[ blog » 2022 » 03_Firenze ] Arezzo – Pratomagno – Firenze (by Philipp Gesang, location: Firenze)

Getting above 1000 m of altitude at least once was one of the main goals I had set for this vacation. On Saturday the weather forecast seemed adequate to accomplish this. I picked the Pratomagno mountain range for the altitude part. Around 30 km east of Firenze, it seemed best suited for a one-day ride as I could hop on the train to Arezzo and would be on the bike heading back to Firenze an hour later. So much for the theory.

Having left Arezzo behind me, access to the mountains was complicated somewhat by a peace demonstration that blocked the roads. Why they would march outside the city instead of in its center escapes me. It took around an hour until I could finally start climbing the Pratomagno. Approaching the mountains from the south meant lots of sunshine which made for a pleasant experience despite the chilly headwind that was blowing from the north. Thanks to decent roads with next to no cars on them, I reached at 1000 m altitude in no time. From there on the view over the Arno valley was spectacular. In fact I enjoyed it so much I was contemplating adding the Pratomagno to my favorite climbs.

Until at an altitude of 1250 m the tarmac turned into a dirt road. Here we go again! I thought, cause the same thing happened last summer when I was crossing from Umbria into the Marche. Dear Italy, can you please stop calling those stretches of gravel a strada? Having to deal with the rough road dampened my euphoria quite a bit but I continued on nevertheless, hoping for the tarmac to reappaer as suddenly as it vanished.

And in fact it did reappear five kilometers later! For a minute I felt vindicated for spiting the gravel. However, I wasn’t ready for what came next. Five hundred meters later, at around 1440 m altitude, I had finally reached the pass. There the road passes under a rock ridge to continue on the north side of the mountain where the shadow of the crag still keeps the sun away this time of the year.

Consequently, the remainder of the summit road was still covered with snow.

This I hadn’t planned for. I could have endured another five km of sterrato, but pushing the bike through kneed deep snow? No way. So I did the only thing I reasonably could do and followed the dirt road back to the nearest junction to descend into the Arno valley from there. The descent somewhat compensated for the aborted plan, especially the lower altitudes where the road passes through magnificent villages constructed on steep slopes.

The involuntary course correction added around 30 extra kilometers to my trip. I had to improvise finding a way home and ended up cutting straight through the promontory on the southeast of Florence, trading some more climbing for a shorter voyage home. The shorter but ultra-steep climbs in those parts sapped the last watts out of my legs. An adequate challenge to end the vacation! Two hours later than I had pessimistically planned I finished the longest ride of the year so far.

Map. 132 km, 2100+ m elvation


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