If we start from the Adriatic coast and move inland, following the flow of the Marecchia River, we will reach the heart of Montefeltro in a short time. That is a historical region on the border between Emilia-Romagna, the Republic of San Marino, the Marches and Tuscany.
It is here, in the northernmost area of the Umbria-Marches Apennines, straddling no less than six municipalities (Carpegna, Frontino, Montecopiolo, Pian di Meleto, Pennabilli and Pietrarubbia), that the Natural Regional Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello extends.
Characterized by a wide range of ecosystems from beech forests to meadows and rural environments, this area is dotted with a myriad of castles and villages that testify to the beauty of this borderland, which has always been the subject of contention.
Soft and green hills outline its landscape. In the center, like giants, rise two enormous rock giants with flat tops: these are the limestone boulders of Sasso Simone and Simoncello that, together with the nearby Mount Carpegna (1415 meters), define the horizon line, even making themselves clearly visible from the coast during beautiful, clear sunny days.
This corner of paradise, characterized by an extraordinary variety of flora and fauna, offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers, hikers and those who wish to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the Italian mountains.
What to do
The Park is perfect for many activities that vary according to each person’s interests.
Trekking lovers might challenge themselves by trying several available tracks. The whole area is served by rest areas and a rich internal road system that allows reaching almost all the main hiking destinations.
Among the existing possibilities are the last two stages of the Alta Via Dei Parchi, which from Monte Fumaiolo reach the Hermitage of the Madonna del Faggio.
On foot, riding a horse or a mtb, and even on skis, here in summer and winter one can practice a wide variety of sporting activities, satisfy one’s naturalistic curiosities, but also wander through the many villages that encircle the Park area.
Otherwise, you can wander across the many villages that dot the whole area of the park or you can surrender to your love for good food, visiting one of the many countryside festivals that celebrate the food and drink tradition.
And don’t underestimate the changing of the seasons: the same place will remarkably change its dresses and colours at every new season. This is the case with the forest of turkey oak, which extends from the foot of the two rocks up or in the “Passo della Cantoniera” area, which in autumn turns green-red.
During the late spring days, the highest parts of Mount Carpegna, covered by grazing lands, are beautified by a variety of orchid species that paint with their innumerable colours the entire landscape.
The Places in the Heart
CITTÀ DEL SASSO
As the major part of Montefeltro, the Park area has been the object of conquest and power over time.
It was during the second half of the 16th century (1554) it experienced a moment of celebrity: at the behest of the great Cosimo de’ Medici, it was decided to build an impregnable city to control the surrounding territories.
Of that city – Città del Sasso – there’s not much left today. In the past it must have counted about 50 houses, all of the equal dimensions, including the captain’s residence, the courthouse, the prison, and a chapel that was added to the existing church: it was a real stronghold, built according to the late Renaissance urban principles.
Today only a few traces remain hidden in a rugged and wild environment: the settlement experience soon foundered because of the ruggedness of the terrain and the difficulty of reaching the summit of the relief (1627).
CIPPO DELLA CARPEGNA
If you love cycling, the Cippo Della Carpegna is an experience not to be forgotten: this is where the great Romagna cyclist Marco Pantani used to come to train.
It is 6 km of sheer strain, with slopes reaching up to 18/20%: it’s a brief but extremely trying uphill way that can fold even the most expert cyclists.
The track is also known just as “Il Cippo”, and it clambers up Mount Carpegna, running through woods and green meadows until reaching the blow-up dedicated to the “Pirate” Marco Pantani.
You will be struck by the vastness of the sky and the breathtaking view on the Republic of San Marino, Mount Fumaiolo and Mount Aquilone, the valley of the Marecchia river, and, in the clearest days, even the Adriatic sea.
“The Carpegna is enough for me” used to say the great cyclist of Romagna. Well, we sure believe him!
THE VILLAGE OF PENNABILLI
Since ancient times it has been the destination of illustrious men, showing a very strong attractiveness that has increased in recent years thanks to comfortable accommodations, excellent traditional cuisine and a rich calendar of events.
The entire area is equipped with facilities, and it features the Nature Museum of Pennabilli (MUSSS), the Wildlife Park in Pian Dei Prati, hosting domestic and wild animals, and environmental education centres.
Furthermore, the area hosts several museums and information points that welcome tourist and school groups; museums and accommodations, such as Ostello di Calvillano and Foresteria di Frontino; as well as agritourisms, camping sites, and restaurants for any need and taste.
How to get there
Located between the regional borders of Emilia-Romagna and Marche, the Sasso Simone and Simoncello Park is easy to reach by car. Otherwise, you can also go for the train+bus option. Here’s how to get there.
Davide Marino was born archaeologist but ended up doing other things. Rational – but not methodic, slow – but passionate. A young enthusiast with grey hair
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