3) Passo dell’Eremo
The tour is not one of the longest ones (10.7 km) and doesn’t present particularly difficult climbs (nevermore than a 10% gradient). However the average gradient is of 5.5%, one of the highest yet, and presents few places in which to catch our breath. The road climbs higher than 593 metres and we therefore suggest mounting 39/23 inch gears or maybe 21 in. for better trained athletes. The traffic is virtually non-existent and the road surface in excellent condition. The climb is partially in the shade, but there is only one water fountain near the pass (hidden behind a wall). The average time it takes an amateur cyclist goes from 45 to 55 minutes, while an excursionist may take from 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1’15”.
The Eremo Pass is not well known, but it is extraordinarily charming because it runs through one of the most beautiful and untouched Apennine settings.
The tour starts in Marradi, city of the poet Dino Campana. Just outside the town, 300 metres down the road that leads to the Passo della Colla, we turn left towards San Benedetto in Alpe and cycle up along the Rio del Salto.
At first the climb is gentle but at 1.1 kilometres from our starting point we have an 800 metre stretch that is steep. The climb, though, becomes gentle again and we can enjoy the beautiful view of the Badia del Borgo (2.4 km) on the right. The road continues to climb irregularly until, after the rest stop area situated at kilometre 4.2, the climb becomes challenging.
For the next 6 kilometres or so the ascent remains more or less constant at a gradient of 5% with peaks of 8% that are not, however, too demanding. Fortunately the road surface is in excellent condition, there are shady stretches and traffic is virtually inexistent.
The road widens 7 kilometres later, and a series of bends lead first to the hamlet of Trebbio (7.7 km, 720 m.a.s.l.), and then to Val della Meda (8.7, 790 m.a.s.l.). This is the only easy stretch of road – 300 metres of counter slope – because at the 9 kilometre mark the climb becomes demanding and we haul ourselves up twisting roads at gradients of more than 7%. The beautiful view of the valley that lies before us alleviates our fatigue.
It is, in fact, the last challenging stretch because at 10.7 kilometres and 921 metres above sea level we reach the Passo dell’Eremo. Some 400 metres beyond this point we find the path that leads to the Gamogna Hermitage, which gives its name to the pass.