Ecco Le Marche

Cycling enthusiasts long the start of the summer season for the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France to kick off! In my family we are nothing but lazy people, however we love watching Giro d’Italia and, if some stages happen to be near us, we make sure we will be there waving and cheering the riders. This year, Le Marche will host the 10th stage, on May 17 when, after 37 years, Giro will again stop in Jesi !

I can’t really say what I love most about Giro: maybe the extreme difficulties perceived at every bike ride, or the fact that each rider has a role that might not be the main one but the one that helps the winner cross the finish line; or maybe it is just for the amazing landscape that the riders cross at each stage. My family has been following the Giro since the 40s, when my grandpa was cheering Coppi. Indeed, Italy has had various cycling champions over the years, but probably Marco Pantani (1970-2004) caused the most controversies. This is not the place to discuss the rumours around his death, but to celebrate his amazing career!

On the Cippo near the Monte Carpegna, there is an entire route dedicated to the amazing Pantani, who won both the Giro and the Tour in 1998. This mountain is located in the interregional nature park Sasso Simone e Simoncello, partly in Le Marche and partly in Emilia Romagna.

View of the Monte Carpegna (1415m)

Isabelle and her husband Erik tried the route for us!
“With the help of these coordinates we started our journey: north of the municipality of Carpegna, where, by the way, a delicious prosciutto comes from, we entered Via Cippo, where the steep climb could begin ! The point where we started was at 734 meters and the highest point that could be reached was 1358 meters! We did it by car, but real cycling fanatics do that on their bikes, of course! By car, however, we must stop at about 1000 meters, as the remaining part is only for walkers or cyclists. 22 turns counts all the way.

Along the way we met numerous references to the pirata, as Pantani was called.

Erik and I were very grateful of the opportunity to do it by car, looking at the steep hairpin bends! But the panorama is of course overwhelming!

Do you wonder why to honour the Pirate on this particular road? The famous cyclist once uttered these words: “Il Carpegna mi basta!” (The Carpegna is enough for me). He said he would rather train here than elsewhere. After all, he came from Emilia Romagna region, very close by. In addition, the Giro and also the Tirreno – Adriatico regularly included this stretch, turning out one of the most difficult of the entire season.

“Quando esco in allenamento da solo, ed è il più delle volte, questo è uno dei giri che amo. Fino a San Marino niente di speciale. Ma da lì in avanti comincia il bello. Strade tranquille, tracciato nervoso. Con continui saliscendi. E qualche severa impennata. La prima è quella che, passato Montemaggio, va su a San Leo. E da lì alla Madonna di Pugliano e al successivo valico. In una decina di chilometri si sale fin quasi a 1000 metri. Ma la salita più impegnativa della giornata non è questa. È la successiva. Quella che da Caturchio si arrampica sul Monte Carpegna. Nella parte iniziale non è molto ripida. È tra il 6 e l’8 %. Il tratto più duro arriva passato il paese di Carpegna. Sono sei, sette chilometri con pendenza media del 10 %. Gli ultimi due, fin sotto la vetta a 1360 metri sul mare, li chiamiamo il Cippo e sono i più ripidi, sul 12 %. Certo, questa non è una salita come quelle delle Alpi che mi hanno reso famoso. Ma per allenarmi bene il Carpegna mi basta, e come.”

Marco Pantani

“When I go out training alone, and it is most of the time, this is one of the laps I love. Up to San Marino nothing special. But from there on, the fun begins. Quiet streets, nervous layout. With continuous ups and downs. And some severe climbs. The first is the one that, after Montemaggio, goes up to San Leo. And from there to the Madonna di Pugliano and the subsequent pass. In about ten kilometers it goes up to almost 1000 meters. But this is not the most demanding climb of the day. It is the next one. The one that climbs from Caturchio to Monte Carpegna. In the initial part it is not very steep. It is between 6 and 8%. The hardest stretch arrives after the town of Carpegna. There are six or seven kilometers with an average gradient of 10%. The last two, up to the summit at 1360 meters above the sea level, that we call the Cippo, are the steepest with about 12%. Of course, this is not a climb like the ones in the Alps that made me famous. But to train well, Carpegna is enough for me, ditto! “

By the way, the Giro annually honors Pantani by ascribing the title Monte Pantani to one of the mountain stages, which is usually the most difficult mountain to climb. The other Italian legend that I quoted before, Fausto Coppi, gets a Monte Coppi, which is the highest mountain stage.

Arriving at the Cippo campsite, in the middle of a forest, we parked in the shade.

Here we admired the monument in honor of Pantani made by a local artist Francesco Maria Tigli.

This is the end point by car: it is possible to continue on foot or by bicycle to reach the top. There are still 13 turns to go. The first part is called Fuga di Merckx (the escape of Merckx), a tribute to the Belgian Cannibal who left behind the Spanish climber Fuentes here in 1973 during the Giro, who in turn took revenge on the Belgian top cyclist the following year at the exact same spot. .

The last kilometers, l’Ascesa al Cielo (the ascent to heaven) end at a gigantic photo of Pantani with the inscription Questo è il cielo del pirata. (this is pirate heaven.)

Wikimedia Commons

The large car park at the campsite was in the hamlet of Cippo, named after the Cippus or stone column, erected in 1930 to commemorate Mussolini’s nephew who died in 1930 at the age of 20.

We discovered the monument by accident as it was not mentioned anywhere.

Even if you have nothing to do with cycling, the beautiful views also make this ride worth a detour!


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