COLLE DELLE FINESTRE
Departing from Turin along the river and crossing Borgo Po, on the left you can admire the Gran Madre and the Monte dei Cappuccini, shortly after the Borgo del Valentino with its medieval castle. Taking Ponte Isabella, exit the city towards Grugliasco-Rivoli. The road is on the plain without any difficulty, just pay attention to the cars because it is very busy road. Once in Rivoli continue for about 20 km to arrive up to Avigliana.
Avigliana, the city of lakes, is located in Val di Susa, the first valley coming out of Turin, well ventilated, between the Cottian and Graian Alps gently inserted between the first semi-rocky but still green slopes. The valley is full of stories of peasant wit, of famous producers, gastronomic products that can be tasted in the area and that are appreciated by the more metropolitan Turin for the rurality of origin such as, for example, the Paste di Meliga or a slice of Torta della Marcheisa. On the way to the rugged mountains you begin to see the majestic Sacra di San Michele. At this point go around Sant’Ambrogio externally to return immediately to the Ciclostrada Valle Susa. This limited-traffic cycle and pedestrian path reaches up to Moncenisio, a land bordering with France, but you will walk along it to Chiusa di San Michele, an important town called in the past Clausae Longobardorum by way of the Lombard Long Lock, fortifications erected to defend the territory from invasions of Charlemagne and beyond.
Here at Chiusa stands a monument of historical importance, as mentioned earlier, such as the Sacra di San Michele reachable from different paths connecting Val Susa and the adjacent Val Chisone to Monte Pirchiriano. The Sacra inspired the writer Umberto Eco’s novel “The Name of the Rose” where the complex serves as a dark and enigmatic background for the investigations of the monk detective William of Barkerville in a medieval setting. After you arrive in Vaie along the Dora river in front of Sant’Antonino. On the road there are many small towns where you can decide whether to stop and take a tour or to save energy before starting the steep climb. Combe, a very small fraction of Mattie, after Bussoleno, marks the beginning of the most strenuous stretches.
Take a look at Alberto’s Brusafer Inn, a pretty tenement in typical alpine style with stone walls and which seeks to keep mountain traditions in fashion while respecting nature and typical customs. Medicinal herbs are increasingly cultivated that are difficult to sell and to find due to the large-scale retail market that favors other areas of origin to the detriment of the cultural identity of these places rich in good traditions. Since it also passes through Bruzolo there is the Castle of the Marconcini (Bruzolo Castle) residence of Thomas I of Savoy. Then there is Meana di Susa at 750 m above sea level.
Here too there is plenty of Roman remains, paintings, graffiti and buildings that keep the historical atmosphere alive because of the area that was once inhabited. Still today we celebrate San Costanzo, patron saint of Meana and the neighboring hamlets, celebrating with the ritual of the Ballo dei Branc a wonderful custom still alive and celebrated every year on September 18th; in honor of the patron saint, the fascinating Parrochiale di Santa Maria Assunta was built with a Roman-style bell tower and some baroque details.
Going straight on, you could reach Susa, previously the capital of the Valley, from Meana di Susa you will actually go to the left towards the Colle.
While the slope gradually increases, and just below the first bridge you see the Colle delle Finestre sign on the left, at this point the road has already a slope of more than 10%. The ascent of the Colle delle finestre is about 10 km long, of which the last 8 km are dirt roads. This arduous but beautiful climb has been inserted several times in the biking competition ”Giro d’Italia” (Tour of Italy) and just last year, thanks to the enterprise of Chris Fromme of Team Sky who in the dirt road has detached the whole group of the pursuers, winning then by detachment, the stage has returned to the fore even to the less accustomed to cycling. The road is more wooded at the beginning of the hill up to the top with its green meadows and grazing animals. Now you can rest your legs before returning to the Valley. Tasting the delicacies of the area served in a place of mystical and calming beauty like this is always a joy; here, on top of the great satisfaction of having tamed one of the most challenging climbs in Europe, you will find the Alpe Pintas refuge which offers you alpine cheeses and succulent cold cuts or the Locanda Lago delle Rane and typical fountains of the mountain landscape with a very clean water.
The return will be a long descent in the first very demanding section up to the valley, passing through Fenestrelle, a gorgeous stone built town, seat of the Forte del Colle (Fenestrelle Fortress) built at the beginning of the 1700s, today a museum with attached restaurant and a destination for many tourists that constantly during the year they crowd the halls. Crossing several villages in the valley, you descend towards Perosa Argentina and Villar Perosa, places that the Agnelli family loved over the years, which also hosted the Juventus summer retreat.
Always following the road , in a soft descent you arrive in Pinerolo, a city with a noble past inextricably linked to the Cavalry, today it houses the historical museum of the cavalry weapon and is a city with interesting historical elements linked to the late nineteenth century early twentieth century. In addition, to end the ride carefree you can stop at the Bikecafè managed, furnished and embellished thanks to the intrinsic passion for biking of the owners who act on their site “The bicycle teaches what it means to get on and off, teaches how to live. Cycling is a long journey in search of oneself “I. Basso “We are bikers in the soul “.
From Pinerolo, riding for about 35 km you will quickly reach the gates of Turin. Your ride is over.
Lose yourself among the historical and literary suggestions of Piedmont, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Alps and live in the full of the mountain tradition of the Val di Susa.
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