Bikepacking Sibillini (Italy)
98 Mi.(158 KM)
% Rideable (time)
The Wild Side
The Sibillini Mountains have been a popular subject for travelers and explorers since the fifteenth century, stirring a sinister and mysterious charm in the imaginations of scholars and adventurers from all over Europe. As legend has it, one of its peaks was home to an ancient oracle called Sibilla. Even today, centuries later, the Sibillini Mountains inspire a sense of magic to those who travel these tracks.
Starting from the ancient village of Visso, the Sibillini bikepacking route offers an incredible variety of ecozones and panoramas in close succession, despite its limited mileage. Following gravel and double track dirt roads, this 158 kilometer clockwise loop provides a complete view of the massif. From the wonderful Val di Panico (Panic Valley) which goes towards the mountains lapping the “Dolomitic” Monte Bove, to the ever blue lake of Fiastra, where you can taste the delicacies of Italian cuisine and swim in its crystal clear waters. On the east side, in Prati di Ragnolo area, there’s a beautiful dirt road that flows through a high meadows with breathtaking panoramic views of the Sibillini to the west overlooking the wild valleys of the Ambro and Infernaccio, the Marche hills, and the Adriatic Sea to the east.
The route is mostly rideable and even the singletrack sections aren’t too technical. For the most part, the only bike dismounts required are to take in the views. Among these views are certainly the Piana di Castelluccio, which can be seen from the Forca di Presta pass in the southern part of the route. From there you can also admire the magnificent silhouette of the Monti della Laga.
From that pass in the south, while rolling through Pian Piccolo and Pian Grande which make up the Castelluccio plateau, you’ll follow a series of grassy trails and doubletrack towards the town of Castelluccio in the shadow of Monte Vettore, the Sibillini’s highest peak (2476m). If you time it right between the end of May and the beginning of July, an incredible array of wildflowers bloom and paint the entire plateau. After reaching the route’s highest point (1820m) in the east, you drop back down to Visso (600m), the starting point of the loop, over a series of double tracks and winding gravel.
Bikepacking in Sibillini is somewhat of a mystical experience. All throughout the ride you’re immersed in a seemingly magical atmosphere where it’s easy to lose yourself in the surreal landscapes and tracks that wind between the folds of the mountains and disappear into the boundless meadows. Here the light captures glimpses of timeless beauty where remote valleys are punctuated by pyramid-shaped mountains.
We originally rode in Sibillini National Park in 2016 when we pedaled the G.A.S. (Grande Anello dei Sibillini), one of the most beautiful hiking paths in central Italy. Two months later an earthquake struck the Sibillini area and the access to many of the sections we rode were closed for safety reasons. Three years later many of those areas have been reopened. This route was based on a specially designed version of the G.A.S. and is the result of the joint efforts of locals Ivano D’Orazio, Fabrizio Castelli, and Loretta Piergentili. We’d like to thank them for inviting us back to the Sibillini Mountains. Their Association Marche Bikepacking organizes “Sibillini Bikepacking,” the first unsupported bikepacking event in the Sibillini National Park which will be held in May this year. Learn more at sibillinibikepacking.it.
- The spectacular views from Fiastra Lake and the trail that runs along the eastern shore.
- The Sanctuary of Macereto which stands on an isolated plateau in the western side of the route. It’s a religious complex and one of the greatest expressions of Renaissance architecture of the 16th century in the Marche region. It can be reached with a detour of 1.5km from the route, but it’s definitely worth it!
- Epic view of the Adriatic sea along the Prati di Ragnolo near Pizzo Meta in the north-eastern side of the route.
- From the Forca di Presta pass. At 1,550m, you can enjoy the spectacular views of the Piana di Castelluccio, and in the opposite direction, the peaks of Monti della Laga.
- Epic view of Monte Vettore, the highest peak in the Sibillini mountains (2476m), whose top stands out over the Castelluccio plains.
- Fiorita di Castelluccio, between late May and early July you can admire the array of wildflowers that bloom on the plateau, bursting with colors ranging from yellow ochre to red, from violet to white. The species of flowers that paint the Piana di Castelluccio include lentils, gentianella, buttercups, poppies, narcissuses, violets, asphodels, Eugeniae violet, clovers, oxalis, and many more.
- The Italian-shaped forest near the plain of Castelluccio where conifers were planted in 1961 in memory of the nation’s first centenary of unity.
- The Monti Sibillini area was hit hard by an earthquake in 2016. It is therefore recommended not to enter the “red zones” of the historic centers of Visso, Ussita, and Castelluccio villages.
- Best bike: a hardtail MTB or fully rigid plus bike is recommended for this mixed-terrain loop. Even a gravel bike would work, especially with wide and tough tires (700x45mm or 650b x 2.1″) due to some rough sections.
- When to go: the ideal riding season is between mid-May and mid-October. In winter some sections of the route are not passable due to the snow.
- The route passes through grazing areas where there could be sheepdogs. If they chase you, the best way to proceed is to get off the bike and continue on foot, placing the bike between you and the dog.
- Wild camping is permitted along the route, except for the Castelluccio plateau (from Km120 to 129 /from mi 74.5 to 80). As always, #leavenotrace.
- Just before the no camping zone, there’s an excellent location to pitch a tent or bivy. It is close to the Belvedere mountain hut and offers a spectacular view of the Monti della Laga.
- Campfires are banned in the Sibillini National Park.
- There are two campsites along the route. ‘B-Site Camp’ on the banks of Fiastra lake and ‘Camping Sibilla’ in Montefortino (both noted on the GPX).
- Lodging is possible in some villages along the route or nearby. More info here.
- Drinking water is never an issue. There is plenty of water fountains along the route. The only stretch where there is no water supply is between Castelluccio and Visso (about 25km).
- On the Fiastra lake there is “La Spiaggetta” where you can eat, and if necessary, repair your bike thanks to a bike repair station. In front of the restaurant there is also a small beach where you can relax.
- A “must-stop” is at La Capanna in Pintura where you can enjoy typical cuisine, take sandwiches, or even sleep. There is also a bike repair station available for riders.
- Food can be bought from grocers in Visso and Fiastra (noted on the GPX).