Cuneo Alps, Langhe and Roero: an outdoor sports paradise
Italy’s Piedmont region is a mountain biking paradise is the perfect holiday destination for those looking for a wild ride, be it natural or man-made.
What would your dream mountain bike holiday look like? Would it include high-altitude mountain trails through breathtaking Alpine scenery? Singletrack snaking through lush, sweeping valleys? State of the art bike parks with a multitude of graded trails? What about a riviera sojourn to take in the sparkling azure sea?
Piedmont’s English translation — ‘foot of the mountain’ — gives a clue to its Maritime Alpine location, and with France to the west and the Ligurian coast to the south, is the key to its unique blend of attractions.
Riders in search of high-octane thrills in a stunning Alpine setting will find that Cuneo suits them down to the ground, with its many well-equipped bike parks designed to satisfy the whims of even the most demanding of adrenaline junkies (see box inset for details).
Take the chair lift to the head of a range of graded routes offering everything from gentle beginner’s trails to white-knuckle downhill courses and make use of ameneties and services such as bike rental, bike wash, workshops and restaurants and snack bars. Why not purchase a bike pass that will entitle you to visit them all on one ticket?
For the more fearless still, on June 8-9, 2019, the beautiful hilltop town of Mondovì will host the second edition of Urban Downhill Mondovì, a spectacular downhill race that takes place on its atmospheric old streets, using alleys and steps to connect an urban course that passes historic buildings and churches. Organised by Ready2Ride Team, for registration with the option of endurance and downhill bike hire see www.facebook.com/MondoviReady4Bike
For those favouring a more relaxing and scenic all-mountain experience, riding the Via del Sale (Salt Way) is must. This network of medieval trading routes once brought salt from the coast to the hinterland and across the border with France; today its remote mule tracks and dirt roads are popular with hikers and bikers in search of adventure.
Starting from the ski resort of Limone Piemonte, this 76-kilometre loop travels through the Limone and Monesi Valleys, taking you through the largest karst landscape in Europe and one of the most beautiful forests in the region, the Bosco delle Navette. Along the way you’ll take in in some of the area’s most imposing peaks before reaching the spectacular hairpin bend of the Colle della Boaria where you can feast your eyes on verdant mountains extending as far as the eye can see below the clear blue sky. Later, at the Rifugio Don Barbera, you’ll have the chance fuel up for the remaining ride with Ligurian-influenced Piedmontese dishes.
The Via del Sale offers many opportunities to branch off the main route and ride down to the Ligurian coast where you can soak up the ambience of the Italian Riviera in the historic cities of Ventimiglia and San Remo. Alternatively head west over the border with France to the Côte d’Azur and relax in the playgrounds of the rich and famous.
Despite reaching an altitude of 2,239m, the Via del Sale is relatively easy to ride, with no steep uphills or technical downhills, making it the perfect route for relaxing and savouring the spectacular scenery.
If you enjoy this excursion, you’ll be pleased to know that Cuneo contains thousands of miles of other tracks offering equally great riding for all levels of skill and fitness.
Gardetta Bike Emotions, for example, is a dedicated bike route that runs along a former military road spanning the Gardetta plateau. Scattered with abandoned 19th century fortifications and at an altitude of 2,300 metres, this is the perfect vantage point for taking in beautiful scenery that stretches over the border with France. At the Pianoro della Gardetta geological reserve you can even inspect dinosaur footprints, accompanied by nature guide Enrico Collo.
While riding is the reason you’ll want come to Cuneo, its culture, history and architecture could be the reason you’ll want to stay. The province’s strategically important border location and history of warring dynasties and city states has left its mark in the form of many military strongholds, elegant castles and grand buildings, while charming hilltop villages are home to old churches and abbeys with frescoes that bring art history to life.
Head to the Langhe Roero wine-growing region — a UNESCO World Heritage site — for a lesiurely ride and break up a relaxing day’s tour by sampling Alba’s famous white truffles or refuelling with a traditional torte verde (vegetable pie) or herb omelette, washed down with Piedmont’s most revered wine, Barolo.
The Bar to Bar itinerary, a 7-stage circuit from Barbaresco to Barolo (and back again), crosses a significant chunk of the Langhe Roero territory along low-traffic roads and trails. The Grande Traversata delle Langhe (GTL) is a tour that encompasses an entire territory, the Langhe. Forget about wine and vineyards, which have only a marginal presence in this tour. Here, you will find pristine nature, castles, and medieval villages where time seems to have stood still. In option, you can also choose for the Roero Bike Tour (RBT), set in a section of hills known as the Roero region laying along the left bank of the Tanaro river.
And with direct flights from London Gatwick to Cuneo, you could be experiencing all this in just a matter of hours. Cuneo town, the provincial capital, makes for an ideal base to explore the nearby mountains and towns.
What are you waiting for?
Cuneo bike parks
Take your pick from a multitude of venues to get your gravity kicks
Monte Alpet bike park, Roburent
Tel + 390174227560
Bike Park Monte Moro,
Artesina bike park, Frabosa Sottana
Bike Park Prato Nevoso,
Bike Park Tajare, Gaiola
Tel. +39. 339.7982768
Limone Bike Resort, Limone Piemonte
Bike Park Rossana, Rossana
Bike Resort Villar San Costanzo,
Villar San Costanzo
Bike Park Viola St Gréé, Viola St Gréé
Roerocche Bike, April
Outdoor Weekend in Langhe Monferrato Roero, April
Pedalanghe, 26th May
The Via del Sale mtb and e-bike competition, June 22-23
E-bike Festival: mtb and e-bike events in Limone Piemonte, at the beginning of the Via del Sale route, July 12-14
The Gardetta Fest, bike meeting and bike ride for mtb and e-bike, July 6
Route del Marguareis, bike adventure between Italy and France, September 1
Piemontrail – Unsupported Bike Adventure, 19th – 20th September
We can provide maps, professional guide services, mtb and e-mtb hire
Comitato per il Turismo Outdoor in Provincia di Cuneo
Tel. +39 0171 690217