#cycletouring #bikefriends #bikepacking

Val Trebbia and Val Tidone

I was looking for a place where to go over the weekend, something that wouldn’t be too hilly, so I could easily travel with my camping gear without having to stress about it.  A friend of mine visited Val Trebbia a week ago and said that it was worth a visit. So I planned my trip choosing a camp in Alta Val Trebbia (Rovegno) where to stay for two nights with the idea of a round trip for a day without the heavy packing. I was very lucky I chose a campsite called “Le Fontanelle”, there I met Giovanni who has been very welcoming and also very inspiring. In fact Giovanni was an electrician and he moved to the valley from Milan, he chose a better life upon money.  You could tell he really cares about its project because the campsite is well organised and clean, with common areas where to sit, cook, rest and play. I’d definitely go back once, maybe rent a bungalow in autumn and spend a day collecting chestnuts, typical of that area.

Camper, Tents, Bungalows, Dog area, Mountain Bike with guide

Day one: Piacenza – Val Trebbia – Rovegno  (88  Km – 1,075  Elevation – Clouds & Heavy Rain)

The weather forecast was not the best for the day, but as usual, I took my chances and I left to start my tour in Trebbia valley. I jumped on a train from Bologna to Piacenza and from there the plan was to reach “Alta Val Trebbia” cycling along the valley.  When I arrived in Piacenza black clouds were darkening the sun, but I was confident and I started cycling.  After a km I found myself following Val Trebbia cycle-lane, I didn’t even know it existed, I thought I was very lucky getting out from the city in a safe and guided way, however after about 12 Km I lost it and I had to go back to the main road to follow the track I’ve planned and uploaded in my Garmin. I stopped in Rivalta Castle  (Gazzola) for a quick visit and a coffee. A very special place with small shops and food trucks that were announcing evening events. From there I saw again a sign for the cycle-lane, but they were going in the opposite direction, so I thought it was safer to follow my plan and go for the secondary roads instead.  I climbed the first hill far from the main road, from there I could see the main road going deeper into the valley, whilst the wind was blowing and reveal dark clouds that were telling me I couldn’t escape a cold shower along the day. In about 20km I went downhill and I was on the main road of Trebbia Valley, the kingdom of motorbikers, but no one was around since no one would ride towards the storm like I was doing. I could safely enjoy the absence of traffic and admire the rocky river bed next to the road. I managed to reach Bobbio by lunchtime, the most popular village in the valley, known as one of the most beautiful burgs of Italy when the rain started following. I had ice cream, hoping that the storm would pass, but when I checked on the 3B meteo app, I realised that it was not going to pass any time soon. I had no choice, I put on overshoes and raincoats and I was back on my bicycle climbing toward the high valley. I should say that I really enjoyed the rain, mainly the atmosphere, the sound that was covering all kinds of noise around me. That was one of those moments that reminds me why I love to be a travel-cyclist because I can experience the weather along the road and admire its powers, see how all change because of that. I stopped a couple of times to close my eyes and listen to the rain. I was all soaking, but I didn’t mind. After a couple of hours, I reached my destination, Camping Le Fontanelle in Rovegno. I chatted a bit with Giovanni, the business owner, before finding a quiet place and set-up my tent. After a warm shower, I felt ready to go and explore the centre of the village, in the meantime the sun was coming out, just in time for the sunset. The centre of Rovegno is very small in about 15minutes I was done and ravenous.  I went back to the restaurant-bar La Taverna next to the camping, where Giovanni recommended good food and a reasonable price. I ordered a quarter of red wine and a pizza, whilst I was reading my book I thought he was absolutely right, pizza was really good and the house wine too. I ate slowly, I was seated outside and no one needed my table, so I stayed a bit longer before going back to my humid tent. Let’s say tents are not the best place to sleep after a long day of rain, but I survived.

Day two: Rovegno  – Passo del Fregarolo – Valico del Peschino – Panoramica Orezzoli  (78  Km – 1,618  Elevation – Sunny)

I woke up at 5 am, it was so humid and cold that I decided to wait until 7.30 before getting out my sleeping bag.  At 8.15 I got my breakfast at the next door place, without rush, I’ve got ready to go and explore more of Trebbia valley.  I felt a bit slow following the direction of Genova when the first climb came after Fontanagorda, maybe I needed a bit more time to get ready or I started to fast, I found it very stiff, even though it was pretty easy until the last 3.5 km when the slope got between 9 and 12%.  On the top of Fregarolo Pass I met other cyclists, chatting with them I understood that the tour I’ve planned was one of the most panoramic. Happy and relaxed I went downhill towards Aveto valley, it was nearly cold, but that helped to make me feel better.  The second climb started after 25km, I was heading towards the second pass of the day, Peschino Pass, I was riding on a small road with a beautiful view, the climb was constant between 6 and 8%, easy to climb and covered by trees here and there. On the last part when the road got more aggressive I met a cyclist who was going the same direction, we went up and down a couple of times before reaching the view over Orezzoli, a very panoramic road. Most of the climb of the day was done, I could relax, eat my lunch and take some pictures downhill, admiring the open view upon Trebbia valley.  Cycling towards Ottone I was back into the valley, I had to stop for a dip into the river, it was so refreshing and bracing for my legs. I really enjoyed my day a lot, at 4 pm  I was back ready for a shower and to relax lying down on the sun before it went down.  I had time to read, write and for a glass of wine before dinner, when I went back to La Taverna, at my usual table I’ve got another yummy pizza and I enjoyed my evening. Who says that travelling solo is not fun? Whilst I was having my dinner I’d also time to check on the website of the place and read about their history.  Laura and Luca decided to start from scratch in 2008, eliminate the superfluous and regain possession of simplicity, they moved there and led by the passion for food and ancient flavours, they opened up La Taverna. Another inspiring story of the valley.

Day three: Rovegno – Passo del Brallo – Passo Penice – Val Tidone – Piacenza (116 km – 1,140  Elevation – Sunny & Warm)

I woke up on a sunny morning,  I had my breakfast and I packed back my tent, without any rush I moved out from the camping that was already 9.30am. I had a long rute and I knew it would have got hot by the end towards Piacenza, so I was ready for that. I climbed Brallo Pass and it was quite enjoyable, the first part was stiff but on the top was smoother. I reached  Pregola around 11.30, from there I turned in the direction of Penice Pass, again the climb started pretty stiff, but the last part was nearly flat and pleasant with a great open view above the regions.  In one hour I was on the top, I got some fresh water and then I carried on towards Tidone valley where I stopped after a while for my usual fruits and bars lunch. This valley was another unexpected delightful surprise. I wasn’t expecting much, but honestly, I should go back again and try the MBT cycle-lane of the valley that I sow next to the river along my road.  After some more kms I was riding next to a super green lake, created by a majestic dam that is open for visitors who can walk on the top, so I cycled on it. You have to see it. It is beautiful.  When I reached the bottom of the valley I was still cycling along with fields and small villages, but the temperature became far too hot to enjoy the ride. It was above 35 degrees when I stopped and took off my shoes to put on in exchange for my sandals. I kept cycling but my only thought was to reach Piacenza train station. I was about 15 km from the destination when I found myself cycling again on a local cycle-lane and it was bringing me directly to the centre of the city.  Piacenza it’s a very pleasant city in terms of mobility, I didn’t expect to be so bicycle-friendly. Luckily the lane led me to the station and in no time I was on a train, ready to go back home and have a shower with my eyes still full of hills and colours.


0 comments on “Val Trebbia and Val Tidone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: