Nature and parks
The province of Rimini is complete; in just a short distance it is possible to drive from the sea to the “green sea” of the mountains. A fascinating territory that lends itself well to cycle rides thanks to hilly roads offering varied itineraries and breathtaking views.
There are also cycle paths that are ideal for mountain bikers and horse riders and others for those who love to walk or look out for wild animals. All this and more is offered by its parks, especially Sasso Simone and Simoncello inter-regional park.
Carved out by the Marecchia and Conca rivers, the two main valleys are both flanked by handy cycle paths (the first from Rimini to Novafeltria and beyond and the other from San Giovanni in Marignano to Montefiore Conca). A third and smaller valley is crossed by the Marano torrent that has created a beautiful river park.
The Marecchia rises on Mount della Zucca, not far from the source of the Tiber river, then descends to the Montefeltro in Romagna, flowing close to the Republic of San Marino and into the sea in Rimini, where it has been diverted to ensure the waters of the harbour always remain calm.
The landscape of gently rolling clay hills suddenly hits sandstone spurs; these were not always here, but were formed by what is known as the gravitational flow of the Marecchia that brought them to this spot, drifting like rafts, from the Tyrrhenian Sea in the distant past. Here they found stability, on land once lapped by the sea.
Of great attraction in this area are the chalk veins of Torriana, which are a fauna oasis and the nearby oasis of Ca’ Brigida with adjacent environmental centre in Verucchio.
Climbing further leads to the unspoilt green hills near Casteldelci and Sasso Simone and Simoncello Nature Park - 4,847 hectares straddling the provinces of Rimini and Pesaro/Urbino with its own Natural History Museum and visitors’ centre in Pennabilli. It has one of the largest turkey oak woods in Italy and two mesas that seem to belong in Colorado.
The source of the Conca river is on Mount Carpegna in the Marche, which is almost always snow-covered in winter and boasts good ski-lift facilities. The river flows into the Adriatic at Portoverde, in Misano Adriatico. In 1878, a dam was built across the river to form a lake called the Conca Basin, now part of the Conca River Park. These areas are especially interesting from an environmental point of view.
The Conca valley cycle path is a delightful itinerary along the river: it starts in Cattolica, passes through San Giovanni in Marignano and Morciano di Romagna and continues towards the upper part of the river. Taking a walk or cycle ride along it offers wonderful unspoilt natural surroundings and stretches of spontaneous vegetation.
Further up the river, ancient chestnut woods are particularly fascinating, especially between Montefiore Conca and Gemmano.
The area near Gemmano also boasts a rare gem; Onferno Caves - unesco heritage site - a karstic complex of over 750 metres created by a waterway that carved out the chalky rock. Home to over 6,000 bats, one of the largest and most varied colonies in Italy, the caves are part of the Onferno Oriented Nature Reserve: 123 hectares of land that is protected due to it undoubted naturalistic importance.