The first stage leaves the city of Rimini and enters the lower Marecchia River valley.
Our walk starts at the Cathedral (Malatesta Temple), formerly the Church of St Francis. It crosses part of the old town, visiting some Franciscan sites, and after leaving the city soon reaches the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Delle Grazie on Covignano Hill. As well as the beautiful church, if the friars are available, the small Museum of Franciscan Missions is worth visiting.
Descending more than once into agricultural environments, we reach the Marecchia River valley floor. Here, we begin to glimpse the outlines of some of the many cliffs topped by fortresses that characterise the valley landscape. In this riparian environment, we flank the course of the river, along a beautiful nature trail, to the park in Villa Verucchio.
After passing through the hamlet, we climb to the Monastery of Santa Croce, built on the site where St Francis stopped with some of his walking companions.
Branching off along the river is a link route to Santarcangelo di Romagna, a town offering numerous possibilities for refreshments and overnight stays, including convent and monastery guesthouses.