Even without considering its history, monuments and works of art, the Marecchia Valley, an area just behind the Adriatic Riviera, is well worth visiting for its spectacular nature, which we’ll focus on first.
Anyone crossing the Marecchia Valley on foot, on horseback or by bicycle, will delight in the beauty of its landscapes and endless horizons.
Hills and woody ridges, rocky outcrops for climbing, rivers and mountains, chestnut trees and holm oaks: everywhere is worth photographing and the backdrops are picture-perfect.
Heading along provincial road 258 towards San Sepolcro, visitors will come across the small village of Bascio, which is overlooked by the ancient tower, all that remains of the majestic castle that once controlled the Marecchia Valley below, along with the castles of Gattara, Miratoio and Scavolino.
At the base of the tower, in a field that is like a large terrace overlooking a universe of hills, mountains and valleys, seven ceramic carpets seem to have been blown here by the wind: designed by Tonino Guerra, the garden is dedicated to seven historical figures – from Dante Alighieri to Giotto to Uguccione della Faggiola – who were all either born in or visited the valley.
Back on provincial road 258, this time heading towards the Adriatic coast, Maiolo is about a 30-minute drive away. The destination is Maiolo cliff, a fascinating place given its strategic position and two adventurous paths lead to the top of the rock face.
Let’s start from the calanque path that begins in Poggio; the views over the calanques are like a lunar landscape, with these fascinating formations and the beauty of the Marecchia Valley. The views of the fortress and the village of San Leo are also spectacular.
Venture to the highest peaks, climbing the rock face on which stand the remains of what was once Maioletto Castle, which affords views that will move you to tears. The wood and stepladder anchored to the rock face make this daring path ideal in autumn or spring or on winter days when the weather isn’t too cold.
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the fortress was an imposing defensive bulwark but, due to tragic circumstances, all that remains are the ruins of two fortified towers, which suggest the site was once unassailable. The entire archaeological site and calanques below are now recognised by the European Community as a protected “BioItaly” zone, with over 600 types of plants registered.
Maiolo is also a place of memory, thanks to its Diffused Bread Museum. Locals have decided to bring many old ovens dotted around the countryside back to life and hold a celebration dedicated to bread in June.
This small village needs no introduction as it is recognised as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” and has been awarded an Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club.
Before climbing to the fortress, visit the village, explore its narrow streets and enjoy its spectacular views: Mount Guardia (on which the bell tower stands) and the cathedral of San Leone.
San Leo castle is one of the most beautiful in Romagna and was the backdrop to the most mysterious story linked to the village. The notorious Count Cagliostro lived and died in a windowless cell in its jail, watched over at all times by his wardens.
The fortress appears precariously balanced, clinging to the craggy rockface as it soars above the Marecchia Valley, offering incredible vistas.
Indeed, from the top of the fortress, the views are one of the most magical aspects of this picture-perfect village.
From Maiolo, it takes about 20 minutes to reach the village of Perticara along Via Sarsinate. Once in the village, follow signs for Mount Aquilone (Monte Aquilone).
Near a small group of huts, follow the CAI path on the boundary walls. In the wood, at a boulder that marks a crossroads, leave the path and head towards the cliff, which is now visible; it is possible to reach the summit, which is 883 metres above sea level. Mount Aquilone is well-known and popular with climbers, but also a great attraction for flying, paragliding and hang-gliding enthusiasts.
Along the path, visitors will come across Sasso del Diavolo (or Devil’s Stone), the name given to one of the large rocks that are a feature of Mount Aquilone. According to legend, this unusual boulder was the last stone destined to be used in the construction of Tiberius’ Bridge in Rimini but, due to a whim of the devil, was never used.
Before reaching the top, anyone looking to have some fun can stop in Perticara where they’ll find Skypark (open from May to November), with its trails suspended between trees; fun and games for all ages surrounded by paths, woodland and views of the sea.
Once on top of Mount Aquilone, the views are a delight for the eyes and will capture your heart.