You may have guessed by now who’s among us is a real sucker for bike tours: Elke! Today she’ll share one of her favorite bike tours: the tour to Castelletta, which is located on the eastern edge of the Parco Naturale Regionale Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi. Why?
- Castelletta is a small, charming borgo
- Most of the driveway is pleasantly shaded
- The tour leads over small, tarred roads and has very little traffic
- Above Castelletta there is a picnic area with breathtaking views
- There is a nice little bar in town and of course a drinking water fountain
- The route is famous because it was the home route of the talented cyclist Michele Scarponi
Elke likes to describe herself as a recreational athlete: That’s why she takes the short tour on the e-bike. If you like it sportier, you can ride a normal racing bike or mountain bike. Her enjoyable sport also includes a delicious meal in a beautiful atmosphere. That’s why Otto and her occasionally combine the Castelletta tour with a picnic.
This is Elke’s telling:
The route starts at the old Santa Elena church from the 11th century, not far from the SS76 Apiro-Mergo exit. It’s easy to park here if there isn’t a wedding going on in Santa Elena. Next door, some deer are grazing peacefully in the enclosure and I already feel relaxed.
The first few kilometers take us repeatedly along irrigation canals that supply the adjacent fields and gardens. After about 4 kilometers we cross the SP14 and follow the signs to Castelletta and Monte Revellone.
It now goes gently uphill until we reach the Gorgovivo complex. This is the local water company’s treatment plant, and there is a picnic area next to it. The water itself comes from Monte San Vicino. Fellow blogger Isabelle once took part in a tour there and wrote an interesting article about it.
But we are drawn further up towards Castelletta. The gradient increases and on the sides of the road and in the curves we see signs in honor of Michele Scarponi, put up by his loyal fans (More about Scarponi in our article about the Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race).
Halfway up we come through the small Borgo San Pietro and then we go up the slope of Monte Revellone to Castelletta at 600 meters above sea level. The place is usually almost deserted because the small, simple houses are mainly used as holiday homes. It only gets a little livelier here in summer, when holiday home owners spend their summer vacation here.
The first written mention of the place dates back to 1292. But the name of the church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, refers to the Roman goddess of war and suggests that Castelletta was already inhabited in Roman times. In the church there is an altar cross from the 13th century and the remains of a fresco depicting St. Sylvester, created by Antonio di Fabriano.
We like to stop at the little bar here to drink a coffee and get fresh drinking water across the street. If you don’t have a picnic with you, you can stock up on fresh panini, a bottle of wine or other drinks in the bar before heading to the picnic area with a view.
Well looked after, we ride out of town and reach our destination after a few meters. The view is amazing! Small picnic tables under shady trees invite us to unpack our treats and take a lunch break. When we go on weekdays, the picnic tables are actually always free. If not, there are more places a little further and a beautiful meadow where you can also rest.
Freshly strengthened, we start our way back. Sometimes we head back the way we came – an easy and quick descent.
[An insider tip: around this area there is my favourite place to pluck wild berries. Best of periods: end of August, trust me! 🙂 ]
The way back via Genga Stazione and through the Gola Rossa is actually nicer, but at your own risk. To do this, we simply continue along the road where our picnic area is and winds its way down into the valley, weave our way through the motorway access roads and follow the SS256 towards Genga Stazione.
If you didn’t come for a picnic, I can recommend Bar 747 in Genga Stazione: You order drinks in the bar and buy a wonderful, freshly topped Crescia in the little shop next door and enjoy both on the bar’s terrace.
After Genga we continue on the SS256, cross the railway and take the old Via Clementina, which leads through the Gola Rossa. Part of the Esino cycle path once went through the beautiful gorge. Unfortunately, part of the road had collapsed and the Gola was impassable for several years. The path has now been largely repaired and some parts have even been paved! We saw pedestrians, climbers and cyclists there. Nevertheless, it is officially blocked; A sign says there is a risk of falling rocks (presumably because the slopes are not secured). But I hope they open the path again soon. Until then, you can only use it at your own risk.
Behind the Gola Rossa we stay on the Via Clementina (SP14) and turn right in Angeli di Rosora over the bridge and then right again behind the motorway underpass towards Santa Elena.
A short, easy tour (36 kilometers, almost 700 meters in altitude) with great views in Castelletta and the Gola Rossa gorge. Of course you can also drive to Castelletta for a picnic.
Here in Komoot you will find the route description and a GPX track for the tour: