Cycling in Lucca: 10 Must-See Climbs | Lucca Cycling Club

Cycling in Lucca: 10 Must-See Climbs


Ciao! I'm Alison.

If you're planning or dreaming about cycling in Italy, my job is to make it happen for you.


Ciao! I'm Alison.

If you're planning or dreaming about cycling in Italy, my job is to make it happen for you.

Climbs around Lucca are like outfits: choose one based on your mood, your schedule, and the occasion. There truly is no hierarchy so take the numbers with a grain of salt. Here are ten (of many) to get your wheels turning:

10. Fiano

5 km, avg. 5.5%

A local treasure, Fiano is the good ol' faithful of Lucca cycling. Only 12 km away and easily reached won't detract from its fascination. Similar to a charm bracelet, Fiano's only complete with accessories like Passo Lucchese, Passo Sella or Fondagno.

9. Pitoro

6.5 km, avg. 5.1%

The first climb I did in Italy that also happened to steal my heart. Like Fiano, it's a local climb that can be stacked with other climbs like you'd construct a lego castle. It's an essential that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea within 30 minutes from Lucca. You'll have a stracciatella-fuelled Strava empire in no time.

7. Monte Serra

8.4km, avg. 7%

This mountain is Pisa's pride and joy. It's their only mountain, after all, and with an ancient history of animosity, they'll never let you presume it belongs to the Lucchesi. It can be "mounted" as the Italians say three ways to the same summit: Buti, Calci, and Sant'Andrea di Compito. All three merit exploration, but note that Sant'Andrea is the longest, hardest, and closest to Lucca. The view from Calci of Pisa's sprawl, the Tyrrhenian Sea and even the Leaning Tower on a clear day should help transcend your suffering.

7. Vellano

10.3 km, avg. 5.8%

Nestled in the Pistoian mountains, Vellano is an underutilized porthole to La Lima and the beautiful and elegant Serchio Valley. There's a grand piazza in Pescia with a plethora of cafes should you need to draw one final arrow from your quiver before entering the enchanting forest. Once beyond Pescia you're surrounded by country folk downing caffè corretti at lunch and retirees endlessly absorbing the sun's rays from public benches.

3. San Baronto

3.9 km, avg. 7.2%

Consider San Baronto a stairway to heaven where bicycles coast on clouds and cars and motorcycles are prohibited. Where one can ride all day without any threat of crisi di fame or crises of hunger. If not heaven, then surely enlightenment. San Baronto raises you to the ridge where Leonardo da Vinci conceived the Mona Lisa. More accurately, where Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452. Don't forget to take a selfie in appreciation of cultural, societal and creative advancements during the Renaissance. Preferably with a stick.

3. Cappella

4.7 km, avg. 6.5%

A stone’s throw from Lucca, Cappella is Via Michele Rosi on Friday and Saturday nights; that is, where the entire twenty-something population of Lucca gathers. If you haven’t already left it all out on the road, then Cappella is your final chance for redemption before your afternoon engagements. This is exactly the tactic of the Lucchesi cyclists between 11 am and 1 pm on weekends. A good final effort on Cappella will merit an entire afternoon lazing semi-conscious at the Versilian seaside.

4. Passo Sella

7.7 km, avg. 6%

Sella is saddle in Italian and, to me, it's the closest link from Lucca to Garfagnana Valley. The Lucchese side is steeper with a gradual descent through Fabbriche di Vallico (shown) where I hear they're selling houses for a euro. At the top, there's an option to take a slightly longer route or a shortcut. Opt for the longer route; it's well worth it. Also, take my free advice and spend your euro on a cappuccino instead of these houses.

3. Capezzano

5 km, avg. 6.6%

Growing up in North America watching TGIF programming while eating Doritos, I believe to have understood the town of Pietrasanta is a highly cultured place. Home to painters and sculptors, Pietrasanta proudly displays the fruits of their labor, and the ring road with its Capezzano and Caprilia climbs is no exception. Take in the statues, the cathedral, and maybe also a panino from the piazza before zig-zagging up the hillside where you'll see all of Pietrasanta from above and the Tyrrhenian Sea on the horizon.

2. Vergemoli

2.9 km, avg. 6.8%

My newest discovery, this little piece of paradise is accessed through either Passo Sella or Garfagnana. The road takes you around the Pania della Croce, Panie being a series of peaks in the Apuan Alps and Croce trumps them all (see no. 1). It's a jewel; if you can dedicate a day to Vergemoli, don't pass it up. Oh, and stop for lunch in Barga and load up on pasta—because you'll burn through kilojoules at the rate Juan Pelota did EPO.

1. Passo Croce

6 km, avg. 8.7%

This one's my absolute fave, and I've only been up a few times. You'll literally and figuratively die on the Cross, but its beauty guarantees your resurrection. Only a two-hour warm-up spin from Lucca, you'll ride most of Cipollaio, 10 km pedalabile—yes pedalable—before taking a right up to Croce. "Mount" Cipollaio from Seravezza where you'd be wise consuming a gelato or espresso before steamrolling the next 16 km of upward-tilted asphalt. So about 10-12 km on Cipollaio before the final 6 km up to the mountaintop. Not a lazybones pursuit—but a view of the Promised Land never is.

Is cycling in Lucca calling your name?

Sign up for a free 61 km (1300 m) super-scenic Lucca hills ride. But before you click away, have you ridden any of these climbs? Tell me in the comments below. I’m at the edge of my seat dyin’ to know.

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8 thoughts on “Cycling in Lucca: 10 Must-See Climbs”

  1. Hi.
    Me and a friend are planning a trip to Toscana. We Will be staying in Uzzano and need inspiration for palnning roudtrips. We ride normalt 2000 alt. meters and aprox. 80-100 km.
    I have before used Komoot to plan our bikerides. Can you help?
    Best regards
    Kim from Denmark

  2. Jakob Markussen

    Just rode the Passo Sella today. Started climbing from Via dei Norchini between Vallone and Valpromaro and passed trough Pescaglia on my way to the top. Lots of 8-10 % climbs on the way up. However in Pascoso after turning right at the restaurant the climb really picks up. I hit a section with 17 % on the way up. The descent through Fabbriche di Vergemoli is nice.
    Monte Sera or Pizzorne is next I think.

    1. Alison Testroete

      Jakob — yes, lots of climbing. We call Via dei Norchini “Gombitelli.” You took the longer route I’m referring to above but there’s an easier shortcut through Focchia. Keep up the good work!

  3. Ciao,
    I am currently in Lucca and I would be really happy if you could give me an advice for a nice cycling round on the hills where there are not many cars (aprox. 50-70km).
    Kind regards

    1. Alison Testroete

      Francesco—if you click that “free must-see ride” button, the ride of your dreams will magically appear in your inbox!

  4. Hi Alison,
    I’m in Lucca for a couple of days and would love to try your super-scenic Lucca hills ride!
    I haven’t ridden any climbs around Lucca at this stage.
    Kind regards,

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