Campo Imperatore, not just skiing in Abruzzo
A climb not to be missed
That of Campo Imperatore is a climb not to be missed, challenging but also possible for those who do not define themselves as a "climber" and want to know a unique territory, from a landscape point of view, during a bicycle trip or an excursion on pedals. The climb that leads to the 2128 meters of altitude of Campo Imperatore is long, divided into two parts: the first part is a stretch with affordable slopes, between 4 and 7%, until reaching an altitude of about 1750 meters; the second part begins with a stretch of descent and false plane until you face 6 km uphill, with more demanding slopes, around 9-10%, to the top. The whole area of Campo Imperatore, in addition to racing bike rides, is also particularly suitable for medium-low difficulty mountain bike excursions or more challenging downhill trails taking advantage of the slopes that lead back to the valley.
Between history and cycling
The Abruzzesi have been able to applaud numerous times a stage winner of the Giro d 'Italia. Campo Imperatore, in particular, has hosted the arrival of the Giro d 'Italia five times: in 1971, when it won the Spanish López Carril, in 1985 with the success of Franco Chioccioli, in 1989 with the Danish John Carlsen, in 1999 with the aforementioned Marco Pantani and, lastly, in 2018 with the victory of the English Simon Yates.
But even the most passionate cyclists may not know some very curious details: for example, Campo Imperatore also decreed the victory of the young Pavel Sivakov in the Giro d 'Italia Under 23, in 2017, when the stage was conquered by the twenty-year-old Australian Jay Hindley, then triumphant in the professional Giro d 'Italia in 2022. This anecdote becomes a unique opportunity to visit Campo Imperatore in 2023, when a stage of the Giro d 'Italia ends at Campo Imperatore (Friday, May 12, 2023).
Curiously, the ski area has seen several times the presence of Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla, who loved skiing in these places and in the nearby Campo Felice.
A unique plateau and the best local food and wine products
The vast plateau of Campo Imperatore extends into the majestic panorama of the Gran Sasso d 'Italia massif, dominated by the summit of the Corno Grande (2912 m), the highest peak of the Apennine system. On your bicycle, you can only be enchanted by the surrounding landscape, between rocks and spontaneous flora. The advice is to stop in the area of Fonte Vetica, in one of the many shelters and try the arrosticini, real stars of Abruzzo food and wine and particularly renowned in these areas. In general, the Gran Sasso Park area has an agro-food biodiversity that characterizes many of the local productions, including saffron, legumes, browns, ventricins (rustic salami, typical of the area) and honeys, without forgetting appreciated wines such as Montepulciano d 'Abruzzo and Cerasuolo.
A natural set at 2,000 meters
The characteristic structure of the hotel of the same name, the church of the Madonna delle Nevi, the astronomical observatory, the Alpine botanical garden with the museum: these are some of the main attractions that make a visit to Campo Imperatore peculiar. Several hiking possibilities that a bicycle tourist, but not only, can consider to appreciate a setting so characteristic that it has been the set of many films of various kinds.
Productions that have been set both on the plateau of Campo Imperatore and along the southeast side, where numerous Italian and foreign films - of world fame - have had as their location the famous Rocca Calascio, the only fortress to overlook directly on the plain.
An open-air cinema set, but also a unique stage for large sporting events and - above all - a destination that a cyclist or a bikepacker cannot fail to consider in their roadmap, for a holiday in central Italy. A real backpacking trip or, why not, a day trip before returning to experience the atmosphere of the cities of art and the villages of Abruzzo.