BIKING!!! Another way to taste Tuscany: biking along a river with no difficoulties, no weariness and no stress.

The itinerary that I suggest with this post is a one day to four days biking along the “Canale Maestro della Chiana” that is a canal used ever since the year 1000 (yes 1000 years ago) to drain the marsh. The first part of the itinerary is along the shores of two lakes: the Chiusi and the Montepulciano’s ones, the path is surrounded by short and smooth hills. They are all green, filling up with farms with their field and in this season (Autumn) they are a puzzle of all-colored square pieces: the silver of the olive trees, the red of the leafs of the vineyards, the golden yellow of the culture of grain, the brown of the soil… On one of this hill there is the old part of the town of Chiusi, founded by the Etruscans and where we can found one of the most important museum of this folk. But this is for another post, here we focused on the naturalistic aspect of  this area…

The lake often hosts birds wintered. You can found some kinds of herons (the grey heron, the great white egret, the little egret,and the infrequent purple heron), grebes, ducks, mallards and many others. While we bike on the path we can have a look at this enchanting environment, along the banks  there are rows of poplar trees with their tipical thin form. Continuing along the river we will found two tower one is on the opposite site of the other. This point was a frontier between the state of Siena and the Pontifician State, the towers have a really funny name “Torre di Beccati questo” Tower of take this and “Torre di Beccati quest’altro” and Tower of take that. We have to understand that this path is an open air museum of civile engineering about the constructions along the marsh and now the canal (here is a very interesting site about this argument http://www.ilsentierodellabonifica.provincia.arezzo.it/index.asp unfortunately it is only in Italian).

Along the itinerary we will find lots of other buildings and constructions connected to the human activities for the river, the irrigation, the old farms and the drainage.

The Chiana is an Arno (the river that pass from Florence and Pisa) affluent, there are two big sluices that regolates the flow one at the beginning of the path near Chiusi and one at the end in a place called “Chiusa dei Monaci” (Monk’s Watergate). The watergate that we found today is the one projected in 1839 from the architect Manetti.

Another place that I have to point, but for different reasons, is the deviation that link to the Archeological area called I Meloni  where we found two marvellous Etruscan’s tombs hidden in two little hills in the middle of the plane (“Meloni” in Italian means Melon, the fruits! Infact the hills seems to be two half melons). The place is just next to Cortona, so from here we can have a marvellous view from bottom to top of the town of Cortona.

All the path is 56 miles (90 kilometers) and cross two Tuscany’s districts, Arezzo and Siena, you can bike or walk along the itinerary, but I think biking is really the best way to visit this path.

Along all the itineraries, there are some train stations, so it’s easy to choose to bike only for a part and then take the train again.

How you can have informations for the visit: on the official web site of the path http://www.sentierodellabonifica.it

If you want to partecipate to a guided bike trip along this path, I organized a 4 days trip for the first week end of December: from the 5 to the 8 of December 2010 (but it is possible also to follow only for two days arriving in Cortona).  I scheduled the biking path with this program:

5 December – From Chiusi (that we reach with the train from Florence) to Montepulciano

6 December – From Montepulciano (stazione) to Cortona

7 December – From Cortona to Castiglion Fiorentino

8 December – From Castiglion Fiorentino to Arezzo and then by train to Florence.

Ask me if you’re interested in the full program. Mail to hiking@tuscanhiking.com

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