We have been enjoying northern Italy for much of our mountain riding over the past decade. The Dolomites and Alps are hard to beat in regards to their majestic beauty, but we’ve been discovering so much new-to-us Italy that we couldn’t help poking our noses around. Specifically looking over old race stages of the Giro d’Italia and honing in on Andy’s memories we decided to check out the several national parks that run along central Italy connecting the Abruzzo and Molise regions. We found the scenery stunning yet subtle, the roads wander through alpine forests and rocky mountain tops, the climbs are challenging but not mind boggling hard, and unlike the Dolomites & Alps, relatively empty of tourism. Plus, we ate really well. The locals are friendly, the coffee is great. The perfect combination for a Cinghiale tour.
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Our first three nights will be based in a village within the Gran Sasso National Park in Abruzzo. Our hotel consists of lightly restored houses throughout a small hamlet, with communal areas to gather in at the days end. The architectural style is rustic, restored to as the houses were originally, with new bathrooms. The furnishings are very thoughtful to retaining local details. The bedding, for example, are soft woven blankets from wool raised in the park.
Our second location is chosen more as a stopover to maintain a gorgeous ruote that will end at our third location in Molise. We’ll stay for one night in a nature reserve, hoping to have time for a quick hike into the woods/forests.
We’ll pass our last four nights in Molise at another revival of an ancient village, close to being abandoned and revitalized by the mayor— the village has been restored as a hotel and offers a beautiful and relaxing setting for us to enjoy.
This tour should really be rated a 3-pig plus or a 4-pig minus.
Your end of the summer fitness will be needed to ride comfortably, but many of the crazy difficult climbs, like Gran Sasso and Blockhaus, will be optional. Our routes will be mainly through national parks from Abruzzo to Molise with rolling hills and gentle climbs; the steepest roads we have seen here are 10-12%. The passes are not as long and so the climbing is not as intense yet flat roads will be hard to come by.
The four-pigger climbs are optional detours to scheduled rides. If you have heard of the Blockhaus climb and want to ride it (it is considered the second hardest climb in Italy) then join us. Otherwise, most days will be considered at a 3-pig difficulty, and the extra climbs will be easy to avoid.
Our rides will enjoy the scenic splendor of the national parks Gran Sasso and Majella, and the Orientata Valle dell’Orfento Nature Riserve. Amongst the sweeping landscape expect to see wild horses, free roaming cows, and sheep. Abruzzo and Molise were historically important grazing grounds for sheep and the wool trade that brought great wealth to the artisans of the area and the Medici who controlled it.
Molise will include visits to Teatro Sannita Pietrabbondante, a Samnite settlement that was taken over by Hannibal and his troops; and the small city of Agnone, where the Marinelli family has been making bronze bells for 1,000 years.
This tour will begin with transportation from the Roma Termini train station in Rome and end with transportation to the Roma Termini train station or the Rome Fiumicino airport (FCO)
Pick up: Saturday, Sept 25 at 10:00 a.m.
Drop off: Monday, Oct 3 to a hotel in Rome TBD
Flights home should be scheduled on Oct 4th or after.