A long, intense, and diverse stage. The first part sees us struggling with two important climbs (especially the one at Pian di Spilli) along paths that are not always very easy. The second part is easy and smooth, very panoramic.
We arrive at the foot of Monte Cucco, which houses one of the largest natural caves in Europe.
The section from Pian di Spilli to Pian delle Macinare along the E1 is a variant of the Sentiero Italia (which instead turns north, returning to the woods), preferred for the great panoramic views of the stretch along the hillside.
In the first part of the route, up to Pian Sant'Angelo, the signs are scarce and the track is sometimes run-down and covered by vegetation: it is good to monitor the GPS.
After a short stretch along the hillside, the track (not very visible) begins to descend along the course of a stream. Continuing straight, we walk on the paved road and follow it up to the sharp bend, where we return to the path and begin the climb (300 m height difference), on a track in the woods that is not always clear, towards Pian Sant'Angelo. Up there, the view opens up and we admire the beautiful eastern wall (almost dolomitic) of Corno di Catria (1,185 m), which looms over us.
We go down quickly (400 m drop) towards Isola Fossara. Once in the village, we cross the Sentino river and, again on the path, we walk along its western bank. The path starts to climb (100 m height difference) towards Castellaro, from which we continue easily in ups and downs to the town of Coldipeccio.
We start the last climb (400 m height difference): the path climbs sharply up to Serra Piana, then crosses the southern slope of Monte Motette and continues with fast ups and downs. Below us, we admire the wild Valle delle Prigioni, Prisons Valley. Finally, we come to the pass between Monte Ranco Giovannello and Monte Motette (there is a fountain).
Afterward, proceeding on a carriage road, we continue along the hillside bypassing Monte Ranco Giovanello. Once at its southern shoulder, we pass on a dirt road and find the European Path E1. We keep to the right at the crossroads and walk quickly on a slight slope, with a very wide view, until we veer towards the north-east under Punta Sassopecoraro. The road slowly loses altitude and, together with the tame wild horses, the beech woods reappear. After a couple of bends, we reach the wide Pian delle Macinare and the beautiful RIfugio Mainardi. In front of us, Monte Cucco (1,566 m).
Since 1291, a large part of the Monte Cucco massif has belonged to the University of Original Men of Costacciaro, an indivisible community property, which over the centuries has safeguarded the mountain and in recent decades, it has averted the dangers of illegal activities, particularly in the Pian delle Grind.
Monte Cucco is today one of the best-known sites for free flight and has been the site of the world championships several times.
Thanks to the characteristics of the territory, updrafts of hot air are created, which are ideal for flying with a hang glider: it is not at all seldom to admire some of them in the sky.
Monte Cucco (it means hollow mount) is a block of limestone that houses more than 100 caves that extend for over 30 kilometers, with a maximum depth of about 900 meters: one of the most important underground systems on the continent.
It is possible to visit a part of it, with expert guides: the caves have nothing to envy to those of Frasassi but they are not so easily accessible to the public and therefore not as famous.
The most famous is the Grotta Agnese, a name deriving from a girl who, according to a legend, lived there in prayer and contemplation (later, she was brutally killed by her father who did not accept her choice).
The crescia of Gubbio is a kind of focaccia (but don't call it that in front of the Umbrians!) unleavened and very simple - a relative of the Romagna piadina. Traditionally cooked on the testi (iron discs placed on the fire of the fireplace), it is stuffed with cold cuts, cheeses, or grilled sausages and spinach.
Rifugio Mainardi, in Pian delle Macinare. Tel. +39 393 252 7121
Camping Sigillo, in Val di Ranco (about 5 km from Rifugio Mainardi, along the stage of the next day). Tel. +39 335 644 7708
Albergo Ristorante Da Tobia, in Val di Ranco. Tel. +39 075 917 7194
Starting point reachable by car.
Departure point NOT reachable by bus.
The nearest location reachable by bus is Serra Sant'Abbondio, departing from the town of Fano with a change in Fossombrone and then Pergola.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Starting point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.