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by Allan Nelson & Konrad Orlowski 

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  Arriving at Rimini

I find this bit almost as enjoyable as the tour itself (I said 'almost'!).

There's something about sitting down in the middle of winter with a map, a guide book, a notepad and a bottle of red wine.  The rain's lashing against the windows, it's pitch black outside (but it's only 5pm!)  You're feeling guilty because you wimped out of riding to work on the bike today (you had every intention of doing so when you went to bed, but it was too wet - again).  So, what better way to lift morale than to plan your next tour.

Actually, planning started much earlier than that this time.  I seem to remember that on several occasions on last years tour, we discussed where to go next year - forward planning or what!  Of course, within a minute that was forgotten as we wanted to spend time enjoying that trip, not planning the next one.

Serious planning started in January.  We considered other countries for about 10 seconds, then decided on Italy again ;-)   We'd both enjoyed Umbria so much and took a look at the map to see what else there was in the area that we'd missed.  Lo and behold, just to the east was a region called Marche.  I recalled that many years ago on a family beach holiday in a place called Cattolica, I got more bored than usual, hired a bike for a day and rode to San Marino and back (incidentally, no pump, no puncture kit, no tools, nothing - so God knows what I'd have done if I'd broken down!).  I really enjoyed that ride.  I recalled it was 'lumpy', but it went through some lovely countryside.  I hadn't realised it at the time, but on my way to San Marino I was riding in the Marche region of Italy.  So, once we'd chosen the Marche region for the next trip, it was straight down to the local Tesco to see what wines they had on offer from that region.

Now a bizarre coincidence happened to us on this trip (more of that in the tour report), but coincidence numbers one and two happened at the planning stage, and the second of these was quite spooky.

First of all, I mailed my friend Sergio in Pisa to say we were thinking of touring the Marche region and did he know anything about it?   I got a quick reply back.  His exact words were... "You got to be kidding."
After another couple of e-mails, it transpired that Sergio was born in that region, and indeed, his mother still lived there in Falconara, so once again, we had plenty of 'inside knowledge' of the area, and if nothing else we thank him for mentioning the place 'Castelluccio' to us.  Now Castelluccio isn't actually in the Marche region, it's in Umbria, but the border sort of loops round it to include it.  I think the Umbrian's were smart to do that.  But I digress - more of Castelluccio in the tour report.

Coincidence number two was really strange.  I posted a message to a newsgroup ( explaining that we were thinking of cycle touring in the region, and did anyone have any useful information e.g. 'must see' places etc.  I had a few replies, and then about a week after the posting received an e-mail from someone, asking if I was "the Allan Nelson who worked at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in Grange-Over-Sands?"  Indeed I was! I couldn't believe it.  A chap who had worked there and left a few years ago, had moved out to the Marche region of Italy, and was in the process of doing up a house in San Ginesio from where he planned to run 'Flora and Fauna' walking holidays in the Sibillini Mountains!  That was coincidence enough, but we did meet with the chap, John Metcalfe, when we visited San Ginesio, and the story of how he came to read that newsgroup posting was even more bizarre.  They had a friend around to the house and he'd not long had his computer connected to the Internet.   The friend was showing him what he could do, and suggesting that newsgroups such as '' would be good places to keep an eye out for people looking for walking holidays in the mountains, accommodation etc.  As luck would have it, he came across my message when he searched for 'Marche'.  John admitted that when he saw the message he was gobsmacked!  He said 'I know that chap. I used to work with him'.  His friend wouldn't believe him!   

Through an e-mail I posted on the Eurobike mailing list, I received many useful replies. One of these was from Francesco Bille.   Francesco lives in Pesaro and is a keen cyclist.  He was extremely helpful in commenting on our route, suggesting places we should not miss, and offered to meet up with us - again - more of that in the tour report.

We also discovered an excellent web site on the Marche region,  This had lots of highly relevant information (for us), and you can request a free map and booklets on the area. (They take a while to arrive, but are done in the usual 'Italian' style i.e. stylish!)  If you're ever thinking of visiting the area, this site is a must.

One other site we visited was, where again, you can request a very useful free brochure (it's worth getting for the pictures alone).

So, as you can see, we had plenty of information to go at, and plenty of help from some very kind people who helped us enormously.   


We used the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) 1:200,000 map of Umbria e Marche (which I reckoned would just about last one more trip once I'd used half a roll of sellotape repairing it.)  The TCI maps really are the best maps I've come across for cycling in Italy. Again, we used Microsoft AutoRoute Express Europe (2000) to plan out a rough route and get some distances.

For more information on the various places, we used 2 main books.  One was 'Marche' compiled by the Touring Club of Italy, and the other was Cadogan's Tuscany, Umbria and the Marches.   Both of these books went with us on the trip.

Previously, we'd never booked any accommodation in advance, but as our flight was arriving at 8:30pm, we thought it might be wise to try and get at least the first night sorted out.  Actually, once we'd decided on visiting Castelluccio (population 40 with one 11 bed 'hotel'), we thought we'd better try and book that too, and hope we could reach it on the right day.

Through the Italian Tourist Web Guide site (, we booked a hotel in Rimini.  This was all done via e-mail and very painless.  More fun was booking the hotel in Castelluccio.  The phone sounded like you were speaking through a drainpipe.   My Italian "I'd like to book a double room for..." soon showed its limitations, and I must admit I came off the phone wondering  whether I had a room or not, and if so, for which night! (I hoped they weren't expecting us tomorrow.)

If you know of other useful reference information (books, web sites, maps etc) then please drop me a line and I'll include them here.

General Information

pastabtn.jpg (774 bytes) Maps
Touring Club Italiano (1:200,000) Umbria e Marche (ISBN 88-365-1132-5)

Free map of Marche (1:250,000) obtainable via the web site.


pastabtn.jpg (774 bytes) Books
Marche - Touring Club of Italy (ISBN 0-7495-2344-1)

Tuscany, Umbria and the Marches - Cadogan Guides


pastabtn.jpg (774 bytes) Web sites (Excellent site full of loads of useful information and pictures, plus free map and brochures.  Backed by the Marche Region Tourism Department) (Send for their free brochure) (Italian Tourist Board Web Guide - useful for accommodation - shame about the annoying web banners!