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A couple of days ago it was exactly mid-August. I don't know if it's a day of vacation all over the world, but here in my part, it coincides with the holidays for most of the activities, except for those with a tourist imprint that sacrifices themselves to exploit the business of the moment.
My family decided to go to a small house under renovation to take advantage of the mountain air that surrounds it. The two-floors building is located in Porreta, a small town in the municipality of Careggine, on the slopes of the Apuan Alps. The place is sunny, but the almost 1000 meters of altitude makes the air very livable compared to the seaside resorts, in this period much more sultry.
Towards the Passo del Vestito and beyond.
And I? I said to myself, Go! I left home on my bike in the morning, following the way to the mountains. Marina di Massa, Massa, San Carlo Terme, with the first kilometers of ascent. I passed Pariana and Altagnana, starting the second and longest climb towards Pian della Fioba and Passo del Vestito. Also here a very pedalable climb, slightly harder in the final, to reach a long tunnel that connects the provinces of Massa-Carrara and Lucca. The Passo del Vestito offers a rather barren view, scattered with the typical rocks of the Apuan Alps on which a few sparse tufts of grass grow. Some caves that can be reached from the Pass are visible, even if they are not open to the public for safety reasons. It is worth trying the overhanging view of the surrounding valley, certainly characteristic.
It was hard work, but it wasn't over at all. After the tunnel, the
descent towards Arni, Tre Fiumi, and Isola Santa began. After passing Arni, the
road takes the shape of a long snake that runs along the rocky mountain
overlooking a little copious river. So it continues up to the turning point
that allows you to enter the road towards Careggine, where the habitat is
enriched with vegetation.
Here began the last climb, the one towards Porreta. Really tiring, I tried to face it calmly, feeling my strength drop. Unfortunately, it was not enough: as I have already tried several times in the past, I went to the reserve and touched the hitting the wall conditions. Simply, the latter is the condition in which the body no longer has sufficient glucose for muscle contractions. In fact, one feels without energy and no longer progresses except at a snail's speed.
I managed to reach Porreta with soooo calm a few minutes before the
arrival of my family. I had left in their car what I needed to wash and change
my clothes. Once cleaned up myself, I helped prepare for lunch and we all
relaxed together enjoying the day. We said goodbye to the kind neighboress and
went to have a coffee, before taking 2 steps near the sports field that the
Careggine football club uses as an official soccer field. We reached a villa in
the middle of the woods with a truly wonderful swimming pool and on our way
back we stopped at the foot of a gigantic centuries-old chestnut tree. To
understand the tonnage, we used the human measure, as can be seen in the image.
Near the house in Porreta, there are some gigantic fruit trees,
especially pears. I photographed both the tree and its fruits. Unfortunately, a
disease appears to have hit the crop, so much so that all pears have been
infested with this plague. Really a shame, considering the size of the plant.
We do not know who is responsible, once the house is finished we will certainly
try to understand something and maybe better take care of the tree's health. Do
you have any experience with this kind of plague?
Let's start once again!
Feeling more energetic, I decided to finish the day in style: back in
Porreta, I took my bike and went back home along the road I have traveled in
the morning. In this case, the road went up from the fork for Careggine to Tre
Fiumi, Arni and the Gobbie, to begin the descent to Passo del Vestito. It took
me just over 90 minutes to get home. The descent that descends from the Passo
del Vestito towards Massa is suggestive. Despite the non-optimal asphalt of the
first part, the overhanging view of all the valleys touched is the reason why I
would recommend taking a picnic up here for those around the Apuan Riviera or
A zoom on pedaling.
To better describe the adversities of the day, we can divide our adventures into 2 parts, the first with the ascent to Passo del Vestito and Porreta, the second with the ascent to Passo del Vestito passing through Arni.
The Passo del Vestito faced by Massa is a long climb of almost 19 kilometers. Initially a stretch of 3 kilometers or a little more towards San Carlo Terme, then a few kilometers of slight slope passing Altagnana and arriving in Antona. Just before this locality, marked by a hairpin bend, the real climb begins, the one about 10 kilometers long that leads to the tunnel of the Passo del Vestito. Pedalable but steady climb, never level, proceeds with an average gradient of 6% to increase up to 7-8% in the last 2 kilometers. Surrounding panorama that deserves to be seen, overlooking the valleys below and the coast of the Apuan Riviera clearly visible.
The Ascent to Porreta is about 7 kilometers long, with an average
gradient of 6-7%. Unlike the Passo del Vestito, this climb proceeds in jerks,
alternating steeper parts with others that are flatter. Maximum slopes,
however, never too demanding.
The last climb, the one that passes from Tre Fiumi and Arni to reach Passo del Vestito, measures about 8 kilometers, the first part is very pedalable, around 5-6% of an average gradient, while the second part alternates some pedalable and a dimly lit tunnel, to some sections with slopes of around 10%.