Strade Bianche of Tuscany, Italy

The back roads and walking paths of Tuscany, Italy

strade bianche

A typical country track in Tuscany

"Strade Bianche" means "white roads" and in Tuscany this expression refers to the network of unpaved back roads that run among the vineyards and olive groves of the Tuscan countryside. The name comes from the colour of the dry earth and the limestone gravel and small stones of these roads during the Tuscan summer. These strade bianche provide an ideal means of exploring rural Tuscany by taking leisurely walks, bicycle or horse rides and also car excursions. (Car drivers - please drive slowly especially when you see walkers or cyclists ahead. They'll appreciate not being covered in a cloud of dust!) There are also panoramic walking paths markered by the CAI (Club Alpino Italiano), which in many cases follow these roads. There are maps available, notably Kompass maps, that have these walking tracks marked but they are not always completely up-to-date. The strade bianche used to be regarded as an inconvenient relic from the past to be sealed as quickly as possible but awareness of their attractions for locals and visitors alike means that many are being preserved. In addition, they are in fact essential to farmers who have to drive their caterpillar tractors to distant fields since caterpillars are prohibited on sealed roads because of the damage the do to the surface.

The Montepaschi "Strade Bianche" Bike Race of Tuscany, Italy

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This wildly popular bike race was known formerly as the "Eroica". In 2010, for example, the 190 km route featured eight sectors on the white gravel roads, the longest of which was 13.5 km, for a total of 57.2 km. In terms of scenery and history, the race is hard to beat. The 2010 course started in Gaiole in Chianti and ended in the  Piazza del Campo of Sienna.

Bird watchers and orchid fanciers will be happy after a day wandering these back roads.

You can picnic almost anywhere in the woods or the olive groves as long as you don’t break off branches, pick fruit or grapes, light fires or leave rubbish behind. Take plenty of water with you. Feel free to pick wild berries, especially blackberries, which are plentiful in season. Please be very careful with cigarette butts and don't light fires. The vegetation can be extremely dry for most of the year and scrub fires spread rapidly.

The best way to enjoy the strade bianche of Tuscany?
A horse and wagon tour!

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If you're planning to stay in Tuscany anywhere near Montespertoli - and that means anywhere in Chianti or Florence - be sure to look into the possibility of taking a short or long horse and wagon ride with I Cocchieri di ' Chianti who are licensed to take you on an excursion through the beautiful Chianti countryside. A tour can include a wine tasting, a picnic, a lunch at a farmhouse and many other activities.

More about horse and wagon rides in Tuscany.

Walking and hiking trails near Greve in Chianti.

Books on walking and hiking trails in Italy.

Bicycle routes in Tuscany between Siena and Florence.

Wild orchids of the Tuscan countryside.

strada bianca in Tuscany white road in Tuscany


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