Best MTB routes: biking in Garfagnana
The Garfagnana valley is enclosed, like a casket, between the Apuan Alps and the Apennines: the result is a landscape full of contrasts, unique and inimitable: do you want to discover the Garfagnana by Mountain Bike or E-Bike? There is an infinite number of bike routes in Garfagnana. To complete your holiday with two-wheeled emotions, the Garfagnana offers you an infinite number of routes that will allow you to discover it with easy bike tours immersed in nature or with more challenging and exciting enduro trails. Here are the best bike routes in Garfagnana (according to Villa Raffaelli) for tourists who have decided to venture into this beautiful valley!
Mountain bike or on the road
Having fun on a bicycle is a great addition to your summer holiday in Garfagnana! The breathtaking views combined with the cool climate of this area will give you wonderful moments to spend on your mountain bike … and not only: you will also discover spectacular road bike routes. Which ones? Our friends at Garfagnanadream.it have collected the best ones in a splendid video.
Garfagnana bike sharing: rent your bike
Not every tourist staying in a holiday home or in a farmhouse in Garfagnana can bring their own bicycle. And that’s not a problem! In the area you will find various bike sharing services, bicycle rentals in Garfagnana that will allow you to ride even if you don’t own a bike / MTB. For example, you can rent your bike on Garfagnana MTB Sharing, a bike sharing service in Garfagnana based in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana.
A weekend on your bike
So you want to spend a wonderful weekend by bike in Garfagnana and are you ready to go? Let’s discover together the best bike routes in Garfagnana to try on your beloved mountain bike! Here are the best bike trails in Garfagnana according to Villa Raffaelli:
Bike route in Garfagnana along the Vagli Lake, Roggio, Campocatino
- Length: 23 km
- Maximum altitude: 902 m
- Difficulty: easy
The starting point is the fascinating Lake of Vagli, in whose waters the ghost town is immersed, which re-emerges only at the rare opening of the imposing dam. We go up towards Roggio and we meet the Monumental Secular Chestnut: the characteristic village of Roggio is dominated by the fortified structure on which the church is perched, but we continue along a dirt road that will soon lead us to breathtaking landscapes of the Apuane and Roccandagia, up to the basin glacial of Campocatino: walking the magical alleys between the stone houses is like walking in a nativity scene, it is like taking a leap into the past; the view is majestic. After a well-deserved refreshment stop, we return from the paved road (in Campocatino there is a bar and restaurant, which is best to book, or alternatively there are also refreshment points in Roggio or Vagli).
Mountain Bike Route in Garfagnana from Casone – Passo delle Forbici – Abetina Reale – Between Monte Cusna and Prado – Rifugio Battisti
- Length: 28 km
- Maximum altitude: 973 m
- Difficuly: easy
The starting point is the Casone di Profecchia, where you can stock up on excellent sandwiches, or where you can stop on your way back for a lavish banquet with typical products and home cooking (we recommend that you also read this article: top restaurants in Garfagnana). We begin the climb towards Passo delle Forbici by taking the forest road which then continues into Abetina Reale and we always follow the signs for Mount Prado. The road is still paved at times: it is in fact a stretch of the ancient Via Matildica del Volto Santo that reached Lucca from Mantua: we will find the Segheria Refuge (also here an excellent refreshment point: try the polenta with ribs …) and we will continue to climb until we reach the green meadows of the Apennine peaks, dotted with flocks of sheep; the view is wonderful, you have the feeling of being a stone’s throw from the sky and here you will discover the historic Battisti Refuge; the rapid return downhill is carried out on the same outward path.
MTB route in Garfagnana from Oasi Lamastrone, Monte Asinara, Passo Pradarena
- Length: 13 km
- Maximum altitude: 1781 m
- Difficulty: easy
The starting point is the pretty Lamastrone Oasis with a lake and green meadows, where you can refresh yourself on your return: from the asphalted road you reach a dirt road junction marked on the right and follow the forest road to the meadows at the base of the Asinara and Sillano mountains: the Apennine panorama is wonderful and you can climb the soft grass to the top (If you can climb the peak of the pyramid! Otherwise, walk the last bit!). You make the descent towards Passo Pradarena (here too you can refresh yourself!) And you can return from the more bumpy asphalted or dirt road. Tip: returning by car, we recommend a stop in the village of Borsigliana where, in one of the thousand Matildic churches, you can admire the splendid, golden Triptych by Pietro di Talada: and the bell tower hangs like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Special section: Via Matildica and Via del Volto Santo
Via Matildica is an itinerary that runs through the territories of the Gran Contessa and connects Mantua to Lucca: one stage crosses the Garfagnana starting from San Pellegrino in Alpe and reaches Pieve Fosciana (then continues to Barga and then to Lucca, as we have already explained in the article on the 15 best trekking trails in Garfagnana). Instead the Via del Volto Santo represented a “variant” of the Via Francigena: in fact, instead of crossing the coasts dangerous for malaria and pirates, pilgrims preferred to pass through Pontremoli and go into the hinterland: from Passo di Tea to Piazza al Serchio, to the admirable Verrucole Fortress passing from San Romano and Sambuca to the lake of Pontecosi and then continuing to Lucca. The latter was the final stage of both routes: the Holy Face of Lucca was the destination of thousands of pilgrims on the Via Francigena: this wooden statue with a miraculous history has a particular charm and is described in the section concerning the visit of the city of Lucca. . Often the two paths meet and thus paths in common are created.
A brief introduction on Matilda di Canossa
Matilde (1046-1115) Grand Countess of Tuscany, was an extraordinary woman, incredibly emancipated and modern for those times: a warrior woman who fought in battle since she was trained from an early age in the art of combat: let’s imagine her with her copper armor with long reddish blond hair blowing in the wind as he “swept the sword” alongside his soldiers. The saying “go to Canossa” is famous: her cousin, the emperor Henry IV, humbled himself before her and Pope Gregory VII, waiting to be allowed to enter the Castle of Canossa, they left him for 5 days in the snow, barefoot. This extraordinary woman moved as far as Lucca, to her beloved Holy Face, for which she had built the marvelous Cathedral of San Martino. For this he had created a road network full of hospitals to welcome pilgrims. The Via Matildica crosses the Garfagnana coming down from San Pellegrino in Alpe, passing from Castiglione Garfagnana to Pieve Fosciana and then continues towards Lucca. This stretch with wonderful views is described in the route below.
The Via Matildica del Volto Santo in Garfagnana
- Length: 30 km (approx.)
- Altitude: 1525 m
- Difficulty: easy-medium
Our route starts from Pieve Fosciana and reaches San Pellegrino in Alpe. We leave the car near the church and cross the paved streets towards Via dei Mulini: this dirt track crosses a small wooden bridge and is often flanked by channels of fresh and clear water that feeds some mills; you cross the asphalted road and following the Via Matildica signs you enter a gate that opens onto a dirt road; going up the path narrows up to the marvelous Medieval Bridge of Matilde di Canossa; we overcome the hump of the bridge and go up to Castiglione Garfagnana, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy; do not miss to visit it because cycling through its medieval streets, among the towers, walkways and majestic churches is a journey through history. We continue following the signs towards Isola which can be reached by a road in the woods. We continue on the asphalted road to the characteristic village of Valbona: now we begin to climb in dirt sections towards increasingly open panoramas until we reach Casone di Profecchia: you can stop for a refreshment here or reach San Pellegrino and, like the ancient pilgrims, refresh yourselves nearby to the Ospitale: the return can be made along the asphalted state road downhill to Pieve Fosciana or on the forward road with a possible variant on the ancient Roman road Clodia and subsequently from Castiglione to the locality of Marcione, where in 140 AD as many as 400 Romans were massacred by the Apuan Ligurians in battle.
The Via of Volto Santo, Pontecosi Lake, Tea Pass, Argegna
- Lunghezza: 52 km
- Altitudine: 658 mslm
- Difficoltà: media
The stretch of the Via del voce Santo that crosses the Garfagnana is quite long: it starts from Passo di Tea up to the lake of Pontecosi, continuing from Barga to Lucca. The descent from Passo di Tea actually starts from the Argegna, a pleasant place of green meadows with a white Sanctuary, where, shortly after the Votive Bell of the Alpini, there is a detour marked as an archaeological site: in fact, you can see the remains of the ancient Hospital of Tea built by Matilde di Canossa for pilgrims. Continue to Giuncugnano, to the medieval bridge of Gragnana, the medieval bridge of San Michele, the medieval bridge of Piazza al Serchio, San Donnino, the mighty Verrucole fortress, the medieval village of San Romano, Sillicagnana, the wonderful village of Sambuca and the Pontecosi Lake. This stretch of the Via del Volto Santo, almost completely unpaved, is suitable for medium-level bikers. At this point, the more willing, to return to the Tea pass, can choose, instead of the asphalted road that is rather hot uphill in summer, the dirt path that from Pontecosi even climbs up to the Villetta railway bridge (panoramic, among the highest in Italy) to get to the Poggio, and take the paved road that connects to Piazza al Serchio.
This is the original route of the Via del voce Santo, which descends from the Passo di Tea, but for those who, like us, do not intend to exaggerate, there is solution number two, namely the reverse route that from Lake Pontecosi climbs along the dirt road to the Passo di Tea, with cheerful ups and downs, and on the way back it descends quietly from the asphalted state road downhill. This is the path described with Relieve: we suggest you visit all the wonderful villages you will encounter along the way; you will cross shady woods, fragrant pine forests, meadows and paved streets: each village has its own panorama and its characteristic glimpses, among stone vaults, roof terraces, precious churches and medieval tower-houses. Walking along the Via del Volto Santo, it will seem, in some places, that time has stopped, or that an extraordinary time machine has brought you back to the age of the ancient pilgrims. Faced with certain views, one cannot help but open one’s heart and thank Nature.
First stop on the Via Del Volto Santo in Garfagnana