ITINERARY : CITTÀ DI CASTELLO, IN THE APPENNINO UMBRO – MARCHIGIANO
Città di Castello, Bocca Serriola, San Giustino, Terme di Fontecchio, Sanctuary of Belvedere
Departure and arrival: Città di Castello distance: 32.2 km altitude: 730 meters
Difficulty: medium road surface: 55% gravel, 45% asphalt.
See in the area: Città di Castello, Bocca Serriola, San Giustino, Terme di Fontecchio, Sanctuary of Belvedere.
This itinerary starts from the cyclodrome of Città di Castello, about 6 km from Villa San Donino and not far from the town’s historic center. From the thermal spa of Terme di Fontecchio the route leads through the woods toward Bocca Serriola, the Monte smoke and the Appennino Umbro-Marchigiano in a charming and quiet environment.
The route divides basically in two parts, the first predominantly uphill, the second downhill all the way. The real ascent begins after the Baths of Fontecchio, and exceeds 10 kilometers, but if you exclude a short length of 300 meters at km 12.7 after you have passed the village of Fraccano, the ascent does not have particularly steep gradients.
Once you have started from cyclodrome you pass a series of roundabouts, towards Fano. At km 1.8, continue to the right towards the center of Citta di Castello. At the cemetery we turn to the right to reach the Terme di Fontecchio (km 5.2 ), where it becomes a dirt road. Those who do not want to tackle too much asphalt, and want to shorten the route, can start directly from here.
Immediately after the thermal baths the ascent begins, with very regular slopes, and leads to over 800 meters of Monte Pen: this is a gradual ascent adjust, with very few difficult sections, which can also be managed by less expert riders, because it allows you to climb without particular effort.
At kilometer 15.5 you reach the Monte Pen, where you turn left and begin a spectacular stretch of descent from the crest of the mountain, which allows you to enjoy fantastic views. At kilometer 17.4, turn left and then immediately right, beginning to descend toward the valley. The descent is fast, but not particularly challenging, but the less experienced must still be careful.
Past a small ford, at kilometer 21.6, the descent becomes more gentle, while the valley opens up and the road runs in a natural, unspoiled landscape. At kilometer 24 we are back on the road, but still far from traffic, and we continue to descend slightly towards the valley, between cultivated fields of sunflowers and wheat. At kilometer 28.5 keep to the right, and after 500 meters turn left, to return to the roundabout faced at the beginning of the route. From here, paying attention to traffic, we arrive back without problems to the point of departure.
Not to be missed
Don’t miss the center of Citta di Castello, one of the most important cities in Umbria, and a point of reference for the High Tiber Valley. It is characterized by an evocative atmosphere of elegant renaissance architecture, courtyards and arcades, and mansions of the nobility. Make a visit to the monumental XI-century Cathedral, and the churches of Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria delle Grazie, San Francesco and San Domenico.
Not to be missed is the Pinacoteca Comunale, which preserves masterpieces by Raphael, Luca Signorelli, Ghirlandaio, Raffaellino del Colle and Il Pomarancio. Also worth a visit in the surroundings are the oratory of San Crescentino at La Morra, inside which are some superb frescoes by Luca Signorelli (the Flagellation and Crucifixion). There is also the Parish Church of Chamois, the sanctuary of the Belvedere (which is encountered along the path), and the abbey of Badia di Petroia. The Villa Montesca, a remarkable example of romanesque construction, is surrounded by a secular park rich in very rare botanical species.