Published on: 17 May 2015 | Last updated: 7 January 2020
Map and altitude profile
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|Chiusi - Roma Distances|
|Chiusi Scalo - Orvieto Scalo||49 kms|
|Orvieto-Scalo - Orte||47 kms|
|Orte - Castellano Civita||30 kms|
|Civita Castellana - Prima Porta||47 kms|
|Prima Porta - central Rome||23 kms|
This section of the route follows on from the Sentiero della Bonifica which takes you from near Arezzo to the Lago di Chiusi near Chiusi (you’d probably already guessed that).
Chiusi was one of the great Etruscan cities. Its king Lars Porsenna may have laid siege to and captured Rome defeated the Romans. It’s well worth the climb up from Chiusi Scalo. You can visit the Labirinto di Porsenna. Once thought to be the remains of a vast mausoleum, but probably part of the system for supplying water to the Etruscan city. There’s also the Città Sotteranea (Underground City). If that’s not enough, the town is also Museo Nazionale Etrusco one of the best museums about the Etruscans (and it also has the most user-friendly opening hours). The ticket price also gives you the opportunity to visit a couple of Etruscan tombs - the Tomba della Scimmia (Monkey) and the Tomba del Pellegrino (Pilgrim). - opening times. These are a couple of kilometres out of town. (Note: you have to buy tickets at the museum first. Admission is only with a guide - so if you want to visit make sure the museum know that you are going).
Chiusi Scalo to Orvieto Scalo
Many Italian cities are built at the top of high hills. When the railways were built the train stations were often built at the bottom of the hill with the new settlement given the name of Scalo - so along this section of the route, there are Chiusi Scalo, Orvieto Scalo, and Orte Scalo.
Eurovelo 7 follows a strada bianca (unsurfaced road) out of Chiusi Scalo. If you missed the turning by the station and ended up following the road towards Fabro, which is a reasonably not-too--busy alternative if you want a faster/smoother option.
After Fabro it follows a quiet, but steepish country lane towards Ficulle where it rejoins the SR 71, before, a few kilometres further on, turning right towards Sala. The descent through Sala is lovely and the castle is worth a look. The road then crosses over the motorway before making a short climb up again to pick up the road to Orvieto Scalo. The last ten kilometres into Orvieto Scalo weren’t particularly enjoyable: the road isn’t interesting and it is quite busy. If I were doing this route again, instead of turning off towards Sala I would follow the signs for Orvieto and continue along the SR71.
If you haven’t been to Orvieto before the first sight is pretty dramatic, the city sits on a great clump of rock - like a huge molar tooth - visible for miles around. Like Chiusi it was one of the great Etruscan cities. Again well worth the climb up.
From Orvieto Scalo to Baschi
There’s a pretty tedious section of relatively busy road out of Orvieto (the topography means that there are no other options), fortunately the route turns of the main road (which continues on towards Todi) and heads for Baschi. Baschi was a delight: resist the temptation to stay on the main road, and follow the route as it leads into the centro storico. There’s a bar on the square where you can listen to the sound of the water in the main fountain. You can follow the route down through Baschi following a steep, narrow street. If you don’t trust your brakes you can of course opt to retrace your path to the main road.
From Baschi to Giove
From Baschi the route follows a quiet country road passing the Lago di Alviano.
At Attigliano I made the decision to turn off the route and detour via Giove, instead of going direct to Penna in Teverina. The distance is a few kilometres more, but the amount of climbing is about the same - so Giove offered a less steep alternative. From my map, the road to Penna seemed to be a strada bianca.
Giove is well worth the detour with an impressive borgo antico (a borgo is a fortified settlement). And, more prosaically, there are a couple of water fountains and a bar. From Giove, my unofficial detour follows relatively quiet roads across the uplands to Penna in Teverina.
Orte and onwards
Orte Scalo has a supermarket, a nice bakery and a café.
Orte is another of the cities that sits on a huge flat-top rock. The official route runs off the road and heads up a track which seems to straight up. In fact, it’s only 14 per cent, I decided to give it a miss. You can easily get into the centro storico by continuing along the road and then taking the next right.
Passing Orte the route makes a sharp right turn (almost a U-turn) onto the SP30 (signs for Vignanzello etc). It then heads under the superstrada, before turning off the SP30. From here it follows a narrow, and at times steep, country lane (signs for the Cammino della Luce), which takes you across country to Gallese. Note there’s no water, or shops, or bars etc until you get to Gallese. Most of this section is surfaced but there is a significant proportion of unsurfaced strada bianca.
At Pomaro, look out for the monument to San Famiano, who passed this way in 950. For some reason, he’s shown crushing a satellite dish under his right foot. The statue marks the end of the unsurfaced sections and from here there’s a nice cruisey descent down towards Gallese.
Note for Open Street Map users: at Gallese, the OSM maps show a 3-kilometre detour along the Giro del Pappagallo (Parrot tour) this isn’t part of the official route, but might well be worth doing if you have time. In Gallese there was a fontanella (water fountain).
After Gallese there’s one of the nicest parts of this section as a short climb takes you to a plateau with given over to olive groves and fruit trees. It’s on from here to Corchiano. When I arrived there, there was a van selling porchetta - one of the classic dishes of this region.
From Corchiano the road takes you into Civita Castellana. Civita Castellana is another ancient old town now eclipsed by its more modern neighbour. The modern Civita Castellana offers a couple of accommodation options while if you fancy indulging yourself a little the Relais Falisco was excellent value for money at least when I stayed there in the off-season.
Civita Castellana to the outskirts of Rome
Bicitalia now offer two options for the onward route from Civita Castellana - the first, takes a longer route via Nepi. The second takes a section of the Strada Regionale 3 - Via Flaminia. I did this on a Saturday morning, and it was pretty quiet - at least heading for Rome - most of the traffic seemed to be heading out of Rome. I would expect that picture to be different on a weekday rush-hour.
The Via Flaminia takes you through some lovely Lazio countryside it’s difficult to believe that you are so close to Rome. Ad un certo punto you need to turn right for Faleria. This road is very peaceful - although keep an eye open - the few locals who use it are still moving pretty fast. The road climbs gently over the next few kilometres before descending into Faleria where there are a couple of alimentari (grocery shops), a panificio (bakery) and two or three bars.
From Faleria I went on a brief detour to get a glimpse of Calata Vecchia - a a borgo medievale in a hidden valley. I was sorry I didn’t have time to stop there.
After Faleria you continue to Sacrofano - again another stretch of lovely peaceful road, perhaps the highlight of this part of the route. Eventually this comes to and end as you come out onto the SP14. Don’t follow the signs for Sacrofano but instead turn left and then right (signed Via Solfature). A short sharp climb and then a fairly steep descent (there were 10% signs but they felt like more than that) into Sacrofano.
Sacrofano is your best bet if you want a restaurant lunch - with restaurants in both the old and new towns.
Coming out of Sacrofano I opted to follow the strada provinciale (SP35b Via della Muricana) which curves around the side of the bowl - while the official route takes a more direct option which is shorter but with a steeper climb at the end.
The next town on the route is Magliano Romano. From Magliano look out for the sign for Prima Porta (again ignore the sign for Roma pointing in another direction).
I’ve taken various routes into and out of Rome and this was by far the most enjoyable - although I was always conscious of getting closer to Rome, with increasing quantities of rubbish on the roadsides.
Note that if you are using an OSM map the version of the route shown on the map is a one-way street leading north: instead, you need to take the Via Concesia.
The lungotevere cycleway to the centre of Rome
This section of the route takes you right into the heart of Rome. but first you have to get over the Gran Raccordo Anulare - the circular motorway that goes around it.
Getting to the cycleway is relatively easy - although at the time I was starting to panic and thinking that everything had gone completely wrong. There was a particularly scary moment when, following the signs for the Via Salaria I found myself on a ramp that seemed to be leading up to a rather nasty-looking road (this is in fact a major junction/interchange with the GRA) - but fortunately the same ramp curved away and led me down to a little roundabout. You then go under the GRA (on the Via Guido Grandi) and then turn left onto the Via del Ponte del Castel Giubileo.
Look out for a nasone (‘Big Nose’ water fountain) on the left from here the road leads to the beginning of the cycleway. The cycleway itself runs for over 20 kilometres along the argine (levee/flood defence embankment) following the course of the Tevere as it heads into Rome. It passes football pitches, tennis courts and sports facilities, occasionally you can hear the noise of the traffic on the nearby Via Flaminia.
The cycleway is smooth tarmac. There are no water fountains on the cycleway itself - so don’t forget to fill up at the nasone at the start. If you’re arriving into Rome in the evening bear in mind also that there are no lights (personally I’d find somewhere to stay just outside Rome and make the trip into the city in the morning). There are also very few access/exit points until you get almost into the heart of the city.
One of the few breakpoints is at the Ponte Milvio - note that there are some steps on the official route - locals instead opted for a short stretch along the pavement.
My guide (a local cyclist, Giordano, had kindly taken me under his wing )took me underneath the Ponte della Musca where we followed the river bank. The official cycleway is higher up and only comes down to the river level at the Ponte del Risorgimento. From here the cycleway follows the right bank of the river, right beside it, with the embankments and city a good ten metres above you. The route in couldn’t be more tranquil. Again smooth tarmac almost all the way.
Bear in mind that because of the height of the embankments there are limited access points. If you can pick your bike up and sling it over your shoulder then you can go up pretty much any of the stairways, but there are a number of stairs that are equipped with steel channels to allow you to push your bike up (or down) the steps. If you’re riding with panniers then the best bridge is the Ponte Garibaldi (just before the Isola Tiberina) where the steel channel is is set way from the wall so you can use it with the panniers on.
The official route offers a couple of options for making the connection with the Via Appia Antica. One is to cross the river by the Ponte Palatino - or alternatively you can cross the river by the Ponte Sublicio and then double back along the Lungotevere Aventino - and follow a cycleway that leads past the Circo Massimo and Terme di Caracalla. You then take a cycleway along the left-hand side (facing south) of the Viale delle Terme di Caracalla and Via di Cristoforo Colombo. There’s then a superb section of the remains of the old city walls along the Viale di Porta Ardeatina, at the end, turn right onto the via Appia Antica.
The Tevere cycleway
The Tevere cycleway, runs as far as the GRA in the south-west. A few kilometres short of Ostia and the sea. Sadly at this point, you reach a knot of some pretty horrible roads - and I’ve not managed to work out a way through. Giordano told me that it was possible to continue by mountain-bike, and that you could ride on the via Cristoforo Colombo, but my experience of this road is that it is pretty confusing (there are four sets of lanes - with the two central sets off-limits to bikes).
Cycling around the centro storico is relatively easy thanks to the number of pedestrian areas and the zona traffico limitato - however, it still requires quite a lot of care and patience especially if you’re riding along pedestrianised streets: I took an embarrassing tumble as I failed to unclip in time.
In theory there’s a link between the Lungotevere cycleway and the route to the Via Appia Antica - which you pick up on the left side of the Via Cristoforo Colombo. However, I wasn’t able to test it out.
Places to stay
Chiusi and Chiusi Scalo
Chiusi Scalo has a couple of hotels/bed and breakfasts. It’s a perfectly decent place to stay over for the night, if you want to visit the Etruscan city then you’ll need to make a short climb (best option is to turn off the route before Chiusi Scalo and that the quieter strada provinciale into Chiusi Città. Accommodation options in Chiusi itself there’s the Albergo La Sfinge.
Orvieto and Orvieto Scalo
The most economical options in Orvieto are in Orvieto Scalo - linked to Orvieto itself by a funicolare. I’ve stayed a couple of times at the Hotel-Ristorante Umbria which looks to me like the best of the budget options.
I stayed the night in Penna in Teverina a few kilometres from Orte at the I Segreti del Borgo agriturismo (I Segreti del Borgo on Booking.com). There are various options around the motorway junction at Orte, but this looked the best.
Civita Castellana and the Parco del Veio
This section of the route is very much off the tourist track and there’s little in the way of services. The best place to stay is probably civita Castellana.In Civita Castellana I indulged myself a little by staying at the excellent Relais Falisco. The Hotel Sassacci offers a more economical option in the newer part of town.
The route passes the Ristorante Pesce d’Oro on the Lago di Chiusi.
Further south near Orte is the Capitello. The site opens at the beginning of May - otherwise it would have been my first choice.
Near to Rome the best option is probably the Camping Tiber near the route at Prima Porta Update: according to Googel, is campsite is now permanently closed.. The Village Flaminio is slightly closer to the centre of Rome, but getting to it involves riding on the Via Flaminia. There’s also the Happy Village.