One of Sauze d’Oulx hidden gems, the Strada dell’Assietta is a wonderful trail for mountain bikers and off-roaders. The road can be accessed from Sportinia or directly from Sauze by cycling/driving up via Clotes or Via Dalmare.
The Strada dell’Assietta or Strada Provinciale 173 (SP173) is roughly 35 kilometres long, running from Sestriere to Pian dell’Alpe (just below Colle delle Finestre). It is closed to any vehicles except bicycles on Wednesdays and Saturdays in July and August between 09:00 and 17:00.
The road is almost entirely above 2000 metres altitude and so is only open from June 1 to October 31. It runs along the ridge that separates the Val Chisone and Susa valley and passes several mountain passes between these valleys including Colle dell’Assietta (2,474 m), Colle Blegier (2,381 m), Colle Costa Piana (2313 m), Colle Bourget ( 2,299 m) and Col Basset (2,424 m).
The road was built in the late 1800s for military purposes and the ruins of forts still remain.Today, some farmers use the road to access their land, but the primary use is by tourists, particularly people on touring motorbikes and mountain bikes. The surface is rough dirt and rock and is generally only wide enough for one vehicle.
This high altitude ridge above Sauze d’Oulx has been of military importance since the 1700’s. However the current road and most of the fortifications were built/began in the late 1800’s with additions leading into both World Wars.
In 1747, the Battle of Assietta was fought at altitude here during the War of the Austrian Succession. The Piemontese were forced to spread their forces protecting 13 passes, but successively repelled the French invaders inflicting over 5000 casualties (3700 killed including 7 French generals). This great Savoy-Piemontese victory is still celebrated every July 19th with costumed ceremonies at the colle.
The road is also a great place for walking/hiking – perhaps doing a circular route taking the lift from Jouvenceaux to Sportinia and then up via the Chapel of Notre Dame des Brousailles to Col Bourget.
The Strada dell’Assietta is a great place for mountain bike riding on a strada bianca (unmade road). The eastern end of the road is very close to the Colle delle Finestre (a road that is also mostly unpaved on the northern side), which has been featured in several professional cycling races, including Stage 20 of the 2015 Giro d’Italia. The Strada dell’Assietta itself hasn’t been used in any professional races, but is the focus of the mountain bike race the Tour dell’Assietta, and it was used as the second checkpoint in the 2015 Transcontinental Race (a non-stop, unsupported bicycle race across Europe normally done on road bicycles).
#1 Strada dell’Assietta & Strada Militare Colle delle Finestre from Sauze d’Oulx
This incredible 91 kilometre loop starts from Sportinia. It’s a 1000 metres of climbing on a fun Assietta access road (purple on map) just to reach Col Basset and the Strada dell’Assietta. The route then rides Strada dell’Assietta until Colle dell’Assietta turning higher onto the Strada Militare Colle delle Finestre, finally returning to the start by riding Strada dell’Assietta from Pian dell’Alpe until Col Basset.
#2 Strada dell’Assietta via Parco Naturale Gran Bosco
The brown route on the map. This amazing climb on unpaved roads (closed to cars) climbs 1400 metres – much through the woods of the Parco Naturale Gran Bosco – to join Strada del’Assietta. It also includes a detour up Monte Gran Costa to a fort at 2615 metres, high above Assietta. Finally, it descends via an old Strada dei Cannoni trail.
#3 Colle delle Finestre, Colle dell’Assietta, and Above
This route climbs the famous side of Colle delle Finestre, joins Strada dell’Assietta until Colle dell’Assietta, finally looping back on the high yellow Strada Militare delle Finestre – Gran Serin.
#4 Full Strada dell’Assietta
This loop starts in Sestriere and rides the entire Strada dell’Assietta, it then descends the less famous (light green) side of Colle delle Finestre (it also includes a detour up to Mont Fraiteve – 2702m). Finally, it climbs back to Sestriere – much of the way on unpaved trails – although the main road is possible (and much faster).
For a more detailed look at cycling the Strada dell’Assietta please see www.cycling-challenge.com