"The Grand Tour Valle del Savio" is a circular route that connects the Adriatic coast to the Tuscan-Romagnolo Apennines, a long route 172,4 km entirely on asphalt, suitable for sportsmen but also for “Sunday cyclists” which in 2022 won the Italian Green Road Award, obtaining the first prize with the Oscar of Italian Cycle Tourism.
The maximum uphill gradient is 15.2%, downhill is 14.6% with an altitude difference of 3,332 m but, being able to split the stages as you wish, it is also suitable for families and less trained tourists.
The ring can be started from any of the 6 municipalities of the Valle Savio Union: Cesena, Montiano, Mercato Saraceno, Sarsina, Bagno di Romagna, Verghereto. In the itinerary proposed here we start from the valley floor and go up the Savio river towards the source.
Note: The Grand Tour Valle del Savio, (GPX track downloadable here), although also open to cars, is mainly frequented by cyclists, sport cyclists and hikers. Along the route there are numerous services for cyclists: rental, bike sharing (with the possibility of picking up the bike in one place and leaving it in another), water supply points, assistance service and autonomous assistance points, electric charging columns, emergency assistance and luggage transport, as well as numerous shops, farmhouses, bars and bike friendly wine cellars.
Cesena represents the gateway to the Adriatic coast, with the cycle paths that connect it to both Cesenatico and Cervia; but it is also an access point for those coming by train (you can take the tour either in an autonomous version or with a support for luggage transport).
Here at least its main monuments are worth a visit: the Malatesta Fortress; the characteristic Piazza del Popolo with the Masini Fountain; the Malatesta Library, registered in the Unesco "Memoire du Monde" list; the Abbey of the Monte; the Bonci Theater.
Climbing onto your bike and going up the Savio river you will reach Mercato Saraceno, which, with its Art Nouveau buildings and lively square, makes you feel immediately at home. Here it is inevitable to be conquered by the trio of typical local wines - Sangiovese, Albana, Famoso - with a tour of the wine cellars to get to know the producers up close. Lovers of the most daring challenges can also venture up the Barbotto climb, the most demanding of the Granfondo Nove Colli (Link), one of the most popular amateur cycle races on an international level. With a length of 5.5 km, an altitude difference of 372 meters and an average gradient of 6.9% (with peaks of 18%), the Barbotto is the terror of all cyclists, who come here when their legs are already trained.
Then we continue towards Sarsina, a town lying on a fluvial terrace designed by the river Savio; a place that, after pedaling, also offers refreshment for the soul. In the central square of the town, the imposing Cathedral dedicated to San Vicinio, built around the year 1000, welcomes the pilgrim tourist in search of a strong spiritual experience. The austerity of its brick interior divided into three naves, the atmosphere given by the light that enters from the small windows, the silence that reigns, make the Basilica an oasis of peace and serenity.
Going back up on the pedals you will reach Bagno di Romagna in about 20 km, where the warm thermal waters, known since Roman times, are ready to pamper cyclists.
The thermal waters of Bagno, rich in natural active elements with healing power, are excellent allies for the health of the bones, the vascular system, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal system: a real pleasure even for those who simply want to relax in the pool after a long ride.
After the refreshing stop, we leave for Verghereto, the turning point of the Grand Tour Valle del Savio. Verghereto is a window on Tuscany, a place of passage over the centuries.
Here we recommend you stop for a walk on Monte Fumaiolo, where you can touch the sources of the River Tiber on one side and the River Savio on the other, a few kilometers away: the forests of beech, fir, oak and chestnut trees alternate with meadows, mountain pastures and spectacular rocky cliffs, including the Ripa della Moia and the Balze, in an area also characterized by ancient rural settlements.
The return road touches the hilly side of the Rubicone, touching authentic villages such as Sogliano and Roncofreddo, up to Montiano, a natural balcony over the plain to the sea, already described in the sixteenth century as "the most beautiful hill in Romagna, being its territory full of olive trees, wines, beautiful fruits like a vast garden ".
The most spectacular view is the one enjoyed on top of the Rocca Malatestiana which, in the shape of a heart, overlooks and fills the small village.