This route runs entirely inside the Nature Reserve of Castelvecchio, a large wooded area of about 700 hectares of limestone hills, which at 600 meters above sea level, dominates the landscape to the west of San Gimignano. You will be in awe of this imposing landscape.
After leaving San Gimignano we go into a rich Mediterranean forest of dense beeches, oaks, cypress, pine and sycamore trees. The fauna includes wild boar, fox, hare, deer and many birds from pheasant to partridge and from hawk to wood pigeon. After a few kilometres, on an outcrop of rock we can admire (and make a small detour to visit) the ruins of Castelvecchio which is composed of several buildings, a tower and a Romanesque church, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surroundings.
Castelvecchio or Castrum Vetus, was inhabited as early as the sixth and seventh centuries, and was built on the site of a sacred cliff of the Etruscans, who were the first to build in the area. There you too will discover that this is a magical place, chosen by the men of antiquity to celebrate their sacred rites. After the year 1000 – the period in which it had its maximum splendour thanks to its strategic position; just a short distance from the intersection with the Via Francigena coming from the north and heading directly to Rome, and the Salt Road that connected Volterra and salt mines in the cities of Tuscany such as Chiusi, Arezzo and Cortona – Castelvecchio was often fought over between San Gimignano and Volterra and transformed in “Castrum” or fortified town after which, since 1400, it experienced a rapid decline.
After this fascinating dive into the past we will continue our ride up to the farm of San Donato, where we expect a tasting of their wines and typical products. Finally, go up again riding your bike for a few more kilometers until you come back to San Gimignano.