In an article about hidden travel gems, the Guardian rated Umbria’s Sibillini Mountains as one of the top 10 ‘undiscovered top mountain destinations in Europe’, while the Telegraph selected the Abruzzo mountain region as one of the ‘top places in Italy you never thought to visit (but really should)’

If the presence of Mongolian-style landscapes – huge highland steppes, snow-caped mountains and grazing horses – in Italy surprises you, you probably haven’t been to Umbria, Abruzzo or Lazio. What makes biking here special are the huge, high altitude prairies that lie above the treeline. These huge intra-mountains plains roll on for many kilometres, and biking here – in the plateaus of Castelluccio de Norcia (Umbria), Campo Imperatore (Abruzzo), Piani di Pezza (Abruzzo) and Campo della Pietra (Lazio) – is not to be missed. Springtime offers the unique magic of witnessing the heart-stopping spectacle of hundreds of flower species in bloom.

This Beyond Biking short bike tour takes you through three national parks in the Central Apennines – the ‘wild heart of Italy’ – in four days of biking: La Valnerina and the Sibillini Mountains; Gran Sasso National Park; and the Sirente-Velino Regional Park. You can also add an extra bike day in Monti Simbruini, ending you trip within an hour of Rome. You will pass the 2000 metre-plus giants of the area (also known as the High Apennines): Monte Vettore (2476m) in the Sibillini Mountains; the Corno Grande (2912m) in the Gran Sasso National Park (the highest summit of the Apennines); Monte Sirente (2347m) and Monte Velino (2487m) in the Sirente-Velino Park. In addition, by extension, you can bike the Monte Autore (1854m) in the Simbruini Mountains.
This tour really encapsulates the Beyond Biking philosophy. Not only does it feature great trails, long climbs to open grasslands, small crowds, ancient Roman cities and stunning wildlife, but it also packs in more variety over four days than any other short bike tour. And if you are also serious about good, Italian food, then you can’t afford to miss this!


La Valnerina (1 day)

Known as Umbria's ‘green heart’ La Valnerina (or the “valley of the Nera River”) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful valleys in Italy. There are fortresses and medieval towers, tiny hamlets with steep narrow streets and endless woods with crystal-clear streams. As you bike along the River Nera, you’ll reach the high plains. You will cycle the gentle path of the ‘Greenway del Fiume Nera’, a riverside adventure trail, before crossing over to the Spoleto-Norcia trail, a former mountain railway flanked by galleries, bridges and viaducts.

Castelluccio & the Sibillini Mountains (1 day)

You’ll travel across one of Italy’s best-kept secrets, the Sibillini Mountains. Biking here is a real delight, with the most impressive cycling on offer at the Piano Grande, a huge 16 square kilometre plain surrounded by the barren, limestone Sibillini mountain range. From another scenic high plain, Pantani di Accumoli, you will continue your ride towards Abruzzo’s mountain lake district, where the unspoilt beauty of Lago Scandarello, Lago Piccolo and Lago di Campotosto take centre stage.

Campo Imperatore & Gran Sasso National Park (1 day)

The Gran Sasso National Park is a wonderful playground for mountain bikers. Biking through Campo Imperatore, or ‘Little Tibet’, is an unforgettable experience. So too is the bike through another dramatic plain, Navelli, home to some of Europe’s best saffron. Next you will pass by the medieval ruins in villages like Rocca Calascio, Castel del Monte and Santo Stefano di Sessanio.

Sirente-Velino Regional Park (1 day)

The protected Sirente-Velino Regional Park is another dramatic limestone mountain range in the Central Apennines. You will bike in the Rocche Plateau, which features upland of various altitudes. As well as being surrounded by the imposing Sirente and Velino massifs, not to mention the gorgeous beech tree woods, this area is rich in history, so look out for the ancient ‘pagliare’ (charming, now abandoned, mountain villages).

Simbruini mountains (1 day)

Similar to Sirente-Velino, the Simbruini mountain range is a protected area, with 2000-metre high summits, vast karstic plateaus and spring waters, scattered with small, historical towns.

For those looking for great trails, smaller crowds and beautiful scenery, not to mention stunning wildlife, try this tour. And if you are also serious about good, Italian food, then you can’t afford to miss this!


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