The lower Chienti, through hills, villages, sanctuaries and abbeys

 In Itinerari gravel

The lower valley of the Chienti River. From Civitanova Marche to the hills of Macerata. The visit to suggestive sacred places, the crossing of medieval villages, the silent countryside and the rounded hills. All this in a pleasant and full of emotions itinerary.


Summary table
Length 75,8  km
Estimated elevation gain    what’s that? 900 m
Min elevation 0 m
Max elevation 255 m
Max slope 22%
Distance table  table
GPX track       tutorial download
Main climbs  
Potenza Picena Contrada Carpineto   altimetry
Contrada Castelletta (Potenza Picena) from Fosso S. Angelo   altimetry

profilo altimetrico basso chienti gravel


Departure set at Civitanova Marche, near the stadium parking lot, north of the mouth of the Chienti river, where the cycle path that runs along the south promenade to the port area begins. Here you enter the inhabited center and then return close to the beach along the north promenade, up to the northern limit of the town.


The beautiful cycle path at the southern promenade of Civitanova Marche


The north promenade of Civitanova Marche. In the background Mount Conero

A small cycle-pedestrian tunnel leads us over the Adriatic railway. We take the SS16, which is wide enough here not to be dangerous. In Porto Potenza Picena we enter the cycle path that runs alongside the SS16 mountain side and we arrive at the Parco dei laghetti (Park of ponds). The atmosphere is nice and relaxing. We ride on the dirt road along the lake in total silence. A glade allows us to take a photo that we hope will fix forever that moment of peace and serenity that nature gives us.


The entrance to the park of the lakes of Porto Potenza Picena


In the silence of the lakes of Porto Potenza Picena

We leave the pond park. The dirt road ends and the asphalt of Contrada Torrenova begins. West direction, towards the first sanctuary of the day: San Girio. The road is narrow, sometimes uneven asphalt, almost no traffic. We are in the middle of the countryside. We note the olive trees, the cultivated fields, the scent of the earth just moved by the tractors. We arrive in San Girio for a short but demanding gravel climb, with a slope close to 20%. Unfortunately, the sanctuary is under renovation. We will come back to visit it in the future.


The sanctuary of San Girio under renovation

A few hundred meters of descent and immediately to the left we take the gravel road of Contrada Altavilla. It is a beautiful “white road” (strada bianca), which passes through the countryside in total silence. We are in the valley of the Potenza river, under the hill of Potenza Picena, which seems to observe us from above, waiting for us at the passage.


The beautiful “white road” of Contrada Altavilla

After a couple of kilometers of fairly flat road we turn left to Contrada Carpineto. The road soon begins to climb firmly. Instinctively we change position. Staying on the saddle is necessary, given that the slope gradually increases up to 22%. The last bends are always demanding, but the asphalt returns, which certainly makes the ascent less terrible. The historic center of Potenza Picena is right above us. It is certainly worth a little detour to visit it.

altimetria salita potenza picena da contrada carpineto


Reaching the historic center of Potenza Picena

We go in the direction of Macerata on the SP Potentina, but soon we throw ourselves into a gravel descent on the left, down towards the Fosso Sant’Angelo (S. Angelo Ditch). The sense of freedom in riding the white descent between the houses is surprising. We leave the hill of Potenza Picena behind us and we soon find ourselves at the bottom of the valley. Here begins the next ascent, to Contrada Castelletta. The gravel stretch reaches a maximum slope of 19%, giving us 600 meters of pure suffering. Once we reach the ridge, we return to the asphalt. The slope decreases and, as we approach the SP Potentina, we can appreciate the view of the hills around us. On the left the hill of Montelupone, towards which we are headed. On the right the valley of the Fosso Sant’Angelo, which we have just passed.

altimetria salita contrada castelletta di potenza picena da fosso s. angelo


The valley of the Fosso Sant’Angelo, which we crossed on a dirt road. Above, the village of Potenza Picena.

The climb to the village of Montelupone is absolutely not demanding. Arrived at the GPM (Gran Premio della Montagna: the highest point), before continuing, I certainly recommend a ride in the beautiful historic center. The perfectly preserved walls, the gates, the beautiful square, the particular monument placed at the apex of the Muro (wall), made famous by the Tirreno-Adriatico (international cycling race), are absolutely worth a visit.


Entering Montelupone


The monument at the end of the famous and terrible “Wall of Montelupone”


The village of Montelupone

We leave Montelupone observing it once again, while we move away in the direction of Macerata. We go up again, even if gently. Turn left and you will find yourself in the beautiful Contrada Montenovo. The turrets of a villa, the road that becomes pleasant, flat or slightly downhill, the view that opens onto the cultivated hills up to Macerata are the right reward for having arrived up here.


The characteristic turrets at Contrada Montenovo di Montelupone

We return in view of the Chienti valley and soon the beautiful village of Morrovalle appears in front of us, very pleasant to visit, before jumping into the fast descent of Fonti Giannino. We are headed for the Convent of the Passionist Fathers, but we do not miss the opportunity to travel a beautiful and silent dirt road on the right. Unfortunately at some point the dirt road ends and we find ourselves on the asphalted climb, which leads us to the Santuario Madonna della Quercia.


The suggestive village of Morrovalle


The silent dirt road from Via Fonti Giannino at Morrovalle


The Convent of the Passionist Fathers of Morrovalle, Santuario Madonna della Quercia.

The descent, which winds through the hills, is beautiful and restful. We relax a bit before we start climbing again towards Contrada Castellano, where, near an old farmhouse, we take a dirt road in the middle of the fields where it seems to be out of this world. The little descent that leads us on the asphalted road of Contrada Burella is very uneven and requires attention.


The dirt road near Contrada Burella of Morrovalle

We head towards the famous Abbey of Saint Claudio, which stands out in front of us on the left. After about two and a half kilometers, we take a gravel road on the right. We skirt the railway and face a couple of ramps. We pass a house and the gravel road becomes a dirt road, which takes us to a new gravel stretch that seems to skirt the railway indefinitely. Suddenly a small tunnel appears on the left. So we can cross the railway and finally get to San Claudio. A stop to enjoy this wonderful place is mandatory.


The dirt road at Contrada San Claudio, just above the abbey


The Abbey of Saint Claudio, of Corridonia

We start pedaling on the long tree-lined avenue that leads to the SP485 and we head east, towards the sea. The roadway is dangerous and you have to be careful, until the road widens and a beautiful and inviting strip of lawn appears on the right, which we are going to use promptly with our gravel tires. Soon we leave the provincial road to cross Contrada Sarrocciano, on a gravel road, a few hundred meters from the Chienti river, which will practically accompany us until the end of the tour.


The lawn behind the SP485 is a preferential lane for a gravel bike

We reach Trodica, where we take Via 29 Giugno, which brings us to Contrada Selve. The road is part of the Via delle abbazie, (The Road of the Abbeys). The asphalt is a bit rough, but excellent for a gravel bike. Traffic is scarce and all in all pedaling here is very pleasant.


The Road of the Abbeys at Contrada Molinetto of Trodica di Morrovalle


A trunk fallen along the Road of the Abbeys, near Contrada Selve of Morrovalle

We cross the railway again through a small level crossing (the railway has been another constant presence on this tour) and we go towards Montecosaro Scalo. We arrive at the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata, also known as Santa Maria a Pié di Chienti, through Via Abbadia, a dirt road near the river park. The Church is very beautiful and imposing and invites to stop to admire its wonderful interior.


Basilica of Santa Maria a Pié di Chienti, in Montecosaro Scalo


The spectacular interior of the Abbey of Santa Maria a Pié di Chienti


The Abbey of Santa Maria a Pié di Chienti seen from behind

The busy SP8 leads us near the village of Casette d’Ete, where we take the gravel cycle path that takes us to the much quieter Strada Santa Croce. We now skirt not Chienti, but his “younger brother”, the Ete Morto river, of which I have already spoken in The Valley of Ete Morto. The road is rough and dirty, sometimes uneven, good for a gravel bike. Nurseries with their beautiful palm groves keep us company.


The palm groves of the nurseries at Strada Santa Croce in Casette d’Ete

We face the last gravel stretch and arrive in view of the last sacred place of the day: the Abbey of Santa Croce al Chienti. The old monastery is usually closed to the public, if not for a few days a month. What strikes us when arriving by bike is the absolute peace and tranquility of the place. We are far from traffic and chaos, completely immersed in the serenity of the countryside. The ancient building seems to enjoy it as much as we do.


We arrive at the Abbey of Santa Croce al Chienti along the gravel road


The beautiful Abbey of Santa Croce al Chienti, in the territory of Sant’Elpidio a Mare

A few more kilometers of asphalt and we return to Civitanova Marche at the starting point. The view of the shopping center and the traffic of SS16 cause nostalgia for the beautiful places visited today and the desire to leave immediately for a new bike adventure.


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