Once past Sant’Agata, we return to the Marecchia Valley, in its highest part on the border with Tuscany. The landscape changes radically, from a bucolic and rural environment to a mountainous one typical of the Apennines. The stage is mainly on narrow gravel roads and asphalt roads with little traffic, making progress more comfortable and offering the possibility to really enjoy the views. The first part coincides with the “Brother Francis in Sant’Agata Feltria” route that leads, in about 30 minutes, to the Monastery of St Francis ai Piani archaeological site and the recently-built work commemorating St Francis’ passing through here.
In the last hour, the walk leads through the woods on the slopes of Mount Fumaiolo. It passes the Hermitage of Sant’Alberico, which was probably founded by St Romuald, whose presence was documented as early as 1043. Continuing along a beautiful mule track, then along a splendid stone road called “Via Granducale”, we reach the tourist hamlet of Balze.
- There are guard dogs at Cà l’Abate; anyone walking the route with a dog is advised to avoid walking past here. Just outside the centre of Sant’Agata, take Via S. Girolamo, following the provincial road towards Pereto, and re-join the route about 3 km further uphill.
- Recommended option in the event of long delays or adverse weather conditions: after reaching Alfero - Balze provincial road, at the end of the long dirt track along the ridge linking Palazzo to our destination, leave the indicated route and turn left to reach our destination in about 3.5 km.