We will follow the course of the river from its source through authentic hamlets, ancient forests, and silent churches all the way to the town of Cesena, which, with its Malatesta Library, is included in the UNESCO “Memory of the World Register”.
Are you ready to go on a journey through the sacred and profane though the Romagna Apennines?
The departure point in Verghereto is a must, as it lies on the border between Romagna and Tuscany, where we find the sources of two rivers: the Savio, which descends towards the Adriatic, and the Tiber, which flows all the way to Rome. A walk to the sources, which are hidden in the greenery, is a unique experience, almost like a pilgrimage.
The Source of the Savio can be explored in all seasons, as it takes on unique and suggestive characteristics throughout the year, from the many autumn shades to the bright colours of the spring, and the wonderful snowshoe hikes on fresh snow in the winter months.
Immersed in the peace and quiet of Mount Fumaiolo you can regenerate your mind and body by breathing in the pure air of the centuries old forests.
Descending along the E45, just a few kilometres ahead you will encounter Bagno di Romagna, a small town with a clear Florentine influence, which is apparent for instance in the Palazzo del Capitano building. This is an ideal destination if you wish to relax completely in natural surroundings and in the renowned spas that date back to Roman times.
The Park of the Casentinesi Forests, Mount Falterona and Campigna act as a backdrop and as a “playing field” with a rich variety of itineraries and activities for people of all ages.
If you are on holiday with your family, you can venture along the Sentiero degli Gnomi (the Gnomes’ trail) where children enjoy looking for the pointed hats of the gnomes of the woods that dot the trail, and leaving their messages for gnome Savio, who lives in these woods with his friends.
Nature lovers will enjoy visiting the Riserva Integrale di Sasso Fratino (Sasso Fratino Nature Reserve) the first to be founded in Italy, with its ancient beech woods which have become part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
For those who wish to combine nature and mysticism, we recommend a walk along the Mulattiera di Corzano (the Corzano mule track) a paved route which, from San Piero in Bagno just a few kilometres from Bagno di Romagna, leads to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Corzano and to the ruins of the old Fortress.
And to enjoy some total relaxation we strongly advise a regenerating treatment in one of the prestigious Spa centres, which date back to Roman times, with indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, saunas and spas.
The second day of our itinerary will lead us to Sarsina, the birth town of the renowned Latin playwright Tito Maccio Plauto. To celebrate this special bond the popular Plautus Festival takes place here every year in August.
Each step of the way there are Roman vestiges to be seen and it is definitely worth visiting the local National Archaeological Museum, which houses many remains from that era, some of which are quite unique on the international scene.
One of the most characteristic areas of the town is most certainly the Basilica Santuario di San Vicinio, which was built around the year One Thousand, with its impressive size and Romanic architecture. Here, each year, thousands of pilgrims come to receive a blessing by having the healing “chain” of Saint Vicinio laid on them.
Sarsina is also the point of departure from which to begin the mystical San Vicinio Way, which is made up of 14 stages and over 300 km along the Savio Valley and the Tuscan-Romagna Mountain Ridge.
Following the descent of the Savio River towards the Adriatic, a visit to the suggestive town of Mercato Saraceno is a must.
Take your time and see one of the many wine cellars in the area, stroll through the vineyards and sample the excellent products of the local area. In addition to the more renowned, classic Romagna wines, we recommend you try the Famoso IGT, a white grape variety native to these hills, which was rediscovered in recent years.
During your stay, we also suggest that you visit the Pieve di Montesorbo, a church that dates back to the VIII century A.D. which was an important location during medieval times as the Savio Valley was one of the main roads that led to Rome travelled along by pilgrims coming from Eastern Europe (known as the Romei).
The tour of the Savio Valley continues on the third day towards Cesena, with a stroll through its symbolic sites. The Malatesta Library is the only example in the world of a humanistic monastic renaissance library that is perfectly preserved, and which houses an important series of illuminated manuscripts: for which it was included (the first one in Italy) in the Unesco Memoire du Monde Register.
Following the traces of the Malatesta, a must is a visit to the Rocca Malatestiana which, surrounded by greenery, close to the old town, offers a unique, picturesque view of the city.
Walking up the gentle slopes of the Cesena hills, in a single site that lies in natural surroundings, you will also be able to delve into two other evocative places of interest: the Musicalia Museum and the Carducci Museum.
The first recounts 500 years of mechanical music i.e. music produced by revolving toothed cylinders, and we don’t just mean music boxes and organs that were played for centuries in the alleys and streets: there is also a mechanical music machine by Leonardo da Vinci, an instrument designed to take the place of the “tambourines” that would set the rhythm for the whole army. Strolling along the shaded paths of the Villa Silvia Park, you can also trace the bond that united Countess Silvia to the poet Carducci.
To get to know the city properly, sampling the exceptional Romagna food and wine is a must.
If you want a quick lunch, don’t miss out on the typical Romagna street food: Piadina Romagnola PGI which is typically filled with cheese known as Squacquerone di Romagna PDO or Crescioni, which are made with the same mixture, but which are stuffed – not to be missed are the ones filled with vegetables or with tomato and mozzarella or potato and sausage.
If you opt for a longer stay, you can sit comfortably in one of the many typical trattoria restaurants and sample dishes that are made according to local traditions. You will not be disappointed: we are in the land of Pellegrino Artusi, the undisputed father of Italian cuisine.
From the Cesena Fortress you can then reach Montiano, a balcony that overlooks the sea and that dominates the rolling Cesena hills.
From here, after seeing the town, you can also set off on a bike tour among its green trails.
These places harbour an ancient legend that speaks of beauty that turned into a curse: it is said that Montiano was founded by Roman slaves who were employed in the construction of an important road in 187 B.C. and who, fleeing from the exhausting work, found refuge in the local hills and a life as free individuals.
And due to the overwhelming beauty of the scenery, which in the past was synonymous with an excellent strategic location, Montiano was contended over the centuries by powerful, aristocratic families up to the Unity of Italy.
That's only one of the Savio Valley experiences you can have.