Route » Difficult » Route 23 (Towards Assisi in the footsteps of St. Francis)


Towards Assisi in the footsteps of St. Francis
Ponte Valleceppi, S. Egidio, Petrignano, Assisi, San Presto, Casa Castalda, Valfabbrica, Pianello, Bosco, Ponte Valleceppi

Technical Sheet

Starting and finishing point: Ponte Valleceppi
Distance: 75 km.
Total ascent: 1,200 metres
Grade: difficult
Road surface: asphalt
Recommended type of bike: road or hybrid
Places to visit in the area: Perugia, Assisi, the Chiascio Valley, Valfabbrica.

This ride starts off from the sports ground in Ponte Valleceppi, alongside the River Tiber on the outskirts of Perugia, and it winds its way among the hills between Perugia and Assisi. The route does not include any particularly tough climbs, but there is a lot of undulating road, in particular between Assisi and Casa Castalda, and the total ascent of 1200 metres means that you need to be fit to do the ride.

Leaving the starting point at Ponte Valleceppi, take the road going to Gualdo Tadino, and you immediately encounter a climb, the first of the day, up to Civitella d’Arna, where you then turn right and ride along the ridge as far as Sant’Egidio: this sections runs past vineyards and farmland, and offers a fine view of the city of Perugia (see ‘photo on the left), and of the plain beneath Mount Subasio.

When you get to Sant’Egidio (site of Perugia Airport), take the road down towards Petrignano di Assisi, and then on to the outskirts of Assisi a few kilometres further on. The road that leads up to the old town centre is about 4.5 km. long and is not particularly steep, and take you into Piazza Matteotti. From here you should stop and visit the centre and the Rocca Maggiore, and perhaps have a snack or a cappuccino before moving off again.

The route continues from Assisi in the direction of Gualdo Tadino, although fitter riders may like to take a detour to the right and ride up the 10 km. leading to the top of Mount Subasio: it is a tough climb, but a highly satisfying one when you get up there, as the views are simply unbelievable.

Continuing towards Gualdo Tadino, on the other hand, the road first descends gently through a gorge, and then at km. 31 starts to climb once more towards San Presto, situated at km. 37. Once again, the climb is not particularly difficult, with gradients of no more than 5-6%, and this section of the route passes through woodland, meadows and farmland, far from any traffic or noise.

One and a half kilometres past San Pietro, turn left off the SS444 towards Casa Castalda: this marks the end of the climb, and the beginning of a series of tough ups and downs as far as the junction with the main SS318 road, where you turn left towards Perugia. After around 6 kilometres of descent (be careful as this road, while not particularly busy, is used by the occasional heavy goods vehicle) you come to the town of Valfabbrica in the Chiascio Valley, situated on the Assisi-Valfabbrica-Gubbio Franciscan Peace Trail.

Continue along the SS318, past Pianello at km. 62, until you get to km. 65. At this point, bear right off the main road onto the SP246 in the direction of Piccione, and then after less than a kilometre, turn left onto a minor road through the hills and follow the signs for the Country House Poeta Contadino.

This narrow road runs across a hilly landscape reminiscent of nearby Tuscany. At km. 69.5 you get to a small place called Pieve Pagliaccia: turn left here and ride back onto the SS298 (one of the very few busy sections of this particular route), and then the remaining five kilometres of the route taking you back to Ponte Valleceppi.

Things not to miss

The centre of Perugia, the regional capital of Umbria, and one of the most beautiful cities of art in the whole of Italy. You should not miss Piazza IV Novembre, with the delightful Fontana Maggiore in the centre, and Palazzo dei Priori standing opposite the city’s Cathedral.

Of the great many other buildings and monuments worth seeing, try not to miss the Etruscan Arch and Well, and the Rocca Paolina, a massive fortress that the Pope had built in 1540. The city’s many interesting religious buildings include St. Peter’s Abbey, the Church of San Domenico, the San Francesco al Prato complex, and the Church of Sant’Ercolano. Nor far from the city walls lies the Ipogeo dei Volumni, the largest and most important aristocratic Etruscan tomb in the region.

Another place that you have to visit while you are here is the old town of Assisi, which has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Its innumerable artistic and architectural treasures include the Basilica of Santa Chiara, the Monastery of San Domenico, and the splendid Basilica of St. Francis. Just outside the walls, and dominating the entire town, lies the Rocca Maggiore, rebuilt in 1367 by Cardinal Abornoz upon the site of a feudal castle that had stood there previously.

The beautiful natural setting should not be forgotten either, a considerable part of which is contained within the boundaries of the Mount Subasio Regional Park.



Cartography Iter Edizioni, Subiaco (Rome). Tel. 0774/84900



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