San Leo - Villagrande - Soanne - Novafeltria | Difficulty: Difficult, Distance: 83 Km, Altitude: 2140m
A circular tour of about 83 km leads to the Carpegna hermitage, situated on the summit of the highest peak in the district – which exceeds 1400 m – and is the only place in the area with ski facilities.
The descent from Monte Titano, the starting point, follows the Fiorentino face with a nice technical descent meandering through vegetation, until passing the state border in Montemaggio and entering Emilia Romagna, the first of two Italian regions that this itinerary traverses.
The first part of the climb begins from the 15th kilometre, which passes next to San Leo and ascends again towards Monte Pugliano.
Once in Pugliano, more experienced climbers will be pleased as the climb continues towards Villagrande, in the Marche region, the second of the two Italian regions of this tour. Having passed the village of Villagrande, the climb to the hermitage begins, which was chosen as the finish line of a stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia.
The Apennine setting is picturesque and gratifying, but the climb (about 6 km) has an irregular elevation profile, with peaks of up to 20% making it arduous.
The course is characterised by a couple of hairpin turns and many semi-bends that slightly mask the gradient; the road surface is in good condition and is almost entirely exposed to the sun.
It is only after the last sprint and a bend to the left that the hermitage comes into view, with a large square surrounded by conifers and chairlift in the background. The hermitage’s church stands on the hill on the right, which can be reached by the most daring via a short cobbled stretch, made rather uncomfortable not least for its slope of about 22%.
Our course continues back down from the hermitage to Villagrande, then heads to Soanne, riding along a beautiful, verdant road leading us to Lake Andreuccio, better known as Lake Soanne, which is wonderfully picturesque with its surrounding weeping willows.
The ride continues meandering through vegetation along almost traffic-free roads, until nearing and passing the Marecchia River in the town of Ponte Molino Baffoni.
The tour continues following Via Marecchiese (or Ariminensis, created in the Roman era and still a vital arterial road connecting Arezzo and Rimini) until passing the state border of the Republic of San Marino in Gualdicciolo, and then tackling the final climb of the day up Monte Titano via the Acquaviva face.
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