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 both the Sagrantino hills and Abruzzo’s mountain region as one of '21 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 and Abruzzo.

This Beyond Biking tour takes you through some of Italy’s wildest highlands, from the hills of the Sagrantino vineyards through the nationals parks of the Sibillini Mountains, Gran Sasso, and Majella, all the way to the Adriatic Sea. The Central Apennines – the ‘wild heart of Italy’ – may not be as synonymous with biking history as the Alps, the Pyrenees or the Dolomites, but that’s part of its allure. Rides here are much quieter and the area is crammed with opportunities for alpine MTB adventure. You will pass the 2000 metre-plus giants of the area (also known as the High Apennines): Mount Vettore in the Sibillini Mountains, the Corno Grande in the Gran Sasso National Park (the highest summit of the Apennines) and Mount Amaro in the Majella Massif.

What makes biking here special are the huge, high altitude prairies that lie above the treeline. The area is home to many great singletracks, to unique wildlife such as the Apennine chamois, the Italian Wolf and the Marsican brown bear, and also to many fascinating plant species. In springtime, you can witness the heart-stopping spectacle of hundreds of flower species in bloom. These huge intra-mountains plains roll on for many kilometres, and biking here – in the plateaus of Castellucio de Norica and Campo Imperatore, for instance – is not to be missed.


Mount Subasio and the Sagrantino Wine Hills (1.5 days)

From Assisi, you will make the panoramic climb to the top of the ‘holy’ Mount Subasio, where you will feel on the top of the world with views of Lake Trasimeno, the Apennine Mountains and the surrounding olive tree carpets. Next, you will bike across Italy’s best ‘new’ wine region around Sagrantino di Montefalco, ending with a rollercoaster journey through the rolling wine hills of Umbria, hopping from one medieval town to another, before stopping at the gorgeous hill town of Spoleto.

La Valnerina and the Sibillini Mountain National Park (1 day)

First, you will bike the historic Spoleto-Norcia Alpine railway, with its 24 bridges, narrow gorges and tunnels. Next, you’ll travel across one of Italy’s best-kept secrets, the Sibillini Mountains, which is also known as Umbria's ‘green heart’. 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, lime-stone Sibillini mountain range.

Gran Sasso National Park and Monti della Laga (2 days)

The Gran Sasso National Park is an incredible playground for mountain bikers. Biking through Campo Imperatore, or ‘Little Tibet’, is an unforgettable experience. You will also bike through other dramatic plains like the Altavalle del Voltigno and the home town of Italy’s best saffron, Navelli. You will pass medieval ruins and villages like Rocca Calascio, Castel del Monte and Santo Stefano di Sessanio. And you’ll never forget your ride down La Traversata del Gran Sasso, a classic MTB downhill.

Majella National Park and the Trabocchi Coast (2 days)

The striking landscape encompassed by the Majella National Park is made up of rugged mountains split by very deep gorges. Its interior is a spectacular display of dramatic canyons and ravines, dense beech forests and crystal clear waters. You will bike along the fairytale-esque Orta and Orfento river gorges, while the downhill freeride of the Blockhaus crossing promises an unadulterated MTB adrenaline rush. For the final stretch, you will cycle to the Adriatic Coast via a purpose-built MTB trail that follows the Foro River valley all the way down to the rocky Trabocchi Coast.

Sirente-Velino & Simbruini Mountain Regional Park

An alternative for Majella NP & Trabocchi Coast, just 1 hour from Rome.

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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