Saturday, 2 June 2012

Off-road to the Volto Santo

Distance:  17km
Elevation: Min - 241m, Max - 451m
Total ascent:  685m
Mode: Mountain Bike, but would be rather nice to walk too, particularly if going via the Abbazia di San Liberatore (see separate guide)
Grade: Moderate (steep & rocky in places)

Turn left out of Kokopelli, descend to the bottom of the lane and turn left to go the short distance into Serramonacesca.

The road from Kokopelli into Serra

Continue through the village, staying on the main road all the way down to the river and then up for 1.5 km until you reach Colle Serra on your left.  Take this turning.

There’s now a long climb up Colle Serra.  Take your time, you've got a lot of climbing to do!

Over to your right you’ll get a rather glorious view of the Volto Santo which looks tantalisingly close.  But you’re not going direct, you’re going up the mountain!
The Volto Santo - not that far is it?
Renovation projects anyone?

You’ll go past a rather lovely derelict house screaming out of a bit of TLC and renovation and the tarmac eventually becomes a dirt track.  
Not long after the road becomes a dirt track you’ll see a fork off to the left, ignore this and continue on past another very charming derelict cottage.  

The track does start to get a lot steeper and rugged enough to challenge the most hardy of bikers.  But any walking and pushing you may have to do, although harsh, will be short lived and well worth the effort, particularly when the descents begin.  

You do, eventually, get to go down hill too!

You will reach a junction with a sharp right that takes you down the hill, or left to continue up.  Despite what your legs are telling you, continue up.  Eventually, some 3km from when you first turned into Colle Serra you will reach tarmac once more.  

Down hill all the way now :-)

Turn right here and enjoy the long sweep all the way down to the Basilica di Volto Santo.

The Volto Santo

Do go in (covering bare legs & shoulders) to pay your respects to the veil of Christ (  Don’t miss out on the museum upstairs either, it’s full of fascinating artifacts of times gone by.  
If your ride has built up a hunger, don’t be put off by the basic frontage of the wooden shack outside selling arrosticini and pizza. The food is superb and supplied by local gastronomer “Lu Gattone” (
On the way back, it is possible to put in a couple of slightly different routes to ring the changes and save back tracking the same route all the way:
From the Volto Santo, start heading back up the hill the way you came but after about 200m you’ll see a small road (Contrada Baccigno) on your left sign posted “Pescara”.  Take this and continue for about 600m until you reach another small junction, turn right and stay on this road, continuing to climb, for about 1km. 

Take the left fork down

There’s a small track off to the left here that you need to take.  If you get to the stone mason’s plot, you’ve gone too far.
This track (steep in places) takes you nicely back to the rough track you came in on at the top of Colle Serra.

...and enjoy the views over to Manoppello

Enjoy the well-earned long sweep down Colle Serra (and the views across to Manoppelo) until you reach the junction at the bottom.  Instead of turning right here to head back towards Serra, turn left then immediate right and right again.  

Not a bad watering hole before the
final ascent back up to Garifoli

This road winds all the way down to the fiume Alento before climbing up to Serra coming into the village under the arch via the centro storico (the old, and very charming, historic centre).  Low & behold, right by the arch, is a bar.  Nice one.  Cold beer awaits :-)
Enjoy your beer, remembering to keep enough in the tank for the final 100m “sting in the tail” climb back up to Kokopelli!

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