Oltrepò Pavese: up and down the rolling hills and vineyards
Oltrepò Pavese: up and down the rolling hills and vineyards


Oltrepò Pavese: up and down the rolling hills and vineyards


Casteggio (PV)


Casteggio (PV)


71 chilometri

Total vertical climb

1.330 m

Maximum altitude

620 m (Passo del Carmine)



Just a few kilometres out of Milan lies a veritable “cyclist’s paradise”: rolling hills and lanes are the ideal place to test the comfort of the Max SLR Gel Flow by Selle Italia.


The Oltrepò Pavese may not be Chianti but can almost be considered a close relative, with its serpentine roads and the sudden inclines amidst hills, vineyards and hilltop villages. Virtually no road traffic.

A truly relaxing setting set in a little patch of Lombardy bordering on Piedmont and Emilia. Just 40 minutes by car from Milan, it offers countless possibilities for road and mountain bike.

This however is a road itinerary starting and finishing at Casteggio. It’s basic but still quite challenging because it never gives you time to catch your breath. In fact, the descents are almost as difficult as the climbs, due to the unusually poor road surface conditions.

All told, we’re talking about a 70 km route which includes a good 1,300 metres of elevation, but with climbs no longer than 3-4 km. A “tortuous” course where you have to move a lot in the saddle to find your best, and at the same time try to limit the discomfort caused by the rough road surface. So, a good test for the Max SLR Gel Flow by Selle Italia, which has its own effective shock absorption system based on elastomer elements inserted between the hull and frame of the saddle.

The route

The tortuousness of the course makes it almost impossible to give precise indications, apart from naming the villages encountered.

From the centre of Casteggio you immediately begin a climb to Montalto Pavese, with a big push up the Calvignano ascent (2 km at 6%). From Montalto, after the steep descent of Bosco della Chiesa and a few dangerous curves, the road immediately goes up again to the Passo del Carmine and Rocca de Giorgi (6 km at 5%), the highest and most scenically impressive point of the itinerary. Another descent to Ruino and Lake Trebecco, with a road surface really at the limits of usability, then another climb to the ancient hamlet of Zavattarello. From the saddle only good signals that make you want to give everything you’ve got: you don’t feel the bumps in the road at all and the continuous feeling of comfort allows pedalling sitting down even in difficult conditions.

Time for a panino con la coppa and some great views then down towards the SP Val Tidone 412, edging into Emilia territory.

Note: I made the beginner’s mistake of being misled by the spring sunshine and came out in shorts, even though the calendar (it’s the end of March) advised caution. Result: on the descent in the shade I was chilled to the bone and stayed that way all the way home.

To get back to Casteggio you follow a short stretch of provincial road before going up towards Valverde, Torre degli Alberi and Borgoratto, then another challenging climb followed by a good downhill section.




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