Stage 15: Ancona to Torre di Palme

Distance: 69.12 km

Time: 4 hours 14 minutes

Speed: 16.3 km/h

Ascent: 543 metres

Total distance: 851.1 km

Total time: 45 hours 53 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 3, Stoker 4

Word of the day: “Colle” (col-leh) – hills

The Captain writes:

We sat in the shady garden last night, swatting away the odd mosquito (although their numbers are diminished since we left the Po Valley) and drinking a cool glass of local white wine before dinner. I forgot to mention in my last entry that we’ve now moved from the region of Emilia Romagna into Le Marche. It’s our first encounter with this region, and if all goes well and our route continues through Abruzzo and Molise then we will have visited all of the regions in Italy.

We were happy to get a last-minute offer of accommodation in Torre di Palme, a beautiful mediaeval hill-top village close to the coast at Porto San Georgio. We had resigned ourselves to staying in an hotel on the coast, which would of course have been fine, but Torre di Palme is exceptional. More on that later!

This morning we set the alarm for an hour earlier than normal, mindful of the prevailing temperatures and of the four steep hills we would be tackling. Three of those hills were right at the start of the day, and one was right at the end. While we knew we’d have to deal with the final hill in the full heat of the afternoon, an early start would mean that we’d climb the first three hills in the lower temperatures of the morning.

After breakfast, then, we had a full kilometre of warm-up on flat roads (!) before we passed the Monumento ai Caduti (Monument to the Fallen) and swung onto the first hairpin of the first hill.

We were cycling through the Parco Regionale Naturale del Cornero, just south of Ancona, an area popular with hikers and cyclists, both of which groups were out in numbers, today being Saturday. There were some fine views to be had, including this one, looking back to Ancona.

It was a slow start to the day. The gradients (at least initially) demanded our lowest gear and our strongest pedalling. We were grateful for any intermittent shade crossing the road, as the sun was already providing fierce heat.

After each of the first two hills, though, we had a short downhill respite, allowing us to recover before the next effort. After the third hill we had a long, shallow and hugely enjoyable descent, lasting some six-and-a-half kilometres, bringing us down to sea level at the town of Numana.

Here we settled back into the seaside cycle path routine, sometimes thwarted by queuing cars looking for somewhere to park for their day at the beach. We stopped at the first available fontanina (drinking fountain) to replenish our bidons and cool our heads and chatted briefly to a man originally from South Africa, who gave us detailed and helpful advice on the rest of today’s route.

Occasionally we were re-routed onto the SS16, but mostly we were adjacent to the grid-pattern beach umbrellas and the emerald sea.

Shortly after midday we found a pasticceria in the busy town of Civitanova Marche and ate as much as we were able (not easy in this heat) so that we would have enough fuel for the remaining 24 kilometres and the last climb. Then it was back on to the cycle path. Out to sea there was a yachting regatta taking place.

We spotted Torre di Palme as we were cycling through Porto San Giorgio, high up on the hill, with honey-coloured houses and towers. No matter how difficult the final climb was, it was going to be well worth it to see this town up close!

After a brief reacquaintance with the SS16 we turned off onto the minor road which would bring us to the top, and the gradient kicked up immediately. So we stopped for a drink of water in the only shade available, then set off up the climb.

Two steep hairpins and some long upward straight roads brought us to the outskirts of the village where we dismounted, declared the day’s effort complete and walked the tandem through the narrow stone streets, over cobbled roads, past a wedding party, to a Belvedere at the north-east of the town, which provided spectacular panoramic views over the route we had just cycled.

Finding our lodgings took a while (we had to ask twice for directions from the locals) but find them we did, a lovely cottage with fine views to the north-east, only slightly marred by the ever-present autostrada below.

Tomorrow we’re cycling to Asolo Piceno, where we will take two full rest-days, possibly three. The two days are as originally planned, a stay in a luxury hotel as a reward to ourselves for the 850 kilometres we have managed so far. The potential addition of a third day is because of the weather situation here. The forecast temperature on Wednesday (the hottest day of the Charon heatwave) is 39°C, which is out of our comfort zone. So if the forecast remains consistent we will take a third day off, before descending back to the Adriatic coast, where the temperature, crucially, is a few degrees cooler.

Here’s today’s route and a short video

Leave a Reply