The nine challenging climbs, which total 3,840 m over a 205-km parcours, have been part of an annual Nove Colli race since 1971. It’s based from Cesenatico, Italy, where famed cyclist Marco Pantani lived. He used these hills as his training centre, which ultimately led to his Grand Tour general classification wins at both the Giro d’italia and Tour de France in 1998.
Since his death in 2004, the race has gained popularity. It now sells all 12,000 race numbers in just five minutes each year. If you miss out on the fondo, its route still makes for a great ride from April through October.
“The scenery is stunning,” says Monica Price, director of both Experienceplus! Bicycle Tours and Cycle Europe. “Gentle hills lead into the Apennine Mountains through mixed forests, ploughed fields and fruit orchards. The towns are amazing, too, with so much history along the route. But it’s the food – lasagne, tagliatelle, and different varieties of filled pasta – that attracts most to visit this region.”
The Nove Colli route was designed to squeeze in as many climbs as possible into a single ride, but Price says there are plenty of other options for visiting cyclists looking for more variety during their holidays.
“The Apennine range is not very wide,” Price says, “so there is great cycling across various passes with the Emilia-romagna region on one side and Tuscany or Liguria on the other.”