Mercato Saraceno

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Mercato Saraceno is located along the important historical route of the Savio Valley, a natural corridor of communication between the historic Via Emilia and the Val Tiberina.

The historic center of Mercato, built on a 12th century settlement, stands on the left bank of the Savio river and is distributed over three alluvial terraces. With its almost 100 square km of territorial extension, Mercato Saraceno develops in a fertile area along the buttresses of the valleys of the Savio, Borello and Rubicone rivers.

The territory, between 50 and 840 meters above sea level, is characterized by cultivated hills, wooded areas and badlands, but also paths that can be traveled on foot or by mountain bike, which climb along real canyons carved by impetuous streams. Among the local productions, the wine ones stand out in particular.

Why visit it

It was founded in the mid-1100s by a certain Saraceno, a member of the noble Ravenna family of Onesti.
Near the water mill that already existed in 1153, Saraceno degli Onesti wanted to create a market on the open space near the river with the only bridge over the Savio between Cesena and Bagno di Romagna. The Saraceno market began on May 4 and lasted ten days and had such a resonance that it remainEd the only one in the valley in the following centuries.

It remained under the domain of the Papal States until the Napoleonic era, and in the 19th century it became an important resource for the extraction of sulfur, which stimulated population growth and the improvement of communication routes, but also an intense union life and demands for improvement in the living conditions of miners.

When to go and what to see

Experiencing Mercato Saraceno is interesting in every season: the diversified offer of events throughout the year attracts gluttons of genuine flavors, those curious about small villages and jewels to discover, sportsmen looking for the most demanding challenges, as well as those wishing to wander paths and hills in relaxation and harmony with nature. Not to mention the great events, of supra-regional importance, which catalyze the attention of thousands of people, such as the Saracen Night, the night of  contemporary circus.

A visit to the historic center must include the large cliff that drops steeply towards the bed of the river Savio, where it forms small waterfalls, the two bridges (the ruins of the old bridge and the one called Barbotto), the municipal library housed in the old slaughterhouse, Piazza Mazzini with the frescoed town hall and the prevostal church, and of course Palazzo Dolcini, built in 1927 through a project by the architect Ugo Dolcini (1871-1927).

The palace, built as the first Casa del Fascio inaugurated in the province, was strategically positioned at the entrance to the town. It was built according to Liberty and Art Deco design principals, which soon became the architect's stylistic code. After the war it turned into the Casa del Popolo and after a long abandonment it was reopened taking the name of its architect.
The decorations, both inside and outside, have soft and delicate colors. This feature makes it a rare example in Italy.
The main room, very large and bright, is surmounted by a balcony that winds along the perimeter. The general brightness of the space is highlighted by the shades of the paint colors, as well as by the five chandeliers, a large central one and four at the corners, with the missing parts handcrafted according to the ancient model.
Palazzo Dolcini is currently used as a cinema, theater, conference room, and exhibition and event space.

On the table

In the numerous restaurants and taverns in Mercato Saraceno you can taste all the traditional dishes of Romagna, including soups, cappelletti and passatelli, the inevitable piadina and crescioni (guscioni) and the Pagnotta of Easter.

Keeping fit

There is no lack of opportunities for cyclists, runners and hiking lovers to train immersing themselves in nature.

The Barbotto, both a cross and delight for the more experienced cyclists, starts right from the bridge over the Savio di Mercato Saraceno, and leads to Perticara. The Barbotto is part of the well-known Nove Colli cycling race.

The Falcino path is part of a stretch of the Way of San Vicinio, and runs along the ridge that overlooks the valleys of the Borello stream and the Boratella ditch with deep badlands, pastures and wheat fields, an ideal habitat for birds of prey, up to the church of S. Lorenzo di Ciola, about 600 meters above sea level. (

The Fosso Sassignolo is a very suggestive hiking trail, a fascinating naturalistic path between high steep walls and luxuriant vegetation. The Sentieri del Tasso is the name of the dense network of paths that surround the Borgo di Linaro, named for the prevalent wildlife in the area, the badger. Among these:

  • the Path of the Countess that leads to the remains of the ancient tower, equipped with a prison and pitfall,
  • the Path of Nuvoleto, named as such because it runs over the layout of an ancient road that leads to the rural core of Nuvoleto,
  • the centuries-old forest of “Dugrantèda” chestnuts, where majestic chestnut trees have collapsed on the ground and been left on the spot, making the place as suggestive as a fairytale forest.

In the surroundings

Paderno, 3 km from Mercato Saraceno, is the place of the “buen retiro” chosen by Arnaldo Mussolini (Benito Mussolini's brother), in the villa belonging to his wife's family. Villa Teodorani is an evocative villa where Italian rationalism is contaminated by Art Deco elements. Inside there is the private study of Arnaldo Mussolini, a silent place that houses an important archive and library, declared of historical interest and protected by the state through the Superintendency of the archival and book heritage of the Emilia Romagna Region. In the small town of Paderno there is also the small cemetery, commissioned by Benito Mussolini, to house his brother's body; Arnaldo's wife and son, who died in 1930 due to a serious illness, are also buried there.

San Damiano retains its own proud autonomy and historical identity, which goes back to the Roman period, of which tombs and various finds, flooring, domus and villas have been found. The parish church, dated to the mid-9th century, is the oldest church in the area and was erected on the remains of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to the cult of the Goddess Isis of the 1st century. The Romanesque style prevails inside, divided into three naves, marked by simple brick columns.

Listening to the sound of silence in Monte Sorbo is possible. At 8 km from the capital, through a beautiful signposted panoramic road, you reach the parish church dedicated to S. Maria Annunziata, a historical destination for pilgrims heading to Rome. An architectural masterpiece, it presents a rare Greek cross plan divided into three naves by columns of Roman origin, dating back to the first century and a simple and austere facade. La Pieve is a real "museum" of ancient pieces from the 6th, 7th and 9th centuries, recovered and reused in time.

Linaro, a place with ancient history and extraordinary charm for its spectacular location, perched on a cliff 205 meters above sea level. The origins of this small "nestled" village date back to the 11th century. Traces of the castle walls and access to the secret underground passages are still visible. During the Christmas period, every corner of the village hosts nativity scenes of various styles. The surroundings of Linaro are characterized by a dense network of paths.

Information offices

City Tourism Association of Mercato Saraceno
Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 50 - Mercato Saraceno (FC)
+ 39 0547 699711

Last update 07/05/2023

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