A short stage but with the ups and downs that are the rule from now on, approaching the Apennines and Passo Serra. Varied route between paths, clearing tracks in the woods, riverside stretches. Leaving the castle and the center of Cusercoli you can see hills and woods all around along the valley of the Bidente river, which increasingly disappears into the depths of its natural banks. As soon as you get off the first wall and cross the southern gate, you take the road under the rocky outcrop to the end of the town.
You then enter the country path (cyclists continue straight on and follow the SP 4 up to Civitella), and then, past a shed, take the road along the river up to the Mastarsò mill. Then the climb begins with a gravel road alongside a sawmill. At the top you enter the coppice on a dirt path. You see cultivated fields, a tree-lined slope with olive trees, you ford two ditches. Climb up to the top of a very high and steep ravine (cliff) on the river that can be glimpsed below. From above you can see the whole valley and the Apennine chain in front. Then a nice descent, sometimes steep, to the last ford. This leads to Castagnolo, with the church which has become a hermitage, the country cemetery and numerous farmhouses located along the flat road. After crossing the Bidente river, go up the SP 4. Care is needed when crossing it because it is a section with intense and fast traffic. You can walk the vineyard before the SP4 or the field above the SP4. Go up after a kiosk in the industrial area of Civitella. Then we head to the center of the village.
HISTORICAL VARIANT: from Civitella di Romagna starts the route that Monaco Albert probably took to reach Balneum Sanctae Mariae (Bagno di Romagna), skipping the towns of Galeata and Santa Sofia. Once full of support points and today almost deserted. The route is long and rejoins the route in Montriolo, well beyond Santa Sofia. The distance from Civitella to Montriolo is 15.3 km and the first public establishment is Gamberini after another 3.5 km (18.8 km uphill; it is good to equip yourself and be fit). From the square of Civitella one goes towards the Sanctuary of Suasia; go up a partly paved road, then cemented and then gravel. After 1.5 km you reach the Badia farm (old Abbey). After cart roads, paths in the woods, ridge roads (beautiful panorama of Galeata, Pianetto and the whole valley) you reach the crossroads with the gravel road coming from Santa Sofia-Telluzzo. Then we move on to Campo dell’Abate. A path in the middle of the woods, another cart track, lead to renovated houses (Camazzere), and then to the Bonini-Poggio Galmino Tower, an ancient castle and lookout tower. From here begins a path inside the wood of hornbeams, oaks and even pines up to another ruin called Convecchio (old convent). Then the ruin of Campogelato, and after other paths and cartways between pine forests and fields, you reach Ca’ Croce. You then take an asphalt road along the ridge and you arrive at the SP 77 Santa Sofia-Spinello near Montriolo. After a while it joins up with the route of the Via Romea coming from Santa Sofia.
Passing alongside the Rocca di Civitella, you reach the main square. From there it descends back into the river to resume the route. Nearby, the Suasia Sanctuary deserves a visit. After crossing the river on the vehicle bridge, you go up along the halfway road; at a certain point you leave this road to go back down to the river. After passing a horse farm, you go up. Remarkable, nearby, the Chiesetta del Pantano dating back to the year 1000. Then you go, on a paved and flat path, towards Galeata, passing through the archaeological area of the “Villa di Teodorico”. The town has great cultural significance due to its archaeological sites.
TO VISIT: Sant’Ellero Abbey. From Via Madonna dell’Umiltà, go up to the abbey of Sant’Ellero, begun in the 6th century, taking the suggestive Via delle Celline. (cyclists can follow the paved road), To resume the Via Romea you need to retrace your steps.
Continue to Pianetto Borgo where it is worth visiting the Renaissance church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, with the former monastery now the Mambrini Civic Museum. (cyclists continue straight on the SP 4 up to Santa Sofia for about 4 km). Go up to Castello di Pianetto, cross it and then go down on a mule track until you meet the SP4 again. After a while, in the locality of Valdifrancia, you take the gravel road again that leads to the top of the ridge. Halfway down, below, there is an agritourism that has an agreement with the VRG. Then we descend through the fields and the old municipal road takes us to the northern area of Santa Sofia. The panorama extends over the Apennine chain. Traveled a bit of SP4, you leave at the cemetery and the F104 aircraft which seems to soar into the sky. We then pass on what remains of the old castle (destroyed by the severe earthquake of 1918), and of the ancient village. The town lends itself to an excellent stay for its hospitality and for its cultural attractions. The municipality of Santa Sofia is located in the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna National Park, forests once used by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany as a timber reserve for the factory of the Florence Cathedral and the grand ducal fleets, today renowned for its excursion itineraries and winter sports.