The meadows of Ragnolo

 In Long itineraries

Piani di Ragnolo reached in an itinerary completely on asphalt, including the easiest climb, the one from Acquacanina. Silent roads, passing through suggestive and abandoned villages, views of fortresses and remains of ancient castles,  breathtaking views of the Sibillini Mountains and hills up to the sea. But what will remain in the heart will surely be the windswept meadows around Monte Ragnolo.


Summary table
Length 82,7  km
Estimated elevation gain    what’s that? 1800 m
Min elevation 294 m
Max elevation 1509 m
Max slope 12%
Distance table  table
GPX track      tutorial download
Main climbs  
Campobonomo from Pievebovigliana  altimetry
Piani di Ragnolo from Acquacanina  altimetry




The plateau called Piani di Ragnolo is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and spectacular places of the Sibillini Mountains. The view extends 360 degrees from its meadows over the entire Sibillini chain and the hills to the Adriatic Sea. Compared to other places in the Umbrian-Marche Apennines area, this has a special feature: it is easily accessible. In addition to the paths and the gravel roads, we have four asphalted roads that lead to Piani di Ragnolo. The hardest is undoubtedly the climb from Campanotico or from San Liberato, which come together in that Apennine monster that cyclists in the area call Laminox. The most famous is the climb that from Sarnano passes through Sassotetto and reaching the pass of Santa Maria Maddalena, just below. Then there is the west side, that of the Fiastrone torrent. The climb starts from San Lorenzo al Lago, near Fiastra Lake, and arrives at the pass of Santa M. Maddalena passing through Bolognola and Pintura. A fourth road, which is the one we face in this itinerary, starts from the water sources of Acquacanina to reach the Ragnolo plateau.


The end of the hardest stretch of the Laminox climb, before the intersection with the road coming from Acquacanina, at Piani di Ragnolo

The departure is set in Caldarola, a medieval village famous for its castles, first of all the Pallotta Castle. Unfortunately, the 2016 earthquake caused huge damage here. The castle cannot yet be visited and the village is still unusable, but restaurants and bars are open again and it is always a pleasure to leave from here for a bike ride, greeting the friends of the A.S.D. Monti Azzurri.


The village of Caldarola

We take the road towards the Caccamo Lake, but just before the locality of the same name we turn left. We pass under the village of Pievefavera to skirt the lake along the right bank, quieter than the other. The passage under the viaduct of the freeway is worthy of attention because we are going downhill, cornering, with the insidious gravel on the road. So we take what was once the SS77, the old road that led to Rome, before the construction of the highway, which with its viaducts and tunnels allows today to pass from the Marche coast to Foligno in just over an hour, at the price to miss out on exceptional views, which few people know today. We cross Valcimarra, Bistocco, Campolarzo, now abandoned villages, once alive places of passage for countless travelers. Towers, fortresses, remains of ancient castles flanked by modern pylons of the power line observe us, witnessing an ancient era in which time flowed differently and the Duchy of Camerino here was master. Rocca di Varano (Varano Fortress) undoubtedly represents the most suggestive view.


Passing under the village of Pievefavera


Crossing forgotten villages such as Valcimarra


The remains of an ancient fortress near Bistocco. The ancient and the modern.


The old SS77 road leads us under the ancient Rocca di Varano of Camerino

At Polverina we turn left and then immediately right, to skirt the homonymous lake on the right bank. The main road on the left bank, like all the old SS77, can now be considered a bike lane, but this other variant is in my opinion more beautiful and panoramic. Immediately after the lake, the Castle of Beldiletto appears on the right. Immediately after we take the SP99 and face the first ascent of the day: Campobonomo.


The Castle of Beldiletto, Pievebovigliana.

We quietly cross the village of Pievebovigliana, where we cannot help noticing the horrible wounds caused by the earthquake, while we fill the bottle with the fresh water of the public fountain in the square.


The public fountain in Pievebovigliana


A glimpse of the village of Pievebovigliana from the road to Fiordimonte.

Up to Fiordimonte we climb gently. The gradient is really easy, always around 3%, practically a slight slope. Then the music changes and the real climb begins. We go up with nice hairpin bends and with slopes that however don’t go much more than 10%. The view widens more and more on the surrounding green hills. Silence is total. We pass the hamlet of S. Ilario and reach the GPM (Gran Premio della Montagna, the highest point) , at the Le Casette farmhouse. On the right you would go to Cupi and the beautiful road to Macereto. We throw ourselves to the left, in the spectacular descent to Fiastra.altimetria-salita-campobonomo-pievebovigliana



The view going down towards Fiastra

We cross the village and go down again to San Lorenzo, on the banks of the famous Fiastra Lake. Here a stop at one of the bars in the area is practically mandatory, before going to face the main effort of the day: the climb to Piani di Ragnolo, which begins at the famous sources of fresh water of Acquacanina.


Fiastra Lake from the bridge near San Lorenzo al Lago

fontanelle acquacanina

Acquacanina fountains


The crossroads for the Piani di Ragnolo at the Acquacanina springs

This is the easiest and perhaps the most beautiful way to reach the top of Piani di Ragnolo and the Pass of Santa Maria Maddalena. But you better not to underestimate it. They are almost 12 kilometers of ascent, with various double-digit slopes. The first part is the most difficult, with hairpin bends and slopes greater than 10%, but with a good road surface. In a few minutes the altitude increases and we are able to observe the road to Bolognola much lower. We are surrounded by woods and it is not uncommon to meet a deer here.altimetria-salita-piani-di-ragnolo-acquacanina



The most famous and most beautiful hairpin bend of the ascent to Piani di Ragnolo from Acquacanina

Then the hairpin come to an end and the trees disappear. The road surface worsens significantly, becoming sometimes uneven, but good enough for a road bike. A straight stretch of about two kilometers begins, which can seem endless over the summer sun. Everything is covered by the green meadows. In the hot season yellow is the dominant color. A hare rests on the road, to run away very fast seeing us coming.


The road surface is not the best going up towards Piani di Ragnolo


The spectacular view of the Sibillini mountains behind us climbing to Piani di Ragnolo


The road winds through the meadows after the crossroad for Podalla

In total silence we arrive at the fork for San Liberato, where our road and the Laminox climb meet. The final stretch up to the GPM is the same. The Ragnolo plateau reaches its maximum beauty and spectacularity. The view sweeps and the horizon appears far away. The slopes are almost always gentle and it is difficult not to stop to take wonderful images of this evocative and great landscape.


The last uphill stretch of Piani di Ragnolo


The typical bales of hay at Piani di Ragnolo


The view from the pass at Piani di Ragnolo

We first go down to the pass of Santa Maria Maddalena. Then we face the funny and technical descent of Sassotetto. High speeds can be achieved. The road surface is practically perfect. It is only necessary not to be too distracted by the view, which reaches the sea. We stop at the famous Fonte dei Brilli (a famous public fountain), at the gates of Sarnano, where we fill the bottle, before tackling a stretch of ups and downs with which we reach Pian di Pieca.


The view descending from Piani di Ragnolo towards the Santa M. Maddalena pass


The famous Villa Lucio, at the pass of Santa Maria Maddalena

sassotetto tornanti

The hairpin bends of Sassotetto

We continue north. At Maregnano we turn left for Cessapalombo. We go downhill, then go up towards the village, which unfortunately shows the signs of seismic events, which hit the whole area hard. Another little descent and then the last roughness. We cross Colbottoni and finally we face the descent through the woods that leads us to the starting point.


The village of Cessapalombo, with the evident wounds of the 2016 earthquake


Descending toward Caldarola, land of castles

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