Cycling Level 4/5
The most scenic climbs in the heart of Italy
Total distance: 626 km Total climb 9800 mts
Just one hour East of Roma, Abruzzo offers some of the most exciting riding you can find anywhere in Italy: four National Parks, memorable climbs and descents, a green belt of sweet hills dotted by olive trees, a network of enchanting backroads devoid of traffic, renaissance villages lost in the wilderness. The Appennini, the mountain backbone of the Peninsula, here display their highest peaks and a couple of paved roads at over 2000mts. Family size farming guarantees fresh and organic ingredients to the sumptuous cuisine. You will love the warm hospitality and the generous taste of the red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
VyviGo, our International Tour Operator
Our friends at VyviGo will take care of all the operational aspects of the tour. They are members of Protected Trust Services, which means that your deposit is safe.
23 April – 1 May 2023
12 – 20 May 2023
6 – 14 June 2023
12 – 20 September 2023
4 – 12 October 2023
Our host will welcome you at your quaint and lovely accommodation in the Pescara hillside. Here, he/she will be personally at hand for any questions, and to supply you step by step with further guidelines on the information you will have received prior to departure. It is best to arrive in the morning to allow a visit to a very interesting cycle shop of the area, followed by a swim and some sunbathing at the pool, sipping wine beneath the olive trees.
Stage 1: Loreto Aprutino loop 81 km – 1500 mts total climb
This stage is along the eastern side of the Gran Sasso massif, a green belt of hills dotted by olive trees, vineyards and ancient villages. The rolling start leads to great views of the Maiella mountains. The up and down terrain continues on quiet roads, followed by two longer climbs that will lead to an amazing terrace overlooking the green pastures of the Gran Sasso. Then, mostly descending, we reach Penne for a lunch stop. As the end of the loop is only 10 km away we can indulge in a glass or two of the local Montepulciano wine.
Stage 2: Loreto Aprutino-Sulmona 99 km – 1800 mts total climb
After checking out we head toward the Maiella mountains, crossing charming villages through hills and the Aterno River after which, with a few breaks to loosen up, we begin the 35 km climb to Passo S.Leonardo. The gradient rarely goes over 6% and the views are stunning. The first section of the climb is followed by an easier stretch to a lovely spa town. The going gets harsh again but the last 10 km are easy. At the summit we can admire the entire valley and the fairy-like hamlet, after which we descend along the other side for a lunch stop in a medieval village. A few more km downhill and we arrive in Sulmona, the set for George Clooney’s film, ‘The American’. Here we stay two nights in a 4 star city centre hotel.
Stage 3: Sulmona-Alfedena 74 km – 1400 mts total climb
This stage is set in the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, the oldest wild Park in Italy. The first amazing view will be that of villages silhouetted against high rocks. We cross through tunnels, then gently rise into the Sagittario river canyon following the roaring stream until we reach the intense green mirror that is Lake S. Domenico. The road levels up along the shores of Lake Scanno, its village a jewel of Renaissance architecture famed for traditional lace and jewelry. We climb on long but steady grades to Passo Godi, followed by the long descent to Lake Barrea and finally, Alfedena where our ride ends with a sumptuous lunch before travelling back to Sulmona by van.
Stage 4: Sulmona-L’Aquila 71 km – 600 mts total climb
This stage is the easiest of the tour. From Sulmona we head north along the river and cross the S. Venanzio Gorges outside which the valley opens up, showing its medieval villages lost in lush greenery: castles and Renassaince churches mark our route. The course is almost completely flat and we’ll see the mountains from a distance. We arrive in L’Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo, where we stay 4 nights in a charming hotel in the oldest part of the city.
Stage 5: L’Aquila-Campotosto loop 102 km – 1200 mts total climb
This stage is the second longest of the tour. We start with a long climb through the woods to Passo Capannelle and reach Campotosto Lake where clear waters mirror the Gran Sasso and Laga mountains. We will circle most of it before descending to Amatrice to feast on its succulent local speciality: pasta all’amatriciana. We then have a long but easy way back.
Stage 6: L’Aquila-Gran Sasso loop 95 km – 1800 mts total climb
We climb the highest peak of the Appennini. The first section ends at Fonte Cerreto which will be our last chance for a cappuccino break before embarking on the bare moonscape ahead. The second summit is Monte Cristo, then only a brief descent before resuming the climb up to the 2150 mts of the Gran Sasso, the King of the Apennini and the highest paved road south of the Alps. On the way down we stop for lunch in one of Abruzzo’s most enchanting villages, after which we ride back to L’Aquila.
Stage 7: L’Aquila-Sirente loop 104 km – 1500 mts total climb
This last stage is in the Parco of Velino-Sirente mountains. We cruise the Aterno Valley farmland to the Renaissance village of Fontecchio. A few ups and downs lead us to Secinaro where we begin the long ascent to the highland of the Sirente where eagles are a common view. When we reach Rocca di Mezzo we can toast the end of our fatigue. Castles and monasteries perched high on rocks will watch upon us along the descent to L’Aquila where we later take a stroll along stone paved alleys, have a succulent dinner and a bit of nightlife.
After a comfortable breakfast you check-out of the hotel and easily proceed to the local coach or train station for your journey to the airport or destination of your choice.