Writer Alfredo Oriani once claimed, “A bicycle can be well worth a library”. Of course any book-lover will take that statement to be ironic, but bicycles are indeed a great tool for knowledge. Even Hemingway would agree:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
So let’s start pedaling after these thoughts, exploring the ten most beautiful bike trails in Italy.
We start in Liguria, from the smooth Levanto-Bonassola-Framura bike/walk trail. Located in the province of La Spezia, inside the wonderful Cinque Terre National Park, it is also known as “Maremonti” and follows the path of an old coastline railway. An easy, 5-kilometer itinerary between bays and coves, lit galleries and panoramic balconies facing the sea.
For more information about the Levanto-Bonassola-Framura bike/walk Trail: www.comune.levanto.sp.it
Staying in Liguria, we travel west from the Riviera di Levante to the Riviera di Ponente, heading for the Riviera dei Fiori coastline Park’s Bike/walk Trail. Some 25 kilometers long, it traces the old railway that was abandoned in the beginning of this century, starting in Ospedaletti and passing through Sanremo, Arma di Taggia, Riva Ligure and Santo Stefano, finally reaching San Lorenzo al Mare.
For more information on the Riviera dei Fiori coastline Park’s bike/walk Trail: www.area24spa.it
After Liguria we go to Lombardy, where the Lake Varese Bike Trail offers 28 kilometers of well-equipped, easy-to-tackle road, with evocative glimpses into green vegetation and clear blue water. Riding all around the lake allows you to visit various pretty towns and to enjoy the wonderful scenery.
For more information on the Lake Varese Bike Trail: www.vareselandoftourism.com
We make a second stop in Lombardy to explore the Valtellina Pathway, a bike/walk trail that runs along river Adda, from Colico to Bormio. Its 114 kilometers are immersed in nature, in a verdant valley of pristine nature and pure clean air.
For more information on the Valtellina Pathway: sentiero.valtellina.it
Now it’s time to visit Trentino-Alto Adige to try the Val Venosta Bike Trail, an almost completely paved itinerary that takes you between orchards, churches, and castles along the relatively quiet streets that have replaced the ancient Via Claudia Augusta.
We start in Resia, a hamlet under Curon Venosta, and pedal with gusto towards Merano, slightly more than 80 kilometers away.
For more information on the Val Venosta Bike Trail: www.suedtirol-it.com
While in Trentino-Alto Adige, don’t miss the Val Pusteria Bike Trail, whose 60 kilometers connect Rio Pusteria and San Candido, covering an elevation of some 400 meters. From San Candido you can continue for another 44 kilometers, all the way to Lienz, in Austria.
For more information on the Val Pusteria Bike Trail: www.suedtirol-it.com
Now we enter Veneto, where we would like to take you to the Venice Island Bike Lane. From Chioggia, over a 44 kilometer itinerary back to the starting point, you can visit: the island of Pellestrina with the Portosecco village and San Pietro in Volta harbor; the Lido island with its Alberoni Oasis, Malamocco city center, Murazzi, Jewish Cemetery and church of San Nicolò; and finally the island of Sant’Erasmo, where the famous purple artichokes are grown.
For more information about the Venice Island Bike Lane: www.veneto.eu
Venice is a wonderful starting point to go back to Piedmont by bike: follow the 679-kilimeter path from the Lagoon to Turin, the same itinerary of the VenTo Bici Tour, which has just wrapped up its 4th edition. Along its wonderful itinerary in the valley of Italy’s major river, the Po, it was designed by city planning experts from Politecnico di Milano to touches beautiful cities of art (Venice, Ferrara and Mantua) as well as small towns, hamlets and beautiful natural parks.
For more information on the VenTo Bici Tour: www.progetto.vento.polimi.it
We follow the Mincio, Lake Garda’s main emissary, for 45 kilometers, from Peschiera del Garda in Veneto to Mantua in Lombardy. The Peschiera-Mantova Bike Trail is a very easy path that snakes between fields and villages, at the height of its beauty in spring.
For more information on the Peschiera-Mantova Bike Trail: www.mantovatourism.it
Out last stop is in the South, between Apulia and Campania, where a few years ago Fiab (Federazione Italiana Amici della Bicicletta) came up with the concept of the Bourbons’ Bike Trail, a 340-kilometer “coast to coast” itinerary connecting Bari and Naples. This one is a more advanced itinerary, going from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea passing Castel del Monte, the Alta Murgia National Park, Matera, Venosa, Atella, Avellino and many more beautiful locations.
For more information on the Bourbons’ Bike Trail: www.viaggiareinpuglia.it
Photos via: ©www.lunigianawending.com (Pista ciclopedonale Levanto-Bonassola-Framura); ©it.venere.com (Ciclabile Peschiera-Mantova); ©proloco-conversano.blogspot.it (Ciclovia dei Borboni); ©www.veicolielettricimilano.it (Pista ciclopedonale del Parco costiero Riviera dei Fiori); ©www.valtellinaturismo.com (Sentiero Valtellina); ©www.suedtirol-tirol.com (Pista ciclabile della Val Pusteria); ©Daniele Donadelli (Pista ciclabile della Val Venosta); ©Massimo (Pista ciclabile Lago di Varese); ©www.chioggiatv.it (Ciclovia Isole di Venezia)