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Umbria rides (Colin)

Assisi–Spello. Spello is an attractive town if slightly overrated. Three gorgeous frescoes by Pinturricchio in the Sta. Maria church at the low part of town are worth a visit; it’s a shame about the plate glass doors which protect them.



direct route through Capitán Loreto is dull. If you have wide tyres you can hop over M. Subasio, passing the Éremo delle Cárceri on the way. The road is surfaced to about 1100m and then becomes gravel. This part of the hill is used as a park by the Assisiati whom you may see frisbeeing and lounging on deck chairs. From the top there are good views. The descent passes the chapel of Madonna della Spella in an area used as a park by the inhabitants of Spello (Spellati? Spellagioni?) and then the jewel-like village of Collepino, recently restored. Here you rejoin tarmac and whiz down the rest of the way. There is a restaurant in Collepino and several in Spello.

An equally enjoyable ride, this time on tarmac all the way, slinks round the back of M. Subasio through Armenzano, even dinkier than Collepino and currently under restoration. The views to the north are very good.


Forest track

return route for mountain bikers goes through Capodacqua. You leave Spello on the implausibly steep Via Fontemonte at the north end of town, just a couple of hundred metres from where the Collepino road joins it. At about 410m is a farm, presumably where the map shows a chapel of S. Lucia. The gradient thankfully lessens as the tarmac ends. At about 500m you drop slightly before the road bears left and resumes climbing. At 610m you again make a slight descent and the road levels off. 250m beyond this high point you come to a junction; bear left. You now descend along an idyllic forested trail until after 1200m you come to a T-junction where you turn left. This is a stony track, only just ridable, until after a further 1200m you come to Capodacqua. You see a house on your left and a sign announces that you have left the M. Subasio national park. You are now on the easy white road shown on the Kompass map. Disregard Via Gabiano to the left and contour along, rejoining tarmac after a while and eventually arriving at Assisi.


Monti Martani. A pleasant circular route, mostly surfaced, with some culture thrown in. I started at Passaggio di Bettona, climbing to Bettona and heading for Castelleone. From Bettona follow a signposted road to the hotel at Torre Burchio. At 450m it becomes a gravel track; at 550m carry straight on past a picnic spot. At 610m is a Resistance monument and a junction. Here you part company with the road to Torre Burchio, which is to the left: you follow instead the right fork. Climb to a high point at 630m, drop slightly to a junction where you bear left, climb to a second high point at 630m and descend in earnest. (The slope is steeper on this side.) Regain tarmac at 450m. At Castelleone a sharp right leads to Deruta but I continued straight on through Casalalta and down to the Tiber valley. From here a minor road leads to Collepepe (without crossing the main road as the TCI map implies) and then climbs to Collazzone, S. Terenzio, and Marcellano, dropping to the ugly Bastardo and then dragging back up to Montefalco, a good if tardy lunch stop. Drop steeply down on the road to the lovely town of Bevagna and then follow the flat but quiet road back to Passaggio.

Nocera Umbra. Not a good trip. It begins well along the beautiful wooded Téscio valley from Assisi in the direction of Gualdo Tacino. A signposted road climbs steeply through oak forest to Sta. Maria Lignano, 740m, where tarmac stops. Follow along gravel through unsignposted junctions, guessing wildly at each one. If you make the same guesses as I did you end up at a high point of 830m, with good views of M. Subasio to the south, and at last catch a glimpse of the preposterous new stilted Via Flaminia below to the east. Drop down and you’re soon at Nocera.

Nocera is a sad place, badly hit in the 1997 earthquake, with temporary accommodation around it and the old centre a building site. I rode to the horrible quarry town of Bagnara and made a circuit of M. Verguglio, a route easily seen on the Kompass map but affording no pleasure, returning to Nocera to have another belated lunch in a family-run hotel restaurant. For the return journey I followed the old Via Flaminia as far as the steep gravel zigzagging climb up the Sentiero degli Ulivi, dropped mistakenly to Foligno and flogged along the valley to Assisi, where my beloved having gorged herself on icecreams informed me that I was late.

Monte Nerone. A good ride, but a long way from Assisi. There are 3 routes up the mountain, all tarmacked in spite of appearances from the map: the main road from Serravalle, another from Pióbbico, and a third from Pianello which seems to be the sporting climb with 19 numbered hairpins.

I took the car as far as Apécchio and then rode cheerfully down the gorge to Pióbbico (339m). After the village a right turn is signposted for 3 destinations one of which is Rocca Leonella. Take this turning, and after a couple of km another sharp right; the direction ‘Monte Nerone’ is painted on a retaining wall. This road carries almost no traffic. Climb and climb until you reach the masts at the top (1535m). There may be views, but not in the weather we enjoyed. Retrace a little and take an obvious right turn along a road which stubbornly refuses to lose height until you hurtle down the zigzags to Cerreto and proceed to Pianello (399m) where you may get a snack lunch from a café.

Now climb to Serravalle along a valley whose high reaches are very attractive. At Serravalle treat yourself to a little more climbing by turning left to Acquapartita before another helter-skelter descent to Apécchio.

CJC. 2003

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Umbria rides (Tracey)



I made a couple of greedily and indulgently long rides north of Assisi. I confess I made use of some rather boring roads so as to cover distance. But I liked the minor roads in the triangle between Città di Castello, Gubbio and Pióbbico. Here it is hilly, part woodland and part farmland, though perhaps not decorated with fabulous houses the way Tuscany is. Beware: the distances given on the TCI maps are correct with probability 1/2. When incorrect, they may vary from the truth by a factor of 2 either way.

The quickest way between Assisi and Gubbio is via the N.298, which is a tolerable road. The N.219 past Gubbio is flat and busy. There is a good café at Mocaiana.

The minor road via Pietralunga to Città di Castello is lovely, scenic, and quiet.

From Città di Castello to Pióbbico, on the N.257, is pleasant and fairly quiet, and there are some restaurants along the road. I stopped at a cafe in Apécchio. There is also a spring here a little way out of the village, on the Pietralunga road, which is another lovely route.

On the N.257 there is a gorge after Pióbbico. Now we reach the main feature, the climb of Monte Nerone. This is a wonderful road, a road made for cyclists, narrow and – it goes without saying – scenic. In the entire climb I didn’t meet a single vehicle on the road, though there was a parked minibus belonging to a party of geologists. The clouds did me out of the view I deserved, but even in the mists, the mountain top with its peaceful green meadows felt like heaven.

After descending I returned to Gubbio via Pianello and Pietralunga. There is a substantial climb on the road to Pietralunga of which the map denies all knowledge.

From Gubbio to Assisi, there is a nicer but harder route than the N.298, via the minor road to the east. At first it seems terribly busy with lorries, but there’s a cement works at the end of the valley, and once you are past this, it is quiet. I remember it as being a hard ride, but I had already been riding for hours. It is certainly very hilly. My route went through Casa Castalda and S. Presto. The map marks part of this as white road, but in fact it’s all paved, and at some point becomes clearly marked to Assisi. It’s very beautiful indeed as you approach Assisi. Finally you meet the N.444 and enjoy a long descent. This back approach to the town is thrilling, which partly compensates for the torture of yet another climb. Prepare grovelling apologies for lateness.

TCM. 2004

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