Cycling in Marche: 5 reasons to do it
The area included in the provinces of Ascoli Piceno, Fermo and Macerata (Marche, Central Italy) lends itself particularly to cycling tourism. The beautiful Adriatic coast, the green hills characterized by medieval villages, the Sibillini Mountains, the excellent food and wine. Everything contributes to making the experience of cycling holidays extremely enjoyable. Here are my five main reasons for cycling in this wonderful land.
1- The sea and the mountain
The stretch of Adriatic coast between San Benedetto del Tronto and Porto Recanati presents a multitude of hills very close to the sea. This means that starting from a seafront in just a few kilometers you can reach a few hundred meters of altitude and enjoy great views. The hilly belt extends for about fifty kilometers inland. Than we find the Sibillini Ridge, also called Monti Azzurri by the poet Giacomo Leopardi. Cycling tourism here can mean starting from the beach, crossing a characteristic hilly area, getting up to the mountains, enjoying breathtaking views at 1500 metres above sea level and returning to the coast by making different roads from those made before. All even in the same day, if you are enough trained.
2- The villages
A characteristic of our land is the distribution of the population. We have a multitude of municipalities and hamlets (often called contrade) scattered throughout the territory. Almost every hill has a village at its top. This means that by cycling we can watch the characteristic village from various distances and angles, discover it little by little, so as to reach the walls with the feeling of having conquered it in some way. An example for everyone can be Moresco. Starting from the sea and climbing up to this spectacular medieval village and then entering and discovering its silent streets is an unforgettable experience. We talk about this in The villages of Fermo:cycling between nature and history.
3- Climbs to suit all tastes
Cycling tourism also means tackling important ascents for the satisfaction of completing the climb. We all like to think, “I did it!” when we reach the pass. Stopping a moment to enjoy the view after the effort is a beautiful thing. Marche offer any kind of climb. We can find a quiet and easy climb, but still panoramic, which leads you to a few hundred meters of altitude (for example, Moresco from Marina di Altidona, or Ripatransone from Cupra Marittima). A very irregular 3-kilometers climb with very challenging stretches (San Procolo, mentioned in The valley of Tenna and San Procolo climb). Terrible walls of a few hundred meters that make us suddenly rise for 100/150 meters, like the Wall of Ortezzano, or the Strada Cocciari of Sant’Elpidio a Mare. You can also find the continuous up and down of the ridges around the valleys from Sibillini to the sea, annoying for those not used to. Then there are the long and exhausting climbs, with an elevation gain of 800/1000 meters: Sassotetto, Monte San Vicino, Piani di Ragnolo, Forca di Gualdo, Forca di Presta, Forca Canapine, but also Cervara are some examples.
4- The fountains
A characteristic not of little importance for cyclists. The Marche region is dotted with springs and water fountains, which are very precious when cycling on hot summer days. Surely every village has at least one fountain, but we also find them in apparently lost places. The sources, from which the water flows continuously, sometimes from the particular taste, which we often find and which were very popular until a few decades ago, before the aqueduct reached the houses in the countryside, deserves a separate mention. I dealt with the topic in the article Le sette migliori fontanelle dei Sibillini… e altre ancora , where I also inserted a map, which I update continuously, with the main fountains in the area.
5- Silent roads
I left this as a final point, because perhaps it is the most important. I love silence. I like to ride for hours listening only to the sounds of nature and the chain running on the sprockets. The wind, the chirping of the birds, the flow of a stream on the side of the road, the crunch of the dry leaves under the wheels in Autumn … I believe that all this must be an essential part of cycling. Of course, there are very busy, noisy and dangerous roads. They are essentially the coastal roads and the valley floors. There is however a great variety of secondary roads, where cars are very few. If we move to the mountains, we can experience a 10-kilometer ascent in total silence, meeting only 3 or 4 cars at the height of summer. The paths described by me in this blog cover this type of roads, very common in the Marche region. Also, do not underestimate the presence of a multitude of “white roads”, to be faced with the gravel bike, that in recent times are increasingly appreciated for their undisputed charm.
Obviously there are also other characteristics that make Marche appealing for cycling tourism. The excellent food and wine, the presence of a multitude of small accommodation facilities scattered throughout the territory, the countless refreshment points (bars, restaurants …). All this would be enough to qualify these areas as a paradise for cycling. There is something else, however, equally beautiful, although difficult to quantify and to describe. The locals and their friendliness. I believe that the knowledge of the territory also passes through relationships with its inhabitants. People who live in our villages always seem well disposed with those who arrive by pedaling to tell a story. Stop in a small village in the hills or in the mountains, get a sandwich at the grocery store or take a cappuccino at the bar of the town and chat with the barman or with some old man. This is an experience that should not be missed by cyclists in the Marche region. Of course to do this you need not to get caught up in the rush and face the day pedaling slowly…
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