Eroica Bike Tour Overview
Join us on a ride of historical proportions and take your chance to be part of one of the world’s greatest cycling events – L’Eroica (literally, ‘The Heroic’). Conceptualised in 1997, by the visionary Giancarlo Brocci, as a means of protecting Tuscany’s fabled ‘Strade Bianche (white gravel roads) from being paved, the ride can normally only be entered via a lottery system.
We have the good fortune of being able to acquire guaranteed entries as one of the official Eroica tour operators. We bypass the lottery system and therefore guarantee entry to all of our riders.
Both of our Eroica tours run in conjunction with our Tuscany Gravel Explorer and are bookended at the end of the Spring and Fall editions. The Montalcino Eroica runs in the Spring and the Classic Eroica in Gaiole in the Fall.
In terms of your steed for the rides in the lead up to the event you can choose. Bring your own, rent a ‘normal’ bike from us or spend the whole tour on a ‘vintage’ bike (either your own or rented from us).
For the Eroica the rules are that you must ride on a pre-1987 steel frame bike with ‘rat trap’ pedals, down tube shifters, and exposed cables, wearing woolen jerseys, and fuelled by decadent Italian food and wine! Vintage bikes are available if you do not own one.
Join us on this cycling odyssey leading up to what is known as the ‘most handsome race in the world’.
Eroica Bike Tour Dates & Prices 2023
|Tour||Start date||End date||Days||Cost (Euros)|
|Eroica Montalcino||26th May||29th May||4 (3 nights)||€1800|
|Eroica Gaiole||29th Sept||2nd October||4 (3 nights)||€1800|
Eroica Bike Tour Food & Wine
Tuscan cuisine is characterised by its close association with the land. The unique language of the ancient Etruscans may have all but disappeared but their earthy cuisine lives on in Tuscany. Simplicity is the key to Tuscan cuisine that reflects the region’s peasant traditions and changing seasons. You’ll get plenty of chance to experience the essence of Tuscan gastronomy on the Eroica tour with the rest stops renowned for their novel approach to cycling nutrition. Where else on a cycling sportive would you be offered Ribollita, a hearty soup based primarily on stale bread, cabbage and cannelloni – Tuscan white beans – which is the essence of peasant fare? If you prefer something a little lighter you could always sample Panzanella – a unique a bread salad with tomato and basil. Our personal favourites on the ride though are the salami and bruschetta that are moreish in the extreme!
On the wine front again you won’t be disappointed when it comes to the Eroica rest stops – yes they serve wine! Home to many great wines, Tuscany is the great rival to Piedmont for the mantle of being Italy’s premier wine area. The Tuscans certainly believe that they are deserving of the honour and with Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the ‘Super Tuscans’ all produced in the region they clearly have a strong case. In the lead up to the Eroica event we will visit our friend’s vineyard in Montalcino for a Brunello wine tasting, as well as exploring the Chiantigiana where a lunch time tipple is almost obligatory.
Molinello pizza – photo taken by Marco Pullia
Written by Australian expat Isabelle Dusi, this book is slightly different from most of its genre in that the author had already been in Montalcino for a number of years before she wrote it. Slow in parts this book nonetheless provides a charming account of Tuscan village life.
Isabella Dusi, Vanilla Beans & Brodo
Written by tour guide Dario Castagno this book provides a humourous insight into some of the extreme situations he has found himself in. Heavy on anecdotes about tourists you hope you’ll never encounter, this book, whilst slightly shallow, is still a good read.
Dario Castagno, Too Much Tuscan Sun -Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide
Finding a book that focuses on Tuscany and the Romans is hard given the all encompassing nature of their empire. As an overview of Roman influence in Tuscany though the Blue Guide does a great job. Be warned it contains over 500 pages but as a definitive guide of the region it is hard to beat.
Alta Macadam, Blue Guide – Tuscany
Iris Origo’s book is a classic that is written in diary form. With an immediacy that only a diary can give, this chronicle of daily life during the Second World War is powerful in its simplicity. In light of the affluence of the area today this book presents an insight into an altogether less fortunate era.
Iris Origo, War in Val D’Orcia – An Italian War Diary 1943-44
Named after the Etruscans, one of its original inhabitants, Tuscany or Toscana in Italian corresponds closely geographically to ancient Etruria. The Etruscans, known mostly nowadays for their impressive tomb sites, withstood the inevitable Roman expansion for a century or two until succumbing in the mid 4th century B.C.
Roman rule lasted close to 8 centuries and besides a few minor hiccups (such as Hannibal!) the region flourished. Road networks throughout Tuscany facilitated transport and trade and settlements on the sites of modern Florence, Lucca, Arezzo, Pisa and Pistoia prospered.
After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century BC, and brief occupations by the Byzantines and Ostrogoths, Tuscany became a Lombard duchy (6th-8th cent. A.D.), with Lucca as its capital. Charlemagne destroyed the Lombard kingdom and the Frankish Empire ruled from the 8th to the 12th century. Castles, Monasteries and Abbeys were built, many surviving today, and many of the towns developed into communes independent of the Holy Roman Empire.
The rivalry between these communes in Trade and war was intense and after a period of Pisan dominance in the 11th to 13th centuries Florence became the foremost city in Tuscany. The relative peace that followed, initially ruled over by the Medici, was the catalyst for the prolific artistic style that identifies the area today and is known as the Renaissance period. This period marked great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe.
After the Medici, Tuscany was ruled by the Austrian Dukes of Lorraine. The Dukes of Lorraine modernized and developed the area but in 1861 Tuscany voted in favour of annexation to a united Italy. Florence was briefly, prior to Rome, capital of the kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1871.
Sunset on Siena – photo taken by Antonio Cinotti
A once in a lifetime experience. It was challenging, but fun, a great festival and full of nostalgia and atmosphere. James our guide on the day was incredible and the food and wine were superb along with Ride and Seek’s knowledge of all things Italian. My biggest worry was Anne-Maree as a non rider, in terms of what would she would do whilst I was riding. The way she was included in the group made the trip an unforgettable experience for us both. Thanks again Dylan to you and your colleagues, it was a special ride.
Dave – L’Erocia & Tuscany
I didn’t fully understand what I was in for, but the tour far surpassed my expectations. The rides leading up to the event, visiting Nostra Vita, the vintage bike preparations, the vintage shopping in Gaiole, our top-notch accommodation at Agriturismo Molinello, and the professionalism of the Ride and Seek crew, made this week one of my all-time favorites. I’ll be coming back next year!
Sarah R – L’Erocia & Tuscany
Tour at a Glance
Eroica Montalcino Dates: 26th – 29th May 2023
Number of days: 4 days
Dates: 26th – 29th May 2023
Eroica Gaiole Dates: 29th Sept – 2nd Oct 2023
Number of days: 4 days
Dates: 29th Sept – 2nd Oct 2023