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Cycling tourism

Giro d'Italia

Stage 11 | Santarcangelo - Reggio Emilia

cycling route
1 day
Best Period

April, May, June, September

Pushing on the pedals, sweating, holding on is to tune in to this industrious, hard-working land, originating an incredible amount of food and wine excellence. Afraid you won’t make it? Not at all: the historical references and the beauty of the landscape will convince you to continue


On the plain of delectability

Emilia Romagna is cut in two diagonally by the Via Emilia, the road built to support trade during the Roman Empire. To the left, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines; to the right, in the part where this itinerary winds, the Emilia-Romagna portion of the Po Valley – a plain (the largest in Italy) of alluvial nature that slopes almost imperceptibly down to the sea. This is one of the most fertile lands in our country, thanks to a particularly favourable climate and a soil that is not very permeable, which does not allow water to penetrate too deeply. So don’t be surprised if you ride through endless fields of wheat and sugar beet, orchards, olive groves and vineyards, interrupted by cheese dairies, farms and livestock breeding.


On the saddle through the plain of Emilia Romagna

From Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia, along the Via Aemilia, the commercial artery laid out by Consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in 187 B.C. You can breathe history in the itinerary we are talking about here, which takes in stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia 2022. But that’s not all. The 203 kilometres of wide, straight stretches suitable for everyone are an arrow shot into the heart of a precious food and wine heritage. Pick one of the numerous first courses, piade, tigelle, cured meats and cheeses, and you will find it easy to regain your energy after a day on the bike.

From Cesena to Imola: culture and tagliatelle

Just a dozen kilometres from the start in Santarcangelo di Romagna, the medieval village with a strong Romagna identity, and the route suggests a stop in the name of wonder. In Cesena there is the Malatesta Library – the oldest civil library in the world, intact for over 600 years – since 2008 it has been included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. But even a visit to Forlimpopoli – the transit town for pilgrims on their way to Rome in the Middle Ages – will leave you speechless: the historic centre is dominated by the imposing Rocca Albornoziana, built in the mid-14th century and still one of the best preserved in the region. After the joys of the mind, those of the palate. Forlimpopoli is the birthplace of the famous gastronome Pellegrino Artusi, author of Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Indeed Casa Artusi houses the first centre dedicated to Italian home cooking. The best way to pay tribute to him? With a dinner of tagliatelle and meatloaf, washed down with a glass of Sangiovese. Once in Imola, atone for your sins of gluttony with a visit to the giant marble containing the effigy of the champion Marco Pantani.

Dozza and Bologna: street art and tortellini

The central part of this itinerary boasts two stops that are worth a weekend in themselves. The first is Dozza, the medieval village perched on the crest of a hill and famous for being an open-air museum. In fact, it is. Since 1960, the Biennale del Muro Dipinto (Biennial Exhibition of Painted Walls) has been held here. Over the years this event has involved over 200 artists with brushes and spray cans. The outcome? The walls of the shops are covered with over 100 brightly coloured murals. Another thirty kilometres or so into the route and here is Bologna, the capital of Emilia Romagna. How can you spend an afternoon away from your bike? Here, you will be spoilt for choice. To stretch your legs, there are 38 kilometres of porticos (some of them are in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2021) that encompass the entire historic centre. To tickle your fancy, there’s nothing better than the Basilica of San Petronio overlooking Piazza Maggiore. Its grandiose interior houses Cassini’s sundial, the largest in the world (66.8 metres long). To feast your eyes, climb the staircase to the top of the 97-metre Torre degli Asinelli. To satisfy your stomach, any trattoria will do, with tortellini, ragù and mortadella.

In Reggio Emilia: a set for works of art and cheese flakes

From this point, the route deviates from the Via Emilia and heads towards the hinterland, passing through villages such as Crevalcore, Cavezzo and Coreggio. You approach the River Po, where the painter Ligabue created his naïve world. Or, to bring up pop culture, where the saga of Don Camillo and Peppone was filmed. Reggio Emilia, you final destination, is still under the sign of history. In 1797, in this very city the Italian tricolour was born, displayed in the hall of the Municipal Council. Also worth a visit is the Torrazzo, the bell tower of the Basilica of San Prospero. But Reggio Emilia, like the other towns along this route, also has a heart to bite into. In this case, it has the taste of Parmigiano Reggiano, the main ingredient of all local cuisine.


By the RCS Sport editorial staff


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