Sea By Cycle

On the beach-side bike trail from Pesaro to Fano.

Brightly colored cabanas line the Pesaro-Fano bike trail. (photo by Pachia Lee)

Visitors to Italy typically think art, wine, cheese, and, of course, pizza. Few imagine cycling alongside a sandy beach. But if you’re based in Urbino and want to explore a different side of Le Marche, take a daytrip to Pesaro—from which you can set out on a bike trail offering stunning views of the Adriatic Sea.

If you’re not already traveling with a bike, you have two options. I found a few commercial rental outlets near the beach, but riding their tattered bikes would not have been fun or comfortable. Instead, use the city of Pesaro’s bike-sharing program, “C’entro in Bici.” Visit the “Sportella Informa & Servizi” office behind Piazza del Popolo to pay your 10 euros and fill out a form; make sure you have an identification card or passport. You’ll get a key that allows you to unlock one of the program’s orange bikes at any of six locations throughout town. These bikes have no extra gears and are not the smoothest riding, but they will get you through a few hours along the beach.

I began my excursion at the Palla di Arnaldo Pomodoro, a shiny spherical landmark in the center of Piazzale della Libertà. I took a moment to appreciate the calm blue Adriatic Sea and the clear sky filled with frolicking birds. Then I inhaled the fresh aroma of the ocean and began to pedal.

As I rode away from Pesaro in the direction of Fano, the large seaside city at the other end of this eight-mile trail, I passed pastel-colored hotels and restaurants as well as neat rows of yellow and green umbrellas. Farther along, the scene was less crowded, though there were still plenty of beach-crazed people. White sailboats moved slowly along the horizon. The large hotels and restaurants were now replaced by compact beachfront bars, each with a unique logo and color combination.

[pullquote]Take a break from riding at any of the bars along the way.[/pullquote]

You can take a break from riding at any of these bars. Just secure your bike along a trailside wall or fence. The bars have their own seating and eating areas, with background music ranging from American rock (I heard Lady Gaga and Katy Perry) and jazzy love songs (Frank Sinatra) to Italian pop. After a snack, you can rent an umbrella and chair on the beach—and it’s off to swimming you go.

I stopped for a cool drink at Bagni Due Palme. The bar sits on a balcony overlooking the bike path, giving great views of the beach and sea. Stretching alongside the trail were shower houses of vibrant red, blue, yellow, pink, and green. Tanned, young, muscled men were playing two-on-two volleyball. Teenagers played cards and ate pizza. Laughter and conversation came from all directions.

Once back on the bike path, I heard “Ding, ding, ding!” From behind me, three middle-aged men zoomed by. “Scusi, scusi,” I screamed. Thinking this was my chance to meet some fellow cyclists, I quickly added, “Ciao! Do you guys speak English?”

“So-so,” replied one of the three, as they pulled over to the side to talk. I learned from one of them, Delfino Lugiano, that they are all firemen and that they ride the entire trail from Pesaro to Fano three times a week to stay fit.

“We like to bike this trail because it connects the cities,” Lugiano added, “and it is a point of conjunction for people.”

I was soon back on the bike, hoping to find “Camping Norina,” a private area farther along the trail. I had heard that Norina was a place where families and friends can stay for a few days in rented bungalows. But somehow I had come to a dead end. I stopped and looked at my map, flabbergasted.

“Do you need help?” asked a fellow rider, only a few footsteps away.
“Uh, yes, please, I’m lost,” I said, feeling a little ridiculous. “Would you know how to get to Fano from here?” (The main trail was supposed to go straight to Fano; I had no idea how I had gotten thrown off.)

“Yes, you have missed the turn,” said this helpful man in a strong Italian accent. “Follow me and I will show you the way.” He led me under a bridge and onto a straight-away. Then Pesaro native Stefano Terenzi and I exchanged contact information—just in case I got lost again.

Finally, I saw the words “Camping Norina” on the side of a bungalow. I stopped to catch my breath, take a sip of water, and gaze into the distance. The bungalows were lined up like dominos along the quiet beach. The bike trial beyond seemed never-ending.

But it was time for me to return to Pesaro, and then back to Urbino. Next time I cycle this trail, I thought, maybe I’ll reach the pebbly beaches of Fano. Maybe you will too.

C’Entro in Bici (municipal bike-sharing)
Sportello Informa & Servizi (Public Relations Office)
Largo Mamiani, 11 (for sign-up and key)
Pesaro, Italy
10 euro fee

This article is from Urbino Now magazine’s Escursione section, which recommends day trips and activities within an hour or so of Urbino. Please view more magazine articles or order a complete printed copy of Urbino Now.