Ten different routes up one mountain? Monte Grappa, Italy, might just offer more ascent options than any other peak you've ridden – and they're all fantastic.
Situated at the northern end of the Veneto plain and just before the Dolomites, Monte Grappa is a giant mountain bordered on one side by the Brenta river and on the other by the Piave. The Grappa massif, which includes several of the mountain's adjacent peaks, is 100km in circumference alone, while the Monte Grappa is 1,775m high.
There are 10 different cycling routes up Monte Grappa to the Rifugio Bassano, a 'refuge' that sits at the summit. What's more, each requires at least 1,200m of climbing, and some as much as 1,500m.
And if you get bored of the same peak during your holiday? Nearby, just outside the town of Feltre, there are more than a dozen climbs that take you up 1,000m more. Typically, the roads are the size of a bike path and their use is limited to the few people that live in the high reaches of the mountains. There are monster climbs, steep ones, gentle ascents, long and short options, tiny roads that seem to be carved into cliff faces, roads that hug beautiful lakes… In short, it's cycling heaven.
Monte Grappa is king in this heaven. The mountain is a boon for the adventurous, compact-wielding cyclist, but it's also an Italian treasure. It was here that the country's elite mountain fighting force, the Alpini, managed to hold off the Austro-Hungarian empire in World War One. There isn't a town in the region that doesn't have a monument remembering and celebrating the sacrifices made.
The most difficult part of a visit to the area is deciding which side of the Grappa massif you'd prefer to be on. The northern side – including Feltre – is a little bit closer to the Dolomiti proper, and as such quite mountainous. On the southern side – we'll pick Castelcucco as an example town – you have Monte Grappa, the Asolo hills, the famed Montello, the hills of the Prosecco region and the flat expanse of the Veneto plain.
What's on offer
– Ten varied ascents up the legendary Monte Grappa, ranging from the pleasant and enjoyable to some of the hardest stretches of road you can imagine.
– While Monte Grappa is the focal point of the area, it's also just one of many amazing mountains, all within striking distance. To the south you have climbs such as Monte Cesen, Praderadego and the Passo San Boldo. And if you're looking for smaller challenges, the Mostaccin and Montello are perfect. The latter offers even more route options than Monte Grappa itself.
– If you don't want to face the numerous walls that Monte Grappa has on offer, you can try the gentler rolling land to the south. This area is also an example of a cycling hotbed – bikes don't get much more popular than they do on the Veneto plain.
– It's Italy, so fantastic food and wine are in abundant supply.
Why it's best
If you want to combine climbing legs with great weather, great gelato, great food, great wine, great roads, what more could you ask for?
How to get there
If you're flying, Venice is the best access point. From there, you're about 60km from the southern side of Monte Grappa and the beautiful volcanic hills of the Colli Asolani. It's roughly 85km from the airport to the northern side of Monte Grappa and the fantastic pre-Dolomiti town of Feltre.
In Feltre there are a lot of options. We recommend the bed and breakfast Monti del Sole, just above the town, which offers a beautiful view of Monte Grappa.
There are also a lot of options on the southern side of Monte Grappa, in Castelcucco. We're big fans of the Hotel Monte Grappa.
Try the Dalla Rosa Cicli di Renzo, Via Belluno 57, Feltre 32032 (+39 439 89219). It offers great service and is well stocked.