A city of a hundred charms: how I fell in love with Siena, Tuscany

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A spring cycle tour of Tuscany ends at the medieval city that has kept its identity intact despite centuries of visitors

The first time I visited Tuscany in spring was on a cycling trip with friends. Early one morning, before the sun had the chance to burn off the nocturnal dampness, we set off, wearing jackets and gloves, on a circuitous route from our tiny hamlet in the Chianti hills to Siena.

By lunchtime, we were looking for suncream, amazed at the difference a few hours could make. Ostensibly, the day’s objective was a coffee in Siena’s central piazza, but the real intention was to explore the hills called the Crete Senesi, between Chianti and the Val d’Orcia. Named after creta, the blue-grey clay that gives much of this countryside its distinctive colouring, it is a part of Tuscany that could keep a cyclist or hiker entertained for a lifetime.

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