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Marche – climbing amidst the Central Apennine in Italy

We glided daily across the numerous Metauro hills in the Marche region covered with a green, luscious landscape. Oh, how those many L A Y E R S impressed me! How I wished that I could cover all of it in my camera.

There was a typical house on almost every hill, some of them overlooking the sea in a distant and on the otherside, the Apennine mountains. Lovingly cultivated wineyards, each row decorated with a bed of roses (I hardly knew that they had a real function) and many, many winding roads accompanied our journeys to the crag. It was late Spring, probably the last chance to climb here before it gets too hot, the young meadows and wheat grains made the hills glow in different shades of green and yellow. It looked really pretty, and I felt very gifted to be here.

Between the Truffle capital: Acqualagna and Piobicco, is a group of sectors with some shady and sunny walls. We were lucky to have had plenty of strong winds blowing through at 34 °c that kept the sweating bodies cool. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a good idea to climb during the forcasted 38°c upcoming days, I perform so badly in heat. The plans were nontheless carved – together with our friends we headed to the impressive looking Passo di Furlo. High above the walls overlooking the resevoir, we finally found some breeze and a shady sector in the afternoon. We did some warming up, before proceeding to the other routes. A portion of good footwork and holding on to small pinches made us wobbly in this heat. It was hard to want to torture the already painful and distorted toe into more technical footwork. And then suddenly the siren screamed. A few minutes after the third warning siren, we heard a loud ear crushing sound. Tons of water was released from the reservoir below us into the Candigliano, a tributary of the Metauro river. Its best to avoid hanging anywhere near by the banks when you hear this. Luckily, we were way above.

The following days brought us to other sectors in the same valley like Rio Vitoschio, Fosso del Eremo, Carbonaia which made us feel a little more comfortable dealing with long vertical limestone and endurant climbing. Each of the sectors were surrounded by a little river flowing between the walls. Strong winds howling through the little gorges, made climbing bearable. It was really hot. The boys were motivated to red pointing some of their new found projects and I was happy to chill my hotty toes in the gushing river instead. I took later my turn on flashing out some routes when the wind blew real hard. Happy days, happy girl.

With the hope of climbing in a colder climate at a higher altitude we left to explore the areas further south. After a tedious drive through small, windy, curvy and never ending roads through the National Park of Monte Sibilini (I’d recommend the motorway along the coast to skip all the winding roads, hills and towns) we found ourselves heading into a little storm, under the shadows of Monte Vettore. Rain two days straight! We realised later, on the wrong side of the mountain that we were in the middle of a Boulder and MTB paradise. So, where was our crash pads and my bike? At home, of course.

We spent the last stopover in the north facing wall of Triponzo, which lies just after the borders to Umbria. All other sectors in the immediate surrounding were either south facing, or too (winding) far for a day trip. It was unusual to climb on a whitish limestone, full of slopy, flaky, and white polished ledges and dynamic, yet technical moves. Some of the moves in a 6a felt more like a 7a… but once you get the hang of it, you will find these 41+ routes to be feeling better and better with each visit. We even made a small break inbetween to walk to the town where the crag was named after. The old road which is closed to traffic because of a huge significant landslide years ago leads to the town where three bridges meet. Unfortunately, there’re no possibilities to catch up a cold coke or coffee. Today, the trial on the opposite side of the gorge is frequently used by mtb cyclists and most of them loses their gps signals once in the gorge. (I felt like a hero when everyone asked me where they were… thx to offline maps) 😉

Our plans to return to the areas around Gola di Frasassi had to be postponed to the next time. Our car broke down and gave us one last chance to get home without a hassle. So we took that chance and drove home. Ciao Bella Italia! A presto!

Some facts:

Many travellers arrives in this region before they proceed to their ferry destination from the nearby port of Ancona. If your plans are similiar, take a few days extra to look around. Roughly, you can divide the Marche region to 3 main sections to have a good choice around the sectors: Passo di Furlo, Gola di Frassassi, Ascoli Picino. And… there’s more! This post is really an insight of just a fraction of the sectors we visited!

Guide Book:
Calcare di Marche, Versante Sud, Edz. 2019

Best season:
After a recent research after my trip, I found out that actually the better times are in the colder months of the year. Roughly speaking I’d say from October till April. There are little north facing crags available, and all east/west facing crags are just too hot when it gets above 30°c. Windy days are a crag-saver, however, if you want to go sending super hard stuff, better conditions are when it’s cold. There will be more sectors to choose from too.

70m rope is fine. We took our 80m along and hardly made full (length) use of it. Min 18 quickdraws.

Limestone, often layered. It reminded me of some of the walls in Sardegna and the Dolomites. Ledges, crimps, flakes… Tufa lovers might get disappointed.

very often, perfectly done like we are used to in Italy. In Ponte di Arli, the routes around Ramset II needs urgent rebolting, and it’s far from a north facing sector.

Plenty of B&B, and beautiful guest houses around. However, the biggest challenge for us was finding a good campsite NEAR the climbing areas.

Rest days:

Some really good wine tasting in lovely ambience in the wineries of the area (see pics), visit Urbino, Mondolfo, Fano, Ascoli Picino etc. Good wine comes with good food. Don’t come here and don’t eat out. Go on a truffle hunt, visit the truffle fair (a few time a year). Bike (!) up to Monte Vettore/Sibilini, Hike up to Lago di Pilatus from Foce, Beach out at Bahia di Canaria, or Sirolo. If you’re wondering why many of the buildings around the Monte Sibilini National Park are all tied up in steel, this region was hit hardest in the earthquake in 2016. Anita from Travelita has a nice round-up of some of the cultural places in Marche.

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