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ABRUZZO NATIONAL PARK CYCLE TOUR

a 7 days self guided cycling vacation

 

The green region of Abruzzo is characterized by a varied landscape: a beautiful sea with sandy beaches, a hinterland with rolling hills covered with olive groves and vineyards, which turn slowly into a mountainous landscape with a wild nature and rich fauna. This tour crosses the Abruzzo National Parks and is designed for you to enjoy a true paradise with a pristine nature of green forests, mountain streams, a surreal silence, incredible views, a rich fauna and flora, small mountain villages and a good local cuisine. The tour starts in the beautiful village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, at 1300m a.s.l. and this is certainly a big plus! For a week you will ride on quiet roads winding up through a beautiful nature, passing through well preserved medieval villages and in the evening you enjoy the warm hospitality and the natural tastes of Abruzzo.

 

 

 

 

 

Programme

Day 1 

Individual arrival in L'Aquila

From Aquila you have a transfer to St. Stephen of Sessanio, the starting point of the tour (travel time about 45 min). Santo Stefano di Sessanio (altitude 1300m a.s.l. and a population of 120 inhabitants) is a charming medieval village in the National Park of Gran Sasso. Walking through its narrow streets you have the feeling of stepping back in time. You have an overnight stay in a cosy B & B in the centre of the village, where in the evening will be handed over the daily maps, route notes and information on the tour. Get ready for a memorable welcome dinner made with organic local products.

 

Day 2 

S.Stefano di Sessanio (loop of the plateau of Gran Sasso) The Gran Sasso mountain range has the highest peaks of the Apennines. Today you can admire them all, always from different angles… so don’t forget your camera ! The first kilometres are flat and will lead to Calascio. Here we suggest you take a break and leave the your bike to walk up to castle Rocca Calascio. It was chosen as a set for the movie "Lady Hawke" because of its beautiful architecture and bold position on a rocky ridge at 1600m high. Back in the saddle starts the first climb, which takes you first to Castel del Monte and then up to the mountain pass Passo di Monte Serre. The climb is challenging, but it are especially the views that will leave you breathless. Cycling downhill you have a nice view of the lunar landscape of Campo Imperatore, which the locals call rightly "Little Tibet". You cycle almost along the entire vast plateau flanked by the spectacular mountain of Gran Sasso. An easy climb will bring you back to Guado Portoni and then begins the long descent that takes you back to Santo Stefano of Sessanio. The road meanders down among flowering meadows and always giving new sceneries behind every bend and finally showing the village in all its ancient beauty. 

Distance: 50 km/ 31 miles – ascent/descent 850m

 

Day 3   

S.Stefano di Sessanio-Fontecchio

The long descent that inaugurates this new day, will cross several villages that are worth a visit. You arrive in the Valley Valle dell'Aterno entering the Regional Park Velino-Sirente. The road now follows the old path of transhumance. In late summer the flocks were accompanied about 300 km south to spend the winter in Apulia. This annual exodus of flocks and people has been the main driver of the local economy for two millennia. Abbeys and castles still mark its path. During the only climb of today, you can admire the villages of Caporciano and Bominaco. Do not miss a visit of the Castle and the Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta (XII century). The tour ends in another jewel of medieval architecture: Fontecchio (670m a.s.l., population of 400 people). Here you will spend the next two days in a lovely B & B in the historic centre of the village. 

Distance: 40 km/ 25 miles – ascent/Descent 560 mt

 

Day 4 

Fontecchio (loop Aquila and the valley Valle dell’Aterno)

After breakfast in the saddle again cycling up along the Aterno riverbanks. You cycle along quiet roads that wind there way up among cultivated fields with extensive views over the surrounding mountains. Without difficulty you arrive at the foot of Aquila but to reach the centre you to climb some. Aquila (720 m a.s.l. has a population of 70.000 people) is the capital of Abruzzo and was devastated by the terrible earthquake in 2009. A tour of the historic centre shows the slow but well done reconstruction of the architectural treasures of this beautiful city. On the way back a 3km climb takes you to the Castle of Ocre. The view you enjoy from here will help to forget quickly the sufferings of the climb. Then will follow a well deserved descent to Fossa and your return to Fontecchio following again the course the river Aterno.

Distance: 59 km / 36,6 miles – Ascent/Descent 870m

 

Day 5 

Fontecchio-Sulmona

Today, an easy and relaxing ride, you will follow the river Aterno towards the south. The green of the valley is a perfect backdrop for the medieval architecture of the small villages and hamlets. Along these roads the cars are rare and often the only sound accompanying you are birdsongs and the murmur of the river and mountain brooks. The only climb today is through the S.Venanzio Gorge to arrive at Sulmona (400m a.s.l. population of 25.000 people). You will have time enough to visit this lovely town, rich of monuments and museums. You will stay here for two days in the historical centre.

Distance:44 km /27,3 miles – Ascent/Descent 380 mt  

 

Day 6 

Sulmona (Loop of the Abruzzo National Park)

Last stage takes place in the Abruzzo National Park, the first national park established in Italy. Maybe here you can admire the Abruzzi Chamois, the brown marsican bear, the symbol of the park, the wolf, dear, foxes and the golden eagle. Also the flora is interesting and rich with thousands species of plants, mushrooms and musk’s. Reach Anversa degli Abruzzi, a beautiful stone village at the entrance of the Sagittarius gorges. You continue along a road carved into the rocks and through natural tunnels with stunning views of the creek below and the village of Castrovalva, silent sentinel on top of a rocky ridge. In these places stayed the designer MC Escher, who captured the beauty of this place in some memorable pictures. Villalago marks the end of climbing and gorges. Now you pedal around Lake Scanno, in whose emerald green waters are reflecting the surrounding mountain tops. A short climb leads you to the village of Scanno, loved by photographers and painters. Scanno is also famous for gold processing and for its antique lace works. The return to Sulmona is almost all downhill. Dinner on this last evening isn’t included in the tour price so you are free to choose among the many good restaurants in town

Distance: 63 km / 39 miles – Ascent / Descent 1000m

 

Day 7   

Departure

 

 

 

 

 

The tour includes:

  • 6 overnight stays in good B&B, farm house B&B and a **** star hotel: rooms with private facilities

  • 6 times breakfast and 5 dinners (not in Sulmona on the last night)

  • Maps with route instructions 

  • luggage transportation

  • tour information 

  • transfer from Aquila to the starting point S.Stefano di Sessanio

  • local back up service

  • briefing

 

 

The tour doesn't include:

  • the journey to Aquila and return from Sulmona
  • local tourist taxes

  • lunch and extra's

  • everything not mentioned under “included in the tour”

 

 

Period

Daily from 13 May to 8 July and from 19 August to 23 September.

Level  3

Difficult: hilly and mountainous landscape. For cyclist with experience and good physical condition. Cycling along quiet asphalted roads. Not suitable for children under 14 years. Daily distances between 40 and 63 km (25-39 miles). Total kilometres: 260 km / 161 miles

Participants

minimum two persons ( a single person on request)

Prices p.p. 2017

Double room sharing     € 850,00

In single room     € 1.000,00

hybrid or road bike rental    € 120,00