The Tiber river and the reservoir of Montedoglio

by Stefano Farinelli

The valley washed by the Tiber River is set in the hills of the central Apennine and it serves as a communication between Umbria, Emilia Romagna and Marche. 
The artificial reservoir of Montedoglio, named from the homonymous hill and which borders part of the banks, runs along four of the seven municipalities of Tuscan Valtiberina.
Sansepolcro, defined by the inhabitants of the place as “Borgo”, is  famous for being the birthplace of the artist Piero della Francesca and the mathematician Luca Pacioli.
Pieve Santo Stefano, birthplace of former Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani and known for being called “City of the Diary”.
Anghiari, city of the Battle, has always been one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and it is characterized by its narrow alleys perched on a hill overlooking the valley.

Anghiari
Anghiari, city of the Battle, has always been one of the most beautiful villages in Italy

The Tiber river and the reservoir of Montedoglio

One of the most famous and important waterways in the Italian territory, the Tiber river flows through much of the centre of the peninsula to reach the capital and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
From a geographical point of view, it comes from the mountains of Emilia Romagna, near “le Balze” at an altitude of about 1,200 meters above sea level. This says much about the purity of its waters and the difference in altitude that runs down to the plains below. 
It quickly arrives in Tuscany after passing through the gentle clay, limestone and marl/ sandstone rocks crosses Pieve Santo Stefano characterizing it from a landscape point of view. I don’t know what this means: “characterizing it from a landscape point of view.”  CURIOSITY: in Tuscan Valtiberina it is the only town that it crosses fully in the old city centre.  

Going down again, the difference in level from the spring decreases until it enters the reservoir of Montedoglio. This very large basin that in addition to serving part of Tuscany and Umbria for drinking and agricultural uses collects the tributaries that descend from the slopes of the Alpe della Luna and Alpe di Catenaia.

The multitude of eroded rocks along the way contributes to the waters interesting characteristics. The Tiber, which partly serves as a natural border between the municipalities of Sansepolcro and Anghiari, intersects numerous rivers downstream in the reservoir of Montedoglio. The River sees the presence of gorge areas where birds nest and where valuable fish species live. As a result of the flooding in 2010 caused by the outflow of water from the reservoir due to a structural rupture, the river bed has inevitably changed. New inlets and meanders have been created but always in a controlled current environment. It is thanks to the control of the outflow current that  fishing is often engaged in with events at a national level.

The River, from which the entire valley takes its name, is surrounded by its alluvial deposits with pebbles, sand, and gravel of various sizes which serve as sediment for the industrial areas and rural housing of the valley. This obviously also allows a wealth of groundwater that can be captured and used both in agriculture and for residential purposes.

Montedoglio
The reservoir of Montedoglio or Montedoglio Lake is an artificial body of water

Cycling itinerary along the banks of the reservoir of Montedoglio

Distance – about 40 kms
Total altitude difference – about 500 D+
Practicability – in all seasons
Type of bike – Road/MTB/Gravel/e-bike

Route all on asphalt with departure and return to Sansepolcro. The route heads towards Pieve Santo Stefano through Via Tiberina. Shortly after leaving the old city centre of Sansepolcro, you can appreciate the natural landscape which appears after the most densely populated areas starting from San Pietro in Villa. It reveals a rural fabric which maintains strong cultural and gastronomic traditions. Here, agriculture has always played a key role for the local economy. Only think of the cultivation of cereals, tobacco and the breeding of beef cattle. Once in Madonnuccia, you enter the municipal territory of Pieve Santo Stefano and the view opens above the “lake”, showing special plays of light. The reservoir of Montedoglio or Montedoglio Lake is an artificial body of water, created to meet the water needs of various places. It collects the waters of the Tiber River through an imposing barrier that rises between rocks of the ophiolitic type. Not for bathing, it serves as an oasis for many migratory birds and for the fish population. Quickly, after a few ups and downs on the asphalt road, cross the hamlet of Baldignano with an ancient church and you arrive at the junction on the left for Formole on SP48. The road initially runs along a riding school of forest management horses, and then continues among the hills bordering the reservoir. The view on your left allows you always to see the body of water, while on the right for a few kilometers you skirt Mount Fungaia. Continuing towards Anghiari, near the last hill to be faced, there is a particular rock formation the Ofiolite. It includes Serpentiniti and Gabbri immediately distinguishable from its marked dark blue-green color and the presence of coniferous vegetation. These stones have magmatic/metamorphic origins and are located within a geological context with a prevalence of sedimentary rocks such as sandstones and limestone.

Turning left onto SP47 in the direction of Anghiari, follow a short initial section downhill and then in a sloping ground which leads to the immediate outskirts of the country. The view on your right side allows you to admire the old town, perched on a hill with walls, which dominates a large part of the valley. 

At this point, just take the provincial road of Libbia and return to Sansepolcro through a long straight road in the plain.

The long lake is characterized by the presence of ophiolites