When you step out of the hotel in Forte dei Marmi, you will be trying to decide whether to get on the bike, or dive into the crystal clear water of the Tirrenic Sea. In Italian, Forte dei Marmi means "Fort of the marbles". Just above this town lies the literal mountain of marble where Michelangelo gathered his raw material to fashion the masterpieces of the Renaissance.
Forte’s beaches and coastline stretching along a scenic route from town to town to Lido Camiore and beyond offers an impressive stretch of water, sand, and sun, before climbing inland to hill top village of Cappezzano.
Venturing north past La Spezia port, into the "The Five Lands" also known around the world as the Cinque Terre, a rugged portion of coastline part of the Italian Riviera of Liguria region of Italy we find the five villages of Monte Rosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. For centuries, people have carefully built endless terraces on the rugged, steep rocky landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea, creating a beautifully spectacular vista from one hill to the next. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside, making this an ideal cycling destination! A number of forts and castles still stand from the 16th century, built by the locals to protect themselves against planned attacks by the Turks. One of the most interesting features of the terraced houses on this coast are the many different colors of the houses.
Given its location on the Mediterranean, seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. This area, of Liguria, as a whole, is known for the original pesto sauce. Focaccia with its light olive oil and sea salt is also a particularly delicious baked bread product. In addition to wines, you should try the Limoncello. Our suggestion; cycle first before trying this one!
Forte dei Marmi and Cinque Terre,
where the Mountains meet the Ocean
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As we depart from Forte, we ride along the coast, eventually reaching the Castel of Marina di Massa. Through 3.1 miles (5 km) of gently rolling roads, the ocean and the beautiful port of Marina di Carrara is to our left. Soaking up an hour and a half of staggering scenery has given us an appetite, so it’s time to take a break for lunch at one of our favorite spots, perched on the veranda overlooking the ocean. After leaving the ocean, we head towards the gulf of La Spezia on our first uphill grade. It’s only half a mile long but it will bring us to La Serra and an incredible vantage point over the ocean. We continue on for 1.9 miles (3 km) through rolling hills before reaching Montemarcello, a medieval village nestled on top of a hill. As we circumnavigate the town, we start to head back, descending the wide switchbacks that bring us to the bridge over the Magra River. We head south with an alternative view of the coast, through the Marina di Carrara and Marina di Massa, eventually reaching Forte dei Marmi, where we began..
On our second day, we head north out of Forte. This gives us a chance to warm up at a leisurely pace as we zip along the totally flat coast line next to the beach, soaking up the fresh breeze from the ocean. We make our way to the Historical center of Sarzana. We gather a little momentum up the low-grade hills towards Fosdinovo. To fully enjoy these narrow streets, teeming with local culture, or the views from the road circumventing the city walls, we continue climbing the winding road, go through the Cyprus forest and reach the base of the medieval castle, Castello Dei Vescovi. At this point, we can take a break at one of the many local restaurants. After lunch, we head down towards Carrara. As we reach a fork in the road we will be tempted to stop because the panoramic is breathtaking; valleys, mountains, sea, snowcapped mountains all from one vantage point. It's all downhill, back to Massa for a quick zip back to Forte. Time for a gelato!
Starting at Forte Dei Marmi, we follow the main road up to Querceta. Leaving the downtown area, we go west through the villages of Corvaia and Seravezza. We cycle for a while through rolling hills that bring us to the village of Ruosina. At this point we turn left and go up to towards Pruno. After 2 miles we meet our first hill and eventually arrive at Cardoso. It is here where we could discover the incredible delicacies of Norcineria Barsanti Ristorante. As we enter the valley, we find ourselves surrounded by unusual mountains with natural bridge formations from one hill to the next. As we circumnavigate a beautiful medieval church, we begin a climb of 1.9 miles (3 km), which gets a little challenging in the last 200 meters. We finally arrive in Pruno. The town sits right at the foothills of a large mountain called Procinto, which is nearly 4,000 feet. The Ristorante Monteforato where you can taste different kinds of homemade local delicacies is right off the road that leads to Volegno. Most churches along this course have shaded piazzas where we can stop to fill up bottles with fresh water from the nearby fountains, or in Pruno, where the terrazzo overlooks the green "Pineta Verde" contrasting with the blue of the Mediterranean Sea. We then return back down to the sea breeze of Forte, for a glass of wine or a pizza from one of our local restaurants, and the contemplation of where to venture next!
Starting from the Forte dei Marmi, we ride toward Viareggio along the coast. After reaching Lido di Camaiore, we reach an ancient Roman road that connected Rome to the Northern Provinces. We turn right and we go up toward the hills. Here, we can either go right where the road steadily ascends to what could be considered a hard ride towards the top of Cappezzano. A spectacular view of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, white beaches, and the city-scape below await us. If we go straight, without climbing, we will arrive at Pietrasanta. The ride up to Cappezzano is spectacular. After leaving the town square of Pietrasanta, a small narrow road leads us up the mountain and to a whole series of switchbacks to get us there. As we ascend, we might pass one of the locals with their donkeys pulling a three wheel cart, delivering supplies to one of the residents up the hill, or a group of older women contemplating which way to go on their morning constitutional. If you are feeling particularly energetic, you may want to get up out of the saddle and push past the turns for the occasional acceleration, or remain in the saddle for a steady ascent. Reaching the top is a gem, with a view that will take your breath away! After a moment of recovery, it’s time to fly back down to the ocean!
Another day of glorious sightseeing on two wheels is calling us! As we ride from Lido, towards Forte dei Marmi, we ride along a flat road until we reach Fiumaretta and Marina di Carrara. Now it’s time to dig in a little and make the climb to Montemarcello, but the view all the way is so beautiful, you will be lost in joy, and before you know it, you will be at the top. At this point, a breathtaking view and scenic descent brings us to Lerici, which overlooks the port of La Spezia. It's time to take a breather at this point. The van will take us from Lerici, to a fork in the road that goes to either Portovenere or Riomaggiore. We will then get on our bikes and ride to Portovenere. This village on the ocean cliffs will make you feel like you have arrived in another world, and you will be snapping your camera endlessly to get pictures of this remarkable and dramatic locale. For those who still want to ride the hills from Portovenere to Riomaggiore, they can do so. After a fantastic lunch, we will head back to the hotel in the van.
We travel south along the ocean towards the town of Viareggio, and one of the most glorious beaches in all of Italy. As we soak up the sea breeze, we turn towards Marina Di Levante. From here, we enter an area of pine trees surrounding the road. As we ride up a gradual incline, we enter the beautiful Villa Borbone, a 16th century landmark. We continue straight for a few kilometers towards the town of Torre Del Lago Puccini. This is a beautiful little village, and the birthplace of the famous Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. We reach a lakeside area, and it’s time to have lunch. As we take a break, we will have a view of the outdoor open theatre, which hosts a musical festival during the summer and the fall, featuring the operas and the music of Puccini. It is time to move on, and we head back on a downhill road with a contrasting view of the pine trees and the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. After leaving the aroma of pine needles, we once again reach the beaches of Viareggio and head back along the coast to Forte Dei Marmi. Life is beautiful!
After breakfast transportation to airport will be provided.