Riding through the natural beauty of Oltrepò Pavese.
So last Wednesday I met up with some friends, Alex and Edo, who were keen on showing me the roads of Oltrepò Pavese – the area to the south of Pavia which lies beyond (Oltre-) the Po river, comprised of the Po Valley and northern tip of the Apennines, Italy’s central mountain range. This fertile region is known for its fantastic wines and making some of Italy’s best salumi, or cured meats. Of course, I was more than excited about visiting and riding a through a new-to-me place in Italy.
Upon arriving to Piacenza, we picked up the provincial road, SS45, riding through the flat plains of the Po Valley before reaching the town of Bobbio. This was one of the roads that was pure bliss, composed mainly of long straights and sweeping benders. In the video below, we pick it up from the town of Cisiano.
From Bobbio then, we headed up the Passo Penice, a 1,140m mountain pass traversing Mt. Penice (1400m). This was probably the least scary mountain pass I had ever driven/ridden probably because of the conditions: a sunny, spring day and not a foggy, snow covered road which is typical in the Alps. However, with its countless corners, decreasing radius turns, elevation changes and of course, spectacular views you really have to stay on your toes for this one – as I later found out.
Just before Varzi, one of the principal towns of the area, we turned off the Passo Penice and headed down to the tiny town of Bosmenso. It was actually on our itinerary as Edo suggested the Ristorante Buscone as a must-stop for lunch. Edo, a bar owner himself, had this infectious giddiness in anticipation of sampling local wine and homemade cured meats. If a restauranteur is getting excited you know it will be good. And it was. We went heavy of the app’s; salami, prosciutto, culatello, sausage, olive stuffed peppers and from some reason, Russian salad. Sounds typical of Italian antipasti (except the Russian salad) however the difference here was that it was all made in-house. The Buscone is a family run restaurant that prides in itself in serving only the choicest ingredients that are grown locally. Even the pasta – we all chose pappardelle with porcini mushrooms – was homemade. It’s those kinds of touches, those delicacies that set restaurants like the Buscone apart.
After lunch we lounged along the nearly dried up river bed of the Staffora river to relax before heading back to Milano.
Piacenza to Bobbio along the SS45 for about 47km.
Bobbio to Bosmenso via the Passo Penice. About 23kms.