tree, and dirt roads open up like scars in a green belt.
Ideal places if you are looking to get away from the world, as did Giovanni Tolomei, of an important and wealthy Sienese family, who found his place in the ‘Accona desert’ in 1313, where he founded the Abbey of Oliveto Maggiore, not far from the Via Francigena that ran further downstream, where mills moved water, giving man the means to overcome nature.
A valley that was formed by man’s history, art, and ingenuity.
Legible traces left since prehistoric times, then by the Etruscans who have long dominated these lands and left exceptional testimonies not only in the necropolis, but also in towns and in extraordinary works like Porsenna’s labyrinth. Then medieval castles and fortresses softened by the flourishing of the arts in the Renaissance period: squares, streets and buildings which are easy to imagine lively and busy, a scenario of erudite discussions among humanists, merchants’ exchange, street artists and poets. A countryside changed through time which is now famous for its excellent products, such as fine wines and meats from a native breed of cattle over 2,000 years old and still rigorously and lovingly bred for the preservation of a real symbol of this land, the “white giant”.
The other characterizing element of Val di Chiana, inextricably linked to the origin of man and his history, is the water. Clear waters, lakes, mirrors in the sky for the Etruscans, residues in the marsh that characterized the valley and today are precious nature reserves. It is in reclaiming the marsh that man’s ingenuity was expressed to the maximum level, by transforming an inhospitable and unhealthy place into a very fertile valley, changing the territorial economy, the life and history of its inhabitants. The engineering and hydraulic interventions, the architectural decisions in the buildings in the era of land reclamation have also changed the landscape, characterizing it, making it somewhat unique.