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Mountain biking in the rolling hills of Tuscany

Christian 17. November 2017

Endless trail fun guaranteed. The area around the Massa Vecchia hotel makes for an ideal setup to extend the summer on your Mountain Bike and enjoy typical Italian hospitality

 

I just got back from a wonderful 10-day trip to Tuscany, Italy. Together with a few friends we explored the endless amount of trails in the hills around the Massa Vecchia bike hotel on our mountain bikes. Mild temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius at the end of October and beginning of November made the trip for us Northern Europeans extra fun. 

A beautiful sunrise.

A beautiful sunrise.

The San Cerbone cathedral in the old city.

The San Cerbone cathedral in the old city.

A fall view atop Monte Arsenti.

A fall view atop Monte Arsenti.

We enjoyed these sunsets almost everyday.

We enjoyed these sunsets almost everyday.

Map where Massa Vecchia is.

Map where Massa Vecchia is.

The area

The Massa Vecchia is located in the rolling Tuscan hills of the Grosseto province, about 30 km from the Mediterranean Sea. It is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. This landscape is called Maremma. Behind the hotel, there is a hill called Arsenti and its peak is the trailhead for five different MTB trails that truly deserve to be called flowy. A local group named Trail Brothers builds and maintains these trails in partnership with the hotel. They were our playground during our stay. Due to the lack of rain during the summer months, the ground is quite dry and hence riding turns into a dusty affair.  Apart from mountain biking, the Grosseto region is ideal for Road cyclists as well. If you stay away from the main highways and keep to the little byways, you can go for miles without seeing a motorized vehicle.   

The Massa Vecchia, a hotel where cyclists feel like family

At Massa Vecchia, guests are treated like family. The old farm house turned hotel and the surrounding land are designed with cycling tourists in mind. Its director Ernesto runs the property together with his two daughters Arianna and Alice. The rooms are equipped with all the amenities a bike rider could want.

Hotel Amenities

General Bike Bike Tours Food and Meals
Sauna Locked bike storage GPS rental Big breakfast
Pool Pump Track Big archive GPX files for GPS guiding Lunch on request
Gym Bike Wash Stand Guiding by Massa Vecchia staff 4-course dinner
Hotel bar with live music Workshop with bike tools Shuttle Service Local Cusine
Commons area with TV room Bike rental Bike Handling Clinics with Mario Schurter Meals are cooked to meet endurance athlete's needs
Laundry machines for common use

I have selected three routes that represent the Tuscan trails with their roller coaster like feel very well. 

Me on the Freeride Trail.

Me on the Freeride Trail.

The Freeride Trailhead.

The Freeride Trailhead.

The last few meteres of uphill.

The last few meteres of uphill.

Now thats a nice way to end the day!

Now thats a nice way to end the day!

Tour 1 – Turn after turn

Our first day of riding consisted of about four hours of riding time during which we covered about 50 kilometres and 1300 vertical metres in a constant up and down. Each of the first five climbs had between 80 and 160 vertical metres of climbing, only the last one was longer, featuring 370 vertical metres. The uphills were all pretty technical and steep, except for the last one, which was fairly flat but longer. The first three descents were all super flowy, with a lot of bushes and trees growing close to the trails which gave it a super natural feel. Due to the undergrowth, anticipating the turns and moves was a must. The dusty dry ground made drifting into the turns and berms a lot of fun. Descents four and five were steeper and featured more gnarly and rocky sections.  Then you pass by the hotel – those who want to bail, do it here -before hitting a trail called Freeride that includes the long climb up Monte Arsenti and leads through thick brush intercepted by open fields. It was one of my favourite routes because of the beautiful scenery.   

Taking a quick trail break.

Taking a quick trail break.

Even in October the sun is shining here.

Even in October the sun is shining here.

The Rock 'n Roll Queen Trail.

The Rock 'n Roll Queen Trail.

Lack of rain, results in some dry trails.

Lack of rain, results in some dry trails.

Tour 2 – Monte Arsenti, the trailhead mountain!

This route includes four of the five trails that start on top of Monte Arsenti. Again, it’s about 50 kilometres long and consists of 1500 vertical metres of climbing. The first trail we hit was the Insoglio. It is 2.5 kilometres long and 260 vertical metres down. Apart from the beginning and one larger jump towards the end, it’s a very flowy and easy trail. Be careful with the trees right and left, as the trail is fairly narrow at the start. After, we hit the Scopine, a 3 kilometre and 240 vertical metre trail.  It’s somewhat rougher and the narrow trail cuts through the brush in such a manner that it’s really tunnel like. Amazing! Next on the list is the Freeride from Tour 1 again, followed by the Rock n’ Roll and the Bonatto. They are both parallel to the Freeride, just with slightly different characteristics and all drop you off at the Massa Vecchia.  

Corners on corners.

Corners on corners.

The first drop-in.

The first drop-in.

A breathtaking view.

A breathtaking view.

Tour 3 – Monte Argentario for advanced riders

The third route took us to the peninsula around Monte Argentario, about one hour by car from the hotel. It offers an array of fantastic natural trails. Our outing clocked in at 4 hours once more, covering 41 kilometres and 1500 vertical metres. Again, it was a day of ups and downs, but this time the terrain was more challenging not recommended for beginners. We set off from Convento Padri Passionisti, a monastery that lies about half way up the mountain and hit trails with names like Madonnia, Tutto d’un fiato and Noviziato that all featured gnarly turns with rocks and jumps. Check the GPX file for details or hit me up for more information in the comment section. 

This is Tuscany!

This is Tuscany!

My verdict for the Tuscan Trails

We greatly enjoyed every single day of our trip. Southern Tuscany is simply beautiful and to be able to combine this awesome scenery with some great trail riding let us have a ball. There is something for all skill levels to be found. You are guaranteed lasting trail fun. Roadies will equally enjoy exploring the surrounding hills on tarmac  A big shout out to the staff of Massa Vecchia Bike Hotel as we came as strangers and left as family. We’ll be back.