Categories: Reviews, Travel Planning

Touring Club Italiano (TCI)

by Rick Price - Wednesday, November 5, 2014 Touring Club Italiano maps

Paola and I just returned from two weeks in Puglia, the “heel” of Italy, where we explored small towns, villages and the regional capital of Bari relying mostly on guidebooks and maps published by the Touring Club Italiano (or TCI).

If you are not familiar with TCI you should take a look at both their guidebooks and their maps.  TCI began life as a bicycle touring club in 1894 when bicycle touring was all the rage in Europe.   Since then TCI has built a reputation for producing some of the best maps in Europe and a series of guidebooks and interpretive travel books of Italy that are unparalleled.

Maps

If you are headed to Italy on your own to bicycle, to rent a car or just travel by train and bus you will want to make use of the TCI maps of Italy.  At a scale of 1:200,000 (one centimeter equals 2 kilometers) the entire country is covered in fourteen regional maps (fourteen instead of the twenty regions since some maps combine two regions).   While this scale is inadequate for hiking or mountain biking it is perfect for road cycling and for exploring by car.

Buy these maps at a good map store or online at Amazon or elsewhere by searching TCI Italy Map, then the region.  Come on a bike tour in Italy with ExperiencePlus! and we’ll provide you with a TCI map of the region you are cycling through.

Guidebooks

The guidebook options through TCI are more complex.  Over the last 120 years TCI has published an encyclopedic array of guidebooks and books on the history and geography of Italy specifically for travelers.  One of the best things about these books is that TCI employed Italian academic geographers to write much of the content in them.   The result is a series of books full of great content, interpretive information, history and geography.

On our recent trip to Puglia, for example, we used the Puglia Red Guide (2005 edition – there is a newer 2008 edition).   We also used volume 3 (southern Italy) of Dentro l’Italia, Piccole città, borghi e villaggi (2008 edition).  This book contains wonderful descriptions of small, off-the-beaten-track villages, planned towns, and fortress villages that don’t normally make it into the bigger guides.

Unfortunately these books are only in Italian.  If you have a little Italian and want to improve your reading ability the “Dentro l’Italia” series would be good.  But if you don’t have a solid base in Italian you would find the Red Guides overwhelming.  The Puglia guide alone is 520 pages of densely packed information.

If you don’t read Italian at all an alternative to these exist in English.  For about a decade beginning in the late 1990s TCI published guides in English but the series has, apparently, been discontinued.  These books are good, though, so it is worth buying an older edition.  Information on hotels and restaurants will be outdated but the principal content is current.

Look for these series in English:

Authentic Italy,” including separate volumes for Tuscany, All Italy, Rome, Sardinia, Piedmont and Val d’Aosta, and Sicily.

Guides to Italy,” including volumes on the following cities and their provinces: Ferrara, Mantua, Ravenna, Forli-Cesena and Reggio Emilia.

And the “Heritage Guides,” including Milan & Turin, Venice, Italy in General and Florence.

Buy all of these online from TCI or Amazon.  Amazon has used copies as well for as little as a penny each.

Tags: , ,

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 passed the latter to their daughters Monica and Maria Elena in 2008. Rick holds a Ph.D. in Geography and has designed bike tours in many countries around the world. In 2006 he founded Bike Fort Collins together with other local bicycle advocates and in 2007/08 he joined the board of the Fort Collins Bike Co-op where he launched the Fort Collins Safe Routes to School Program. For five years, beginning in 2010 Rick wrote a monthly column on Smart Cycling for the Fort Collins, Coloradoan. Paola retired as department head of the Foreign Languages and Literatures Dept. at Colorado State University in 2014. Since then the adventuresome couple has bicycled in Albania, Mongolia, Cuba, France, and Italy and has travelled broadly in China, Uzbekistan, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Canada and the western US, including Alaska. If you would like to contact Rick or Paola you can e-mail them at Rick(a)ExperiencePlus.com.

Awards, Memberships and Reviews