Pieve 44

Pieve 44

This is the landscape that travels from Bologna to Modena, where the Po Valley begins to rise into the first hills. We ride surrounded by vineyards hatching Lambrusco and Pignoletto grapes, fields of blooming cherry trees, and small villages of a rural and archaic Emilia. We are in the land where cars are called Ferrari and Maserati, motorcycles Ducati and good food, red wine is sparkling, and when we are not drinking it, we are leaving it in gradually smaller and smaller oak barrels until we obtain Traditional Balsamic Vinegar.

Offroad: 40%
Recommended bike: Gravel, 35mm.
Recommended season: from April until October.

As we leave the city we glimpse the heights of Monteveglio, its Abbey and the villages of Fagnano and Zappolino, the last of which on November 15, 1325 marked one of the greatest open-air clashes of the entire Italian Middle Ages: the Guelph troops of Bologna against the Ghibelline troops of Modena.

We will pass by fun single tracks that skirt the Samoggia River in a fun serpentine of tight turns, before climbing the white roads of the arid badlands, enjoying a unique panorama with 360-degree views.

The first stop is at “Mount of the Shadows,” in the small village of Montombraro dating back to 1100 where we will have the opportunity to taste the best dishes of the Emilian table among gnocco fritto, crescentine and tagliatelle al ragù accompanied by rivers of red wine.

We still breathe the air of inns, of fresh chestnuts, of gray smoke rising from stone chimneys. Every town has at least one defensive structure, including mountains, used as lookout points, so much so that here, too, very often the tops of the heights are actually called fortresses. It is no accident, therefore, that these valleys are identified under the name Land of Castels.

We will descend a little further down, between roads and backroads, before arriving in the Sassi di Roccamalatina Regional Park, encountering first the beautiful village of Montecorone and then Castellino delle Formiche, for which it is hilarious to think that a probable translation error from Latin transformed the original awe-inspiring Castle into a place name dedicated to the industrious insects.

We will skirt the sandstone towers of the Sassi as we slide along the dirt road surrounded by cherry trees and face the fun dirt descent that will take us a little further down to small stretches of asphalt mixed with scree, to just above Vignola. The dirt road will take us up along the river, a rather long gravel path that runs all the way along the Panaro River, while in the background the Rocca di Vignola fortress becomes sharper and sharper. We have had no more climbing for a while, and up to Bologna a long, almost mostly asphalt return awaits us. For those who want to avoid it, one can turn back using the railroad that starts right from Vignola, but we recommend making the last efforts to enjoy a picturesque return via the typical red porticoes of the Portico di San Luca, whose climb is often a stage of the Giro d’Italia and the local Giro dell’Emilia race, dating back to 1909.

General info

Via Samoggia and Monte Falò badlands
Gravel road which link the Samoggia Ridge and the Panaro Fondavalle.

Fortified village of the 1600s surrounded by the modest reliefs of the Sasso di Sant’Andrea.

Sassi di Roccamalatina
The rocky outcrops that stand out from the reliefs characterize the regional park of the same name. They are one of the peculiarities of the Middle Apennines of Modena. Numerous dirt roads depart from here, crisscrossing the area and offering sweeping views of the mountain landscape on the horizon. The road that skirts the Sassi cliffs in late spring is painted with rare beauty because of the blossoming of the cherry trees.

The dirt path along the river skirts the imposing Rocca di Vignola, a medieval building most likely dating back to before the year 1000. Vignola is also famous for its typical red fruit, such as the Ciliegia (strawberry) di Vignola IGP.

Technical Details
100km for 1200 meters of positive elevation gain. Recommended: Gravel bike with 35mm tires minimum.