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Crossing the Majella National Park by bicycle

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The Majella National Park by bicycle 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...

 

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 da Morrone, 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. 
  • Val Giumentina on your bike
  • Trekking in Valle dell'Orfento
  • The majestic panorama on the Majella from San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore
  • Cheese tasting in the cheese factories in Sant'Eufemia a Majella
  • The beautiful views of the Majella National Park
  • Climbing to the San Leonardo Pass
  • A night under the stars in Pescocostanzo
  • How to reach the national park of Majella? You can reach the Majella national park by bike cycling from Scafa station (reachable from Pescara by train) or from L'Aquila station, that is more distant. To return to the starting point you can travel on TUA bus.
  • The itinerary is signposted? No, the itinerary of the Majella crossing is not signposted and therefore I recommend you to download the gpx track
  • Are there fountains or water sources in general? Along the itinerary there are several sources of water and fountains and there are plenty of bars and refreshment points to refuel..
  • How is the quality of the roads of the Majella crossing by bike? The roads are generally in good condition, but the first part of the itinerary in Val Giumentina is on beaten dirt roads. It may happen that after rainy or snowy seasons the road surface presents cracks or hollows. 

Where to sleep in the Majella National Park

When we crossed the Majella National Park we stayed at two different places: the first just outside of the protected area and one at the end of our bicycle journey. In Contrada Colle di Gotte (municipality of Abbateggio), at the crossing with the beautiful Val Giumentina, you can find the holiday house Borgo Majella, a modern structure with many services among which you have the pool (Info: Tel. +39/3281644412 - +39/3498467285 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Absolutely suggested in order to stop some days and explore the Majella National Park and the coast, impeccable hosting!

In Pescocostanzo we stayed at the Garnì la Rua. A friendly ambiance, fireplace, much information and stories about Majella and Abruzzo, really pleasant stay!

Where to eat in the Majella National Park

If you want some pizza in San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore the Pizzeria Garden cooks great pizzas to be consumed along with a fresh draft beer. In the city center of Caramanico Terme, maybe after trekking in Valle dell'Orfento, you can stop for lunch with typical panzerotti and small pizzas (incredibly good) at the entrance of the historical center at the Bar Pizzeria Caromonaco. If you fancy a good dinner with local products without spending too much and in great company, I can suggest Ristorante la Terrazza in Pescocostanzo.

 
 
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Francesco G

ITA - Ho 33 anni e sono piemontese, anche se da qualche anno vivo e lavoro in Lombardia. Dopo un inizio da totale inesperto in questo campo, mi sono avvicinato al mondo dei cicloviaggi e della bicicletta sempre più. Oggi posso definirmi "cicloviaggiatore", e assieme all'altra mia passione - il videomaking - non mi fermerei mai! Cyclo ergo sum, pedalo quindi sono, per cercare di capire perché andare in bici sia così bello, terapeutico, ricco... E ogni volta che provo a capirlo, non ce la faccio, e sono costretto a ripartire sui pedali!

ENG - I'm from Piedmont and I'm 33 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. Cyclo ergo sum, I cycle therefore I am. 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...