When I travel with Ciclozenith I never know how many hours I will ride and how many detours we will take, but there are also certainties, everything will have been thought out and no one will be left behind. We will go together, we will eat a lot and we will never be bored! The tour for the weekend in Garfagnana came up from a sort of willingness of freedom, with restricted options due to the covid-19 regulations, with many of the accommodation facilities still closed, finding a way to travel in a group, together and in safety was not easy. Nothing that scares Ciclozenith, in fact, also this time the group had planned in detail and at 7 am on Saturday morning we left aboard the usual Santerno Bus for Castelnuovo ne’ Monti.
Day one: Castelnuovo ne’ Monti – Passo Pradarena – Pieve di Fosciana (74 Km – 1,640 Elevation – Sun & Clouds)
After leaving the motorway, our bus began to climb the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines to stop in a square at the “Porta delle 2 Valli”, a perfect spot to look down on the Apennine ranges. The road for us started downhill, and then went up and took us to a panoramic road from which we could follow the “Pietra di Bismantova” with our eyes. The Stone of Bismantova is a is a geological formation in the Reggiano Apennines, the spur is composed of yellowish calcarenite over a marl basement and it conquers the valleys around with its astonishing presence. At the top of the first ascent, our companions had already prepared a snack which, with sweets, juice, and fruit, provided us with the right amount of energies to proceed. The road after a stretch closed to traffic due to a landslide (which did not stop us) continued to Ospitaletto. From there the climb to “Passo Pradarena“, carries on with a fairly demanding 6km road that led us through woods and snow on the edge of the path, to a more mountainous environment. At the top we arrived in small groups, given the challenging climb everyone cycled at his own speed, enjoying the climb on a road almost free of traffic. Upon arrival at the peak, a small bar-restaurant saved us from the cold of the day. Even if the season was going towards summer, the temperatures of this whole weekend were certainly not what we would have expected. Time to gather and finish our hot teas, we got off the pass to stop shortly after for our lunch of cold cuts, cheeses, salad, and hard-boiled eggs. The day from here would have been easier, but the many visits to the ancient villages of the Garfagnana lasted for several hours. The villages in this area are all similar, perched on the hills with their stone houses and cobbled streets. From San Romano borough, towards Silicagnana, to Sambuca borough. We arrived in Pieve di Fosciana where we stopped for the coveted evening spritz, before reaching our final destination the Ai Frati farmhouse, a magical place partially recovered from an ancient convent, where we could dine and rest leaving our bicycles safe in the ancient cloister.
Day two: Pieve di Fosciana – Barga – Lima Valley – Passo Oppio – Castel San Pietro Terme (97 Km – 1,170 Elevation – Rain)
After a generous breakfast cold and foggy morning was expecting us outside. We left Pieve di Fosciana around 9.30, after a short visit at Castelnuovo in Garfagnana we proceeded toward the valley floor up to Barga. Barga is a medieval town of the mid valley that must be seen, very popular is its Collegiate Church of San Cristoforo (the duomo of Barga – 11th-16th centuries), the main example of Romanesque architecture in the Serchio Valley. At your arrival a mountain bike race was in progress, to get to the cathedral we had to go through closed roads, sometimes going up and down through stone stairs that had become slippery due to the rain. The view from the piazza del duomo was beautiful, even though it covered by low clouds. Time passed quickly in Barga, time to go down was already noon, so we decided to fast continue to Bagni di Lucca where our chefs (Salvatore and Sacco) were waiting for our lunch.
From Bagni di Lucca, we entered Lima Valley, a really pleasant rocky valley that I discovered by chance no more than one year ago in one of my solo-tour. Meanwhile, the rain was getting more and more intense. The stops for photos were greatly reduced and we quickly headed towards the last climb of the day, the one to Passo dell’Oppio. Completely soaked we started the climb without stopping up the peak and in a little a bit cold, but happy we were there. Immediately we stopped at the first bar to put on something dry and gather with the group. The mood was high despite the cold. The descent towards the Reno valley and then back over the Tuscan border to Porretta Terme was gradually more pleasant, the rain stopped and the road was almost dry. We jumped on the train and soon we were back in Bologna for the usual Spritz before saying goodbye.
TOTAL BUDGET 2 DAYS ALL INCLUSIVE: 150 euro