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ExperiencePlus! Partners with Lonely Planet Italy

by Rick Price - Sunday, August 29, 2010

ExperiencePlus! Partners with Lonely Planet Guidebooks and Europ-Assistance

By Rick Price, Ph.D.

Angelo Pittro, the leader of the Lonely Planet - Bike Party

Igor Baccini, ExperiencePlus! Bike Fleet Manager

Lonely Planet has replaced Baedeker and Frommer (Europe on $5/Day) as one of THE premier guidebook publishers of the 21st century.  Among their book titles is a series of cycling guides in five countries around the world.  They first published the Italy Cycling Guide in 2003 and upgraded it with a second edition in 2009.  ExperiencePlus! assisted author Elle Thalheimer with several of the routes in that edition.

The Lonely Planet doesn’t conduct bicycle tours – they are writers, researchers, editors and publishers.  So it was no surprise when Lonely Planet Italy called ExperiencePlus! this past spring to help them conduct a promotional bike tour across northern Italy.  The occasion was the release of their English guidebook, Cycling Italy, in Italian: Italia in Bicicletta.   The plan was to do a bike tour from Turin, the home base of Lonely Planet Italy, to Senigallia, on the Adriatic Coast south of Rimini.   The idea was that clubs or individuals along the way would join the tour for a day or several days at a time.

Part of the Lonley Planet group.

The ride tied into a live radio broadcast every day so that those listening from home could vicariously travel by bike across northern Italy.  Tourist offices and City offices along the way hosted and celebrated the arrival of the group.  On at least two days in the Piedmont region we enjoyed at least three receptions, including wine and appetizers at local tourist offices.

This was no normal ExperiencePlus! tour.  As partners with Lonely Planet, ExperiencePlus! provided a van with a roof rack, bikes for seven of the Lonely Planet staff and two tour leaders.  We shuttled luggage and did our best to keep the group on track, on time, and o

n route, though for the first few days navigation was in the hands of one of the Lonely Planet staffers.

The biggest challenge for the ExperiencePlus! tour leaders (initially, me –Rick – and Igor Baccini, and later in the week, Stefania Casadei and John Giebler) was to try and satisfy basic needs first – like getting into

Rick Price with Faustino Coppi (Fausto Coppi's son)

the hotel in the evening and scheduling dinner.  This wasn’t always easy as the focus of the Lonely Planet “team” was the radio broadcast and the local publicity every evening at around 7 p.m.   Inevitably our local hosts whisked us off for a guided tour of the City, castle or local museum – “just 30 minutes” – they promised us.  Then an hour and a half later we snuck away to either go to dinner or get to our hotel and shower before dinner!  More than once the group sat down for dinner at 10 p.m!

While the ExperiencePlus! team worried about logistics, bikes, luggage, and trying to keep to a schedule the Lonely Planet team focused on their public relations mission.  Angelo Pittro, head of the group shown in the adjacent photo accepting a bottle of Barbera from the Mayor of Castagnole, Piedmont, focused on his daily radio broadcast while others blogged about our ride, fired off press releases and organized our daily events.

The trip was a success judging from the fact that Lonely Planet Italy sold more Cycling Italy books through June than they had projected for the entire year!

Read more about Lonely Planet’s cycling guidebooks.

If you want to practice your Italian you can read about our Lonely Planet Italy tour in June 2010 here:  The Italy “Bike Party”.

Rick Price - Rick Price, and his wife, Paola Malpezzi Price, founded Bike Across Italy in 1972, Italian Specialty Tours, Inc. in 1985 and ExperiencePlus! Specialty Tours, Inc. in 1993, though they sold the latter over to their daughters Monica and Maria Elena in 2008. Rick holds a Ph.D. in Geography and has designed bike tours all over the world. Finally, in 2009 he realized a lifelong dream of becoming a certified “League Cycling Instructor,” with the League of American Bicyclists. He is now Safe Cycling Coordinator for the Bike Co-op in Fort Collins, Colorado where he also writes a monthly column on Smart Cycling for the Fort Collins, Coloradoan. If you would like to contact Rick or Paola you can e-mail them at Rick(a)ExperiencePlus.com.