Italy has a great cycling culture and while bicycle touring in Italy expect to meet other cyclists along the journey. While signed bike trails are few you will find drivers surprisingly courteous. This is one of the most popular destinations for European bicycle touring.
The Top 5 Bicycle Touring in Italy Routes
Tuscany – one of the top bicycle touring destinations in the world. There are no signed bicycle routes in Tuscany although there are many quiet and scenic, yet hilly roads, so expect major climbs. In the southern region most cycling is in the area between Montepolciano and Montalcino. In the central area between Siena and Florence is exceptionally good for bicycle touring as it is the northwest in the Lucca area. my experiences about riding in Tuscany.
Umbria – located next to Tuscany and it’s easy to include both when bicycle touring in Italy in this area. Many people head for Perugia, known for fine chocolates, hilltop Todi and Assisi, a religious center. This is a hilly region so expect many nice climbs. However I was amazed by the large number of cyclists in the southern part near Terni and there are now bike path in the area between Spleto and Norcia.
Puglia – bike touring along the rugged Adriatic coastline. The countryside features olive groves, charming white walled villages. The area is known for its excellent seafood.
Veneto – The terrain is mostly flat and there are some short bike paths. A lot of history is to be found in Bassano del Grappa with its famous liqueur; Asolo and its elegant homes, Stra with its many villa, Padua with one of the world’s oldest universities. Finally there is Venice, that magical city placed on islands where cycling down the Lido is a real treat. If looking for some easy bicycle touring of Italy this is a great option, see details on my ride through the Veneto.
Piemonte – with rolling terrain in a quiet area known for its fine truffles, cheeses and excellent chocolate. The Alps serve as a backdrop as you visit medieval towns surrounded by vineyards.
Plus there are bicycle paths in Rome, particularly along the River Tiber and I saw many cyclists in the Vatican area.
General Information on Bicycle Touring in Italy
When is the best time for bicycle touring in Italy?
The months of April to June in the spring and September to October in the fall are the best times. Attractions are not as busy, the temperatures are not as hot and accommodation is easier to find.
The official language is Italian. The only issues I sometimes encounter is in restaurants where there is no English menu, which happens frequently. However, dishes such as pizza, lasagna and vino are easy to understand in any language.
Many travel companies offer guided tours (in English) and self guided tours in Italy. All the regions listed above have guided tours, especially Tuscany along with other regional tours such as Sardinia.
Cyclists must have at least two independently operating brakes, a bell, a red tail light, headlight, yellow reflectors on the pedals. Front and rear lights must be turned on at nightfall. There is no helmet law for cyclists but I highly recommend the use of a helmet, especially if you travel on roads shared by other vehicles. Many local cyclists just wear a cap. When bicycle touring you in Italy you may not use the autoroutes. Always check for current laws.
Where do I stay along the way?
Most hotels along the major bike routes can provide an area to lock your bicycle overnight and are used to and welcome cyclists. I recommend using Tiscover and Logis hotels who represent many small hotels, bed and breakfasts and farm accommodation, see our resources section.
Should I rent or bring my own bike?
Rent, there are many quality locations around Italy although I have personally done it both ways. For examples, touring bicycles can be rented from Girolibero in many locations. Their head office is located in Venezia.
How can I transport my bike while in Italy?
Italian trains (except expresses) do carry bicycles. I have found that the trains can be very busy on weekends on some routes so book in advance. You do need to purchase a ticket for your bicycle and load it on the train yourself.
Going bicycle touring in Italy is very popular and for a good reason, the people and the countryside are both welcoming.