[ blog » 2021 » 07_Tour_Italy ]d21: Umbria ( by Philipp Gesang , location: The Southern Slopes of la Carpegna at 840 m Altitude )


Sleep at the Siena campsite was adequate and I left the town early with fresh legs. Big day ahead. Climbing my way out of Tuscany I encountered droves of road cyclists, maybe even more than my whole trip so far combined. Not really surprising as the Chianti region has the ideal terrain for it plus generally excellent roads. On accident my route coincided with parts of the Eroica gran fondo so that may have contributed to the sudden flood of roadies as well.

Typical Tuscan countryside was on the menu for the first half of the day -- rolling hills of 300 to 500 m of altitude covered with bright yellow wheat fields. Initially I hadn't planned on visiting the center of Arezzo but did so by mistake, on account of a wrong turn, and in retrospect that was a good mistake to make as the town is a true gem. There was some kind of flea market going on most of whose visitors spoke Dutch. Somehow expected as every other license plate in Tuscany was yellow.


I took the scenic climb out of Arno valley, a road that forks off from the main road to Umbria, and quite hilariously the summit area was frequented mostly by whores. Not at all what I expected at about 550 m elevation! Do they live off the many road cyclists that look for a challenge on that climb? In any case I entered Umbria via a long descent into the Tiber valley.

Albeit just the northernmost corner of the region of Umbria, the countryside is noticably different from Tuscany. Above all it is greener. No more endless wheat fields, they had been replaced by forest cover. Oaks and pines appeared to make up the largest share of the trees. Not just visually a feast, the smell of drying wood was engaging too.

Reaching Carpegna

I knew beforehand that getting from Umbria into the Marche region was going to be tough. The longest and hardest climb of the day that was starting at a whopping 120 km into the ride. So mentally I was prepared at least for some action.

That wasn't quite enough though. The first part up until 750 m was excellent and I had already booked it as a "fun climb". Then it happened again, the tarmac was gone: the summit bits turned out to be all gravel tracks! What an awful planning mistake. Those are marked as roads in Openstreetmap though but apparently the guys that entered them had low standards.

And that sterrato accomplished what Le Tolfe didn't yesterday, it made me dismount and push because at that gradient the rear part of the bicycle would just slide away. Great, now I was moving even slower.

50 m of pushing followed by 50 m of riding, rinse and repeat. The ordeal lasted for the entire summit stretch around the Cima le Fienaie at about 950 m of elevation. Groups of motorcyclists were passing me smiling. The downhill into Le Marche wasn't much better. For one the surface was even more eroded than on the Umbrian side. But also the road as unsurfaced until much further down around 650 m. Ruins of a large construction site of what looks like a motorway welcomed me there.

By the time I was back on normal roads I had lost at least an hour to the gravel. That put quite a dent into my calculations so I hasted to Carpegna. Some excitement ensued in an over two kilometers long tunnel that led downhill in bright illumination. Not far from that the Carpegna ascent started. Another 500 m of vertical effort. I relied on there being a supermarket in town and by sheer willpower I arrived ten minutes before it closed. Phew, I had used up all my food earlier. That could have gone very wrong.

To my relief the campsite actually existed and they even had a pitch for me. With a catch: it is located another 50 m of altitude above the reception and the road up there was again so steep I had to dismount on the last meters. The view from up here is amazing though. Quite the reward I got for 12 hours and 174 kilometers on the road.


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