Sports and Adventure

Pedal the Apennine: e-MTB touring

Introduction - Between Tuscany and Emilia

Do you feel like cycling again? And above all, do you want to pedal through nature and finally breathe mountain air? Would you like to do an itinerant tour lasting several days without having to worry about luggage? Would you like to enjoy cycling in freedom, without having to worry about finding the best route?

That’s why we have put together an e-bike itinerary in the Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco Emiliano and Garfagnana, through places you may have already visited but where you have never stayed overnight. And for this very reason, however, far away. We will take care of the logistics. We will transport your luggage, tents and everything else you will need along the way. We will offer you support, knowledge of places and facilities along the way, making sure your journey goes smoothly. All you have to do is finally relax and think about doing what you love: experiencing nature and cycling without worries.

And, rest assured, even if you think you already know the landscapes we are going to ride through, we are convinced that we will still be able to surprise you. By leading you to discover places, corners, views and villages that you may have missed for a long time.

And, above all, by introducing you to people who live in the mountains and along our route. Friends we have known for years and who always give their best to welcome their guests in the best possible way: a sincere smile, friendliness and professionalism.

This tour is presented by us with the use of rented or owned electric mountain bikes, but you can also use non-electric mountain bikes if you prefer and are used to significant differences in height. The route uses dirt roads, forest tracks and paved roads where necessary. But it avoids trails too  demanding  and single tracks for experts.

We will sleep in tents and, where possible, in double and single rooms in mountain huts and hotels. We have a tent for you but you can choose to bring your own.

Here is the description of the route, in the hope that just reading it will lift your spirits and lead you to dream of woods and moors, mountains and streams. Of pedaling in freedom in the greenof the Apennines.

  • Duration: 5 days.
  • Type: Tour with electric MTB and luggage transport.
  • Accommodation: Holiday homes, refuges, hotel and tent.
  • Difficulty / Commitment: 6 (on a scale of 1 to 12). A route that includes some days with significant differences in height alternating with other less demanding ones. The routes will take place on different types of ground, from asphalt to dirt road and path.

Programme

Our meeting point is Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Here you will be assigned the electric MTB that you will use along the route. We will load your luggage (tent, bag/backpack, airmattress, etc.) in our vehicle. Lets start! By bike we go up to the village of Sillico, facing challenging climbs. The beautiful mountain road that from Pieve Fosciana climbs with slopes of up to 10%, stimulates us to quickly learn the use of the electric motor that assists our pedalling, making us appreciate our e-Bike between the hairpin bends immersed in chestnut woods. The discovery of how pleasant it is to travel by e-Bike on itineraries that seemed precluded to us, soon becomes pure fun. When we arrive in Sillico we settle down in the accommodation in the village and then go out to walk through the alleys of one of the most beautiful villages in Garfagnana. Unforgettable atmospheres and beautiful views greet us as we arrive in the village of the famous bandit “Il Moro del Sillico”, of which Ariosto sent information to Modena, a stay in Garfagnana that move him away from the court he loved to serve it in a place he felt was unfriendly. And that we instead, will immediately feel pleasant and welcoming, thanks to the smiles of our friends in the hotel that will welcome us and those of Roberta and Clara, owners of the local restaurant where, in the evening, we will sit down for dinner in a relaxing and peaceful environment.

About 12 km. Height difference in ascent about 460 metres.

INCLUDED: Dinner

From the village of Sillico our bike itinerary climbs towards the Apennine peaks following small dirt roads through the woods, which do not present technical difficulties and allow us to enjoy the surrounding environment. As we go from one bend to the next, we slowly gain altitude through woods and panoramic views. We will have to cover about 1000 metres of difference in height to be able to catch our breath once we reach Lame di Capraia. We are now in proximity to the wide, rounded ridge that separates Tuscany from Emilia. We advance further, leaving the chestnut groves far below and behind us and crossing the beech woods that on this side approach the crest to the point of challenging it, fearless.

And yet without daring to challenge the mountain pine, which on the other side, the Emilian side, manages to cling to the ridge a few steps higher. Just below the ridge line, we stop for lunch at the “Giro del Diavolo” (Devil’s Tour) and the pile of stones of all sizes that marks the spot. Stones brought here as a sign of devotion from time immemorial to tell the legend of San Pellegrino and perpetuate the memory. This is a place of pilgrimage and a place of grandiose views that frame the entire chain of the splendid Apuan Alps.

From the Giro del Diavolo we then continue, enjoying the ancient path that cuts gently across the mountainside among the beech trees to reach San Pellegrino in Alpe. This is a comfortable and not particularly difficult single track, but it does require a little attention, especially near the village, where the last few metres of the route take you down the steepest slope to the characteristic stone-roofed houses. And having come this far, we can’t go on ignoring this village, the highest in the Apennines at 1515 metres above sea level, as tiny as it is full of history. There will also be time for a fresh beer or a coffee to savour the atmosphere of this place of passage.

The last stretch of today’s itinerary is the short distance that separates us from the Rifugio Il Pradaccio, located on a real natural terrace overlooking the Apuan Alps. A place of unmissable sunsets and gentle hearthland. Where the juniper and the slow but inexorable stipes, conquer from season to season the ancient pastures in a constant struggle with the flocks of shepherds who still come here for the transhumance. Here we will spend the night. We can take advantage of a comfortable and practical structure and then, for dinner, taste the dishes that come out of Giovannella’s kitchen, simple and tasty.

Approximately 22.5 km.  Height difference in ascent about 1200 metres.

INCLUDED: Breakfast/Packed lunch/Dinner

In the morning we retrace a short stretch of dirt road to San Pellegrino and then continue uphill on asphalt road towards Passo delle Radici. Asphalt road tha we will hurry up to abandon soon as we reach Passo delel Radici, to take the dirt road that, through clearings and beech woods leads us, first on the Emilian side. We climb towards the Passo del  Giovarello to climb over the crest with a little effort (the last short stretch is rather full of holes) and then enjoy a pleasant descent on the other side to the Passo delle Forbici.

A plaque has been erected here in memory of the tragic end of a group of partisans, while a small chapel reminds us of Giovanni Pascoli’s attachment to these much-loved places. We now cycle easily in the shade of the large beech trees. Depending on the level of the participants, we can reach the asphalt road near Casone di Profecchia, where we can take a well-deserved break. Or alternatively, we can continue along paths through woods until we reach the beautiful dirt road that leads into the heart of the Orecchiella Park.

Soon we will find ourselves facing new climbs, not difficult, but which will allow us to gain altitude again among the beech trees, passing an ancient alpine pasture (Alpe di Massa). The exit from the forest and the arrival at the alpine pasture of Campaiana surprise us almost suddenly. Here we will stop and, if we are lucky, we will visit our friend Maurizio, who runs with passion, the small restaurant-bar Il Fungo . A typical restaurant that is always a great pleasure to visit.

At Campaiana we start the climb towards the last pass of the day, the Colle del Bastardino. A short detour allows us to enjoy a wonderful view of Pania di Corfino, Monte Prado and much of the regenerating wooded area that has been recovered to new splendor with long and laborious work.

Crossing the Orecchiella Park we cannot but feel privileged to be able to enjoy this splendid itinerary in the peace of the mountains. This is where the large lawn of the Rifugio Isera with its restaurant and tent sites stretches out.

Ready to welcome us with a smile, our friends Francesca and Davide will be very pleasant hosts and will delight us with their cuisine based on the excellence of local products.

Approximately 32 km. Uphill difference in height about 1315 metres.

INCLUDED: Breakfast/Packed lunch/Dinner

After a breakfast in front of the Pania di Corfino, we shortly reach the Park’s Visitor Centre. From there we continue towards the Soraggio valley following a beautiful little road through the woods that descends to a small lake hidden among the chestnut trees, with a view of the Apennine peaks. Passing through Prato Maleta we cannot help but stop to touch some beautiful hundred-year-old specimens, among the oldest in these mountains. Trees that still retain a rich foliage and prove to have survived the centuries without a hitch.

After crossing the Valle di Soraggio, we reach Sillano. Here we take the road towards the Pradarena Pass. We do not cross the mountains, but leave the asphalt road a few bends before the pass to thread our way through the woods again and cycle along the dirt road of Costa Romana. Our destination is now Monte Tondo, which we can reach with a short walk and from whose summit, on clear days, the view reaches as far as the Gulf of La Spezia.

The ascent to the Monte Tondo refuge is not particularly difficult and the view from the hill behind the refuge is stupendous.

Near the summit, the author of this description has found very interesting cup-shaped boulders that we will be happy to show you. Up here, in the peace of the prairies where the last beech trees grow and then leave space only for grass, we can stop for lunch, relaxing the spirit and the view in front of the spectacle of nature.

We descend along the same road as the ascent and then head, still on a dirt road, towards Passo Tea. This was an important place of transit for merchants and pilgrims heading towards Lucca and from Lucca towards the north of the peninsula or Liguria.

After much research, the remains of the ancient medieval “Hospitale” mentioned in the maps were found near the pass. This route also served as a branch of the Via Francigena, an alternative to the itinerary that pointed towards the coast to reach the sacred relic of the Holy Face of Lucca by crossing the mountains between Lunigiana and Garfagnana at Passo Tea.

Only a few kilometres separate us from our stage destination, but we are happy to stop and admire the landscape of the Argegna, where the asphalted road runs almost flat and offers beautiful views of countryside and mountains.

It will be pleasant to reach the Passo dei Carpinelli, letting the breeze caress us as we descend the last few bends. Our friend Tiziano is waiting for us at his hotel, equipped with all comforts and a swimming pool, right in front of the imposing mass of Mount Pisanino, which with its severe but inviting appearance, is the perfect backdrop to the conclusion of this stage.

We feel lucky to be the guests of this structure so blessed with an enchanting panorama.

Approximately 51 km.  Height difference in ascent about 1800 metres.

INCLUDED: Breakfast/Packed lunch/Dinner

Today we ride through the history of this beautiful valley. We soon reach the small village of Giuncugnano and connect to the ancient route of the Via del Volto Santo. Amidst stone walls and cultivated fields, some slightly uneven stretches and passages through the woods, we will go through  a series of villages that have their origins in the Middle Ages. And it is medieval the elegant bridge that crosses the river with a bold arch and brings us on the other side of the valley at the village of San Michele. We now cycle along the valley and on our right rise steep forested slopes. A small dirt road  leads us through chestnut woods and in a few kilometres we are back on the top.

Small villages that snooze under the summer sun and in each village a fountain of fresh water to stop and breathe the atmosphere of places lost in time, maybe to walk between the houses in silenceand visit unexpected corners and views

 And one of the most beautiful fountains awaits us as we approach the last of these villages, Casatico. From here we take a comfortable dirt road in the shade of chestnut trees, which we follow for about 5 kilometres with gentle slopes until we reach our destination: Roggio.

And Roggio welcomes us with a sudden appearance. Where the dirt road becomes asphalt and the first houses appear. A perfect village to stop and have lunch. Take a break and rest.

From Roggio we continue downhill as far as the dam that bars the road to the waters of the Edron torrent and creates one of the most important reservoirs in the area. We follow the asphalt road downhill again and then on the flat to Poggio. Here we come to a road that runs between cultivated fields and, after a courageous but short descent, we reach the railway bridge and enjoy a spectacular view over the valley.

We now follow this valley on easy and bucolic dirt roads. Lago di Pontecosi is a delightful corner of nature and we cannot pass without pausing to take a look around. From here to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, the destination of our link, the ride will be pleasant.

In the village where Ariosto was governor of Garfagnana, we end our ride to discover the Apennines and Garfagnana, after crossing moors and woods, villages and mountains, after crossing passes and crossing streams and rivers. We will say goodbye, perhaps giving each other an appointment for another pleasant adventure.

About 10 km. Height difference in ascent about 1100 metres.

INCLUDED: Breakfast/packed lunch/.

It is possible to continue your holiday by stopping to enjoy these places, perhaps relaxing in a farmhouse or other type of accommodation in the area. If you need advice or help, let us know and we will be happy to suggest the best solutions.

Details

What to bring

In your backpack (max. 20 l) along the route

  • Rain jacket
  • A warm and lightweight long-sleeved garment
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun protection
  • Small plastic box in which to store the lunch bag
  • Spare short-sleeved t-shirt
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • In the bag/backpack to carry on the organisation’s vehicle
  • Lightweight down jacket
  • Shorts
  • Long trousers
  • Spare underwear
  • Spare sandals/shoes
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Short-sleeved shirts
  • Sweater/fleece/fleece
  • Sleeping bag

Climate

Although the Apennine mountains do not have mountainous relief comparable to the Alps, they can be subject to heavy rains, thunderstorms and strong winds even in the summer months. Temperatures at high altitudes (1,500 metres and above) can be subject to surprising swings during storms.

Nights are cool and temperate, providing relief after sunny days. But in bad weather the pleasant coolness can turn into cold and damp.

This is why, in the advice on what to bring with you, you will also find suggestions for winter or mid-season clothing. It is also for this reason that we recommend that you store everything in waterproof bags in backpacks and bags.

As you can see, there is no mention of cycling-specific clothing. You can still participate without them. But this obviously lowers the level of comfort during the days in the saddle and their use is highly recommended. The use of a helmet is necessary. Although it is unfortunately not yet mandatory , It is, however, an important precaution without which the safety level of the activity is significantly lowered.

If you don’t have one, it will be included in your bike rental.

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