We love cycling …
Since more than 25 years, it is our way to let go and leave behind.
On the other hand, by cycling we get closer to who we are. We enjoy the intense contact with nature, the surprises along the road, the little hidden treasures of city’s or people we meet on our way. This year we decided to collaborate with Bici & Vacanze tour operator to plan the trip and to care for the hotel bookings and luggage transport. This was totally new for us and after having organized everything ourselves for years, it was an adventure to rely on others.
Our first contact with Paola from Bici&Vacanze was warm and sincerely, she took the time to understand our expectations and needs.
Paola did send us a faithful guide on our entire trip and a navigation file, which we downloaded in Komoot, our favorite navigation tool. We decided to drive our own race bikes, and travelled by car to Milan, our starting place. We were eager to start the 7 day tour, discovering the roads between Milan and Venice. Visiting Venice in the end was our intention.
Here is the story of our trip with Bici & Vacanze
Day 1 > Cologne
Our first day’s target was Cologne, 85 km from Milan where we spend the night. The first morning, it was a wonderful surprise to discover the small road, starting at only 300 m from our hotel, along a small canal. This road would guide us for more then 34km. The canal had clear water, with small fishes.
All along the canal, we saw very diverse people living along, walking, running, cycling, children playing in playgrounds, elderly people resting on a bank and so much more. It was a wonderful mix of people of all ages we crossed on the sometimes wider and sometimes very narrow road along the canal. We enjoyed it and stopped regularly to read the info panels about the historic scenes we passed.
Our first day ended in Cologne, where we stayed (steep) uphill in an ancient monastery, transferred into a fancy hotel with refreshing pool. We enjoyed a nice glass of Franciacorta wine and had a very good diner.
Cappucini Resort – Cologne
Day 2 > Sirmione
The second day would bring us from Cologne to Sirmione at the Lago Garda.
We started descending from the monastery after an English breakfast. Soon we would be cycling in the Franciacorta vineyards.
The navigation on our Iphone (Komoot app) guided us along wonderful little roads with almost no traffic except for little towns and villages where we shared the cycling paths with pedestrians.
The roads went up and down and the Alps in the distance seemed to get closer and closer.
Paderno Franciacorte Gussago
We had lunch in Brescia and were astonished by the beauty of the city. Ancient buildings often very nicely restored in small but crowded roads made the city bridal.
As we went on, it was a relief to discover the Garda lake ahead as we reached Lonato. We cycled 80 km (with 370 meters elevation) that day and were quite tired.
Lonato with view on the Garda lake
As we had never seen (or even heard of) Sirmione, we could hardly believe our eyes, discovering the small island with narrow streets, tiny houses, shops and ancient buildings, … amazing.
But most of all the peaceful view after sunset of the Garda lake was fascinating.
As for diner, finding a restaurant was easy, choosing one was more of a challenge …
Day 3 > Verona
On the third day our target was Verona, 61 km and 445 meters of elevation, to the east.
We passed again lots of peaceful vineyards including a remarkable monument: the Torre de San Martino della Battaglia.
Torre de San Martino della Battaglia
Following a beautiful bike path along the river Fiume Mincio, we passed Borghetto, a medieval village. As it was a holiday, the village was quite crowded, so we did not visit it, just took some pictures at the entrance.
Not very far after having passed Borghetto, we did have lunch in a small place, called Valeggio sul Mincio. The pastries were delicious!
We arrived in Verona early in the afternoon, and could hardly wait to visit the old town and enjoy the atmosphere of the bustling city. A lot of tourists attended the opera.
Verona by night
Day 4 > Vincenza
On the 4th day we drove to Vicenza, a trip of 78 km (and 270 meters elevation). The weather was fine as always, sunny all day long, we experienced Italy as it looked like in our dreams …
San Pancratio Typical gravel roads
This view on the road Via Capitello towards Montegaldella, shows that quit a bit of the roads were covered with gravel. We enjoyed their calmness. Despite our race bikes, driving them went excellent. Cycling gravel roads along the Adige river
Along the way we also passed Soave and were impressed by its mighty medieval castle.
At Vicenza we stayed in the Palazzo Scamozzi hotel, situated right in the center of the city. We enjoyed walking around very much, visiting ancient buildings, the marketplace and as always, some fancy shops …
Again, we found a small restaurant to have diner and enjoyed the simple but delicious Italian food.
Day 5 > Padova
On our last cycling day we drove to Padova, a trip of 85 km and hardly elevation.
Instead of taking the straight way to Padova, we chose to drive around the Parco Regionale dei Colli Euganei. Although it extended our trip with almost 40 km, it turned out to be a good choice, since we drove splendid roads and had wind in the back on the last part …
The road was often gravel, and sometimes even worse … but no problem to keep up the pace …
Along the road we passed nice places like Este, Battaglia Terme and Monselice, always worth while stopping and observing.
In Este we had lunch with view on this medieval castle
At Battaglia Terme, we saw a splendid castle along the way called Catello di Lispida, and another one a bid further: Castello del Catajo.
Arriving in Padova, we immediately fell in love with the town: a relaxing atmosphere, lots of interesting things to see like the oldest university of Italy.
As the authentic character of the city was that attractive to us, we decided not to go to Venice and spend an extra relaxing day on the spot. We took the time to visit all kinds of interesting places and enjoyed the culinary specialties.
The Padova university
Nice places to eat
The fabulous greenhouse in the Botanical garden at Padova
Back to Milan
Next morning, we took our luggage and bikes to the station and had a relaxing trip back to Milan. There Bici & Vacanze waited for us at the train station to debrief. As our car was safely parked in the covered parking lot of the hotel, we smoothly got on our way back home.
We had a splendid holiday!
We loved the service of Bici & Vacanze, arriving in our hotel, our luggage was always in our room waiting for us, the roads where super beautiful and calm, the villages we passed all worthwhile to visit and spend more time at. The advised restaurants where authentic places where we enjoyed the warm Italian atmosphere and good honest food and wine. We however had to book early enough to obtain a table.
Our favorite hotels were by far Cappuccine Resort in Cologne and the Palazzo Scamozzi in Vicenze. We also liked the Casa Giotto in Padova, although the breakfast arrangement didn’t work out that well for us.
Maybe some feedback on the cycling aspect: finding your way with a navigation app like Komoot is very easy. However, you need to pay attention on roundabouts (not to lose the right direction: Komoot tends to get confused on wide roundabouts) and you might want to have an overview over the whole track along the way (like one traditional map per day).
Another point is that preparing your trip by pointing out upfront the points of interest saves time and ensures you don’t miss out too much.
We learned that in Italian cities cyclists and pedestrians often share the same road. As Belgians we are not used to cycle on the sidewalk, so in those occasions we needed all our concentration.
To be short and clear, we loved it and will definitely come back to explore more using the great service of Paola, Davide and their team.
Making this trip has been a wonderful experience, we are already busy planning another trip, probably into the direction of Siena.
Alda&Jan- Belgium – September 2021