Sibillini Mountains, Umbria, Italy
The Sibillini Mountains in the Le Marche region of Italy are a hidden gem, rarely reported upon but containing some truly wonderful ribbons of black top. One such road of note is the SP477 that climbs up and over the Piano Grande – a mention of the ‘PG’ to a paragliding enthusiast and chances are they will wax lyrical about it.
Peeling off the wide, and in its own right magnificent, SS4 the road begins to aggressively climb and narrow, morphing into a pulse-quickening time trial style route. Before hitting the SP477 the road makes its way through a handful of small villages, the thin tall Italian houses acting as an amplifier to the exhaust note of our 3.8-litre flat six.
As the villages disappear, the presence of ski chalets provides a nod to the ever increasing altitude. Turning hard left off the SP89, the SP477 announces itself with a series of wide sweeping bends that continue the march towards the top of the Piano Grande.
The road feels like it’s been chiselled into the hillside, taking the line of least resistance, it flows in unison with an invisible contour line, catapulting you between hairpins via sweeping well-sighted stretches of road that allow rapid progress.
From the crest, the road falls down into the basin allowing you the stunning view of Castelluccio that sits upon its own outcrop above the wildflower meadow. At times the basin fills with mist giving the illusion that the village is floating, earning it the name ‘Little Tibet’.
Stopping here allows the view to be enjoyed and, during the warmer months, the spectacle of numerous paragliders lazily drifting above you is perfect for lunch or a coffee break.
Leaving the village, the road yawns ahead, spreading over the basin floor in search of the foot of the climb back up, before the road plummets down and sweeps around the sort of bends that rally organisers dream of finding.
In the main, the road is well surfaced and wide enough to allow two coaches to pass – as they do in summer. One of the joys of this road, however, is that a series of tunnels on the main road below offer an easier route, reducing traffic levels significantly, making it one of the more quiet mountain roads upon which to play.