Hikers making their way through wild fields, summer tourists heading towards the summit and winter skiers flying downhill – Italy’s mountains are continuously bursting with life. If you have the energy though, the mountain ranges of Italy are best explored on two wheels. Join us as we jump on our bicycles and climb the country’s majestic mountains, discovering some of the most surprising sites and picturesque cycling routes the country has to offer.
Towering high above the island of Sicily, Mount Etna is as iconic as it is beautiful. Its lunar landscape of black sand, volcanic rocks, and oozing lava flows have seen it declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its otherworldly appearance hasn’t gone unnoticed – the mountain attracts countless visitors throughout the year, drawn in by challenging cycling and hiking trails that offer a dramatic volcanic backdrop and incredible views of the island below.
An imposing mass of rock in Abruzzo’s central Apennines, the slopes of Blockhaus mountain are one of the cycling world’s hidden treasures. The area may not be as notorious as other mountain ranges, but that’s half the charm - breathtaking views, crisp mountain air and a landscape full of character blend with a quiet and peaceful atmosphere that feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the world below. Beware of the final stretch to the summit though; the relaxed ride makes way for a steep and punishing climb, showing that the mountain’s unique majesty can be as much a curse as it is a blessing.
The Sanctuary of Oropa
Nestled amongst the foothills of the Alps is one of Italy’s most incredible religious sanctuaries, and one that’s well worth visiting if you’re looking for a climb - the Sanctuary of Oropa. This stunning collection of churches and buildings is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with roots dating back as far as the 4th century AD, and is home to a black wooden statue of the Virgin Mary that is believed to have originated from ancient Jerusalem – the black Madonna. The local community has attributed many miracles to sanctuary and the black Madonna, including protection from the black plague, and the locals of nearby Biella still make a yearly pilgrimage to the sanctuary.
Passo dello Stelvio
If you’re after a challenge with a difference, Passo del Stelvio (the Stelvio Pass) is a must-visit. Located between South Tyrol and Sondrio, this is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, twisting and turning over a climb of over 6000ft. It’s an area already popular with cyclists – each year the Stelvio National Park administration organises the Stelvio Bike Day, which sees the surrounding roads closed to all traffic except the 12,000 cyclists who take advantage of this unique route.
Located high in the Dolomites, Piancavallo is typically a ski resort and has been attracting winter visitors since the late 1960s. However, once the winter snow clears and the skiers leave for the summer, the area becomes perfect for one of Italy’s most attractive and tranquil cycling climbs. Lush green fields and pretty wildflowers stretch out into the distance as you climb the steep hills towards the resort, and the nearby village of Aviano is the perfect stop to rest your legs and experience some authentic Italian mountain hospitality.