Sarsina, about 30 kilometers south of Cesena, lies on a river terrace carved out by the Savio river: an important natural axis of connection between the Po Valley and the Adriatic coast to the north, the Casentino and the Val Tiberina to the south.
Sarsina is undoubtedly one of the richest cities in terms of Romagna's art, culture and religion.
Sarsina houses, within its National Archaeological Museum and distributed throughout the historic center, some of the most original and interesting archaeological finds from Northern Italy.
It is the city that gave birth to Tito Maccio Plauto: the greatest Latin playwright, the giant who towers at the beginning of Latin literature, the "father" of western comedy.
It is the city that also preserves the remains of San Vicinio, its patron and first Bishop, with his thaumaturgical "chain".
Sarsina is also the gateway to the upper Savio Valley with its environmental excellence such as the Casentinesi Forest National Park and Mount Fumaiolo, where the Tiber springs are located, and the Site of Community Interest "Careste near Sarsina".
A few important historical notes:
In the 4th century B.C. Umbrian populations, already present in the valley since the sixth century, gave birth to the first stable settlement in the area of today's city.
In 266 BC, after two demanding military campaigns, the then Sassina was subdued by the Romans, who however guaranteed the city a certain autonomy, giving it the status of Civitas Foederata (allied city).
It is in this period (255-251 BC) that the birth of the great playwright and poet Tito Maccio Plauto takes place.
In the central decades of the 1st century BC, the city, now integrated into the Roman state as a Municipium, was reorganized on an urban and architectural level, also being equipped with a solid wall.
The insertion of the town hall in the administrative district of Regio VI (Umbria) instead of Regio VIII (Emilia) dates back to the Augustan age, confirming its Umbrian origin. In the imperial age, until the 3rd century AD, Sarsina had a remarkable development, based on a solid forestry-pastoral economy and on the commercial relationships established with the port of Ravenna.
Between the 3rd and 4th centuries it had its first bishop, Vicinius, who later became patron saint of the city. In the 10th century, the Romanesque cathedral was erected which served as a nucleus around which the city continued to gravitate.
The cultural offering of Sarsina is very rich and diverse throughout the year. Its vast municipal territory is dotted here and there with castles and parish churches, waterfalls and paths, with wild fauna and flora. Its very impervious orography has allowed the most genuine and wild aspect of its territory to be preserved.
In the winter months you can take long walks along the Way of San Vicinio, in the silence of pristine spaces you can also find yourself.
In spring you will be greeted by the scent of the "Easter Loaf", a typical lenten and Easter cake from Sarsina, the result of the most genuine and original country cuisine.
With the arrival of summer, when the summer heat makes us want a little refreshment and the long walks on the Way of San Vicinio are more tiring, it is necessary to find some refreshment at the Arena Plautina in the evenings of the Plautus Festival and the other events that are organized as part of it: without forgetting the traditional "Roman Festival" during which Sarsina dresses in ancient Roman clothes.
Then, with the arrival of the autumn months, chestnuts become the protagonists: once "bread for the poor", now considered a real treat for their scent, versatility and nutritional characteristics.
With the red color of its bricks, the Cathedral Basilica of San Vicinio is able to welcome tourists and pilgrims all year round, with the silent embrace of its mighty columns and with the peace received from the blessing with the "chain" of San Vicinio.
In the numerous restaurants and taverns present in Sarsina you can taste the traditional Romagna piadina, the "gusùn" (guscioni), the passatelli in broth, the "salsiccia matta", the bustrengo, together with the other typical dishes of the Romagna cuisine.
For those who want to keep fit in Sarsina, one of the largest and best marked "paths" of Italy starts: the Way of San Vicinio.
Made up of over 14 legs, in addition to "branches" and secondary and connecting routes, the Way of San Vicinio unfolds mainly along the Savio valley, on both its banks, until reaching the Casentino, the Hermitage of Camaldoli, and in the upper Tiber valley, at the convent of La Verna.
A peculiar and unique characteristic of the Way of San Vicinio is that it was designed by recovering ancient paths and mule tracks to offer the walker not the shortest road between the two places to be joined, but the more natural, wilder and more authentic route.
The entire territory of Sarsina is also very popular with cycle tourists and mountain bikers. Particularly traveled by the latter are the paths that unfold in the valley of the Rio Montalto, up to the Site of Community Interest "Careste near Sarsina". The ups and downs of the numerous roads that cross its territory have been Marco Pantani's privileged training place, whose origins are in Sarsina.
Easter Loaf Festival: takes place every year on the two Sundays preceding Easter. For the occasion, it is possible to buy the loaf prepared by local bakeries and attend the suggestive market with typical products of the local food and wine tradition.
Roman Festival: it has been held for almost twenty years every second Saturday of July. On this day the ancient civitas "wears" the clothes of the ancient Romans who for centuries have trodden the Forum and the streets. Along the streets of the historic center you can taste the typical cuisine of 2000 years ago prepared by the best restaurants in the country, listen to the premonitions of the gods from the magicians, re-live the scents, spices and colors of an ancient market. Costumes, music and dance will take you back in time and you can feast in the company of Bacchus and Venus.
Plautus Festival: the Plautus Festival, whose first edition dates back to 1956, is undoubtedly one of the most important and long-lasting theater festivals in Europe. Its mission is to honor the illustrious sarsinate Tito Maccio Plauto, and with him the ancient and noble art of theater with a particular attention to the repertoire drawn from ancient drama. The Plautus Festival takes place in the months of July and August inside the Plautina Arena: a modern and functional outdoor structure created in a gentle slope at the foot of the medieval village of Calbano (to visit). Every year his scenes are performed by the best known actors of the Italian theater and cinema scenes.
The summer months are "closed out" by the feast of San Vicinio, August 28, which annually attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims for its rich calendar of religious and civil events and for the traditional and original fireworks display.
In autumn it would be a shame to miss out on the two Chestnut Festivals that take place in Ranchio, 2nd Sunday in October, and in Pieve di Rivoschio, 3rd Sunday in October.
The territory of the Municipality of Sarsina, thanks to its vastness, presents a multiplicity of proposals capable of satisfying the most varied needs.
The nearby village of Calbano, closed as a fortress in the Middle Ages, can offer visitors images and sensations of distant times.
Along the river bank of the Savio river, along the provincial road that connects it to Bagno di Romagna, the Castle of Casalecchio is certainly worth visiting: a privately owned manor that can be visited by appointment.
About seven kilometers from Sarsina is the Quarto Lake with its rich wildlife. The lake, created in the nineteenth century following a landslide and now largely underground, is one of the most interesting hilly "wetlands" in Romagna for the wealth of birds that nest there.
To visit it, you can follow a suggestive ring itinerary, to be done on foot, which allows you to explore its most hidden and spectacular environments, from the lake edge to stretches of flooded forest or reed bed, to be crossed by fords in cyclopean boulders, footbridges in wood and ancient embankments recovered as floating rafts, respecting the fauna and the delicate ecosystem present.
In addition to the ring of the lake, redeveloped in 2022, well signposted and themed thanks to ten stopover points, two piers are set up, embarkation points for water activities, and there are marked cycling routes and points for birdwatching.
Going up the road that runs alongside the Para river, which joins it on its right bank, you arrive at the charming village "La Para" and higher on still "Castel d'Alfero": a peasant village that preserves the architecture of the past centuries intact; for this it is a privileged location for film sets.
Moving to the parallel Borello valley, the suggestive village of Ranchio is worth a visit, panoramically located on a massive sandstone spur.