Bologna, Ferrara, Romagna - Discovering Castles
So many fortresses, castles, and manors dot the hills of Romagna. They are the old fortresses of the powerful Malatesta and Guidi families who held these lands during the Renaissance. Here are five itineraries for spending a few days having fun. They wind through the downward slopes of the Romagna Apennines from Verucchio to Riolo Terme. After having ridden a lot, it will be even more delightful to taste the best food and wine from this area: from the Romagna piadina to the homemade pasta and “passatelli” in broth, to the local meats and fresh cheeses to the wines: first and foremost Albana di Romagna, Sangiovese and Trebbiano. And of course, that dominant and irresistible friendliness and “living the good life” philosophy of Romagna’s people.
From Verucchio to Ribano: 20 km (1 day)
An easy itinerary, almost all along the plains. Verucchio is a small town built up around an imposing Fortress, perched upon a cliff. It is also an important archeological site, as seen by the relics housed in the city Museum. The route starts out at the farm holiday San Paolo, in Corpolò. Under Torriana (another small fairytale-like town perched on a rocky ridge, there is the umpteenth castle with a prankster ghost to boot), you cross through the Marecchia River. Then around the Marcosanti Palace, under Poggio Berni. The surrounding territory is full not only of castles but also of fossils and water mills, some of which still work (there is one that works in Poggio Berni). Then it’s on to the Equestrian Center Il Bivacco
From Ribano to Tessello (Bertinoro): 25 km (1 day)
A hilly route, with frequent ups and downs. You start out from the equestrian center Bivacco and go around the Ribano Fortress where famous winery is located. Then take the uphill path to Longiano, another ancient village with its manor, built by the Malatesta. This path passes through Montiano and Montenovo: you can stop and visit the castles. A little further on, there is a third fort, that of Monteleone: they are all part of the Roncofreddo municipality. You then go around Sorrivoli (another castle with a restaurant inside) and Roversano where there is an ancient guard tower. From the Tower of Roversano, you can see straight down to the river Savio. On horseback, you go down to the river and arrive at the Equestrian Center I Viandanti di Romagna in Tessello. Nearby there is the church of the town of Polenta. According to legend, Dante stopped here. After 5 km, there is Bertinoro, a town well known for hospitality and good wine. On the uphill track towards the Fortress, it’s difficult to count all the enoteca and osteria, including the historic one frequented by Giosué
From Tessello to Castrocaro-Terra del Sole: 26 km (1 day)
From the equestrian Center Viandanti di Romagna up to the farm holiday Monticino. The first section of this route is hilly, along a ridge. From Meldola on, it’s plains. You start out in the direction of Teodorano where you can see the beautiful fortified town. Going along the ridge, then down to Meldola with the famous fortress. Pass under the Caminate Fortress (famous also because there is Mussolini’s house), then cross through the remains of the old Ladino woods and you arrive in Castrocaro-Terra del Sole. A sidenote: from the equestrian center Viandanti di Romagna, you can also take the Salt Way. From the farm holiday Monticino, there are three bridle paths: those coming from the Po Delta Park, and that of the broom plants (it connects to Bagno di Romagna) and the castle route.
From Castrocaro-Terra del Sole to Faenza: 12/15 km (1/2 day)
You start out from the farm holiday Monticino di Castrocaro to get to Faenza (in Faenza there are three equestrian centers: Amico Cavallo, Laghetto Del Sole, Centro Civico Rioni). This is a short route with a hilly first part then all plains. You start out and go right up to Monte Poggiolo. Then it’s down towards Santa Lucia and then you must ford the river Marzeno. Immediately after you can stop at the farm holiday Laghetto del Sole. Otherwise, you can continue on to the Amico Cavallo center going towards Modigliana (on the Marzeno). A third possibility is to stop at the Centro Civico Rioni in Faenza (a municipal building, where the neighborhoods or “rioni” keep their horses for the palio). In the afternoon you could visit Faenza, a renaissance town, or the delightful town of Brisighella with its famous Via degli Asini with porticoes. Want to buy something? The DOP oil of Brisighella, aromatic and fragrant.
This hillside path goes along the Vena del Gesso of Faenza, and looks a lot like the Chianti region. Riolo Terme will be a pleasant surprise for who has never heard of it: it is a small, elegant town in the Liberty style. And there is also a spa center set in an age-old park. Here there is the first natural spring water medicinal center ever built in Italy.
Places of interest
Azienda Agrituristica "San Paolo"
via San Paolo, 20
tel. 0541 750192- cell. 3392236002 - fax 0541.758515
Opening hours vary
Cavalieri di Montebello
tel. 0541.675312 - cell. 3389543110
C.I. "Il Bivacco"
via Selbelle III, 651
C.I. "Viandanti di Romagna"
via Sassedo, 616
cell. 335371811 - fax 0547.22854
via Lucchina, 8
tel./ fax 0543.940325
Associazione "Raggio di Sole"
viale Appennino, 54
tel. 0543 401751- cell. 328 2221671
Closed in August
via Montespada, 1
Closed from the end of October to the end of March