To those who are fans of both cycling and Italian wines, the Eroica Montalcino cycling festival sounds like a dream come true. It’s a mass ride of cyclists of all experience levels through the scenic gravel paths of southern Tuscany. This event, an alternative version of an annual autumn event that takes place in the Chianti wine country, has two main purposes: to express appreciation toward the teamwork and self-sacrificial aspects of cycling, and to raise awareness of the preservation efforts of the white roads, or “strade bianche.” The white roads refer to the gravel paths that serve as the cornerstone of the area’s renowned scenery.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to take to the paths of southern Tuscany, which produced nearly 3 million hectoliters of wine in 2015 and has always been a sought-after tourist area for wine enthusiasts. A study conducted by the British Medical Association found that coronary heart disease was reduced by 50% when people cycled 20 miles a week — and that’s not including the heart-healthy benefits that red wine has to offer when consumed in moderation. On top of that, adults already need at least two and half hours a week of aerobic physical activity, so it only makes sense to combine it with wine, something most adults enjoy. The festival itself is full of opportunities to improve physical and mental health.
The Eroica Montalcino festival provided participants with a number of different circuits to ride. The shortest being 46 kilometers (28 miles) and the most strenuous being 171 kilometers (106 miles). Needless to say, this isn’t like an everyday workout.
Silvio Franceschelli, the town’s mayor, views the festival as a wonderful example of the environmentally-friendly tourism that other areas are trying to emulate in their own regions.
“It is the perfect marriage between the things we do very well and the relaxed way of getting around that we want our visitors to enjoy,” he said.
Needless to say, whether a native of the region or a tourist, this festival is a must-see for cycling enthusiasts. About 53% of employed U.S. adults come back feeling refreshed after a vacation, and for natives and tourists alike, the festival provides a little piece of heaven.
According to Italo Americano, the ultimate goal of the festival is to pass down to future generations the following message: “There was once a man who won because he knew how to lose.”