Our recent Tour of Piemonte & La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo presented the ultimate challenge and in typical Piemontese style, the most incredible rewards. Piemonte is a land of beautiful rolling hills, fertile plains, rugged mountains and storybook castles. Its hills and mountains are challenging to climb at the best of times, however with a heatwave and a ride schedule aimed at preparing us for the Gran Fondo as the culmination to our week, these 9 days were extra challenging. Hats off to our amazing group who weathered the heat, rode every km, hit personal bests on Colle Fauniera and most of all, embraced all that this cycling and epicurean paradise delivers.
There is no reward without the challenge, and we had a few little chilli peppers thrown into our daily quota of climbs on our Giro delle Langhe on our first 5 days; these magnificent Langhe hills where nearly every metre of land is occupied by nebbiolo grapes or hazelnut trees, provide the perfect backdrop to a day’s riding.
With our tour coinciding with a European heatwave, there were days when any opportunity to fill the bottles, was taken. There was nothing better than dumping the warm water and replacing it with cold, fresh Piemontese spring water. Italians are known to fill their weekly supply of water bottles from these natural springs so when in Rome….
Wild fruit trees are everywhere in Piemonte. From apricots and mulberries to an abundance of cherries, it was not only the riders who discovered these on their travels, but also the non riders as they hiked and explored the countryside their way.
Our daily rides took us in many directions as we traversed hills, valleys, forest and explored hidden hilltop villages.
This very authentic Piemontese cheese and wine tasting was not to be missed in the farmhouse of a boutique, artisan cheese maker. A husband and wife team who made the tree change from Alba to the Langhe hills only a few years ago, reared goats and sheep, and produced an array of very high quality product, mostly sold at local markets and into local restaurants. Tasting and learning about these 10 cheeses together with a couple of local organic wines, all while hearing their story, was definitely a highlight on the non riding partner program.
An early start to get ahead of the expected top temperature of 41 degrees saw us rolling along the ridge of a hill in perfect morning sunshine.
Diverse architecture was also part of the diverse landscapes. As we travelled from town to town, and through various parts of the region, the diverse art, culture, colourful buildings with faded frescoes and different styles of cafes and restaurants, made for really interesting and diverse experiences.
Ascent, descent, ascent, descent was the theme of our 3rd day as we explored some of the tiny roads that dissect the many vineyards and rolled though the post card perfect scenery of Le Langhe; the name coming from the word ‘Langa’ which means a ‘narrow strip of land’. Nestled between the River Tanaro and the Ligurian Apennines, thousands of hectares of vineyards of the prized nebbiolo grapes are carefully grown amongst the many microclimates of the area.
Stuffed zucchini flowers with a little of the local Arneis was a taste sensation at one of our many wonderful dinner experiences. With the hot days and nights, the white wines of Piemonte were certainly more sought after than the traditional reds of Nebbiolo, Barbaresco and Barolo.
With 52 nations taking part in the Gran Fondo, there was just a small contingent of Australians flying the flag, albeit a digital one. A few of our guests missed the nations presentation as they were engrossed in the exhibition put on by the town of Cuneo, dedicated to the life of Fausto Coppi, and in particular honour of his 100th birthday.
An early rise is always required to get into position for the Gran Fondo. With our group perfectly poised right near the start line, the build up of excitement and anticipation for the start of the ride, was experienced by all.
Colle Fauniera, the main climb of the Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo was an amazing test, with parts of the mountain shrouded in mist and clouds. The scenery is absolutely stunning.
With 22k up, that meant there was also 22k down, and what an adrenalin filled ride as you hug the edge of the mountain as it snakes its way down to the valley.
Celebrations after a sensational and successful day of personal bests for our group in the Maritime Alps. Well done team and thank you for a fantastic 9 days together in Piemonte.
If you’re interested in joining our 2020 Tour of Piemonte, including La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo, click here for details.