Scene of history and sacred rites, in Sarsina every stone makes one perceive the presence of Plautus, the great Latin playwright, born right here: the echo of his famous satirical works reaches us from the stage of the arena named after him.
The findings tell of a city of great magnificence that has been able to preserve and pass on the importance of its time to this day. In the town centre there is the National Archaeological Museum, with Roman finds, and the Basilica of San Vicinio, an admirable example of Romanesque architecture.
Entering the Basilica, you can have a strong spiritual experience thanks to the blessing of the sacred chain of San Vicinio, which annually attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims, in the footsteps of the Way of San Vicinio.
For a complete immersion in nature, a tour of the Marmitte dei Giganti Park is a must: suggestive erosion of the ground caused by ancient glaciers recall giant marmites! Also the path of Lake Quarto is well worth a visit.
Our tour starts right from the latter, to get to know the territory of this interesting part of the Romagna Region.
We have chosen summer as the season of choice for this itinerary, but Sarsina can be enjoyed all year round.
Lake Quarto, located about 7 kilometers from the center of Sarsina, is the result of a catastrophic landslide in 1812, and today it’s a naturalistic paradise of flora and fauna to be discovered. You can also visit it with a guide, thanks to the Comitato Dilaghiamo.
The walking route, recently inaugurated, allows you to explore the most hidden and spectacular environments of this jewel of nature, and to enjoy the coolness thanks to the waters of the lake and the thick vegetation.
In addition to the ring of the lake, well signposted and themed with 10 stopping points, there are two piers, signposted bicycle routes and a sighting point for birdwatching.
The hike is easy and short in length, about 7.5 km, mostly flat, and can be done in about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Trekking shoes are required, due to the presence of damp ground.
From Lake Quarto we move by car towards the center of Sarsina. We then proceed on foot in the Parco delle Marmitte dei Giganti (The Giants’ Marmites Park), to be visited along a luxuriant tree-lined path of 2.5 kilometers.
We recommend proceeding slowly, to admire the spectacle offered by nature: over the centuries, the debris dragged by the swirling waters of the rio Crocetta and the Molinello ditch have shaped the compact rocks of sandstone, thus creating a rare phenomenon of erosion.
This process has produced several cylindrical cavities with smooth walls and a few meters deep. The popular imagination then helped to shape the legend that sees these hollows as huge marmites where giants cooked their food.
Along the path there are various rest areas with benches, and about halfway through the path there is a rest area equipped for picnics.
Back to the village, the visit to the historic center begins to examine the origins of this town up close: the remains of the Roman Forum, the House of Plautus, the Mausoleum of Obulacco, an imposing funerary monument of the 1st century BC, dedicated to Aulo Murcio Obulacco and placed immediately outside the walls.
This journey into antiquity ends with the National Archaeological Museum of Sarsina, which houses numerous artifacts from prehistory to the late Romagna period, including the Mausoleum of Rufus, the polychrome floor mosaic called the "Triumph of Dionysus", and the statue of Attis.
Sarsina is one of the most popular destinations for religious tourism in Emilia-Romagna Region, and this is due in particular to the name of Saint Vicinio. A stop at the Romanesque Basilica, perhaps dating back to around the year 1000, dedicated to him, is a must.
The relics of the saint are kept under the altar, and his famous chain (or “collar”) is kept in the tabernacle, which is placed around the pilgrim's neck as a blessing to cast out demons.
The patron saint of Sarsina is celebrated on August 28, with spectacular fireworks in the evening. If you are in town at that time it is worth participating in the party, and also in the procession that culminates from the basilica to the Oratorio del Monte di San Vicinio, between Musella and Montesorbo, which tradition identifies as the place where the saint withdrew in prayer and penance.
Moving a little less than 4 kilometers from the center (walking time about 1 hour and 30 minutes, less than 10 minutes by car) we arrive at the hamlet of Montalto, where the Abbey of San Salvatore in Summano is located (visit by appointment), presumably founded before the year 1000.
Back in the direction of the historic center, we move towards the village of Calbano, to visit Elvis Moro's workshop of luthier art, who can explain his workshop and his instruments to the visitor.
In the evening, we can go to the Arena Plautina to attend a show of the Plautus Festival, an important theatrical review with the greatest actors and performers.
The open-air theater, located in a suggestive place, with the valley behind the stage, in the cool of summer evenings offers a program consisting mainly of classical theater performances, but also of Shakespearean and Italian twentieth century works.