The Dolomites are not the only mountains if you like climbing. You’ll find everything you could wish for in the Parma Apennines too: long, steady climbs and passes that are ideal on a gravel bike. The region is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts: boulders, lakes, woods, rivers, monuments, mountain huts, castles, ravines, bridges and pilgrim hostels. Some of the wonders along the way were sung about by Dante in the Commedia, whilst others, more recent and less well-known, come from Tibet.
Let's get rid of any doubts at once: these are real mountains. Over 350 kilometres (217 mi), you pass over 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) eight times. The highest point of the Tour is almost 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) above sea level. This route is in five stages so that you can enjoy the adventure to the fullest, stop at the fountains and take a break in the only bar in the village to chat with the locals. But, there's nothing to stop the more daring among you from completing it in less time.
So, the details: 95% asphalt, 4% broken asphalt, 1% gravel. A touring bike is fine, but if you’re not afraid of riding on some dirt roads, a road bike is also ideal. Because of the climbs, I recommend choosing a bike that’s light, agile and able to pick up speed on the few metres of flat roads.
This Tour is beautiful year round, but summer is the best season. As the temperatures rise, an escape to the Apennines is perfect for a breath of fresh air. In these areas, every village has many unique stories to tell. It is up to the eyes of the traveller to grasp the beauty of each place. For overnight stays, you can sleep in high mountain refuges or hotels and bed & breakfasts along the way. Alternatively, you can camp and experience nature at its best (further information on camping options can be found in each stage description).
Would you like to plan a quick escape from the city? Reaching Traversetolo, the starting and finishing point, is very easy. If you decide to travel by bus, take TEP bus lines 11 and 12 (more info: tep.pr.it/en/lines-and-timetables). If you are travelling by car, the Parma and Terre di Canossa motorway exits are about 20 kilometres (12.4 mi) away. Parma and Bologna airports are only 29 and 96 kilometres (18 and 59 mi) away.
By the way: to say you eat well in these areas is an understatement. Berceto, ‘the closest mountain village to the sea’ and Langhirano, the ‘home of Parma’ ham, are incredible places. If you’re already imagining yourself on top of Monte Fuso by the roadside opening a bottle of Lambrusco and slicing a salami to go with a piece of bread, you have already understood everything. The Apennines belong to those who embrace them.
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: March 4, 2022
The first stage of the collection starts from Piazza Fanfulla, in Traversetolo. Here a myriad of local cyclists gather every weekend for the usual Sunday ride. After crossing the Enza river, you enter the province of Reggio Emilia. The first ascent is that of the two castles of Rossena and Canossa: the…
The descent from the Pietra di Bismantova is smooth and regular. You go back up to the town of Rosano and then arrive in Vetto along the most scenic and least busy road possible. In this stretch of the route you will notice some terraces, a system of dry stone walls which allows cultivation and which…
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The road that connects Schia, Lalatta, Ranzano and Ramiseto is an excellent summary of this part of the Apennines, on the border between Parma and Reggio Emilia: never a straight line, never plain, never traffic. The route begins with the cute as it is small Lake of the Hours and a first regular climb…
Compared to yesterday's grind, today a day of rest awaits you. It starts downhill along the valley of the Cedra stream, up to the hamlet of Valditacca. Here the gravel climb of the Passo della Colla starts (feasible by road bike, by mountain bike you are really comfortable comfortable), a stretch immersed…
Avoiding the Cisa provincial road, the route starts on a pleasant road that takes you back to the plain until you meet the towns of Casaselvatica and Ravarano. Here you can stop for a coffee or a second breakfast in one of the village bars.
If you arrive in Calestano for lunch, I recommend that you try…
Road Cycling Collection by Sofiane Sehili
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