ACT Italy | Let’s hit the trail
Italy is the fourth country in Europe to be opened up for adventure bikers by ACT. At the end of August, after intensive scouting, the media team set off on a journey to document the adventurous gravel tracks in the heart of Italy.
It took a whole year for ACT Track Chief, Filipe Elias, to carefully finish planning the 1200 kilometres of the latest Adventure Country Track. Almost 60 percent of the route, which crosses the Italian hinterland on small roads, runs over gravel tracks.
Early in the morning, our team starts off near Bologna, Ducati‘s home base. Astride the latest adventure bikes - ranging from the brand new Ténéré 700 to the proven R 1250 GS - we roll off down the road via Imola towards Bertinoro, the starting point of ACT Italia.
This small village with its magnificent palazzo offers a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside. After a few kilometres, the asphalt already gives way to a gravelled stretch. The whole day long, winding tar roads alternate with unpaved tracks - ideal for acclimatising ourselves to what awaits us in the next few days.
With temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, we‘re glad to be able to pick up speed up for the moment. Winding its way through vast forests and endless hills, the track leads us into Umbria. We‘re surprised by the loneliness that surrounds us once we leave the main roads.
The entire second day of our tour is spent riding through the province of Perugia, penetrating ever deeper into the mountain world. Filipe has chosen only the smallest roads for this Adventure Country Track. These are country roads of the lowest order - legal connecting roads between the tiny villages. Winding through the hilly landscape, the track leads us past dilapidated castles and abandoned country houses.
When we reach Tuscany, towards the end of the second day, we feel the strains of the tour. No wonder - to achieve perfect shots, the film and photo team gets us to drive over all the most beautiful sections several times. And these stretches are usually the most demanding in terms of riding skill.
On top of this, the degree of difficulty of the route is definitely increasing. A steep descent followed immediately by an ascent during which we have to heave our motorcycles into the vertical again more than once, gives us a taste of the level of technique required for the coming sections. At the end of this day, we‘re glad of the tourist facilities in Lago Trasimeno - which compensate us for our efforts with a shower and beer.
On the third day, the track weaves back and forth between Tuscany and Umbria and leads us on to Orvieto. We pass the tourist strongholds of Siena and Montepulciano on the left, paying them little attention. The gravel tracks lined with trees, which lead us through the hinterland of Tuscany with its picturesque villages, could serve as a symbol for Adventure Country Tracks.
In the afternoon, thunderstorms build up and the rain soon comes pelting down. The joy of cooling down a little doesn‘t last long, though - the lightning strikes come threateningly close. But the rain does suppress the gigantic cloud of dust that has enveloped our baggage up until now.
We reach Orvieto – exhausted – and are happy to wallow in the comforts of our well-equipped hotel. In this ancient town, situated on a rocky plateau, we don’t miss the chance to enjoy local specialities.
Although the attractions of Orvieto would justify a longer stay, we leave again the next day. The track now leads us up into the mountains. At the foot of Monti Sibilla, we reach the area of the 2016 earthquake and can see that the region is only slowly recovering from this demonstration of the forces of nature. Many tourists avoid the region, many buildings are still affected, and many of the local inhabitants have left.
But the roads and tracks here are all the more beautiful and spectacular. Perhaps, through the strong interest in ACT, we can contribute a little to the establishment of sustainable tourism in the region.
On a challenging off-road track, we‘re again caught up in a thunderstorm that has an intensity none of us has ever experienced before. We don‘t even have time to put on our rainwear. Within a very short time, we‘re completely soaked - and the track is 30 centimetres under water.
The last day proves to be another tough one. 500 metres after starting off, we already reach a narrow path that has been transformed into a mud bath by last night’s rain. We need a whole hour to travel just one and a half kilometres. Some of us take a dip involuntarily; we‘re all completely exhausted. Not the best of conditions to be in, because the track still has a lot of dirty tricks in store with which to test our riding skills. Sharp serpentines and deep gravel dominate the stretches still to come. But again and again spectacular views entice us to continue along the track.
The last stages of our fifth day lead us through the Gran Sasso National Park down to the sea. Late in the evening, we stand on the beach near Pescara, exhausted but happy.