GEA: The Great Apennine Excursion

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GEA: The Great Apennine Excursion

A mountain bike adventure of 13 days and 12 nights

  Guided Tour

  Level:    Difficult
  Tour Category:    guided bicycle tours
  Area:    Tuscany
  Price:    € 1.600 / pp
GEA BIKE, "The Great Apennine Excursion" is a mountain bike adventure of 13 stages that will make you cross the Tuscan Apennine Muontains through 10 Natural Parks ( 2 of those are the National Park of Foreste Casentinesi and Appennino Tosco-Emiliano mostly riding next to the ridges that act as a water divide of our peninsula.

From the charming village of Borgo Sansepolcro birthplace of Piero della Francesca we will start this journey in the Italian Divide passing from the beauty of the Mountain Wilderness to ancient borough, history, culture, town of arts to finish the tour in Liguira in the famous National Park of the Cinque Terre.
 30/06/2018 - 13/07/2018
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Century old beech trees, chestnuts, fir trees as in the Camaldoli Sacreed Forest, stunning mountain lakes such as Lago Scaffaiolo, Lago Nero, il lago Baccio, Il lago Santo Modenese, il lago Santo Parmense, il Lagastrello, il Lago Verde and many others. For what concerns the wildlife the areas are always bee populated by wolves, deers, marmots, squirrels and it can be possible also to spot steinbocks.

Sansepolcro is the birthplace of Piero della Francesca, in the Museo Civico you can admire the Resurrection of the Christ and the Madonna della Misericordia among other works, the town also boasts many Medieval and Renaissance buildings.

Caprese Michelangelo is the birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti , Chiusi della Verna is with its Monastery, the starting poing of the Franciscan way and a passage of many Viae Romae very much attended by pilgrims as the not so far Camaldoli Monastery and Hermitage.

In the Futa pass there is the biggest German War Cemetery in Italy , also you can admire a sculpture depicting a moder era hero; a bassrelief dedicated to Gastone Nencini a great cycling athlete of the “Heroic” age of the ‘50ies.
Cutigliano is listed among the 100 most beautiful Italian old town and it is one of the most popular ski destination of Central Italy.

The Apuan Alps are the most famous site of marble extraction of the world.

#DAY 1
Arrive to Sansepolcro, Shuttle Sansepolcro, briefing.
Ride from Sansepolcro to Pian della Capanna.

Distance: 12 km circa
Elevation gain: 900 m circa
Elevation loss: 100 m circa

#DAY 2
From Sansepolcro to Badia Prataglia.

From the rolling hills of Sansepolcro we will climb up to the areas of the Alpe della Luna Reserve which corresponds to the southmost part of the GEA, from there we will gradually descend down to the Tiber valley and climb on the hills and mountain that separate the Valtiberina from the Valdarno passing through Caprese Michelangelo birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti, then you will reach Chiusi della Verna with its famous Sanctuary and the cobblestone way leading there from the town. From Chiusi we have entered in the National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, we will ride in the ridges to then descend to Rimbocchi and eventually make the last ascent of the day to reach the town of Badia Prataglia. From the town there is a forestry road leading to the Hermitage and Monastery of Camaldoli passing through some beautiful waterfalls.

Distance: 72 km circa
Elevation Gain: 2000 m circa
Elevation Loss: 1000 m circa
Difficulty scale: 3/5
Few water sources

#DAY 3
From Badia Prataglia to Montefiesole.

From the mountain town of Badia we get deep down in the heart of the National Park of the Foreste Casentinensi, with imposing centennial beech trees and fir tree woods. We will cross the core area of the Park ( Riserva Integrale di Sasso Fratino and La Pietra) taking the ridge road from the Hermitage of Camaldoli until we reach the Calla Pass, from here we get to the Burraia meadows where the scenery changes again looking east with beautiful vistas over the sand stone and marns ravines ( Calanchi) and the Adriatic coast and looking west the contours of the Pratomagno and Tuscan hills. From here we will then reach the Tre Faggi Pass and then climb to the Muraglione pass where the severe look of the Apennine mountains starts yelding to the gentle Tuscan countriside, next village on the list is Londa, tiny little borough at the end of a long descent and next to a lake, then from here we will take some blacktop roads parallel to the river Sieve coasting the Borgo di Rufina and then hitting the hills to get to Montefiesole and the Lavacchio farm between wineyards, cellars and an old windmill.

Distance: 85 km circa
Elevation Gain: 1800 m circa
Elevation Loss: 2500 m circa
Difficulty scale: 4/5
Few water sources

# DAY 4
From Montefiesole to Florence

From the farm we take a mule-track with some short-but-steep section leading to the Monastery of Montafiesole perched on the top of the hill.
From here a descent alternating some single tracks to gravel sections will take us down to the main piazza of Pontassieve where – between the 2 Medieval gates there is a Memorial Monument of WWII. No more climbs today, just a very comfortable gravel bike lane taking us to Rosano where we will take the asphalt road to get to Sieci at the gates of Florence, from there we will take another gravel bike path – this time along the Arno river- on the right banks that will take us to Ponte Vecchio in the heart of the Town Cradle of Renaissance; Florence.

Distance: 25 km circa
Elevation Gain: 100 m circa
Elevation loss: 300 m circa
Difficulty scale: 1/5
Few water sources

#DAY 5
Rest – No biking day

#DAY 6
From Florence to Montecatini

From Florence Centre we will get to the Arno river following it downstream across the Cascine Park and then reaching the Parco dei Renai in Signa, then we will get to Poggio alla Malva where it starts an ascent on an asphalt road quite rough to get to the Villa Medicea La Fernanda in the Medieval borough of Artimino. From here there is a 360° view from the Pratomagno (east- this time we see its western side, 2 days ago its eastern side), the Apennine mts chain (north- where soon we will return), the Chianti (south). The Monti Pisani (west). We are surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, the town of Artimino boasts an Etruscan Museum and a necropolis . We now leave Artimoni to follow another ridge, the one of Montalbano, hilly territory between the Arno valley, the Ombrone that was the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci and hosts other Medicis’ villas besides La Fernanda such as the ones of Cerreto Guidi, the Magia di Quarrata and of Poggio a Caiano. After riding on single tracks on the oak woods of the Montalbano we will descend to Montecatini; town of spas and hot springs where we can opt for a soak in the hot waters.

Distance: 75 km circa
Elevation Gain: 1900 m circa
Elevation Loss: 1900 m circa
Difficulty scale: 3/5
Plenty of Water

#DAY 7
From Montecatini to Abetone

Blacktop option:
From the town of Montecatini we will reach the rock of Montecatini Alto to enjoy the vista over the Val di Nievole, then we will take the road leading uphill initially to Marliana and then to Prunetta.
From here the road descends through a wonderful chestnut wood forest until San Marcello Pistoiese where you will take the road uphill to Val di Lima until Casotti di Ponte Sestaione.
From here we leave the blacktop roads to enter in the Bio-Genetical Reserve of Pian degli Ontani; a perfectly preserved Apennine mnt forest environment with endemic protected species. The ride continues with some short descents and ascents along a mule-track under the beech and fir trees canopy until we reach the asphalt road again at Le Regine.
From here in 3k we will be to Abetone, a major ski and winter touring site in the Apennines.

Distance: 75 km circa
Elevation Gain: 2200 m circa
Elevation Loss: 800 m circa
Difficulty scale: 4/5
Plenty of Water

#DAY 8
From Abetone to Radici Pass (or Sant'Anna a Pelago)

From'Abetone, after a short descent on blacktop road to Dogana Nuova, in Emilia Romagna we ride uphill to the Tagliole Valley passing through the village of Rotari and then Tagliole where you can admire the oldest mountain holm of the world. In 5k moslty upphill we will then be at Lago Santo a mountain lake on the ridges of the Apennine mts. Over here it will be a must try to get to a Rifugio and sample the typical food such as Tortelli, cheeses, cured meats and also forest berries like blackcurrants, raspberries, jams and honey.
From Lago Santo we will climb for 500 m maybe walking the bikes to reach the ridge and descend on a super-fun single track to the village of Sant'Anna a Pelago where we can spend the night or decide to reach the next pass ( Radici) where there is an hotel.

Distance: 40 km circa
Elevation Gain: 1000 m circa
Elevation Loss: 600 m circa
Difficulty scale: 3/5
Plenty of Water

#DAY 9
From Radici Pass to Cerreto Pass

A full day on the ridges starting from Radici Pass (or Sant’Anna a Pelago) to ride up to the Royal Firtree wood at the border with the 3 provinces of Modena, Reggio Emilia and Lucca.
The road is actually a mule-track or an uneven and bumpy gravel road leading us to Mt Prado, the GPM of the tour with its 2100m a.s.l. of elevation. You can see from here the Apuan Alps, the Ligurian Apennines and Mt Cusna.
Crossing the Giant Park (Parco del Gigante) hence by the profile of these mountains resembling a man asleep, once reached Pradarena we can have a break at the ristorante/rifugio Carpe Diem after that there will be a fun descent through the beech tree woods to get to Cerreto Pass.

Distance: 40 km circa
Elevation Gain: 1400 m circa
Elevation Loss: 1400 m circa
Difficulty scale: 3/5
Plenty of Water

#DAY 10
From Cerreto pass to Lagdei

Start riding downhill to the small village of Sassalbo (from the Latin “White Stone”) because of the big gypsum quarry that dominate the valley. You will then descend on a forestry road immersed in the beech tree woods untli the town of Comano small village of the Lunigiana where it starts the blacktop road to Lagastrello.
Once reached the lake. The road coasts the lake to then descend to Pratospilla and Valditacca, from there the road becomes gravel to get to the Colla pass and the Hundred Lakes Park ( Parco dei Cento Laghi). We pass from Lagoni and following the path running next to creeks and mall ponds we get to Lagdei, Rifugio/Albergo. Here you have a cableway to get to the Lago Santo Parmense, unique example of alpine eco-system lake in the Apennines as it is witnessed by the presence of the Alpin char in its waters.

Distance: 60 km circa
Elevation Gain: 2000 m circa
Elevation Loss: 2000 m circa
Difficulty scale: 4/5
Plenty of Water Sources

#DAY 11
Day off- No biking day

#DAY 12
From Lagdei to Pontremoli

We start climbing towards the ridge on a fir tree wood for 5k to get to the top above the tree line, From here to the Cirone Pass i twill be a sequence of rolling mountain tops covered by meadows attended by cattle and horses that are peacefully grazing.
From the peaks you have the most spectacular view of the tour, you can see south the Gulf of the Poets, the Pianura Padana north, and further north the white peaks of the Alps, you then get to the Cisa Pass where you cross the Tuscan Gate of the Via Francigena and then onto an undulating path and a forestry road downhill to the town of Pontremoli.

Distance: 55 km circa
Elevation Gain: 1000 m circa
Elevation Loss: 2300 m circa
Difficulty: 3/5
Plenty of Water Sources

#DAY 13
From Pontremoli to Monterosso al Mare


It is the last day of the tour when the mountains meet the Ligurian Sea in the fantastic coasts of the Marine Park of the Cinque Terre.
We take the asphalt road to Zeri riding upstream the Gordana creek to then enter in the mule-track that crosses meadows and forests that ends to the village of Borghetto Vara, from there we climb to Colla della Madonna and then Mt Soviore (600 m a.s.l.) to then descend to the Ligurian Sea and reach in 4 km the village and beaches of Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre.

Distance: 60 km circa
Elevation Gain: 1200 m circa
Elevation Loss: 2600 m circa
Difficulty scale: 2/5
Plenty of Water Sources
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