Touring - Italy dangerous?
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I usually tour in Germany, but am looking for something a bit different. I've been to Italy once (non-cycling), and really like it, but I did a quick Google yesterday, and the only things I found seemed to suggest that the infrastructure for cyclists was poor and the traffic a nightmare.
I'm thinking of something that would maybe go from Pisa, taking in Florence and Bologna to Venice.
Anyone any experience of a route like this and can advice on the general conditions?
06-03-11, 03:06 AM
I'm curious what you found on Google that leads you to conclude Italy is a dangerous place to cycle: Giro crashes in the news? By definition, if it's newsworthy, it's unusual. Why do you suppose Italy is such a popular place for bike tours if it's so dangerous?
Back in the mid-90s I did a Pisa to Venice tour with Experience Plus. The only moderately hairy part was riding in rush-hour traffic in Florence. Even that wasn't so bad.
I don't know what part of the world you're from, but there are lots of roads I rode quite comfortably in Italy that, transplanted to Northern California, with Northern California drivers, I'd consider a death trap.
Disclaimer: I operate bike tours in Piedmont, Italy: Agile Compass Cycling Tours (http://agile-compass.com/italy-bike-tours-piedmont.html).
Nah, go for it. I've ridden a couple of times through Italy. Not my favourite country (other reasons than traffic), but the traffic is no better/worse than Spain or France.
The only place I've been in the world where I would NEVER ride through -or visit again- is Naples. A dangerous nightmare DUMP of a city in my humble opinion... Sorry if this offends any Neopolitans.
Actually cyclists are held in pretty high respect in Italy. You'll see many elderly gentleman in full racing kit and CF bikes on their recreational rides. They go in for it in a great way. :)
06-03-11, 03:23 PM
As long as you avoid the large cities, there is nothing to worry about. Italian drivers are horrible to one another but when is comes to cyclists they could not be more courteous. Of course there is the occasional exception. You meet more of the jerks as you get closer to town. But this is pretty much the rule everywhere.
IMHO go! You will have a fantastic time.
I cycled around Tuscany and Umbria a few years back and had a ball- no cycling infrastructure to speak of, but plenty of quiet roads and drivers were very considerate of cyclists. My only annoyance was that Italian drivers like to use their horn to let you know they're coming (actually, they use their horns for a lot of things, but that's another story). It's not done as an expression of hostility like here in the US, but it still gets irritating.
Get good maps (like the TCI regional maps), stay on small roads, and you should be fine.
Traffic in Florence is a bit crazy, it's very congested, the streets aren't too well marked and there are a million one way streets everywhere, but I still managed OK. The only problem is the Vespa riders, they tend to play by their own set of rules.
Thanks for that. I had seemed to remember reading in the past about people touring in Italy, but then, when looking at it again, came across this, which is what made me think:
I think I found another post somewhere which suggested the same, but I can't seem to find it now.
I come from the UK, though, so should be pretty used to poor infrastructure and ignorant drivers ;)
06-05-11, 11:48 PM
I did some bike touring two years ago in Tuscany in the mountainous area near Bagni di Lucca (about half hour east of Lucca.) We rented nice bikes with rear racks in Lucca from a really nice shop called Chrono. The owner, Paladino, is a really cool guy. We used the perched mountain village of Vitiana as our hub for our day tours. This area of Italy is one of the most popular with cyclists, so that part was really nice. Restaurants were quite inexpensive and the food was amazing and generally good value compared to other cities and towns that we visited. My friend and I had a blast! It is true that Italian drivers are really scary though... they drive very fast even around curves getting well into the oncoming traffic lane. I would try to stay away from major roads if at all possible. I wouldn't let this deter me from bike touring in that country again.
06-06-11, 09:43 AM
Maybe a bit off topic, but I'm moving to Germany...in the Frankfurt area specifically, do you know of any good tour routes that go through Frankfurt? Or any resources for touring there specifically? I haven't done much research, but my ambition is to tour as much as possible while I'm there. You can PM me if you'd like.
<<You'll see many elderly gentleman in full racing kit and CF bikes on their recreational rides. >>
Sounds like most of the U.S.
Thanks all for the input, much appreciated. I like the sound of Tuscany, Chris. I understand it's a beautiful area.
Ollyisk, I've cycled the Rhein and the Mosel, which is close to Frankfurt. From memory, when researching the route, it can be a bit industrial around Frankfurt, after that it turns nicer, but is never really nice until you hit the mosel. The problem with the Rhein, I found, that far up, is that everything is crammed into the valley - that is, road, river, radweg and railway. The towns can be pretty, but also functional. Koblenz, like many places in Western Germany, was flattened in the war and rebuilt in a generic western style. But once you turn onto the mosel, things get better. It's very placid, very pretty - genteel is the best word. Trier, at the end, is a great town, and there are various routes (the Kyll for example), which take you off the mosel and as such allow you to do more of a circular route on the way back. The Hunsruck, I found, was peculiar in that, around Hahn, it was pretty ugly, but once away from there, again, prettiness and gentility reigned.
The Rhein farther south of Frankfurk is really beautiful. There are some great towns just off it (Karslruhr being one - where the bicycle was invented). Farther south, you get into the Black Forest, which is stunning (visit Freiburg - one of my favourite German towns). The Rhein bends east at this point and is spectacular, though only on the German side, I found. A quick trip to Switzerland left me somewhat less than impressed.
I haven't cycled east of Frankfurt, so can't really comment, but one thing I would say is that, for me at least, Germany beats most countries hands down when it comes to cycling. The radweg system is amazing, seemingly linking even the smallest hamlets, the people are friendly, the hotels accommodating, the scenery wonderful. For me it's a great, great country, which is luckily overlooked by most tourists. Long my it stay that way.
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