Departure and arrival: Orvieto
Distance: 27 km
Altitude difference: 400 meters
Surface: 95% dirt, 5% asphalt
What to see: Orvieto, Paglia River, Tenuta della Sala
This route starts at the foot of Orvieto, more precisely from the parking lot of the cable car in a few minutes to reach the city center.
One of the most beautiful cities in Italy and that, in terms of artistic and cultural heritage, has nothing to envy to other much vaunted foreign cities.
Just think of the varied landscape of churches of which provides:
the Cathedral, designed by Lorenzo Maitani (XIII century), the church of San Giovenale, that of San Lorenzo de'Arari, and those of St. Francis and St. Dominic to name a few.
The slew of buildings of historical interest does not end here, in the old town one can admire impressive historic buildings such as the Town Hall, the Palace of the People, the Palace of the Seven and the Teatro Comunale Luigi Mancinelli.
The route runs almost entirely on dirt roads not binding, apart from a short stretch of tarmac in the area of Castello della Sala and a fairly technical downhill section immediately after passing through the spectacular scenery of the Badlands, where the less experienced may conduct feet. In any case, it is a path rather easy and suitable for everyone.
The first kilometers of the route along the Paglia River and are completely flat. The first spurt at about 100 meters tackles after 9 kilometers, but turning right freewheel down immediately and you proceed to the hills, riding in the shadows donated by meadows and woods.
The only climb the route starts after 11 kilometers and ends about 2 kilometers further, once the Sala Church, where we can enjoy magnificent views of the valley below and on the vast vineyards surrounding the Tenuta of Castello della Sala.
Here we turn right and continue to climb for a few hundred meters on the asphalt road, but we leave shortly after (13.4 km) turn right and begin the first part of the descent that leads us in the fascinating area of the Badlands, a beautiful lunar landscape eroded by the outbreak of the time. Overcome these amazing sandstone formations reach a dilapidated old house, where we turn left and begin the most technical stretch of the descent. Shortly after, passed a lawn (16.3 km), we turn right and dry we are facing the steepest part, where the less experienced, to avoid problems, can walk for a few meters.
The descent ends at kilometer 16.7 and us back on the trail crossed leg, about a kilometer before the start of the climb. Here we turn left and retrace back the dirt road did in the first part of the itinerary.
The effort of these though delicate pedaling, repay us the effort made. In Orvieto we run it in what is legitimately considered a masterpiece of engineering: the St. Patrick's well 62 meters deep. It consists of two independent spiral staircases that allowed to go down to the bottom to get the water out to meets with those who went back. This underground passage is just a small taste of Orvieto underground that will wait.
You will be captivated by the halo of mystery that winds and creeps in all the many artificial cavities, from galleries to wells, from tanks to the quarries, a maze of tunnels where faces and colors will be dissolved, leaving prevail hearing and smell, or those senses generally less stressed.
Cover photo: Panorama from the walls of Orvieto, photo by Groume via Flickr