Cycling and biking in Chianti

Cyclist at Villa le Barone Chianti
Cyclist at Villa le Barone Chianti

Tuscany, and in particular Chianti, is one of the heartlands of Italian cycling and, indeed, cycling (bicycling) is one of the best way to discover the Tuscan countryside at a relaxed pace !

Villa le Barone offers an excellent base for wonderful cycling loops, it can loan or rent bicycles for guests and will provide them with a number of detailed itineraries.

Cycling (as well as bicycling or biking) is a national sport in Tuscany, the home of Gino Bartali, the famous champion road cyclist after World War II, and everyday many cyclists are enjoying the pleasure of cycling in Chianti. They enjoy the challenging uphill climbs, the pleasant downhill runs, the superb countryside and the pleasure of having a drink in a small Italian bar! The square in Panzano in Chianti is certainly a meeting point for many of them to gather after a good uphill ride! Certainly, other cycling legends such as Christofer Froome have helped popularize the sport. In addition, the bicycles are not anymore what they were: they are much lighter, they have good brakes, the saddles are more comfortable…Cycling and biking clubs and associations have flourished in Europe as well as in the US, and we can see more and more cyclists from all parts of the world on the Chianti roads.

Biking with kids at Villa le Barone Chianti
Biking with kids at Villa le Barone Chianti

Villa le Barone is an excellent base for great Chianti circuits and we often have the pleasure of hosting cyclists. We provide possible itineraries that guests can use. We can also loan (for free) two bicycles, but we can also organize renting better ones from a specialized shop in Greve in Chianti that will deliver them in the hotel. They can even rent electric bikes! And, after their cycling performances, guests love to have a swim in our heated and salted infinity pool, enjoying a drink while admiring the magnificent Chianti hills and waiting for the superb traditional Tuscan dinner.

Medicinal herbs in Tuscany

Lavander at Villa le Barone Chianti
Lavander at Villa le Barone Chianti

Visitors will discover many medicinal plants at the exhibition that will take place in September in the antique pharmacy of Santa Fina in San Gimignano, a World Cultural Heritage medieval city close to Villa le Barone. However, all year around, our guests can also discover many such herbs and plants in our gardens!

Santa Fina’s hospital in San Gimignano,  a medieval city part of the World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO at 40 kms from Villa le Barone, had its own pharmacy since the 15th century, which bought or produced medicines for both indoor use and outdoor sale. One of San Gimignano’s Museums today features the original layout of the pharmacy, the “kitchen”, the place where the medicines were prepared, and the “shop”, where they were sold. The medicines, which are still contained in ceramic and glass jars, were manufactured on the basis of precise recipes assembled in old manuscripts. However, all medicines needed raw materials, especially herbs, whose essences or distillates were the basis for their preparation: the supplies could be purchased elsewhere or cultivated around the hospital.

Rooted sage in the gardens of Villa le Barone
Rooted sage in the gardens of Villa le Barone

The visit to the pharmacy of Santa Fina and of its garden provides a great sensory experience, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in an atmosphere of aromas and scents. In addition, each Saturday between the 23rd September and 14th October, Dra Lucia Chelli, herbalism specialist, and founder of the “Officina de’Tornabuoni” (where Villa le Barone buys many of the amenities for its guests), will give conferences on herbs properties.

It is all year around that guests will be able to discover in Hotel Villa le Barone’s gardens many of the medicinal plants presented in San Gimignano’s Santa Fina Museum: lavender, peppermint, verbena, many types of sage, many types of thyme, lemon balm, basil, and many others herbs and plants!

Discovering Tuscany in Vespa

Vespa's at Villa le Barone, Chianti , Tuscany
Vespa’s at Villa le Barone, Chianti , Tuscany

Discovering Tuscany in Vespa! This is a new trend! Vespa has many years of history since it was launched in 1946, and started to be produced in Pontedera, near Pisa, in Tuscany: 71 years of continuous success!

Do you wish to discover Chianti and Tuscany differently? Then, rent a Vespa (in Italian “Vespa” means “bee”) and feel like a movie star! The story of this “scooter” developed by Enrico Piaggio is amazing! In April 1946, this astonishing new, functional and innovative mode of transport was presented to the general public for the first time in a Golf Club in Rome.

Vespa was an immediate success and gained extensive media interest as well as public curiosity, surprise and also sometimes skepticism. The first sales of Vespa’s were managed through a small dealer network but developed exponentially. From the 1950s to the mid-1970s, it became a real phenomenon of society. Vespa’s became highly popular among young riders, who chose it to for being easily manageable and aesthetically pleasing.

Every year new models were developed offering significant improvements over its predecessor both in aesthetics and technical specifications. Everywhere, user clubs were formed and walks, rally and competitions were organized. The 1951 model became famous in its cinema debut in the romantic and unforgettable movie “Roman Holiday” which told the love story of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Rome, and the Vespa’s appeared in many other famous Italian movies!

Today, the Vespa has many competitors, but it remains as a myth, and we are still seeing it on many Tuscan roads. We recently organized rental of Vespa’s for a family staying at Villa le Barone, they loved the itineraries we had prepared to discover Tuscany “out of the beaten track”! They said it was an enchantment! If you are a Vespa fan, it is also possible to visit the Vespa museum in Pontedera, a city between Pisa and Panzano in Chianti, in Tuscany, where the Vespa’s were produced.