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Bicycle touring: the most beautiful routes in Italy

From the North to the South, from the mountains to the sea, from the countryside to the hills, and from the coastlines to the hinterland, Italy is a country which offers an infinity of opportunities for cyclists of every level. Locations of a rare beauty which you can explore with a racing bike, on cycle paths and in the middle of built-up areas, along the coasts and climbing challenging ascents. Let us discover some of Italy’s most beautiful bicycle touring routes.

 

For all tastes

It is actually not at all easy to choose just a few of the hundreds of bicycle touring routes which exist in Italy. Indeed, there are enough to satisfy all tastes and all levels of competence, with levels of difficulty and distance of every sort. Whether you are lovers of major climbs or of the coastal plains, of historical town centres or the hills, you will certainly be able to find the right one for you from among these itineraries. We are introducing to you three routes for road bikes from among the most beautiful in our country:

  • The Mincio Cycle Path
  • The Val d’Orcia Crossing
  • The Borboni Cycleway

 

The Mincio Cycle Path

This is an itinerary which winds its way from Peschiera del Garda to Mantua, between the Veneto and Lombardy regions, along a cycle path. It is an easy route around 45 km long and with a modest altitude difference, and thus suitable for cycle lovers of every level.

The route for road bikes entitled the “Mincio cycle path” starts from Peschiera del Garda, in the Porta Brescia neighbourhood. It follows the right-hand river bank along the Mincio river as far as Mondambano, where it crosses over and starts to follow the left-hand bank. The unusual feature of this route is that, as well as allowing you to admire the various beauties of the natural world, it offers you the opportunity to visit small population centres and ancient villages which boast amazing historical and cultural charm. The Mediaeval village of Borghetto is without a doubt one of the most inspiring and deserves a brief stay to recharge your batteries among the windmills which are typical of this region.

When you reach Pozzolo, you can choose to follow a detour which takes you towards Volta Mantovana: from here the cycle path moves away from the banks of the river and continues along the countryside canals, as far as the city of Mantua. You go through the Mincio regional nature park, a protected area characterised by a huge variety of natural scenic beauty: hilly meadowland, lakes, plains and rivers, with numerous species of wild birds including storks, herons, marsh harriers, peregrine falcons and brown kites. It is the perfect place to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of nature, while pedalling without too much effort past ruins which recount the history of these ancient locations.

 

The Val d’Orcia Crossing

This is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy and probably of the world too. The Val d’Orcia, in Tuscany, is considered at an international level to be a geographic area of unrivalled beauty, and an area which is also famous throughout the cycling world in that it plays host to a section of the Strade Bianche white gravel road race. The Val d’Orcia Crossing is a 72 km bicycle touring itinerary which does not present any great difficulty, starting from and arriving at Bagno Vignoni, in the province of Siena.

You start with a very short section of the via Cassia before turning right towards Spedaletto, climbing up the course of the Orcia river and then travelling right towards San Piero in Campo. After around 14 km, you reach the road which links Sarteano with Radicofani, where you turn in the direction of Radicofani. This is where you begin one of the few challenging sections of the route, a 2.5 km climb which, at the top, affords a spectacular view across the Val d’Orcia, the Mount Cetona and the Mount Amiata.

You then leave Radicofani, following the descent as far as the S.S. 2 Cassia. From here you turn left towards Bagni San Filippo, a spa resort at the foot of Mount Amiata. Another climb, this time in the direction of Campiglia d’Orcia travelling through the hamlet of Zaccaria, and you continue along a road which offers an extraordinary panorama across the valley as you pedal your way to Castiglione d’Orcia. From here, you return conveniently to your finish point. An extraordinary tour on a road bike in one of the most fascinating places in the world.

 

The Borboni Cycleway

Let us make a complete change of scenery and transport ourselves to the far South, in the province of Bari. The Borboni Cycleway is a long road, more than 300 km long, which links Bari to Naples. What we describe here is just the first stretch, entirely along secondary roads and therefore carrying little traffic. 67 km to be covered on a road bike among some of the most enchanting and historically evocative places in Puglia, for a route which leaves from Bari and arrives at Castel del Monte. The level of difficulty is medium, but the reduced distance means that this can be considered an itinerary suitable for all keen cyclists.

You start from the cycle path of the Viale Unità d’Italia, in Bari. You continue pedalling while keeping an eye open for the signposts to the sanctuary of the Madonna della Grotta, which is worthy of a brief stop in order for you to visit it. After the sanctuary, you turn right and find yourself on a fantastic road which is ideally suited to cyclists: minimal traffic and with amazing landscapes. In this section you will be pedalling alongside blades of karstic rock in shapes created by the runoff of water.

Continuing along the road, you first reach the township of Modugno and from there the ancient farmstead of Balsignano, in the neighbourhood of which was discovered a Neolithic village, the earliest example in Lower Murgia. History, landscapes and sport come together here in a highly interesting mix.

Leaving behind the provincial road you pedal through a thick olive grove and climb without too much difficulty towards Bitetto. After another 4 km you reach the top of Palo del Colle. In order to recuperate after your efforts during the climb, enjoy a lovely descent which brings you straight away towards Palombaio. The road now runs parallel to the main provincial carriageway and all you have to do is carry straight on to reach your destination. Here the surrounding countryside offers a magnificent view over olive groves, vineyards, oak trees and over all the nature which is typical of the region. A bicycle touring route in Puglia of a rare beauty.

 

Conclusion

The routes which we have described are just three of the vast numbers of bicycle touring itineraries in Italy. They are routes adapted for amateur cyclists of every level, mapped out so as not to present any major difficulties, but the advice we give is nevertheless always to pay the greatest attention to every detail: before setting off your bike must be in perfect condition and you should take with you any accessories for racing bikes which might be useful for your itinerary. If you have any doubts about certain aspects of the trip, proper nutrition for a cyclist for example, do not hesitate to ask for advice from experts. Once that’s done… start pedalling and enjoy the splendid landscapes which await you.

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