Lonely Planet Writer

Cycling Italy

cycling_italy1With its mild Mediterranean climate, diversity of terrain, and long history of cycling, it's hard to do better than Italy for a cycling trip. You have your choice of high mountain passes, seaside trails, urban explorations, riverside bike paths, vineyard covered hills, and no matter what you choose all roads seem to magically lead to delicious food and wine.

Travellers planning Italian bike tours commonly show up on the Thorn Tree forum's On Your Bike branch. Among recent threads, you can find one cyclist new to Italy soliciting advice on recommended regions of Italy to explore, another cyclist planning a tour on the narrow mountain roads around Lake Como, and still another plotting a trip out of Siena to explore the countryside of Tuscany.

dolomitesWhen asked for her favourite ride in all of Italy, Ellee Thalheimer, the author of Lonely Planet's Cycling Italy guidebook, picked a route in the Piedmont region out of Sampeyre that stole her heart. "It was at the top of the 18km ascent to Colle Faunaria/dei Morti where I decided that these wild, boulder-strewn valleys and crowds of foreboding, jagged, cloud-grazing mountains were the most awesomely beautiful places I had ever been in the world over the entire course of my life."

If you've toured Italy by bicycle, what are your favourite routes? Do you have any tips for first-timers? If you're planning a trip or simply dreaming of one, what's your fantasy cycling trip through Italy?

[Photos: Tremalzo silhouettes - by GaryColet; Sasso di Longo, Dolomite Alps - by Don Martin]