Hidden Italy: Bicycling the Art Cities of Northern Italy

  • Itinerary Summary

    The Po Valley separates Alpine Italy from the Apennine Mountains, which form the geologic backbone of Italy. This ride takes us across the fascinating, flat Po Valley starting in the ceramics town of Faenza, then traveling through the important Renaissance city of Ferrara, and the fortified village of Montagnana, to the famous wine village of Soave.
    View Day-by-Day Itinerary
    Hide Day-by-Day Itinerary
    1. Day 1: Meet in Faenza, bike fitting and loop ride

      Highlights: Faenza, international town of ceramics

      We'll meet this afternoon in the heart of Faenza, right on the Apennine foothills. Faenza is famous throughout the world for its special ceramics, majolica, and as you wander the streets you'll see the historical patterns from the 15th century in studios side by side with modern designs. Take time to sit in a café and watch life go by in the immense town square before fitting bikes this afternoon and taking a test ride. This evening we'll get together for introductions and our welcome dinner at one of the best restaurants in town. Mileage: Your choice 25-30km (15-18 miles).

    2. Day 2: Loop ride from Faenza

      Highlights: Olive oil tasting in Brisighella, International Ceramics Museum

      We enjoy a picturesque ride this morning to the medieval town of Brisighella, famous for its olive oil. You'll want to stroll in the medieval square and walk along the famous Via degli Asini (the medieval street of the donkeys). Then we'll stop at the ExperiencePlus! European Headquarters and Malpezzi farm to enjoy a picnic lunch and a pasta-making demonstration, where you'll have a chance to try your hand at rolling out the dough. After lunch, explore the family vineyards and peach orchards, take a nap under a shade tree, and enjoy a glass of good, local sweet wine. Back in Faenza, take time this afternoon to visit the International Ceramics Museum or explore some of the local pottery studios. Your tour leader will suggest some of our favorite places for dinner on your own tonight. Mileage: 55km (34 miles).

    3. Day 3: Argenta

      Highlights: The bread basket of Italy, bicycle along the Po valley

      For most of the day, our route heads northeast into the Po River valley. Have a taste of history as we pass by the old town of Bagnacavallo; stop in the center of town for a bite to eat before continuing on. We're riding among fertile fields and abandoned farm houses today, in one of the most important food-producing regions in Italy. Watch for several dozens of different birds that inhabit these wetlands, from herons and egrets to hawks and lapwings. Our home tonight is Argenta, an important Roman settlement that controlled access from the north of Italy to the south since it was on one of the only dry points in the Po Delta, which was surrounded by swamps and marshes that limited access. Mileage: 75 km (46 miles).

    4. Day 4: Ferrara

      Highlights: Fertile fields, Renaissance Ferrara

      Ride below sea level today! We're in low valleys that used to be swamp and marsh areas before being settled and "dried" to become reclaimed fertile farm land. Instead of swamps now, you'll see plenty of canals that irrigate the fields. We ride by dozens of old massive farm houses, which once housed extended families and farm animals but are now abandoned stone and brick giants that stand guard over fields and canals. Today, farmers live in the small farm villages through which we'll pass; stop for a cappuccino or an ice cream at the local gelateria! Tonight we'll be in Renaissance Ferrara, one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Italy - you'll feel right at home. Dinner is together tonight. Mileage: 52km (32 miles).

    5. Day 5: Ferrara

      Highlights: Ferrara loop ride

      Stay in town and visit this beautiful art city, or take a ride along the 15th and 16th century city walls that almost completely surround the city. Or maybe you'd like to take a loop ride into the Po Delta and along the Po river levee, the longest river in Italy. Back in Ferrara, make sure to visit the imposing Este Castle in the middle of town, which was built by the most powerful family in Ferrara in the 14th century. You'll also enjoy visiting the 12th century cathedral and the Renaissance center of town. Ferrara has also historically been an important Jewish city; so take time to walk around the Jewish neighborhood, known as the "ghetto," which was built in the 17th century. Dinner tonight is on your own; we will suggest a variety of trattorie and restaurants. Mileage: 37km (23 miles).

    6. Day 6: Montagnana

      Highlights: Fortified farmhouses, peaceful levee roads, 14th century Montagnana

      We'll cross the Po today right out of Ferrara and ride along its levee before crossing the Adige River (made famous in Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms). Once across the rivers, we ride by fortified farm houses, which were built as small fortresses to hold off attacks from invaders and to protect grain and farm animals. Our destination is Montagnana, one of the best preserved fortress towns in Europe. The town's perfectly preserved walls date from the 14th century and include twenty-four watchtowers. Enjoy strolling the streets of this miniature planned town this afternoon. Mileage: 60km (37 miles).

    7. Day 7: Soave

      Highlights: Soave wine region, final hill ride, wine tasting

      We'll continue along the plains today, riding toward the foothills where we find Soave, another Roman town that has intact medieval walls. The cultivation begins to change as we head farther north; we'll ride through fruit orchards and finally vineyards that produce the famous white wine of the area. Anybody wanting extra hill mileage can head into the hills for as long as they want! Otherwise, walk up above the town to the dominating Soave castle for a view into the hills and across the valley through which we rode. Before a special farewell dinner tonight, we'll visit a historic wine cellar to learn how wine is made and taste the delicious product. Mileage: 50 km (31 miles) with additional mileage possible. Climbing on the regular route is less than 2 km.

    8. Day 8: Shuttle to Verona

      Highlights: Buon viaggio!

      Soave is close to Verona and Vicenza and not too far from Venice, so whatever your plans are, you have ample options to continue exploring medieval walls or fascinating cities. We'll provide a shuttle to Verona so you can continue your travels or head home. Buon viaggio!

    • Highlights

      Ceramic town of Faenza, Ferrara, Soave wine region, Po River National Park - Argenta, 14th century Montagnana, home-made pasta
    • Includes

      8 days, 7 nights accommodation, 4 dinners with wine, 1 picnic lunch, 7 breakfasts, 1 wine tasting plus "The Usual"
    • Countries

    • Begin/End

    • Arrive/Depart

      Bologna, Venice, Milan
    • Total Distance

      374 - 402 kilometers (230 - 248 miles).
    • Daily Distance

      37 - 56 kilometers (23 - 35 miles).
    • Rating

    • Terms

      Terms & Conditions
  • Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes

    * We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

  • Stories

    • Walls, Wine and More

      Our two newest tours in Italy promise fascinating medieval walled cities, famous local wines, and scenic rides you won't forget.

Find a Tour:

Explore Map