Marche: Cammino delle Ginestre
I have conceived and planned this journey in the autumn-winter of 2017. For me it had a reminiscent meaning, the rediscovery of my paternal family origins, through places visited during childhood, but also an exploratory sense, to broaden my horizons beyond what I knew.
The itinerary crosses the Marche from west to east, starting from Fabriano and reaching the Conero. I walked it partly in the spring of 2017, and the rest in the early summer of 2019, mostly accompanied by my sweet wife, and in some stages also by a couple of dear friends.
We had a chance to admire a wide variety of landscapes, starting from the suggestive mountains of the Fabriano and Frasassi areas, continuing through the gentle and green hills of the Vallesina, to conclude with the enchanting views and the renowned beaches of the Parco del Conero. And all this by crossing many villages and towns, rich in history and charm.
Taking this itinerary on foot has allowed us to walk through its territory slowly and attentively, and fully appreciate its views, colors and fragrances. Also considering the exquisite cuisine, the typical wines, and the great hospitality, I can say that it has been a wonderful emotional and sensorial experience.
The itinerary is composed of six stages, totalling 107 Km:
In addition, we describe a tour on Monte Conero. We also present some other places, not all of which right along the way, which can pleasantly enrich the journey.
The Pedemontana delle Marche railway is the recommended way to reach Fabriano, the starting point of the itinerary, but also San Vittore delle Chiuse, a reference point for the trip to the Frasassi Caves. Please refer to the Trenitalia website.
For the rest, a network of bus companies allows easy travel in all directions. Consult the timetables of the local Transport and Mobility Company, that can also be downloaded in PDF format.
To find places to stay overnight, the internet is the privileged source. Nevertheless, in the description of the individual stages, the B&Bs in which we have stayed are indicated.
The trekking-etc/viewer app, with the itineraries of the individual stages that can be downloaded for off-line use, is the ideal guide to easily follow the route.
This geological wonder is a must.
We get off the train at the Genga - San Vittore station, walk about 200 m to the north, cross the rail crossing, then head towards the large square where the ticket office and the shuttle departure point are located. The shuttle takes us directly to the cave entry, for a guided tour.
Going through the limited part that is open to the public, and listening to the words of the guide, we can imagine the immense emotion felt by the discoverers, and we remain ecstatic at the sight of the incredible shapes that nature has patiently created over the millennia.
Here begins our long journey. Before starting it, we try to get a feeling of the history of the city, by walking a few steps into the historic center.
In Piazza del Comune we find the Palazzo del Podestà and the Sturinalto fountain,
and also the Loggiato di San Francesco:
Not far away, in Piazza Papa Giovanni Paolo, we find the cathedral of San Venanzio,
and the former hospital of Santa Maria del Buon Gesù:
It would be recommendable to also find time to visit the Paper and Watermark Museum, which testifies to the historical importance of the city's paper production. It is located near the Regina Margherita park, in Viale Giambattista Zobicco.
It's time to walk. More than a hundred kilometers await us in all; we have great enthusiasm and expectations.
The initial part of the first stage takes place mainly on streets and lanes, along which we move away from Fabriano through gentle hilly landscapes.
Later, mainly on paths, through broad-leaved woods, we go up the western side of the ridge that separates the Fabriano area from the Parco della Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi.
The ridge is formed by various peaks, roughly aligned with one another, including Monte le Conche, Monte Rimosse, and Monte Valmontagnana.
In May, among the many flowers, the acacias, the gorse and the laburnum stand out.
After having risen to about 800 m, we cross the eastern side of the ridge with little inclination, without reaching the top.
The meadows are rich in flowers of every color.
The view of the Gola della Rossa and Monte Murano opens up, and we see the town of Pierosara.
Near the Casale Romei hut, we begin a long descent along the Cagliostro path. Some steps require attention.
Our descent ends at San Vittore.
A path goes up to Pierosara, a charming village that marks the end of the stage.
After sunset, the village lights up. A restful night awaits us, in the wonderful silence of the place.
Two stages, with an intermediate stop in Serra San Quirico, that the most trained walker might want to merge into one.
We leave Pierosara behind us
and first we walk along quiet little streets, then on a comfortable path, between two wings of thick bushes of gorse, with an intense aroma.
We rise slowly until we come out of the woods, towards large lawns,
dotted with flowers.
We take a last look, behind us, at the Monte Valmontagnana ridge,
and we head towards the maximum elevation of the whole journey.
From the cross of Monte Murano the panorama is fantastic. The view stretches far to the east, embracing the whole of the Vallesina, and reaching the sea, about 50 km away.
On meadows, and then through a forest, we go down towards Serra San Quirico.
We allow ourselves a visit to the upper part of the village, a panoramic view from the Loggia Manin, and finally we descend along the characteristic Copertelle, an ancient porch.
From the picturesque train station,
we enter the countryside towards the village of Bruscara,
with a possible detour to the Abbey of Sant'Elena, leaving behind Serra San Quirico,
and Monte Murano.
Along the road
we happen to have a nice encounter.
We walk for a long time, admiring the ever changing hilly landscape.
One last climb, with a possible deviation to the Hermitage of the White Friars, and we approach Cupramontana, until we reach it.
By crossing the portal of the Town Hall, we find access to the evocative central square, oval in shape.
This stage begins with roses and ends with more roses.
The expected rise in temperatures leads us to a very early start: it dawns when we leave Cupramontana.
We soon pass by a rose garden.
We walk a long way through the countryside, passing the small village of San Michele, and as we approach San Paolo di Jesi, we see Cupramontana more and more distant.
After San Paolo, we walk for a long time through endless green hills, always similar to themselves, but always different.
On the left, the view extends towards Jesi and its surroundings.
And around us more hills, green hills, gentle hills.
The small church of Santa Maria del Colle shows us that the destination is not far off.
And in Santa Maria Nuova we find roses again. Many beautiful roses.
Santa Maria Nuova is the most favorable place from which to reach Jesi and visit it. The bus passes at fairly close times, and the travel takes about 20 minutes.
Many are the monuments, churches and other places of interest; we will just mention the Pergolesi Theater, the Arco Clementino and Piazza Federico II.
But we cannot fail to admire the mighty walls that surround the historic center,
which can only be accessed from three gates: Porta a Valle, where the bus station is located, Porta Bersaglieri,
and Porta Garibaldi.
Yes, I took this photo of Santa Maria Nuova as it dawned. No, we didn't leave so early, but later, after breakfast.
After leaving the town,
we dive back into the hills
After a long journey, our eyes, never satiated by those fascinating landscapes, capture the profile of Polverigi,
where shortly after we arrive.
A brief visit, and after having refreshed ourselves, we leave again, crossing the wide and green valley that separates us from Offagna.
After reaching the village, we climb up to the imposing and beautiful fortress.
The view, from the adjacent vantage point, is wide and spectacular.
Unfortunately we are unable to visit the inside of the fortress, with its renowned arms room, because the winter schedule, in force until mid-June, allows visits only during the weekend.
Offagna is the most favorable place, from the point of view of public mobility, from which to reach Osimo. Buses offer various trips throughout the day, and travel time is around twenty minutes.
The village, surrounded by high walls, offers various points of interest. We visit it with satisfaction, dwelling at the Town Hall, where the Osimani without Heads are located (head-less statues),
and at the Co-cathedral of San Leopardo.
We also pay attention to other churches, and to the theater, and walk along the panoramic terrace facing south and east, where the view, starting from the sea, turning clockwise, embraces countless hills, and numerous villages.
What we previously ignored is that even Osimo, like Camerano, has its own system of caves, dug by man over time, starting from the Picenes, about three thousand years ago, to continue with the Ancients Romans, and during the Middle Ages.
The competent guide accompanies us along the 300 meters of visitable caves, and tells us the history and the characteristics of the place.
We move away from Offagna
along quiet streets, with a view of Osimo, to our right.
Then we enjoy a good stretch on a path, in the green countryside and among wheat fields.
When we reach the valley bottom, near Ponte dell'Aspio and Aspio Terme, we cannot avoid a urban area, with a strong industrial and commercial character.
From our point of view it is the least attractive moment of the journey. Some stretches, even if short, require a lot of caution because of the traffic.
It is indeed easy to cross the motorway and the railway, thanks to convenient underpasses.
On the contrary, it is not easy to cross the state road,
or to walk along the short stretch of the Conero road, because they lack pedestrian crossings and sidewalks.
But then we're back in the country,
and we go up a quiet lane towards Camerano. The most trained take charge of the load.
At the end of the climb we reach the center of the village.
The main attraction of Camerano is the Caves, which can be visited by appointment.
We move away from Camerano,
along paths and small roads, which go up towards Massignano,
where we meet the nice people of the Therapeutic Community, with whom we talk for a while.
The road is now downhill.
We pass by the Chiesetta della Madonnina,
and not far from there we reach Sirolo.
From the central Piazzale Marino we enjoy the wonderful panorama of the Conero coast.
There is still time for a visit to the Urbani beach,
and to admire the Challenge of the Contradas. It is difficult to carry water in a flared bowl, while running!
I like getting up early in the morning, in places by the sea, to admire the sunrise.
Half an hour after I have left Sirolo, the sun has already rised above the horizon.
I go up the slopes of Monte Conero, whose summit is unfortunately not open to the public, so I head towards the abbey of San Pietro, where I take the Belvedere path, which offers various panoramic views of the sea.
I go down to take the path that leads to Passo del Lupo (formerly Passo della Croce), and from there the view ranges on the entire southern part of the Conero coast.
And then the goal of this morning is revealed to me: a beach that seems to come from a dream, with two white stacks embellishing its northern end.
There is no one except a young couple in a tiny yellow tent. The path that goes down to the beach is officially closed. Actually, it is in good condition, except for the very last stretch.
A seagull is watching me, or maybe not, from one of the two stacks.
The water is cold as if it were April, as this year in May the weather has almost always been bad. But the transparency and calm of the sea are an irresistible attraction, and I can't deny myself a cathartic bath.
I return to Sirolo, extremely hungry. I see many bushes of Cistus Albidus.
I haven't seen so many since the days of the Great Traverse of Elba.
My sweethart and I spend the rest of the day on the beach, enjoying a little well-deserved rest.
We are pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this village. We reach Piazza Giacomo Leopardi first. The statue of the poet observes us from his pedestal, in the wide and splendid frame of the Palazzo del Comune.
We walk along the suggestive streets of the village towards the south, and upon arriving at the Liceo Classico, we look out over the balcony of the cloister, for a panoramic view.
Along the way, an installation declaims, pleasantly decorated, the verses of L'Infinito, the most famous work of the poet.
We reach the little square that inspired Il Sabato del Villaggio, we enter the church where the poet was baptized.
A visit of Casa Leopardi is a must.
We admire the rich library, a result of the efforts of Giacomo's father Monaldo, and many other objects that accompanied the life of the poet. We listen with religious attention to the words of the guide, which describes the story of a genius that goes far beyond poetry.
I am seized by a moment of strong emotion when I look at the original manuscript of L'Infinito, and the pen and the inkwell with which they were written.
We grant ourselves a quick visit to Loreto. The bronze statue of Pope John XXIII welcomes us, smiling and with open arms.
We enter Piazza della Madonna.
We visit the Basilica della Santa Casa. Decent clothing is required; no shorts.
The statue of the Madonna Nera, with its strongly evocative aura, captivates our hearts for a few moments.
We spend the last day of this unforgettable stay on the beach of Portonovo, located in the northern part of the Conero coast.
To top it off, we booked a Brodetto all'Anconetana for lunch one day in advance. Authentic and exquisite taste of fish and sea food! We accompany it with the typical local wine Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi.
Along the road to Ancona, where we will take the return train, we stop for a moment to observe the Mezzavalle Beach.
■ gb, 2019-06-15