Km 22,2 – Travel time 7 h 15 min
After Sant’Agata Feltria we return in Valmarecchia, on the highest part of the valley, where the landscape changes radically, from a bucolic and rural setting to a mountainous place, typical of the Apennines. The stage is carried out mostly on small roads gravel and paved roads with little traffic which make the journey faster with a wonderful landscape.
The first part coincides with the path “Frate Francesco in Sant’Agata Feltria” which follows through from the site with the ruins of the Convent of St. Francis of the Plans, shortly after which the road ends at Ca ‘Abbot (dogs), where you continue to the right on a road for vehicles leading to paved road from Sant’Agata to where crosses the point between Valle del Savio and Marecchia. It takes it to the right following the signs for Palazzo. Once in this town take the uphill road to Balze and follow it ignoring forks and detours. After the Madonna del Piano chapel, about 3 km you reach the provincial road Alfero – Balze.
To the right you will come to a crossroads, where you turn left onto the small road that reaches the car park below the Hermitage of Sant’Alberico. (Option B recommended in case of delay or bad weather: take the road on the left in about 3.5 km. It leads to Balze).
From the car park under the hermitage, we take a steep climb a paved driveway, lined by Via Crucis stop, and within minutes the hermitage of Sant’Alberico. Its presence has been documented since 1043 and, according to ancient tradition, was founded by Saint Romuald.
Continuing in the woods at the bottom of the valley, first on a beautiful trail lined for a stretch of Stations of the Cross; Then on a beautiful stone street, called “Via Grand Ducal” because built by Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany for a grace received, you reach the town of Balze.