Dates: Full weeks commencing Saturday 12th, Tuesday 15th and Sunday 19th May 2018
This beautiful and unspoilt region of Italy comprises the Adriatic and a grand backdrop of hills in the province of Rimini which merge into the Apennine chain which runs the length of Italy. It is at a similar latitude to the French riviera and enjoys a similar climate. In October you can still expect warm but not too hot sunny and mainly dry weather – perfect for cycling.
We fly to Bologna (Forli) or Rimini Airports on Ryanair from Stansted and have a short transfer to our super hotel in Riccione where we will be based for the duration. It is particularly geared for cyclists and features a safe bike storeroom and workshop, changing room where you can keep your shoes, clothes and helmet, a laundry service for cycling clothes, medical aid and optional physiotherapy and massage, an energy charged food menu especially geared to cyclists; a swimming pool on site and use of a gym –if cycling does not tire you out; and rental of the best racing bikes as required.
Each day's ride will be guided by our local Italian expert and triathlete. On our Rides we will visit parts of the coast , San Marino –the independent state perched high on a massive rock outcrop; the ancient cliff town of St Leo, many historic picturesque villages including Carpegna, close to the Tuscany border in the Apennines with a possible extension ride to the top of Mt Carpegna 1415m (4500ft); cycle climbs up some of the famous Nine Hills (Nove Colli), albeit not all on the same day, amidst endless vistas across the hills to the mountains and the sea.
Ride Day 1 – Urbino Tour
Leave Riccione cycling along the promenade for 3 km and then head inland through Villaggio Argentina along a fast flat road to Morciano di Romagna.
Soon after we cross the Rio Ventana commences a magnificent climb amidst continuous views to the hilltop village of Saudecio (350m) for our first stop and a wonderful view of hilltops, plains and the sea. Just a few km further we reach the village of Mondiano (420m) where we turn west along a high ridge with views in all directions.
After a few undulations we reach the junction to Tavoleto where we head to a great downhill into the Foglia valley. In the valley we by-pass the villages of Ca Gallo and Schieti. Then start the long ascent to Urbino. The old town of Urbino is walled and contains many remarkable buildings and piazzas. This is a great place for our lunch stop at one of the many trattitorias
We retrace our steps to the outskirts of the town and then strike NE along a quiet country road towards Colbordolo. The road initially descends and then becomes undulating and the scenery changes to the smooth grassy hills of The Marche.
To our left is the Foglia River Valley with its many meanders. Just before Montefabbri the road begins a steep short climb to Monte di Colbordolo (360m) . After the town we turn left and downhill to the river which we cross at Il Padiglione. Now it is a good undulating road to Tavula (190m) after which we have a fast run down to the plain at S Giovanni in Marignano before reaching the coast just outside Cattolica. We then follow the coast and eventually retrace our steps for the last 3km back to the hotel.
Ride Day 2– Carpegna Tour
We head straight out of town across the plain to Coriano and then a steady climb on to Croce (290m) which gives us the first viewpoint of the day. Here we tuen towards Montecolombo (390m) and soon after Montescudo (400m) – our first stop where we have fabulous views to the coast and San Marino – tomorrow's ride.
Now follows a good descent to the Conca valley and then a long fast route through Mercantino Conca until a short sharp climb to Montecerignone (510m) - a delightful village perched on the hill. The road continues to climb to 740m with dramatic views of Villagrande and the beginnings of the Appennines –particularly Monte Carpegna (1415m). We pass through Ponte Cappuccini and continue along this undulating route towards the town of Carpegna nestled under the cliff face of the Monte. Carpegna is as far as we go –and here is the lunch stop.
We return along the main road at the top of the town (830m) and duplicate back to Ponte Cappuccini. Here we turn along the valley to Macerata Feltria and to the reservoir at Mecatale. The route continues along the pleasant valley of the Foglia until Casinina (150m). Here we commence the steep climb to Tavoleto which can be seen high up on the hill. From Tavoleto it is a high level ridge route which takes us to the tiny hill town of Montefiore Conca which requires a small diversion. This is the last summit of the day and what follows is the descent back to the plains and the route back to Riccione via San Clemente.
Ride Day 3 –Verrucio, San Leo and San Marino –The 3 hills
Once again we head straight out of Riccione into the coastal plain along quiet country roads towards Ospedaletto (site of the medieval hospital). Further country roads on the flat bring us to the main dual carriageway between San Marino and Rimini. We only stay on this road for 5 minutes and then turn off and uphill into the village of Covignano. Just before reaching the main autostrada we turn onto the quiet road towards Verrucchio.
Now follows a gentle climb up onto the ridge with glorious views particularly of San Marino although the valley on our left is quite built up as a result of it being the corridor route between San Marino and Rimini. We eventually reach the foot of the hill and a short final climb brings us into the town's piazza at Verucchio 400m). We leave the town rounding the edge of the hill with stunning views as we descend across the valley and mountains beyond. This is one of the scenic highlight of the tour. San Leo
We soon reach the valley and a main road which we take for some time on a fast ride until we reach Secchiano just outside Novafeltria. We recross the river Marecchia and now commences the 400m climb to San Leo, the hilltop castle town which remains in constant view as we climb. The approach to San Leo is magnificent with ever changing aspects. At the entrance to the town we cross a bridge where to the right can be seen an immense scaffolding structure on the cliff –which is being used to repair the cliff to stop it crumbling away. Inside the walls are some beautiful buildings and glorious views and an optional walk up to the castle. After a memorable lunch at a viewpoint in the town, we remount our bikes and make the steep descent towards San Marino –our 3rd and final hill.
The descent is fairly steep with attractive cliffs to our left . At the river, we turn right and here begins the long and steady climb to San Marino. Initially there are great views across the valley to this independent principality . We climb back up to over 500m before descending to the river near Chiesanuova. Then it's the zig-zag climb up to Fiorentino at the end of the San Marino ridge. Following San Marino centro signs we eventually reach more zig-zags which takes us up through the city to the towards the castle at the top. At the walled city gate we stop and take one hour's walking tour but not before a welcome drink at the café.
On leaving San Marino, we retrace our route to Fiorentio and then down to Montegiarino (340m) and down again to the base of the hill village Faetano (150m). There now follows the most attractive return to Riccione along the Marano valley all the way back to Ospedaletto. We then retace our route for the last 6km to Riccione.
Ride Day 4 –The Panoramica Tour
The finale is a shorter and less hilly day and a complete contrast to the others since half is along the coast. The tour commences once again along the sea front but this time all the way through Cattolica and the neighbouring resort of Gabicce Mare.
We start to climb with views over the whole coast line to Gabicce Monte ((130m) after which the Panoramica Drive commences all the way to Pesaro. This route is a delight with several up and downs never rising above 200m nor falling much below 100m until Pesaro is reached. So there is nothing too steep or long with varying views of coast, fields and woodland.
At Pesaro there is a chance to rest by the beach before setting off on the return this time inland. We follow the railway line to Tre Ponti and then cross the autostrada to the hamlet of Babbucce (110m). From here the hill town of Gradara is clearly visible. We take a circuitous high level route via Monteluro to reach Gradara.
Gradara is a very pretty historic hill town again with its castle. It is the closest hill town to the sea , being only 4 km away. After a late lunch we descend back to Gabbicce Mare and take the same route back along the coast to Riccione for the last time.