Northeast Tuscany by motorcycle
The Tosco-Romagnolo tract of the Apennines
The Tosco-Romagnolo portion of the Apennine mountains offers the motorcyclist a thrilling ride, with no tolls and great mountain and hours of riding. With the classic Tuscan hills behind us, we can enjoy mountain charm, which at times is even downright wild. Good food and warm hospitality are a given.
Length: 280 km
Duration: 4/5 days
Road type: Mixed, mountainous
Province: Florence, Arezzo (Forli-Cesena)
Set your GPS: Firenze, Pontassieve, Passo della Consuma, Poppi, Stia, Passo della Calla, Corniolo, Premilcuore, San Benedetto in Alpe, Marradi, Colla di Casaglia, Palazzuolo Sul Senio, Coniale, Firenzuola, Passo della Futa, Il Bivio, Vaglia, Pratolino, Firenze
Fed up with the city traffic, it's time to leave Florence following the Sieve river. Be careful of the autovelox speed traps: this area is mined with them. Once you reach Pontassieve, it's time to leave the SS67 and head off to the right up the SR70. After riding for a few minutes you get to Pelago, with its buskers and On the Road festival, which takes place every July. Even in other seasons, this town is worth a visit.
On to Diacceto. The road runs through the Chianti Rufina landscape. We're heading towards the Consuma: a classic mountain pass, which in 1903 was the site of the first uphill motorcycle race; we're talking about old bikes, dirt roads and unreliable brakes. The most recent edition of the Coppa della Consuma saw the 21-year old Agostini come in first place. Today it's a wonderful road that connects Valdarno with Casentino valley.
The best place to stop before you get to the pass is the Abbey of Vallombrosa with its full picnic site. The schiacciata with mushrooms and ham is worth the distance if you can make it to the Consuma Pass (1050 meters above sea level). After a sharp descent take a left and in the distance you will see Poppi and the Castle of the Count Guidi family.
We take SP310 through Stia, skip the Croce a Mori pass and head on to the Passo della Calla (1296 masl): this is a thrilling network of curves set in the splendid landscape of the Casentino National Park. We turn off at Corniolo, opting for the less travelled road (once a dirt road) which goes from Premilcuore to Manzo Pass at 846 masl: this is for the wild ones.
From San Benedetto in Alpe, turn right and head off towards Val di Meda, following the Eremo Pass (921 masl) all the way to Marradi, the home of poet Dino Campana. This is where the Chestnut Festival takes place every October. The Passo della Colla (913 masl) wins out over the S. Ilario Pass: both leave from Marradi but the SR302 is more exciting. The road climbs all the way to the pass where there is a fine restaurant that also offers rooms. The first bike rally of the year is held here in January each year.
One mountain pass leads to another in this tract of road. Between Palazzuolo sul Senio and Coniale, there's the Valico del Paretaio or the Faggiola Pass (880masl), which is a great ride.
Head back through The Santerno valley to Firenzuola and stop at the Futa river. SR65 is the last thrill before heading back to the city. The route has curves, semicurves and snaking roads which peter out as the road goes on. Make sure you stop on the shores of the Lago di Bilancino.
For information: www.provincia.fi.it, www.provincia.arezzo.it, www.monaci.org, www.parcoforestecasentinesi.it, www.bilancinolagoditoscana.it