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The Three Passes between Tuscany and Emilia

Cycling through Lunigiana, a land of Passes beloved by cyclists
by  Lunigiana

For lovers of narrow wheels and climbs, Lunigiana really has a lot to offer. Numerous Passes connect it with Emilia and Liguria. The roads have often very little traffic and pass through small villages and forests.

Here a Three Passes itinerary, through the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, a UNESCO National Park and MaB Reserve, which requires good stamina. The main Pass, known to many, is the Cisa Pass, which connects the Tuscan town of Pontremoli with the Emilian town of Berceto. Famous for its twists and turns, and therefore beloved by cyclists and motorcyclists. The Giro d'Italia has passed through here many times, in 1981 with a breakaway by the great Francesco Moser, in 1988 with a long breakaway by Podenzana, a professional from Lunigiana, in 1999 with the Pirate Marco Pantani in the peloton, to name but a few passages.

Training ground for amateurs and professionals, such as the unforgettable champion Vittorio Adorni, whose jersey is preserved in the little church on the Pass along with those of other cycling greats.

Along with the Cisa, two other Apennine Passes like the Sillara, between the Emilian towns of Berceto and Corniglio, and the Cirone between Corniglio and Pontremoli make for a great loop-shaped tour 71 kilometers long and with nearly 1.800 meters of positive elevation gain.

The departure is from Pontremoli. From the Tuscan town in about 16.2 kilometers with an average gradient of 4,7% and a peak of 10%, we reach the Cisa Pass located at 1041 meters above sea level. On the Pass we can make a well-deserved stop and visit the little church of the Pass with many memorabilia, also from cycling.

From the Cisa we descend briefly toward Berceto and then we turn right, leaving the State Road, toward the Sillara Pass, 6.25 kilometers long with a 6.1% average gradient and an 11% maximum gradient. From the Sillara Pass a fast descent leads to Marra di Corniglio.

At kilometer 39 a stretch of road begins with alternating challenging ups and downs as far as the small village of Cirone, where we make a right-hand turn and begin the last climb of the day, the shortest but the most challenging, toward the Cirone Pass. A 5.5-kilometer climb with an average gradient of 6.8% and a maximum gradient of 12.5%, until we reach the Pass at 1250 meters above sea level. From here it is all downhill, or almost all downhill, to Pontremoli!


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