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Cycling tourism
Cycling in the Apennines

Abruzzo on pedals: from Castel del Monte to Campo Imperatore

cycling route
1 day
Number of Stages

Cycling in Abruzzo, between the peaks of the Apennines and the waters of the Adriatic, is an unforgettable adventure. We cross the unspoilt nature of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park starting from the perched village of Castel del Monte to reach the Campo Imperatore plateau. You will feel like a true champion like Marco Pantani at the 1999 Giro d'Italia tackling the last climb, the toughest but most exciting. That climb is now a must for every cycling fan and will again be the finish of the Giro d’Italia 2023 stage week. The route consists of only one stage for a total of 34.5 km and an altitude difference of 1,115 m. Saddle up, off you go.

Capo la Serra Pass

Capo la Serra Pass

The route starts from one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Castel del Monte, a fortified medieval village nestled in the mountains. Before getting on your bike, take a stroll through the centre discovering frescoes and mosaics illustrating the local traditions: shepherding, ancient crafts, stories of witches and magic. Taste local products such as Canestrato cheese from Castel del Monte, a Slow Food presidium, or the tasty Marcetto.

Due to the majesty of the landscape surrounding the village, this place has caught the attention of the cinema: 1985's Ladyhawke starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer, 1986's The Name of the Rose starring Sean Connery and 2010's The American starring George Clooney were filmed here.

From Castel del Monte, the road immediately begins to climb until it reaches the Capo la Serra pass, at a 1600-metre altitude.

Campo Imperatore, Italy's Little Tibet

Campo Imperatore, Italy's Little Tibet

Once over the pass, you are officially at Campo Imperatore, a plateau of glacial and karst-alluvial origin also called Little Tibet and often compared to Patagonia because of its magnificent natural views and often extreme climatic conditions. In its 25-kilometre extension, making it the largest plateau in the Apennines, there are canyons, seasonal lakes and dazzling blooms.

Enjoy breathtaking views that have made this place a famous film location as you travel along the road. Several films with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, The Desert of the Tartars with Vittorio Gassman and Philippe Noiret, and Così è la vita with Aldo Giovanni e Giacomo were filmed here. If you arrive in spring, you will find a vast expanse of multicoloured wildflowers to welcome you. In summer, herds and flocks from neighbouring towns graze here. You will see cows grazing freely and may catch sight of free galloping horses.

The route ends near the Astronomical Observatory with a final 8-kilometre climb that reaches an altitude of 2,100 metres, the gradient will leave you breathless, but also gives you the satisfaction of having made it to the top. Not far from here, you can take the Gran Sasso Cable Car connecting Campo Imperatore with Fonte Cerreto, where skiing is possible in winter and hiking in summer.

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