11 Things I Love About Bicycling Venice and the Dolomitesby ExperiencePlus! - Thursday, June 5, 2014
By ExperiencePlus! Tour Leader Gabriel Donati
Looking for a bicycle ride that crosses cultural and geographical regions? Where you’ll see a radical change in scenery from the first to the last day? A ride that takes you from the seaside with sand and beaches, to alpine landscapes and quite possibly snow? Oh, and did I mention what comes in between: small towns, beautiful natural settings, and cultural highlights. Benvenuti to Venice and the Dolomites!
This captivating ride has a 301 difficulty rating. It includes three 40+ mileage days and you should expect some climbing as you approach the heart of the Dolomites but the first 5 days are pretty flat and on quiet, secondary roads. One of the cycling highlights of the trip is the option to do the four famous passes of the Sella Massif! Less experienced riders can opt out of this day and still join in the Sella Ronda or just enjoy relaxing. Though I should warn you that most riders who thought they might skip the ride have found that the excitement of attempting one of the most famous routes in cycling history and being surrounded by such beauty gets them on the bike to give it a go. The landscapes are spectacular… enough to make you forget about all the effort and sweat!
Here are 11 things I love about this ride.
There’s no way to describe the uniqueness of Venice whose regents held power over the seas for almost four centuries, both in the Adriatic and Mediterranean. The reign of the dukes /dogi is over but Venice is still one of the most attractive cities in the world and an important cultural and innovative cultural center (with the biennale and its film festival).
The first few ride gives you a glimpse of how Italians spend their time on vacation! You’ll ride along the Lido di Jesolo and explore the delightful town of Caorle located just a few kilometers away. Caorle is one of my favorite seaside locations, it has a gorgeous leaning tower, and is quite simply a handsome little town with intriguing Venetian origins.
San Dona di Piave, where we spend a night, was completely destroyed during WWI and is a sad reminder of Italian history. The river divided the Italian troops from the Austro-Hungarians and you’ll see how the fascist architecture during reconstruction dramatically changed the profile of the old town.
Castelfranco Veneto is a very small preserved medieval town that developed around its castle which may be familiar to art lovers as the home town of Giorgione who founded the Venetian school of Italian Renaissance painting with his younger brother Titian.
It’s shopping time! Today you’ll visit one of the largest jersey factories in Italy and Europe. This is the opportunity to see how bike jerseys are made starting from the design to the finished product. More interesting is the fact that these jerseys are deeply discounted as we are at the manufacturer and make a perfect souvenir.
You’ll also bike through a very small, but very famous wine region known for producing Prosecco (Valdobbiadene’s Prosecco) and specifically the region where the Italian Spritz comes from. Mix some Proescco with Aperol and you have your spritz! We can’t leave the region without a winery visit to learn how Prosecco is produced.
If you are into the bike mechanics you have to stop and visit Mr. Sanvido’s private collection. He has probably collected and restored more bikes than anyone else in Italy and has some unique pieces.
You’ll discover why UNESCO honored the Dolomites with World Heritage status. Their magnificence makes them a natural monument! We’ll spend the night in Cortina d’ampezzo, which is considered Italy’s version of Aspen.
Next up Corvara – You are now in Trentino Alto Adige. This is the heart of the Dolomites and the home of the Gruppo Sella massive, which hosts thousands of cyclists each year to ride the Sella Ronda when the road is closed to vehicles.
After the Sella Massif we descend to the Alto Adige region, where Italian is the second language after German and where there is also a third language – Ladino. You’ll also note differences in the architecture, food and drink – it’s as if you’ve been suddenly transported to Austria. Enjoy a well-deserved beer, and some delicious Wurstel and Strudel!
Bicycling Venice and the Dolomites is your opportunity to ride from sea, to farmland, to lively medieval towns, wine regions, pre-alpine and alpine natural monuments. A perfect vacation for all those who would like to know Italy far from the main art cities (except for Venice, of course), in two regions that are charming, diverse, and very friendly!