Silver olive trees, cats basking in the sun in front of cottages, dramatic clouds around the bell tower of Pomarance: GeoGravel Tuscany was a way to rediscover the raw beauty of an emotional experience – cycling and more – and and reminded us of the value of time.
Paolo Bettini surprised us once again, telling us about his favourite places, one toast after another.
At the heart of geothermal energy
The weather was not on our side. The clouds over the geothermal hills were low and grey, swollen with rain. To the Larderello Museum we went, where a tour awaited us, an immersion into the depths of this “infernal” land, between discoveries, history and geology. Geothermal energy is a subject that fascinates all generations, recalling the explorers of the 19th century as well as the very modern, new applications of clean energy.
Outside, the sky had become even blacker, large drops were beginning to fall and it was better to go back inside: the cycling adventures were already memorable enough and it wasn’t a good idea to risk being in the middle of the storm again.
Did someone say: pici all’aglione?
After a shower, it was nice to sit down with a nice classic bottle of geothermal beer, brewed at Vapori di Birra, one of the stops on our journey through the metal-bearing hills. As the rain poured down outside, the aroma of one of Tuscany’s quintessential comfort foods wafted in from the kitchen: handmade pici with aglione sauce.
It felt nice to linger at the table while Paolo made jokes and told us anecdotes about cycling or growing vegetables in the garden. The secret to having fun is always this: enjoy the simple things in life, like spending time with friends.
Laughing with people and pappa al pomodoro
How was it? The more the merrier? During the social ride we met old friends and, fortunately, new ones too. This was a fantastic start to the Strade Grigie, through woods and wilderness, pedalling through the unspoilt magic of this corner of Tuscany that has stolen our hearts – with our permission. We returned to the Volterra salt flats for a light lunch of salted beer and some local specialities: sandwiches, focaccia, barley with vegetables and you… the ubiquitous pappa al pomodoro, which immediately makes you feel spoilt by the hospitality of this land. The return to Pomarance is always a little critical – and all uphill – but there was a breathtaking light that illuminated the hills that afternoon.
The night flies.
The smoke from the barbecues filled the piazza, an almost legendary place – it used to be called ‘La Fossa dei Leoni’ – where it is cold even in August, a kind of mythological heath at the foot of the historic centre, the scene of the city’s Palio. Sausages and the music of DJ Scavo lead the way on a Saturday night, a time when it is easy to forget everything else. That’s what cycling is all about, sometimes it’s an excuse to get together, rediscover the time we’ve lost, think about nothing, live in the present and never go to sleep – almost – ever.
The GeoGravel Tuscany is on its first edition and already promises to become an iconic date in the life of every cyclist who loves to enjoy everything – but really everything – involving adventure on two wheels. Not only the Mediterranean scrub, the grey roads that lead to other worlds and the rivers to cross, but also the village bars where it is always Campari o’clock, where you take a big bite with a crunch and breathe life as it used to be, quiet and without the sounds of phones ringing or e-mails arriving at dawn.
This is gravel. This is gravel in the most authentic sense. Pure, in short.Back to the list