Headwater - Classic Chianti Self-Guided Cycling Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Self-Guided
Destinations:
Italy
Programmes:
Cycling
Trip Code:
C10TY
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

11 Days Flight Inclusive
11 Days Land only
8 Min age

Trip Overview

This ten night holiday has been carefully crafted to cleverly balance cultural highlights and historic treasures with natural beauty and stunningly scenic cycling. It's a perfect choice too if you like the idea of combining timeless countryside cycling with the use of local transport to explore the eternal cities of Siena and Florence on foot. 

 

RidePlus is available on this tour, meaning most days you have the option to choose between the standard route and a more challenging RidePlus route. Each option comes with GPS navigation and route maps to ensure you get to your destination easily, and you’ll stay at the same hotel regardless of which route you take, though RidePlus cyclists can choose an upgraded lightweight road bike. If you’re travelling as a group you can split up for the day to ride independently – so everyone has their perfect day. Find out more about RidePlus here.

 

At a Glance

  • 10 Nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • Departs Every two days from 13 Apr '19 to 22 Oct '19
  • Headwater wine service 
  • Route notes and maps provided 
  • High quality bikes provided
  • Luggage transfers between hotels

Trip Highlights

  • Quintessential, Italian landscapes: rolling hills, endless vines, beautifully preserved honey-hued hamlets
  • Mostly 4-star hotels; gorgeous swimming pools; superb local cuisine
  • Scenic cycling through olive groves, fruit orchards and sunflowers
  • Spend 4 nights in Colle di Val d'Elsa: charming piazze, Sienese frescoes, easy access to Florence and Siena
  • Etruscan, Roman, Renaissance and Mediaeval art and architecture

Is This Trip for You?

Classification: Self-Guided
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/moderate)
Average daily distance on move on days: 35.5km (22.3 miles). 
No. of days cycling: 4
Terrain: Lots of the cycling is on off road strada bianca, although at times it has been necessary to use busier roads for short stretches where no alternative exists. Most of the countryside is moderately hilly, so there is every excuse to stop for a breather to admire the view!
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodations, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace. A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. 

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Your holiday starts in Volterra, a real Etruscan gem with its tangle of alleys home to alabaster workshops and secret chapels, in the heart of the Era Valley. You'll pedal through the archetypal Tuscan countryside, cypress dotted rolling hills, olives, vines, sunflowers, and on, via postcard-pretty Certaldo, to Colle di Val d'Elsa where you'll spend four nights. From here, you can enjoy day trips to the great art cities of Florence and Siena before pedaling on through panoramic wine country to the tiny hamlet of Pescille, a short cycle from mediaeval San Gimignano. Your route then takes you through the Castelvecchio Nature Reserve (great for bird spotting) giving you a real sense of achievement as you loop back to Volterra for your final night. 

Group

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. A local representative is on hand to assist you and will meet you at the beginning of the week to go through the route notes and point out particular places of interest. Your luggage is transferred and route notes and maps are provided. Please note: the walking and luggage transfers included in this tour are subject to a minimum of 2 people (in total) booked on the departure. A supplement (payable in advance) to cover these transfers and sole occupancy of a room will apply if only 1 person travelling on a departure date.

Adult min age:
18
Child min age:
8

Child max age:

17

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Volterra
End City:
Volterra

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive at Volterra

    Arrive in Volterra where you've time for a dip in the hotel pool and a wander round the town's tangle of cobbled alleys and hidden squares before dinner. (Staying at Park Hotel Le Fonti)

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    Volterra to Certaldo

    Option: 1

    Today it's a downhill whizz out of hilltop Volterra and into the pretty Era Valley where spectacular views of the surrounding timeless Tuscan countryside open up as you pedal. After climbing out of the valley, you'll soon pass through the pretty hamlet of Castagno where we suggest a well-deserved coffee stop in the local bar. Your route continues on to Gambassi Terme, a well-preserved spa town with cobbled streets, C12 church and lovely shaded gardens. Lunch here perhaps in one of the many trattorie then, soon after leaving the town, you'll pick up the famous Via Francigena for the gentle, mainly downhill stretch to medieval Certaldo. (Staying at Hotel Certaldo)

     

    Option: 2

    Distance - 67km, elevation +986m / -1238m

    Leaving Volterra we drop down into the valley heading north passing the Theatre of Silence and the family home of Andrea Bocceli, then passing through rich green meadows and before climbing into the stunning countryside, and onto the pretty spa town of Gambassi Terme. A long downhill ride takes you into medieval Certaldo, to your hotel for the next 2 nights.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 36 km / 23 miles
  • Day 3

    At Certaldo

    Explore stunning Certaldo, Boccaccio's birthplace. Split into two distinct halves, the mediaeval centre of Certaldo Alto with its fabulous ancient buildings, is accessed by funicular and offers spectacular views across the Val d'Elsa. On the other hand, Certaldo Basso is the more modern part of the town with shops, bars and restaurants. You could also spend time today, relaxing by the hotel pool. (Staying at Hotel Certaldo)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Certaldo to Colle di Val d'Elsa

     

    Option: 1

    Today's route explores the panoramic wine country between Certaldo and Colle di Val d'Elsa. You'll follow the official, mainly off-road, Chianti Wine Route where you'll find lots of tasting opportunities - don't forget, we can collect any purchases for you! It's then on to the old town of Poggibonsi, a perfect stop for lunch and to visit the ruins of its unfinished C15 fortress. The day ends with gentle pedalling through tree-lined meadows and a valley of poppy and sunflower fields to Colle di Val d'Elsa. (Staying at Relais della Rovere)

     

    Option: 2

    Distance - 100.3km, elevation: +1571m / -1616m

    Today you head up to Pancole and then into wine country - a beautiful ride, with vines as far as the eye can see,  passing through beautiful hamlets and interesting wine towns. With the climbing over, you pass two of the famous Chianti towns, Castellina and Radda, both offering great wine tasting opportunities and good restaurants. Heading down to the valley you pass the stunning walled village of Monteriggioni and onto Colle Val d’Elsa for your next two nights.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 28 km / 18 miles
  • Day 5

    At Colle di Val d'Elsa: Suggested Day in Siena

    There is so much to see and do in and around Colle di Val d'Elsa that you really will be spoiled for choice. However, today we recommend hopping on the local bus (from just outside the hotel) for the 30min ride to the great mediaeval city of Siena. Visit the Palazzo Pubblico with its impressive pre-Renaissance frescoes and climb the Torre del Mangia for the best views of the town and surrounding Sienese countryside. For lunch, or simply a drink, there is no better place than Siena's beautiful shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. (Staying at Relais della Rovere)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 6

    At Colle Di Val D'elsa: Suggested Day Exploring Locally

    Option: 1

    After a fairly long day yesterday, we propose that you spend a relaxed morning in Colle di Val d'Elsa. The historic town dates back to Etruscan times with a cathedral, museums and fine Renaissance buildings. After lunch in the old square, maybe spend some time by the pool before a pre-dinner stroll along the lovely River Elsa where limestone-rich rapids come crashing dramatically downstream. (Staying at Relais della Rovere)

     

    Option: 2

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

    At Colle di Val d'Elsa: Suggested Day in Florence

    No trip to Tuscany would be complete without a visit to the charming city of Florence, arguably the most beautiful city in the world! It's just an hour on the local bus (which leaves from just outside the hotel) giving you plenty of time to explore the Uffizi (closed Mon), Duomo and Baptistery. If you want to escape the crowds, we suggest you cross the Ponte Vecchio to the quieter side of the Arno to visit the Boboli Gardens. (Staying at Relais della Rovere)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Colle di Val d'Elsa to Pescille

     

    Option: 1

    Get back on your bike this morning and enjoy superb rolling views before the ride up to Casole d'Elsa, a beautiful village characterised by ancient vermilion-hued buildings and blessed with stunning views from its hilltop position. Take time to explore its C12 church (frescoes by Gano da Siena) and impressive fortress before an early lunch perhaps in the lovely piazza. You then wind north through wonderfully scenic countryside, the fabulous mediaeval towers of San Gimignano providing a formidable backdrop as you pedal on to Pescille. (Staying at Hotel Pescille, Breakfast at the hotel and evening meal in a local restaurant)

     

    Option: 2

    Distance - 87.4km, elevation: +1693m / -1542m

    Heading to the south of the region today, you are rewarded with beautiful scenery, quiet roads with vistas of mountains and hills as you pass pleasant meadows, small forests and lines of cyprus trees. You pass small villages and towns that are well off the beaten track. Maybe take a late lunch in walled Casole d’ Elsa, then pass Castel San Gimignano and finish through the vines to Hotel Pescille for the next two nights.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 40 km / 25 miles
  • Day 9

    At Pescille

    San Gimignano is just a short cycle away, its towers giving this hilltop town a distinctive Manhattan-style skyline. Explore its myriad of narrow streets and many hidden cobbled squares before popping back to your tranquil hotel for a refreshing dip in the sparkling swimming pool. (Staying at Hotel Pescille, Breakfast at the hotel and evening meal in a local restaurant)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 10

    Pescille to Volterra

     

    Option: 1

    It's a short downhill ride to San Gimignano before a gentle climb up through classic Tuscan landscapes of vines, olive groves and fields ablaze with sunflowers. It's then an almost entirely downhill cycle into the pretty Era Valley. There's a real sense of achievement on your final pedal through open countryside, enjoying spectacular views, before your last climb back to the ancient cobbled streets of Volterra. (Staying at Park Hotel Le Fonti)

     

    Option: 2

    Distance - 59.4km, elevation: +1078m / -943m

    From the hotel you head towards San Gimignano, circling the 'town of towers' for 360 degree views of the surrounding area. Pass through wine country before an uphill stretch, followed by a long downhill with views of Volterra. Finish with a climb into Volterra itself, passing through the town and back to your hotel for the last night.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 38 km / 24 miles
  • Day 11

    Leave Volterra

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Hotels

The hotels we've selected for this holiday are among our best, and include a magnificently restored C12 abbey, a wonderfully renovated, stylish watermill which dates back to the C16 and belonged to the famous Medici family, and a family-run, traditional hotel overlooking the soaring towers of San Gimignano.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from £480.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All buffet breakfasts and 6 evening meals included.

Italy’s most famous export is probably its cuisine and the traditional dishes of Tuscany are the most influential and revered.
The region’s food is based on cucina povera, ‘poor/peasant cookery’, a rural cuisine based on available natural ingredients: olive oil, unsalted bread, pulses and vegetables, wild mushroom or porcini, and salt-cured meats such as salame and prosciutto. In particular, Tuscan olive oil is renowned for its quality and is the most important ingredient in the region’s cookery. You will find it in almost every dish - as a salad dressing, poured over vegetables and into soups and even as a replacement for butter on
bread (very nice with a sprinkling of salt!).

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Italy has a good all year round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures from the spring through to autumn. Summer departures will usually have hot weather, with temperatures reaching the low to mid 30s centigrade. April-June and September-November departures are likely to be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain. In late summer there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms (generally in the afternoons), but these are usually short-lived.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Prices include our standard flights/transfers

British Airways Heathrow to Pisa 08:25/11:35 transfer to hotel 75 minutes. Return: Transfer to airport 75 minutes British Airways Pisa to Heathrow 12:35/14:00 Business/club/first class seats are available on request.

Alternative transfers
If you require alternative transfers (because you will be arriving at a different time to our standard flights), then we can usually arrange these for you (there may be an additional charge).

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Standard transfers
Transfers included from Pisa airport at 11:35, and back to Pisa airport at 09:00.

Location start:
Volterra
Location end:
Volterra

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Cycling helmet (Compulsory on this trip)
Padded shorts and gloves
Sunglasses/eye protection
Stiff-soled shoes suitable for cycling
Waterproof jacket and long cycling trousers; warm top
Sunscreen

Optional Equipment

  • Beach Towel 
  • Swimwear 

Local Bike Details

A quality local hire bike is included in the overall price of our cycling holidays. At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.

Conditions 

1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.
2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.
3. You must ensure that the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment
4. You must not use the equipment whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.

Bringing Your Own Bike

If you prefer the familiarity of your own bike, you may of course bring it along. Please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount off the price of the holiday, as specified above. You will be responsible for any extra baggage charges, please speak to our Sales team for individual airline fees. Any clients bringing their own bike should ensure they have adequate cover for loss, damage or theft under their travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. If Exodus is confident that we have taken all reasonable care to ensure the safety of your bike, in the rare event of loss, damage or theft you will need to claim under your own insurance policy.

Extra Bike Bits

You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.

Exodus Policy on Cycling Helmets

Wearing a helmet is mandatory for anyone taking part in any guided Exodus cycling holiday. Group members must bring their own helmets, as they are not available for hire, even if they are hiring a bike from Exodus.

For self-guided cycling holidays wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Customers who choose to ignore our advice do so entirely at their own risk and on the understanding that it may affect the validity of their travel insurance. It should also be noted that in some countries we travel to wearing a helmet is already a legal requirement.

Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.

Recommended Cycling Clothing

Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack.

GPS Route Navigation

Ride with GPS logo

 We've teamed up with RideWithGPS to provide our carefully researched and checked itineraries in a convenient format, similar to a car satnav, with turn-by-turn instructions all along your route. 

Before you travel we'll send you everything you need to download your route notes and the free RideWithGPS app. It's available for iPhone and Android and the routes can also be used on any regular GPS device such as the Garmin Edge bike computers or Forerunner fitness devices.  

  • Free app for iPhone and Android
  • Full turn-by-turn audio instructions
  • Live GPS mapping
  • Interactive 'point of interest' information
  • No wifi needed and no data charges
  • Easy to use
  • Access to premium app features
  • Regularly checked and updated routes

 

Practical Information

Passport

Italy

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Italy

No visa required for British passport holders.
Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Italy's Timezone:
Europe/Rome CET (GMT +01:00)

Electricity

Italy's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins.

Money

Italy's Currency

The national currency of Italy is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

 

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in most towns. Payment by credit card is normally fine, but they are not quite as widely accepted in restaurants as in the UK.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

For the meals not included, allow from €10-15 for lunch. The exact amount spent depends entirely on the type of restaurant visited, and the menu chosen.

LOCAL TAXES: many Italian cities have recently introduced a tourist tax for non-residents. The local administration is in charge of the tax, which will be collected by the accommodation provider at check-in or check-out. This fee varies depending on the hotel category, the season and number of days of stay. It is usually between €1.50 and €3.00 per person per night. For this trip, please allow between €10 and €15, depending on the season, for the week. In some cities, children and people aged 75 or over are exempt from this tax.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

Ready to book?  Please contact your travel agent