Today started nice with the breakfast (not supposed to be included) at the Bed & Breakfast and a sunny ride in just the right temperature most of the day. First a bit downhill and slightly chilly along the valley river until the climb started up to Pievepelago. Here one starts to glimpse the now white mountain tops at ahead. Pievepelago is a somewhat big village (or maybe town even) very remotely located, but strategically between the Passo dell’Abetone, Passo delle Radici, Passo di Cento Croci and Sestola.
I had realised last evening that I had forgotten my iPhone charger in Pisignano, so was now hoping to get a new one somewhere. The cell phone shop in Pievepelago hardly have heard about iPhones, so no help here. Had to make sure not to use my phone too much and not take too many photos now until I found a charger.
I continued up to Passo dell’Abetone (1380m), which is a rather easy pass (at least from this easier side). It is a nice pass with a good road over it and it is also a BIG climb. I had originally planned to go up a road pass on the other side of Abetone to Passo delle Croce Arcana (1670m), but the original idea was to reach that the day before so now I needed to make choices and I thought the risk was high there were some lingering snow or at least water from yesterday and the last section 2 km (?) was gravel surface only, so I decided to leave that pass for another time, even if it should be one of the nicest anywhere near here.
Good speed down after filling up some water. There was road work at one place, but the roads seemed better on the west side of the mountains here.
I had some nice roads down by Popiglio and after some more or less flat stretches I reached Bagni di Lucca, that I first thought to pass by, but at the second entrance I decided to make a stop and had a very nice lemon pastry and coca-cola where I took this photo. Good with some varying landscapes in the photos … .
Then there was another flattish section. At Fornaci di Barga I eventually came upon a lot of cell phone shops and here I got a 3rd party charger for the iPhone rather cheaply at €15 (though it makes irritating noise, but works alright otherwise). Also when I got home they were kind enough to send me my original charger by mail. Had still not run out of charge on my iPhone, so I was lucky here.
Then I went to Castelnuovo di Garafagnana as planned, since I wanted to do the next climb from the right side. Looked around in the city for something more to eat, but it was not too inviting – mostly a lot of bloody tourists around there, so I continued and before starting out on the climb (Slightly confused about where I were now), I saw the train station and went down there and they served food, so had a lasagne cheaply and was happy with that. For sure, only locals there (drinking grappa).
The train station in Garfagnana (278m) is really a good starting point for the climb up to San Pellegrino in Alpe and the Passo del Lagadello/Bocca dei Fornelli (1623m) above. This is the hardest climb in all of Toscana/Tuscany and as such it is as demanding as some of the tougher Alps passes, maybe not unlike the very high Colle dell’Agnello (2744m). 17.4 km at 7.7% on average, but the problem is the very steep section before San Pellegrino with long ramps at 18%, which made it tough for me, but I persevered in the end. The last part is easy.
I only stopped at the pass at the top for this and the two photos below.
The height is for once too low on a pass sign here and the true height is something like 1623m, which makes it the highest paved road pass anywhere near here.
There are nice views at the pass, but the short stretch over to the nearby Passo delle Radici (1529m) is rather disappointing with no views. It is quite nice around San Pellegrino also.
Nothing much to see at Passo delle Radici, but had a photo of the walking pass sign showing the height 1527m.
There are three roads from Passo delle Radici and I returned back down to Toscana/Tuscany on the other side here where the road is much wider but also not so much used even if this is a prominent crossing in the area. The road is mostly good down to Foce di Terrarossa (1132m), a little pass where I took this photo over the area of San Pellegrino where I just had climbed up (not the closest mountainside you see, but the one behind it).
A bit further down there is a small asphalt road taking off to Sassorosso, which I took as it should be a little short-cut to the road up to Orechiella (itself a short-cut road to the next pass), none of them really any faster I think, but nice with smaller roads. Now this road down to Collaccio gets really steep further down and climbing this way up to Passo delle Radici would make the full climb be a bit more like the Pellegrino climb, although still easier as the last part is uneventful.
The road to (Sella) Orrechiella (1235m) is a rather small road, but on the way up to Corfino village it has an impressive bridge. I stopped in Corfino for a coca-cola at the bar. A nice little village a bit strangely located up the mountain. From Corfino the road really got very small and narrow and I was not totally sure it would all be asphalted, but it was fine all the way.
Orrechiella is a very desolate place, apart from a few mountain bike cyclists, but maybe there is more people up here in the Summer. I looked around a little at the top which has a closed (for the season) restaurant. Then went down the other side to Sillano. Now this side is even more obscure and if it wasn’t for meeting with one single car I might have concluded that this road likely would not go anywhere and even with the car I was uncertain as I came down to this big lake – Lago di Vicaglia. Even here I wondered as there was only a very narrow tunnel out from this area that looked like it could be a closed service tunnel for the dam. But once through the tunnel I knew it would be okay. I heard gun shots and hoped they were not going in my direction (obviously locals out hunting).
The roads then comes to a tiny village (Villa). I stopped before to take the last photo for the day. Then it was down through the forest to Sillano, where I came out on the main road through a tiny opening between the houses in the village. I started out on the way up to the next pass (Passo di Pradarena), but above the town it looked like there might not be much hope in finding any place to stay at for the night, so even though it was still only a bit after 19:00 I went back and asked if anyone knew if there was a place on the way up to the pass where were lodging could be found, but the only place was a hotel at the pass and they were not sure it was open.
I asked if there was a place to stay at in Sillano and first they thought there was nothing, but then someone was reminded there was a sign I had just passed by when coming into the village by a small grocery shop announcing a bed & breakfast. After some confusion in guiding me there, it turned out to be just were I thought it was at the grocery. The old nice owners let me buy some sandwiches etc. to eat as there was no open restaurant in the village and then showed me the house which I had on my own a bit down the main road and luckily they got the heat turned on so I could have a warm shower and it was not particularly warm here outside either in the evening. Very good price and a nice location to stop at for the evening.