The mention of Bismantova Rock immediately brings to mind the Appenninica MTB Stage Race. The places that were once fiefdoms of Matilda of Canossa serve as the home territory for this mountain bike stage race in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines. Castelnovo ne’ Monti has hosted at least one stage of Appenninica every year and is now preparing to hold the 2023 edition, scheduled for September 4-9, 2023.
This town in the Reggio Emilia province, made famous by the Bismantova Rock that inspired Dante’s Purgatory, will host the preliminary operations of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023, starting on Sunday, September 3rd, with the arrival of the athletes. Also on that date, there will be Appenninica Lovers, a meeting open to all and dedicated to amateur cyclists on the route of the first stage race.
The official start is scheduled for Monday, September 4, with an opening loop stage covering 57 kilometers and featuring 1900 meters of total elevation gain. La Matildica is a deceptively challenging section with long climbs and highly technical descents. The athletes will face a downhill single trail to cross the Tresinaro River before climbing towards Carpinete Castle. The striking passage under the iconic Bismantova Rock will precede the athletes’ return to Castelnovo ne’ Monti.
Finding the right rhythm with Appenninica will be crucial because, on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, the extremely demanding Mountain Queen Stage is scheduled. Covering 89 kilometers and featuring 3250 meters of elevation gain, this stage will start from Castelnovo ne’ Monti and reach Fiumalbo, offering breathtaking views and a route mostly above 1500 meters of altitude. The route will include challenging sections such as the Cisa Pass, the Mount Cusna area, and the Radici Pass before reaching Pievepelago via a single track.
“Castelnovo ne’ Monti welcomes the Appenninica MTB Race again this year with great pleasure. Among the many sporting events that we will host in the summer as a ‘town for sport,’ Appenninica holds great importance due to its international dimension, and mountain biking has experienced exponential growth in recent years. There are numerous fans who ride our roads and trails, appreciating and enhancing our territory and its environmental quality,” says Enrico Bini, the mayor of Castelnovo ne’ Monti.
CASTELNOVO NE’ MONTI, IN THE SHADOW OF THE BISMANTOVA ROCK
Castelnovo ne’ Monti and the surrounding territories are rich in history and magic, starting with the Bismantova Rock. According to tradition, this rock inspired Dante’s Purgatory during the poet’s stay in 1306, as mentioned in Canto IV of the Divine Comedy’s Purgatory. The Castelnovo area also boasts several fortresses and castles that were once part of the reign of Matilda of Canossa between 1000 and 1100 AD.
The medieval town’s historical center is definitely worth a visit. It has been renovated in recent years, offering truly characteristic views. One of these views is the Palazzo Ducale, located amidst the green gardens of Bagnolo. Built by the Este family as a symbol of their domination over the territory, it now serves as Castelnovo’s City Hall.