Force and the roads of the coppersmiths
The village of Force and its forgotten roads in the upper Aso valley. An itinerary on asphalt and gravel, with suggestive glimpses, breathtaking views and lots of silence. Woods and cultivated fields, ditches and ridges, easy ascents and hard ramps, all in the presence of the Sibillini Mountains, the hills and the sea in the distance.
|Estimated elevation gain what’s that?||1.550 m|
|Min elevation||300 m|
|Max elevation||786 m|
|gpx track tutorial||download
|Comunanza Frazione Gesso da SP237||altimetry|
|Comunanza Contrada San Claudio da SP96||altimetry|
|Montefalcone Appennino da Contrada Marulla||altimetry|
|Force Contrada Fonte Vecchia da San Vincenzo||altimetry|
|Force Monte la Torre da Contrade Pallone, Bolognano e S. Taddeo||altimetry|
Force is a village of Piceno region located at an altitude of about 700 meters, on the ridge between the Aso and Tesino valleys. The approaching traveler will immediately notice the exceptionally panoramic position. To the west, the whole Sibillini ridge makes a good show of itself, especially in the magical moments of dawn when they are colored with a characteristic pink and at sunset, when they become a dark frame for the bright red of the dying sun. To the east the view of the hills and the sea in the background. To the south the badlands of Monte Ascensione, while the view to the north is characterized by the wonderful cliff of Montefalcone Appennino.
The same traveler, arriving at the gates of the village, would be attracted by a sign that reads “Force, Città dei ramai” (Force, the Town of coppersmiths). For several hundred years, people of Force have been known as skilled copper craftsmen. Most of the copper objects were for domestic use, such as conche (containers for transporting water), or the stills, called tamburlà, necessary for the production of a typical spirit called mistrà, were forged by Force’s callarà (boilermakers). Of course these craftsmen were also interested in the most varied ornamental objects, of which the houses here are full. Not to be missed, for those interested in the topic, the Antichi Sapori event, which takes place every year in late August, during which the remaining craftsmen open their shops to exhibit and sell their unique pieces.
In the past, the coppersmiths of Force used to go to other villages to sell their products during markets and fairs. Thus they found themselves facing buyers by operating as a united community, so much so that they had developed a real secret language, called baccagliamento. Even if that ancient language is no longer spoken by anyone, it may happen that during the village festivals someone offers you lu refu majuiliscu e serpecieche co lu frizzu. Don’t be scared! It is a sandwich with cheese and anchovies accompanied by wine and a softdrink.
In this itinerary we will ride through almost forgotten roads that I like to think were the preferential ways of these craftsmen and merchants of other times. I recommend a tour of the suggestive historic center which has been damaged by the earthquakes in 2016 and which in part is no longer accessible. We start from Via Roma and face the beautiful descent towards the Aso river via the Contrada Villa Pera. Just before reaching the main road Valdaso, we turn left to face the first effort of the day, the ascent to Gesso, a hamlet of Comunanza.
The climb is completely asphalted, even if sometimes the surface is uneven, and it doesn’t provide bonuses to the cyclist. It begins with a stretch slightly longer than a kilometer that never drops below 10%, particularly hard in the summer sun. Later the slope becomes much easier, up to a small 10% ramp before the GPM (highest point).
The road becomes flat and we fully enjoy the silence, since we will hardly meet any cars here. The asphalt ends and we go onto a gravel road into the woods. The descent on a strada bianca or dirt road is pleasant and suggestive. We arrive onto the asphalt of the SP187 and we reach the center of Comunanza. We cross the SP237 and face a severe ramp that takes us to Via Cavour, where we take the very tough climb of San Claudio.
We come to a gravel road and, immediately after a hairpin bending near a water source, the slope gets up to 16%, remaining on similar values for just over 400 meters. Then, after a few meters of breathing, it stabilizes around 10% up to the GPM.
We start to go down and the view opens up to Amandola. Shortly before reaching the little village of Turano, after a small 9% ramp, the gravel gives way to the asphalt. We stop to fill the bottle at the public fountain and set off again to descend along the SP237 towards Comunanza.
The descent is very quiet and allows the necessary recovery between the work done and another one that is coming. In fact, after Comunanza, immediately after the bridge over the ditch Velloca, we take the gravel road on the left, which leads us to the climb of Contrada Marulla for Montefalcone Appennino.
There are almost 5 kilometers with an average gradient of 7.1%. The hardest stretch is the first one, where it reaches 14%. The gravel road goes into the woods and the shadow with its coolness alleviates fatigue. Then we reach the asphalt. Initially the slope remains high, then drops shortly, allowing us to admire the view that opens more and more. On the right the suggestive and characteristic cliff of Montefalcone, behind us the hill of Force and Mount Ascensione.
We reach the SP50 and the view opens on the left towards Sibillini. We keep rising gently towards Montefalcone where, immediately after the small tunnel, we find the GPM. At this point we should go down again towards the Aso River to go back to Force, but first we need to take a ride in the ancient village of Montefalcone. This itinerary, with the attached gpx track, includes a stretch through its alleys and its narrow streets. GPS devices may have difficulties, but don’t be afraid to get lost. The village is small and you will find the main road easily, perhaps after having made a short stop at the village bakery.
We start the beautiful descent along the SP49, the road to Santa Vittoria in Matenano, and after about three very scenic kilometers we turn right to Contrada Vignola, which gives us wonderful views of the cliff seen from below. We arrive near the bottom of the valley and, after a small stretch on the SP238 towards the west, we throw ourselves into a gravel road on the left which soon begins to rise again towards Force. This is the climb of San Vincenzo.
The first segment, of about 2.5 km, up to the small church of San Vincenzo is a gravel road, with some stretches of uneven asphalt. The slope often rises to values abundantly above 10%. The cliff of Force and its ancient walls look down on us. After the church there is a little descent. We come to the asphalt and the slope rises to its maximum value: 16%. Almost 500 meters of an endless climb until the GPM at the characteristic Fonte Vecchia.
At this point we go down again towards the Aso river, through the hamlet of Montecchio. The descent is about 7 kilometers long, sometimes technical, very panoramic, certainly restful after previous efforts. A small stretch of SP238 and we turn right into Contrada Pallone. The road is asphalted but silent. The slope is pleasant and does not exceed 5%. After about 2,5 kilometers we take a gravel road on the left and start the last climb towards Force: Contrada Bolognano.
The slope increases a little, but it is never too hard, even if we find a couple of double-digit ramps. Overall, the ascent is pleasant, also because the view is definitely beautiful, with the hill of Force on the right side and the fields and badlands on the left. Between the third and fourth kilometer, after a couple of hairpin bends, we reach Contrada San Taddeo and the road shortly flattens and we can fully enjoy the view of the Force hill on the right.
A small ramp at 16% near a house and we return on asphalt. We continue to climb with gentle slopes until the SP93 and then to the GPM of Monte La Torre. We just have to go down again to the village of Force, which is still announced by the sign Città dei ramai and go to regain energy with at the typical restaurant of the village, which is of course the most important part of any tour.
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