Fiastra: Le Marche in a valley
If there is a place that embodies the beauty of Marche Region hinterland it is the Fiastra valley. Spectacular landscapes of green hills, cultivated fields, the Sibillini mountains in the background and wonderful medieval villages where time seems to have stopped. All this in a not too demanding itinerary, all on asphalted road, in the name of cycling tourism in Marche.
|Estimated elevation gain what’s that?||1700 m|
|Min elevation||114 m|
|Max elevation||686 m|
|GPX track tutorial||download
|Ripe San Ginesio from Passo Ripe San Ginesio||altimetry|
|Contrada Cerreto from SP78||altimetry|
|Gualdo from Contrada Scarchi||altimetry|
The Fiastrella stream rises in the Mount of Montioli and, at Ripe San Ginesio, takes the name of Fiastra to go to flow into the Chienti river near Corridonia. Its valley is not very wide, but its ridges are truly spectacular, both for the views they offer and for the wonderful villages they host. For some time I thought of going to visit these places by pedaling, so a nice Saturday in March I load the bike in the car and go.
I start from the parking lots of the Abbey of Fiastra, which, with its natural reserve, represents one of the most beautiful and bike-friendly places in the whole region. Paying attention, I enter the SP78 and follow this busy road to the roundabout, where I turn right to immediately face the first ascent of this day, which will leave very little space on the plain. The ascent to Urbisaglia is very easy, with a slope of around 5-6% and, when done in a calm way, it is an excellent warm up segment. I reach the village and enter through Porta Vittoria. Soon the road becomes flat and the majestic Fortress appears to me. I started recently, but I’m already stopping. The stop for the photo is practically mandatory.
I restart and soon come to the climb along the ridge towards Colmurano. The only difficulty is a ramp of a few hundred meters around 10%. Arriving near the village I find with pleasure a beautiful bike path that runs alongside the road. It is not usual to find this type of structure in the municipalities of the ridges. Obviously I use it and I enjoy the ride to the center, where I start to descend again.
The descent to the bottom of the Fiastra valley is beautiful and fun. In a few minutes I reach Passo Colmurano and the valley road. The SP78 can be dangerous. Traffic is not lacking and the road is not very wide. Even if the numerous speed cameras do not allow cars to reach high speeds, it is better to be careful and have strong and intermittent lights. Making yourself visible never hurts.
Finally I reach the crossroads and start the ascent towards Ripe San Ginesio. They are four kilometers uphill, not difficult, but with demanding ramps after the village. In the first section, the hairpin bends are numerous and easy, with a slope that never reaches 10%. The village appears to me on the right and reaching it is a real pleasure. I had never been here and I stop to observe the beautiful Leonina Tower. Every time I visit an old town like this I wonder that here, in the Marche, it is just one of many, while in other contexts it would certainly be a famous national monument.
The highest point is up ahead. I face a couple of ramps abundantly above 10% and the road becomes narrow and silent. Unique sounds are the chirping of birds and the engine of a tractor in the distance. The Sibillini mountains show themselves in the background, while I reach the GPM (highest point) of Collina Lagua at a crossroads. The cycling vocation of this road has also been highlighted by Salite delle Marche, our friend site and in many respects close our philosophy.
A stretch of just over two kilometers of typical ups and downs begins, with short and steep descents alternating with as many ramps uphill. The first of these reaches a slope of 20%, but I can easily overcome it thanks to the momentum taken going downhill. The matter would be very different not by releasing the brakes first! I reach the SP45, Faleriense, and start to climb towards the wonderful village of San Ginesio.
The ascent is really easy, with the slope always around 5-6%. I enjoy the view of the Fiastra valley and Sibillini. Getting into San Ginesio is spectacular. The magic of the ancient walls conquers me. I enter through Porta Picena and I find on the right that wonder called Ospedale dei Pellegrini, or Ospedale di San Paolo.
I continue to climb the cobblestones through the winding streets and find myself in the beautiful square. Unfortunately, the marks from the 2016 earthquakes are still evident. Scaffolds and containment works cover the towers and the churches. Several alleys are not passable for safety reasons, but the charm of this beautiful village remains, even if today it takes shades of melancholy and sadness. After the obligatory stop at the Bar Centrale, well known by cyclists in the area, where the books and uniforms on display suggest the owner’s passion for bikes, I leave San Ginesio, coming down through Porta Ascarana.
The descent to the Fiastra valley is long, beautiful and fun, even if you need to pay attention to some stretch of asphalt that is not perfect. The view is always breathtaking. On the left the hill of San Ginesio, where I was up to a few minutes before, in front of me the valley and in the background on the right the always splendid ridge of the Sibillini.
A small stretch of SP78 and then turn right at the crossroads for Gualdo. I cross a small bridge and start climbing towards Contrada Cerreto. The ascent is moderately demanding, with a couple of hairpin bends where the slope reaches values well above 10%. The average slope of the climb, however, stands at 7.1%.
The GPM is located at the crossroads for Contrada Santa Maria Maddalena road, which would lead directly to S. Angelo in Pontano. I prefer to go down on the right to go to face the beautiful and demanding climb of Gualdo.
I pass a small bridge and the ascent begins, at Contrada Scarchi. I’m in the woods. The silence is total and disturbing. The slopes immediately become hard. Many ramps are well above 10%. The hairpin bends are spectacular, as is the landscape around. In just over two and a half kilometers we climb more than 200 meters, with an average gradient of over 9%.
At the beautiful Church of Madonna delle Grazie the road flattens and I take to the right, through the public gardens, to reach the center of this characteristic village. Unfortunately, even here the wounds left by earthquakes are evident. The tip of the bell tower lying on the ground is a strong image that warns never to underestimate the power of nature.
I leave Gualdo and jump into the beautiful descent that leads me to Contrada Contro, where I start to climb again towards Sant’Angelo in Pontano. The ascent is easy and pleasant. I enjoy the typical landscape of the Marche hills: on the left the badlands, on the right the cultivated fields. After the pass of S. Maria Maddalena I start to descend again. The fountain of Santa Lucia, at the crossroads for S. Angelo in Pontano, is one of the most popular with cyclists in the area and in the summer it is an almost obligatory stop.
I turn left and keep going down, keeping right at the next crossroads. After a while I start going up towards Borgo San Lorenzo, where a typical stretch of ups and downs begins and leads me to the beautiful village of Loro Piceno. The walls are wonderful and a photo is practically mandatory.
A few more kilometers of up and down and I reach Mogliano. I can not help but stop at the famous Via Immattonata, one of the symbols of this wonderful village. His cobblestones look at me with a defiant tone, as if to ask myself: “Let’s see if you are able to reach the top!”. For the moment I let it go. I intend to return, perhaps with my gravel bike, and throw myself in the descent of Contrada Acquevive, paying attention to the road surface that is not always perfect.
The climb to Petriolo is easy and pleasant. At the crossroads I go left and find myself on the beautiful and panoramic ridge of Strada della Collina, with its green meadows and the breathtaking view of Sibillini and the surrounding hills.
Soon begins the descent on the shady street full of birds chirping. I went back to the Abbey of Fiastra Nature Reserve and my tour of the characteristic villages of this valley is over today. Of course it will not be the last!
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