It all started with an invitation. Mauro founder and promoter of Marchebikelife asked me to attend the second edition of the Civitanova Bike Festival. I meditated for a couple of days, how to organise my tour around this event and I confirmed to him “I’m coming!”. I do not know the Marche region very well, it is one of those areas that like others stays between sea and mountain. It has a lot to discover, a cycling tour is always the best way to reveal unique landscapes and historical villages. I was supposed to be at the festival in the early afternoon of Saturday, but I couldn’t go to Civitanova by train, because the message of cycle tourism goes through best practice, I didn’t want to tell about travel without actually travelling and here’s how it went.
Day one: Ancona – Montefano – Recanati – Civitanova Marche (90 Km – 1,020 Elevation – Sunny and warm)
As soon as I left Ancona I was on a road that went up and down from one hill to another, it was an easy ride, at least up to Montefano where the roads to get to the village have a gradient up to 17%. All around a warm and dry territory, to some degree cultivated, with its villages perched on the hills. After Montefano I continued towards Recanati, the hometown of Leopardi, where you can visit the poet’s house and museum. From Recanati I went down to the sea for a quick stop on the beach, before arriving at the festival at the Varco al Mare, a central square that connects the ancient fishermen’s town to the port. I was in time to listen to the afternoon guests and for my presentation. Every time I meet Mauro I have the opportunity to meet special people! I listened with great interest to the programs of the region for the recommended cycle paths and for those that they would like to transform to cycle lanes like the Ciclovia77, conceived by evoking the mythical “Route 66”, through the disused S.S. 77 which connects Foligno and the Macerata area. Immediately after it was the turn of Ruben Baiocco, professor of urban planning at Venice University and slow mobility lover. It has been interesting to hear about his projects and the need to have cyclable roads rather than cycle lanes. The last speech of the day was given by the girls of the Francescana, a historical cyclist event in Umbria. Giada, Daniela, and Pamela linked by a long friendship and common passions, for their region and for bicycles. The Francescana is a 160km route on gravel roads that offer to those who travel the opportunity to discover the area and its traditions. Obviously, this route has immediately become one of my “musts”. The surprises of the day were not over yet, in fact in the evening the festivity hosted a show entitled “When the last one won”. Written and directed by Massimiliano Gracili with Riccardo Ballerini who told the story of Luigi Malabrocca. A story of cycling, friendship, fatigue, and competition. A show to see, a story to remember. At the end of this wonderful day, I also had the opportunity to meet Serena, Luigi Malabrocca’s granddaughter, a lady with a bicycle who proudly told us about her grandfather, who for many of us was a hero!
Day two: Civitanova Marche – Tolentino – Pioraco – Passo Cornello – Gubbio (146 Km – 1,420 Elevation – Sunny and warm)
In Civitanovamarche I was a guest of the Girasole Hotel, one of the Bikepoints suggested for cycling tourism in the Marche, a very convenient place, I was able to bring the bike to my room and take advantage of breakfast before leaving. My day of exploration started from the Civitanova pier the location of many street art works made thanks to “Vedo a Colori” a project of Giulio Vesprini in the past 10 years. I left the sea towards Tolentino, crossing Maceratese valley floor. The arrival in Tolentino was marked by a meeting with a group of cycle travellers who had left Senigallia for a short holiday in the Marche Region. The centre of Tolentino was closed for a fair, the main square with the beautiful clock, its stunning medieval houses. Was impressive visiting Tolentino and not having the perception of the earthquake that 4 years ago has hit the area. However, I’ve been told that not far in Camerino the situation was very different from a lot of the streets still close because of the damaged buildings. From Tolentino, I said goodbye to the cyclists on the road and continued over the hills through the Tirreno Adriatica route (but following it in reverse). I was cycling along the Potenza river when I had to stop to make room for the race to pass. There I met two cyclists who were going back home to Pioraco, with whom I shared the road for a while and who made me discover the path of li Vurgacci, a path through the gorge carved into the Potenza river full of waterfalls and caves. That was an amazing discovery. I was really glad I had found 2 personal tour guides like them! It was almost time for lunch when I was arriving at the foot of the Cornello pass. I stopped at a fountain to cool off and eat something, in a bit of a hurry I got back on my bike to get to the pass before the motorcyclists returned to invade the roadway. In fact, the Cornello pass during weekends becomes a motorcycle circuit, with its perfect asphalt and soft curves. An easy climb, and luckily still with a little traffic, brought me to the border between Marche and Umbria. In Umbria the landscape changed, the road passed between small villages in continuous ups and downs. The heat had become almost unbearable along with the fatigue of a long day. The arrival in Gubbio was a moment of joy and a stupendous surprise. Gubbio is a village of stone houses, of rare richness, I walked through its narrow streets and then I couldn’t resist visiting the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo, built on top of the steep Monte Ingino, reachable through a basket cableway that allowed me to admire the city from above its rooftops at sunset.
Day three: Gubbio – Monte Catria – Gole del Furno – Fano (102 Km – 990 Elevation – Sunny and warm)
In Gubbio I was a guest of the Beniamino Ubaldi hotel, a large hotel just outside the city centre where I could bring the bike to my room and where I was able to have breakfast before leaving. The exit from Gubbio was going immediately uphill to the Valico della Madonna. A beautiful climb between nature and rocks. From there my route headed towards Monte Catria, a low mountain area with natural parks and paths for hikers through the Via dei Santuari. It was the right choice for my third day of exploration as I was returning to the Marche in solitude, on these small roads where there was no one. The peace of the place has conquered me, I will have to return for a new trip and explore Umbria more. Leaving the park of Monte Catria I was heading to the last of the attractions of my tour. The natural reserve of the “Gola del Furlo”. The Furlo Pass gorge is located between Mount Pietralata and Mount Paganuccio, created by the erosive force of the Candigliano River, a tributary of the Metauro. Over the millennia it has reached a considerable depth, which however is no longer visible due to the dam, built-in 1922, which reduced the impetuous stream to a placid green lake. However, that was another unmissable sight. My tour was coming to an end. The road to Fano continued along the Metauro river up to Colli Metauro and then crossed the villages of the hinterland before reaching the centre of Fano. I still had some time for a little visit. Fano has a small historic centre still enclosed within the walls with several churches and squares that open between the paved streets. It was time to go to the station to go home, with a new awareness, Marche and Umbria are full of landscapes, mountains, rivers, lakes and villages that deserve to be visited more deeply, therefore, I will have to come back!
If you need a perspective to start your trip, have a look at the video of the streets where you can ride, I’m sure you will have a glimpse of it.
TOTAL BUDGET 3 DAYS ALL-INCLUSIVE: 116 euro