Route 13: A ride around Monte Argentario, Tuscany
Think Tuscany is just lavender fields and place trees? Think again - the coast is magnificent
The sun is beating down on a spectacular sapphire sea from a cloudless blue sky. The air is fresh with the scents of salt, grass and maybe a hint of lemon. Winding its way between the water and the citrus groves is a ribbon of tarmac, dipping behind scrubby trees when it turns inland before swinging out again to drink in the perfect Mediterranean view. Motorcycle touring heaven.
Monte Argentario is a curious place - a tiny island tacked onto the Tuscan coast by a trio of causeways. There are two small towns - Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano - and it’s a sleepy place. A perfect, relaxing base for a holiday. Though most of our riding takes place on the mainland, devouring the madly twisty roads of rural Tuscany, the panoramic ride round the island is unmissable.
This is not a wide road, nor even a long one - but it’s beautiful one. Not just for the vistas across the sea to the isle of Giglio, but also for the bends. This is a super-twisty road, rising and falling as it clings to the cliffs that ring the island. There’s hardly any traffic, hardly any sound - stopping to take a picture, it’s just the onshore breeze rustling the vegetation and the distant hush of the sea. Restful.
But I’m here to ride as much as to rest. Key in, the Triumph’s exhaust disturbs the peace. On round the coast on the panoramic road, then over Punta Telegrafo, the central peak of Monte Argentario, then across the low causeway, scant feet above the water. The scenery on the mainland is beautiful, too - picture postcard Tuscany with purple fields, shimmering green vineyards and avenues of plane trees. Crossing the narrow coastal strip, the land rises steeply, quiet roads twisting past isolated farmhouses and the occasional white-painted church.
As lovely as this vision of rural Italian perfection is, there’s something especially magical about Monte Argentario. I return across the other causeway, passing through the fortifications of Orbetello as the afternoon sun sparkles on the waters of the lagoon.
It’s a view you’d never tire of - and one you’ll see at the end of each ride based here.
MAPS AND DOWNLOADS FOR A RIDE AROUND MONTE ARGENTARIO
Route 1 (our route): start/finish: Monte Argentatio. Distance: 180 miles. Riding time: 5.5 hours. Suggested stops: AM coffee: Scansano, lunch: Santa Fiora, PM coffee: Catabbio
Route one map, Route one GPX file
Please note: This page contains the route files for The RiDE Guide To Italy which came free with RiDE magazine in July 2015. These website page are not regularly updated, so please check all critical information before you travel. All route files are in .gpx format. Garmin and BMW users can download the main file, which contains all the routes and our recommended hotels as separate waypoints. TomTom users can download the individual routes and use the Tyre software to convert them. For many routes we also have Google Map links. However, as Google Maps will not plot routes over seasonally closed high Alpine passes (such as Stelvio) when they’re shut, these may not work for every route all year round.