Daring descents and climbs, by bike or mountain bike

Daring descents and climbs, by bike or mountain bike

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Two wheels, a thousand adventures

Scenic hills dotted with ancient villages and vineyards, climbs and drops that wind through pristine valleys and fascinating views that surprise you at every bend. In these sun-kissed lands, between impervious walls of rock or gentle slopes, the bicycle is not simply a means of transport, it is the best way to enjoy life and savour the beauties of nature and history while a breeze ruffles your hair.

From the Via Emilia to the ridges of the Apennines, there unfolds a cycle tourism area with a formidable variety of routes and landscapes. Every fan of two-wheeled travel, whether amateur or professional, can find dozens of itineraries of different lengths and difficulties to enjoy on racing, trekking, gravel, or mountain bikes. The municipalities of Faenza, Castel Bolognese, Brisighella, Riolo Terme and Casola Valsenio are crisscrossed by quiet roads, ring routes, tarmac and off-road routes that offer unique emotions.

The Ciclovia dei Gessi and the Corolla delle Ginestre bike routes within the Romagna’s Vena del Gesso Regional Park wind through woods, open-air geological museums, and highly evocative areas of karst. The permanent circuit of the 2020 Cycling World Championships with the fascinating Cima Mazzolano connects this area to nearby Imola, home to the Enzo and Dino Ferrari racetrack, and skirts majestic gullies and orderly rows of Sangiovese vines while the Dante Cycle Route (Ciclovia di Dante) passes through rolling hills and reveals glimpses of places mentioned in the poet’s narrative epic.

There are a wealth of bike itineraries that cross this area so extraordinarily rich in natural wonders as well as typical food and wine products and cultural highlights. One of the latter we are bound to mention is the “Cardello” in Casola Valsenio, birthplace of the writer Alfredo Oriani who was among the founding fathers of cycling tourism. The bicycle on which for a lengthy period he pedalled alone between Romagna and Tuscany in 1897 is preserved here. In 1902, Oriani wrote La bicicletta, one of the most beautiful books dedicated to cycling.

Photo credits

1. Romagna4Bike route, Mt. Mauro, Riolo Terme, arch. Imola Faenza Tourism Company
2: The PGI Piadina Romagnola, Luca Casadei, arch. Strada del Sangiovese
3. A glass of Romagna Sangiovese DOC, arch. Strada del Sangiovese
4. Alfredo Oriani’s bicycle at Il Cardello­, arch. Imola Faenza Tourism Company
5: A route in Brisighella, Luca Casadei, arch. Strada del Sangiovese

Food – Piadina Romagnola PGI

The first rudimentary version of the “piadina” flatbread was cooked by the Etruscans who were pioneers in the cultivation and processing of cereals and the production of flour-based products. They consisted of a simple dough obtained from a mixture of different flours and water that was then cooked on hot stone slabs. Even though the term “pieda” was already widespread in the Byzantine era, it was the poet Giovanni Pascoli who made the name “piada” official, defining it as a food “almost as old as man” and the “national bread of the Romagnoli”.

Over the centuries and depending on the area, the piadina evolved differently as regards ingredients and thickness. Today there are four basic ingredients – soft wheat flour, water, salt, and fat; the piadina is thinner in the Rimini area and thicker as you move towards Lower Romagna. The most popular fillings are cooked greens, cured pork products, fresh cheeses, and grilled vegetables.

Wine – Romagna Sangiovese DOC

An ancient notarial deed from 1672 found in the State Archives of Faenza is the first known document where the name Sangiovese appears. It attests to the renting of a vineyard with three rows of Sangiovese to the parish priest of Pagnano by the owner of the Fontanella farm.  

Today Romagna Sangiovese DOC is the excellent product obtained from the Sangiovese grape and is produced in 16 different sub-zones that cover areas from Imola to the Rimini hills. The sub-zones, united in the collective brand “Rocche di Romagna”, are typical production areas that express different nuances in the wines, all to be tasted.

The characteristics of “Sanzves” recall the spirit of Romagna’s people: frank and unpolished but at the same time delicate and open. Romagna Sangiovese goes well with red meats, game, and fresh Romagna pasta dishes such as cappelletti or tortelloni with meat sauce, or with mature cheeses.

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