|Total ascent||400 meters|
|Road surface||95% dirt, 5% sealed|
|Recommended bike||MTB, E-MTB|
|Places to visit in the area||Orvieto, Paglia river.|
The route starts below Orvieto, at the car park near the cablecar that runs up to the centre of the town in a few minutes. The route is almost entirely along easy dirt roads, apart from a short sealed stretch near Castello della Sala and a rather difficult descent just after going through the impressive badlands scenery, which can be done on foot by less expert bikers. Altogether, however, it is a rather easy itinerary. For the first few kilometres, the trail runs along the Paglia river and is completely flat. The first uphill stretch, after about 9 kms, is about 100m long but after turning right, it immediately starts descending through shady fields and woods towards the hills.
The only climb along the trail starts after 11 kms and ends 2 kms later, just past the Chiesa della Sala, where there is a magnificent view of the valley below and the Castello della Sala vineyards. Here the trail turns right and goes uphill for a few hundred metres along sealed road until it turns right again (km13,4) and starts the first downhill run through beautiful vineyards to the fascinating badlands area (photo on opposite page).
Past these incredible clay formations is an old ruined farmhouse where the trail turns left and tackles the most technical part of the descent. Soon after, past a field (km 16,3), there is a sharp turn to the right where the steepest downhill stretch begins, where less expert bikers should dismount per a few metres to avoid unpleasant surprises.
The descent ends at km 16,7 and returns along the mule track used on the outgoing ride, about a kilometre before the start of the climb. Here, it turns left and goes back along the dirt road used at the start.
From the starting point, take the cablecar to the centre of Orvieto, one of the most famous towns in Umbria. In particular, amongst the most beautiful buildings, see the Duomo, designed by Lorenzo Maitani (XIII century), the churches of San Giovenale, San Giovanni, Sant’Andrea, San Lorenzo de’ Arari, San Francesco (XIII century) and the church of San Domenico (XIII century).
Amongst the most important public buildings, see the palazzo Comunale, the palazzo del Popolo, the palazzo dei Sette and the Luigi Mancinelli theatre. Don’t miss San Patrizio’s well, an engineering masterpiece going 62 metres down, formed by two independent spiralling staircases that made it possible to descend the well to get water without ever meeting anyone coming up. Under the town is the suggestive underground Orvieto, where an incredible number of artificial cavities have created a labyrinth of holes, tunnels cisterns, wells, quarries and cellars. Wonderful views of the town, the Castello della Sala (photo above) and the huge surrounding vineyards can be enjoyed along the trail. Further away, the route through the badlands also provides fascinating scenery.