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Crossing the Majella National Park by bicycle

The Majella National Park can be crossed from different paths. The one we're going to talk about goes north to south starting from a district of Abbateggio, just a few kilometers from San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (province of Pescara) to end in the well known Pescocostanzo (province of L'Aquila), not far from Molise. Visiting the Majella National Park by bicycle is a marking experience, for the variety of panoramas you meet and for Nature apparently impenetrable which wraps the entire cycling itinerary and bringing bicycle travelers into a surreal sort of world...

Map

 

Pedal in Val Giumentina

Majella National Park's arduous mountains are the perfect scenery for this bicycle adventure in Abruzzo, a region which never stops impressing. Just after San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore, we start our cycling route which crosses the heart of the reserve and leads to Pescocostanzo. The first leg of the journey follows, partially on gravel, the Val Giumentina, large and ideal for MTB excursions and trekking. This valley hosts the Eco-Musem f the Paleolithic, a prehistoric site inhabited by Homo Erectus.
val giumentina
 
From the upland, you can start also the trekking towards the Eremo di San Bartolomeo in Legio, one of the Majella historical sites dating back to the XI century and then restored by Pietro Morone, the eventual Pope Celestino V around 1250. While pedaling in Val Giumentina it's very easy to spot some roe deers and often even the wolf which lives in these woods.
eremo san bartolomeo majellaFollow the signs of the offroad Itinerary 7 towards Contrada Riga. You could be warmly welcomed by the white sheepdogs living in the courts in this plain: proceed with caution, and get off the bike to push it, without getting too close to the sheep. From Riga, you follow the itinerary towards the SR487 meters you reach the road on the torrente Orfento.
Along this river, there is a beautiful tight canyon with some amazing water reflexes alternated to bridges and true Nature. 
Trekking along the canyon, after asking for permission, is really suggested.

From Caramanico Terme to San Leonardo Pass

Beyond the bridge over the Orfento river, you can reach Caramanico Terme, quiet holiday locality in the Majella National Park.
On your bike, you are not allowed to continue in the tunnel leaving the locality, so you have to continue on an alternative road climbing alongside the tunnel, at its right. In a few kilometers uphill you reach Sant'Eufemia a Majella, where it is possible to have something to eat, to drink and try some local cheeses.
The road from Caramanico Terme to the San Leonardo Pass is all uphill even if you never reach impossible gradients or impossible to ride on. At 1282 meters you reach the Appenninic Pass, in Pacentro. You might find the cafe open, but it depends on the period of the year.
From the Pass, you can start an excursion towards Monte Amaro, the highest peak in the Majella National Park.
passo san leonardo in bici

Campo di Giove and the old "Italian transiberian"

At 1064 meters, some kilometer after San Leonardo Pass, you enter the village of Campo di Giove with its locality Le Piane, known for its ski slopes. In the silence of SP12A, you might meet a fox (we met five of them) or some ungulate eating. This cycling itinerary keeps along the solitary rail of the old railway Sulmona - Carpinone, the suggestive route named Italian Transiberian, crossing the majority of the Majella National Park.
lungo la vecchia transiberiana d italiaAt the Palena station, after some kilometers without any houses or villages, you reach the Forchetta Pass, above Palena, which leads on the SR84 towards Pescocostanzo. Pescocostanzo is situated just higher than the statal road, but it appears already from the SR84 at the horizon. The village deserves a visit, maybe with a pit-stop at a cafe, to have a chat about brigands and the legends of the Appennine.
pescocostanzo
For more information about the places of this cycling itinerary in Abruzzo you can visit the official webpage of the Majella National Park, or at the videos and pictures on the Facebook page Majellando and on the webpage Majambiente, which organizes excursions and journeys in the area. 
Francesco

I'm from Piedmont and I'm 30 years old, I have been living and working in Lombardy for a few years. After a start without any competence in this field, I then approached the bicycle world more and more. Today I can call myself a bicycle traveller and videomaker who would never ever stop. I ride my bike trying to understand why it is so beautiful, rich, therapeutic. And every time I try, I do not understand it. So I must leave again...

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