Marche by bike from Tolentino to Fiastra Abbey
Our route takes place in what is now one of the beating hearts of our manufacturing industry and handicraft , Italian excellence in the world , the area of the Marche region which has its epicenter in Tolentino .
Currently here are concentrated some of the best companies for working and creating leather goods , not surprisingly here are sourcing of raw material some of the most famous brands in the world.
But this ability in processing comes from far , from the days when this area was the center of some major roads which have made this piece of land rich, full of history , and it will be this “story” we meet in our walk cycling.
The route begins in Tolentino , a town of about 20,000 inhabitants , situated along the valley of the Chienti , its location has always made it a hub linking the coastal area and the mountain of provincia.Is a city rich with history a remarkable artistic heritage . The most important building of Tolentino is undoubtedly the Basilica of San Nicola , built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries , preserves the remains of the saint within the homonymous Chapel decorated with a magnificent series of frescoes of the early fourteenth century.
Tolentino was also theater in 1815 , in what is considered by many, the first battle of the Italian Risorgimento , the clash that saw in front of the Neapolitan troops led by Joachim Murat and Austrian troops , and that each year gives life to the re-enactment history of the Battle of Tolentino
After wandering around the town , take the road to the castle Rancia .Starting from the Freedom Square of Tolentino we head towards Macerata. Once in Tank district , turn left , towards Cantagallo . Front of the Arena , take a dirt road that leads to the Casone . On the right, right next to the gate starts a dirt road , after crossing the ditch Round, rejoins the dirt road that leads to road state 77 . Few meters before reaching the highway on the right , take a dirt road , passing under the overpass of the highway , leading to the Castle Rancia .
The castle is situated on the left bank of the Chienti just 7 kilometers from the center of Tolentino and with its crenellated walls and the imposing tower stands majestic in the surrounding plain. The castle’s name comes from what was the function of the original nucleus of the twelfth century, it was indeed a barn ( grange ) whose property was Fiastra Abbey , the end of our bike ride.
The grange was transformed into a fortress in 1357 , having understood the then lord of the area Rudolf II da Varano of Camerino, the strategic importance of the place. In witness whereof the long list of battles fought in the vicinity. The fortress now houses the archaeological museum Piceno , and worth a stop with a visit to the internal walkways , porches, baroque chapel , for a dip in the past is still alive in the historical re-enactment of the battle of the Risorgimento.
We take our bikes out from the castle and continue in the direction of the 77 provincial and pass it and follow the dirt road for Contrada Divina Pastora . The road climbs slightly , for a few hundred meters until you cross the highway 78 and here you have to pay a little ‘attention to traffic. After less than two kilometers you will reach the Archaeological Park of Urbs Salvia , which is about 12 km from the fortress .
The Archaeological Park of Urbs Salvia is undoubtedly the most important and one of the Marche region of central Italy is the most important for that extension to the state of preservation of monuments. The city was part of the Regium Picenum V , was born around the first century BC and was a thriving center . Its location was not random , in fact, was born at the junction of two important roads: the one that united Fermo in San Severino Marche and that leading from Ascoli in Osimo .
Even Dante Alighieri in the sixteenth canto of Paradise tells the story of this ancient city and its ancient ruins .
Urbs Salvia after centuries of splendor was attacked and sacked by the Visigoths under Alaric around 410 ; the city was gradually abandoned and its ruins were often re-used for the construction of centers that were later built in the area in the first place Urbis Salvia that stands on the hill in front of the ruins. The archaeological site covers 40 hectares and is developed from the hill to the flat area . Through a course of about a mile , you can visit the imposing and impressive monuments have come down to us, as the reservoir of the aqueduct that had a capacity of approximately 1000m3 or the theater , which is one of the largest in Italy , and yet the ‘ amphitheater which is still used in the summer months for the theater that is one of the oldest and best preserved of the peninsula.
After visiting the amphitheater , continue on the dirt road that passes for about half a kilometers, until you come to a junction with a paved road. Once on , the road goes up for a quick jerk and got to the top , turn left , and take a descent that leads us to Abbey of Santa Maria di Chiaravalle di Fiastra , which was built by Cistercian monks in 1142.
It ‘s definitely one of the best preserved monasteries of the order in Italy . The history of the abbey began when the lord of the place , giving the land to the abbot of the Abbey of Chiaravalle di Milano , who sent the monks who built the complex for a large part using the stones from the nearby Roman town of Urbs Salvia .
Once built the abbey monks devoted themselves to ca reclamation and agricultural development on the surrounding area. After years of growth , the abbey from the fourteenth century, it was looted and faced several ups and downs fi not to return to the Cistercian monks in 1985. Since 1984, the abbey and the surrounding area are part of the Natural Reserve of Fiastra established by the Giustiniani Bandini Foundation and the Marche Region for the protection of valuable artistic and naturalistic . In addition to the abbey complex , if you still want to ride , there are some paths that allow you to discover the different natural environments , such as the Selva , an area of about 100 hectares, which is the heart of the area and the ‘ latest example of a very extensive forest that until 1700 covered the entire range of hills in the province of Macerata . It is a forest , home to many wild animals including deer.
Then the wetlands pond ” Veins ” and waterways Entogge and Fiastra and finally cultivated fields , past signs of the agricultural activity carried on for centuries with love and respect for the rhythms of nature by the monks. If you cycle and you pay attention , you can admire some deer , fox or some admire the flight of some of the hawk and owl ..
If you will be stopped at the abbey , you will have traveled about 20km, you’ll have to go back in the opposite direction to return to Tolentino.
They will definitely be another cue to relive some thousands of years of history in so little space , and maybe some of those to savor traditional cuisine of Marche , which have made it one of the best known , such as “Vincisgrassi” , a kind of baked pasta, which is said to have been prepared in honor of the Austrian General Windisch Graetz who had argued in defense of the city of Ancona against Napoleon’s troops in 1799. But as you can see this is another story …..