Must ride roads: Sesto Fiorentino to Contea
Situated on the outskirts of Florence, Sesto Fiorentino is the perfect base for escapes into the surrounding Florentine hills.
Catch it in summertime and this area is arguably one of the most attractive places in Europe, boasting fine roads, fine cuisine and beautiful weather with temperatures often soaring well into the 30s. In short, it’s a great place for a biking adventure.
The start of this route sees you cut your way through an assortment of extremely narrow and twisty, cobbled streets which litter Sesto Fiorentino.
Heading west, you rapidly leave the Roman town behind as you start your ascent into the hills, discovering hairpin bend after hairpin bend as the climb intensifies.
Either side of the road is smothered by deciduous trees and shrubbery, which form together to create a natural tunnel over the uninhabited route leading to Vagila.
After a good 15 miles of the tough stuff, the pace lessens and, if you fancy, you can pull over for a well deserved break in one of the many, sizeable lay-bys. The views from up here are great. The scenery’s changed to meadows and open space, allowing you to look down comfortably on the towns below.
From this point in, the ride becomes a lot more relaxing, allowing for plenty of time to scout all that the route has to offer, before you descend a little towards Pratolino. It’s here that you pick up the SR65 and the ride becomes far less challenging. The roads get wider and its condition improves too. After a while, you start passing through towns, with the route taking you literally right through the centre of them.
At Case Nuove, you switch roads again on to the SS302 and carry on at a relaxed pace alongside the town’s river until you reach Dicomano. It’s here that you part company and take on the steep and twisty SS556. Once again, you’re forced to engage your brain fully as you tackle the challenging ascent which seems relentless as it makes its way to a height of just over 2000ft. And even when things eventually level off, the corners still keep coming thick and fast. The scenery is at its best here and even though visibility is limited by the cliff faces, you’ll struggle not to enjoy this section the most. With no barriers between you and the valleys below, you’re also treated to an unadulterated view.
25 miles round, the route begins its descent back down to Contea. The degree is gradual and the pace varies between fast sweepers and second gear hairpins.
Thankfully, the road’s condition isn’t too bad here either, meaning you can make the most out of every piece of Ttarmac that comes your way. Between the corners, there are very little stretches of straight, right up until the point that you arrive into Contea, ready for a well-earned rest and some food in one of the many eateries the town has to offer.
Story - Bruce Wilson
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