The Maremma Challenge – 500 km of gravel and MTB bikepacking heaven in Tuscany

Riders on The Maremma Challenge on a Mediterranean coastal path
The Maremma Challenge route offers stunning Mediterranean sea views (Image credit: The Maremma Challenge)

As summer fast approaches, the call of the wild can be heard, and if you're anything like us here at Bike Perfect you'll be getting your best gravel bike ready and planning some bikepacking adventures. We've recently published a series of features highlighting some of the best Scottish bikepacking routes and others from across the UK too. However, if you feel like heading to warmer climates we've found a cracker in the hidden Tuscan region of Maremma, Italy.

The Maremma Challenge is a 500 km bikepacking adventure featuring around 1000m of off-road climbing. It was created by Giovanni Pettinari, founder of the Maremma Challenge, who has worked for years to develop and fine-tune the Maremma Circuit route.

In its third edition, the Maremma Challenge is aimed at gravel and MTB (including e-bike) riders and this year now becomes a fully self-supported bikepacking event. Designed to test the limits, but also for each participant to go at their own pace with ample opportunity to marvel at the nature and history of Tuscany. 

Gravel rider on The Maremma Challenge in Tuscany, Italy

The route takes in everything the region has to offer including glorious gravel trails (Image credit: The Maremma Challenge)

The route is a loop that starts and ends in Massa Marittima, a town that has become renowned internationally as a mountain bike hub for the region thanks to the town's wealth of bike-related hospitality and services. Before the start on Friday, May 12th there is a welcome event with music and a more serious safety briefing, with all participants equipped with bike plates, a live tracking device, and GPS route files that include checkpoint locations. There is no assistance along the route and riders have a maximum time of 80 hours to finish.

The circular route takes in everything the region has to offer from single-track woods to climbs that offer views over the entire Maremma region. Medieval villages, woods, vineyards, olive groves, and extraordinary archaeological sites like the Città del Tufo to also discover.

The route winds towards the sea, with the evergreen Mediterranean coast, riding along stunning beaches, enchanting seaside villages, and cliff tops with views of the Tuscan Archipelago. The Diaccia Botrona Nature Reserve is considered the most significant surviving Italian wetland and the route makes its way through the area before the return to Massa Marittima and the end of this Tuscan bikepacking adventure.

Drone view of riders on a beach in Tuscany

The Maremma Challenge gives riders the chance to ride the stunning beaches of the region (Image credit: The Maremma Challenge)

In October, the event repeats with an Adventure+ formula which caters to those who want to marvel at the trail while fully enjoying a more luxury-themed event with hospitality over ten intermediate stages, tackled in five days, with hotels, and meals included.

The maximum number of participants is set at 250 and registrations are open now until April 30th with more information available at www.maremmachallenge.com.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.

Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm