Cycling tours offer a unique way to explore the cities and countrysides of the world. Just ask our consultants. Here, Jo Kennedy from Kennedy & Turner Travel Associates recalls her two-wheeled adventure through Italy.
With EuroBike and Utracks I saw an abundance of beautiful landscapes, in a social setting and at a manageable pace .
I was in the 'Beginner to Intermediate' category of bike riders. It was an easy ride and very safe. As part of a a self-guided tour, I was provided with maps and instructions that were easy to follow and on top of that, there were road signs to assist me along the way.
I saw a lot of little villages and country-towns and enjoyed many an espresso stop at each. Our sights varied greatly; from beaches, to forrests and vineyards to churches. Each day, our suitcases were taken to the next hotel so it was just us, the bikes and the wind! The tour operator made himself very available via mobile phone if any of us had concerns along the way.
This was our itinerary:
DAY 1: Join Venice / Mestre
DAY 2: Cycle across Freedom Bridge to Venice and on to Chioggia (35km)
DAY 3: Follow the Adige River through fertile fields to the charming town of Rovigo (65km)
DAY 4: Go along the Po River to the Italian cycle town of Ferrara (45km)
DAY 5: By train to Alfonsine and continue to the mosaic town of Ravenna via the Po Delta Nature Park (50km)
DAY 6: Cycle to the foothills of the Apennine Range and the town of Brisighella (55km)
DAY 7: Train to Borgo San Lorenzo, then continued by bike to Florence (35km).
Imagine vineyards, endless sunflower fields, orchards and charming villages, grapes, pears, apples, figs and tomatoes along the side of the road. We met so many amazing, friendly people, who could not wait to find out who we were, where we had come from and where we were going. We soon earned nick-name, "The Pink Angels".
Chioggia: sometimes called Little Venice, is a fishing port on the Venetian lagoon. At the heart of the historic centre is a wide pedestrian street lined with shops and bars, where there is a lot of activity at night. The Sottomarina area, 2 kilometres from the port, has beautiful, sandy beaches. The local food was amazing. Vongole pasta was our favourite.
Rovigo: is a gorgeous town. Again, the seafood was amazing, as were the cute, little restaurants and welcoming people.
Ferrara: is situated along the Po River. This city dates back around 1300 years and is now called the city of bicycles. Everyone there owns a bike! We rode through the city along its cobble-stoned streets, feeling like we belonged. There are 9,200 meters of city walls commissioned by Duke Ercole I d'Este and built between 1493 and 1505 with walking paths on top so, you guessed it, you can cycle along the path.
Ravenna: is known as the mosaic city because of the stunning 5th-6th century mosaics that adorn the walls of its churches and monuments. With eight listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I hardly have to explain how beautiful this town is.
Brisighella: is a gorgeous little medieval town, perched on a hill. It has quaint restaurants and numerous gelato shops, which we felt entitled to try before the hardest part of our ride; a 3 km uphill climb! The rise led us to the most magnificent view of Florence; where we enjoyed a light lunch at a a sensational little restaurant. We then enjoyed an easy, downhill ride with the breeze in our face; soaking up the smells and scenes of Florence, knowing that soon our bike ride was coming to an end. It was a bitter-sweet feeling.
I love the challenge and daily exercise that comes with a cycling tour.
I enjoyed visiting such gorgeous towns and villages and mixing with the locals. What a ride, literally! I loved it and yes, I would do it all over again.
My experience is only half the story. Share yours in the comments section below.