The sunset has the rosy colour of rural evenings. The Val di Cecina is bathed in an unusually cool June, with the hillsides still green and lush from the recent rains. Paolo Bettini welcomes us on the terrace of the Dispensa, a place that is much more than a restaurant, rather a lost corner in the countryside that manages to make us feel pampered at any hour.
The aperitif is the perfect time to get together, catch up on the latest news and talk in general about what we’re going to do this weekend. The first good thing? The weather, which is miraculously good in this magical corner of Tuscany, which is easy to fall in love with for – almost – unknown reasons.
Wine and Feng Shui
Through a maze of roads and narrow lanes lost in the countryside, where the silence is broken only by the sound of crickets, we make our way towards the sea, in particular to a very special winery overlooking the Mediterranean scrubland, where the eye sweeps until it meets the Tyrrhenian Sea shimmering on the horizon. The story of this place began in 1998, when the name “Caiarossa” was coined to pay homage to the soil, characterised by the presence of jasper, rocks and deep red gravel. A fictional name inspired by Gaia, mother of the Olympian gods, goddess of fertility and nature, who identified with the earth itself.
A gentle sea breeze always blows here and the tasting takes us to unexpected worlds where Feng Shui dictates the rules of harmony in a winery with vibrant, cheerful yellow walls and large windows that let in all the daylight.
Among the hills of the witches
The road to Volterra is wide, and with every glance your eyes can drink in all the beauty of the Tuscan hinterland. Green and gold wheat tints the hills, which are dotted with dozing farmhouses in the late morning, while wildflowers are everywhere. Places full of magic, where cycling is a journey into the past, where the full moon shines over witches’ dances and shady alleys hide legends and secrets.
The taste of salt.
Lunchtime can be full of surprises. The Saline di Volterra produce the purest salt in Italy. From the Etruscans to the Romans and the Middle Ages, here we have the privilege of taking a real journey into the world of salt, between history, culture and industry. The visit ends in a very special place: the pavilion built by the visionary architect Nervi, which houses the impressive salt waterfall.
The icing on the cake? A special beer, with a unique and delicate flavour, to accompany our quick lunch. Roberto then buys a bar of chocolate – salted, of course – and shares it with everyone: that’s BikeandTaste for you!
The opening of the barbecues
Saturday night is a night to celebrate, and we join Paolo Bettini’s many guests at the classic cyclists’ barbecue that officially opens the event that has brought fans from all over Italy to Pomarance: the Green Fondo 2023. The evening is a mixture of laughter, stories and jokes, in true Tuscan style, where everything is shared and fun. Before going to bed, there is just enough time for some live music – and a gin and tonic – at Ganesh to prepare for an intense and adrenalin-fuelled next day.
A Sunday with friends
The sun shines on the Val di Cecina as the cyclists line up for the 24th edition of the Paolo Bettini Green Fondo, an event created to enjoy the spirit that has always animated cycling, an outing with friends where laughter, good food and nature come together in an unforgettable combination. The final refreshment stop, in the small village of La Leccia, overlooks the sunny countryside, with a black sky looming, threatening a storm. Just enough time for our heroes to return to the Ganesh, ending another adventure in this land of geysers, lagoons and other strange wonders that make Pomarance one of the most unique and fascinating places in the entire boot.