Touring - Questions About Touring Italy
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01-06-09, 09:48 PM
I'm planning a bike tour of Italy in September and sure would appreciate any advice, links, resources etc. Planning on a 3 week trip, to include Tuscanny, maybe Umbria & Abruzzo (I'll also be visiting Potenza, in the south, only because my grandfather was born there, probably need to put my bike on a train to fit it in). I'm a pretty fit biker who can work up to 80 - 100 miles/ day but prefer shorter days, will be bringing my own bike & gear, and plan on camping and going cheap. A few specific questions I have are:
Where can I get good cycling maps? Ideally one that shows grades and prevailing winds(and/ or a good guide book)
Should I fly into Rome, or is it not very bike friendly? Any other suggestions?
If I do fly into Rome, any suggestions for a good, cheap place to stay? And should I just get a train out of there when I'm ready to leave?
Is it easy to find camping? Average price I should expect to pay?
How much ground is it reasonable to expect to cover in 3 weeks?
Any and all ideas welcome. Thanks!!
Touring Club Italiano publishes excellent regional maps in a 1:200,000 scale that I found excellent for cycle touring. They don't have quite the level of detail that you seem to want, but I found them more than adequate for one tour around Tuscany/Umbria and one around Sicily. Get them from Trek Tools (http://www.trektools.com/default.asp) or order them direct from the TCI website. Michelin map #735 covers the whole country in 1:1,000,000 scale and is good for getting an idea of how far apart things are.
If you're visiting Tuscany, I would consider flying into Florence. Small airport, easy bicycle access to and from the city center, and it's a beautiful city, worth spending a few days in at either end of your tour.
Taking bicycles on trains in Italy is not as simple as it could be. The only trains that will take an unboxed bicycle are the slower regional/local trains, the high speed long distance trains won't take bicycles.The Trenitalia (http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/) website will tell you which trains take bikes and help you plan your trip.
My suggestion would be to fly into Florence or Pisa, ride through Tuscany and Umbria as far as you feel like, then get on a train to Potenza, then fly home from Bari. Try to stay longer than 3 weeks, Italy is worth spending a lot of time in.
FWIW, British Airways seems to be the last major airline that will take bicycles free of charge. They've taken good care of my bicycle on two transatlantic journeys, hopefully they'll do the same this spring.
This page contain 15 links to information about bike touring in Italy (http://www.biketouringtips.com/searchTips.html?country=Italy&state=&place=&id=&subtopic=). Not all of them will be of interest to you but several provide excellent detail about Italy.
While I've been to Italy several times, I've never ridden a bike there. Rome is not a place I'd ride a bike (or even drive a car!) but it is a fabulous place to visit for a few days (don't expect to see everything there). Don't miss the Vatican and its art museum, the Roman Forum, the Borghese Museum (book in advance on-line).
Rome is full of cheap accommodations but don't expect to put your bike in your room as it will be tiny. I'd suggest looking on www.couchsurfing.com or www.hospitalityclub.org for people willing to host you for a few days (for free).
Don't miss Florence (Firenze) and expect to spend a few days there, as well.
It it one of the places high on my list of touring destinations.
Have a great trip!
I've been through Italy a couple of times and found it a great place to bike. I've used Michelin maps +/-1:200,000 and found them good enough any smaller and you'll need to carry too many.
Flying into any big city will always have its problems, if you can find smaller airports (Florence, Pisa, Milan, etc...) use them.
Try and include as many national parks as possible, http://www.parks.it/indice/NatParks.html
I like to also recomend the SR222 between Florence and Seina.
I/we found most campings in Italy to be expensive and of poor quality and away from the coast hard to find, don't trust the net call before to make sure they are open, and check out the place before you accept and pay.
Journals and tips on our page.
01-07-09, 06:52 AM
Touring Club Italiano maps are widely agreed to be the best for biking in Italy. Do a quick search on this forum for a recent as well as older discussions.
I actually biked through Potenza years ago with 3 others while riding from Bari west to the Amalfi coast. It was a hill town, on top of a big ridge, though I don't recall it being all that difficult to get to. We spent the night camping on the outskirts of town. Throughout the region, locals would come up to us and warn us that everyone else in their town was a thief and that we needed to watch our stuff carefully. We never had a problem.
01-07-09, 12:37 PM
I live in North Western Italy (town:Novara, usually known as the De Agostini Atlas Books home and for the rice fields all around).
1. The best cycling maps for Italy are provided by Touring Club Italiano. You can easily get them by www.ibs.it (http://www.ibs.it/), great service and low prices, international shipping is usually provided.
Also the Club Alpino Italiano (Italian Alps Club, www.cai.it (http://www.cai.it/)) is a very good source especially if you want to go across the central Italy mountains like the Gran Sasso Rock or the Appennini landscapes. I am a proud member of it and I could help you to get the right map from the CAI publications.
The best guide book to Italy should be (in my opinion) the Routard guide. It would allow you to avoid any sort of bad experience as a tourist (a great attention of this guide is focused on the restaurants and the hotels or campings, probably the things you have to be more careful for your wallet in Italy).
2.Avoid landing in Rome. The Fiumicino Airport -Rome is probably the worst road ever. Pay also attention to your bike for city-based thieves.
Many holes on the paved roads. N-e- v- e- r bike at night in Rome, no cycle tracks, poor road lights, bad and angry drivers. Believe me.
3.Camping costs: the price may vary but the average is 15 € per night, tent included.
No optionals like laundry or common kitchen are usually provided.
It is not possible to reserve your place. Just go to the camping gate and ask the guys.
A good camping list is www.campeggi.com (http://www.campeggi.com/).
4.Trains: you can take your bike on the train for € 3,50 per day (it doesn't matter where you go, just add it to the passenger tarifs) but the only trains you can use are the Inter Regional or Regional ones, that usually connect the biggest towns and sometimes also the small villages. You are not allowed to take your bike on High Speed (haha) or Intercity trains. Good idea should be taking the train from Siena to Rome.
Contact me if you need more infos and sorry to everybody for my poor English.
(My Dawes Horizon is coming from England!!!!!)
01-07-09, 02:38 PM
MANY, MANY THANKS! Grazie! I have some homework to do, but already I can see you've all saved me some headaches with the good advice, thanks so much!
02-06-09, 06:59 AM
Current edition of Italy by Bike (by Touring Club of Italy) is available on Amazon for only $14.95!
I haven't been cycling in Italy before, but I have run across this website which has some pretty good information about suggested European cycle touring itineraries, including one in Tuscany and Umbria:
02-07-09, 11:57 AM
You might want to consider flying into Milan instead of Rome. The roads around the airport are reasonably bike friendly. Once you get several miles away from the airport then roads start to becaome very bike friendly.
Wherever you decide to fly, this site
can be very useful. It is a list of tourist offices, write down the addresses of the offices in the cities you plan tp visit. They can be extremely helpful in finding places to stay and even providing a lot of cool maps. But also, for some offices, you wonder why they bother.
P.S. I also have tentative plans for September. I will probably do the lake region.
02-10-09, 03:55 PM
I am also going to Italy in September - wish I had 3 weeks! I'll be doing Rome, Tuscany and Calabria by bike and train. I would suggest 50 miles per day plus or minus to really enjoy what you're cycling through, instead of just cycling through it. Try Bikeroutetoaster.com for routing, elevation profiles and the abilty to export to gps and Google Earth. It is a blast to "fly" over your route in Google earth, and the detail in Italy is much better than many places in the states.
http://radreise-wiki.de/Italien here find some information about Italy (it's German)
Maps = Karten
Railway = Bahn
some other links are also interessting (in Italian)
02-11-09, 10:27 AM
My wife and I road around Italy for a month in '05, mostly in the South. If you do fly into Rome, there is a good campground in Ostia, a very short bike ride away. We stayed there, then just kept riding south along the coast, leaving Rome proper for later on. Also, I think that you can easily get into the city by train from Ostia. We did later on do some riding around Rome, but it was an adventure. Also, there is a campground on the western side of the city that is pretty nice and we managed to ride from there to the Airport pretty easily to head home.
The TCI maps others have mentioned are great. I was surprised, though, that they are not real easy to find on the go over there. There is another brand of map was much more common and definitely inferior. So, I would suggest getting at least some maps beforehand. A couple of US stores sell them online.
Camping was more expensive than expected and often for not much more, we could get a tent or cabin. So, maybe just leave the tent at home.
09-05-09, 02:44 AM
also heading to Italy for a quick tour from Tuscany to Assisi (or the other way around). we're flying into Rome with our folding bikes.
does anyone have experience with any hotels etc. there who are or would be willing to hang on to our suitcases for a week?
I've read about people finding hoteliers willing to do that but space is so often limited in europe...
I would advise you (and anyone else... especially myself) to avoid Napoli (Naples)... It is in my opinion the most horrible, dangerous hole in Europe (if not in the world)... YMMV (though I can't understand how ;) hihi
09-11-09, 02:43 AM
in case anyone is still watching this thread: only semi-related by i've found that the Rome Airport has a left luggage area for 4-8 euros a day depending on the size of your bags. Easier I think than towing the suitcase trailer...
09-11-09, 02:51 AM
In 6 days we saw seven major car accidents.. Say your prayers.. Tuscanny seemed a little saner than points south. I'd use your map well to find back country roads with wide shoulders.. Other than that, Italy was beautiful.
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