Italy is a big place. With world-class offerings of any kind of bicycling you can imagine.
Lots of ideas in this book
, by Gelber (Lonely Planet) (rumored to be back in print?)
We never exactly follow what they say, but usually it's a helpful starting point.
We've done bike rides all around Italy
. So if you say more about what riding you do in your home country, and what you like and don't like, we could give some suggestions for Italy.
Our strategy in Italy is the same as our riding on roads in the northeast U.S. -- we have our own bike, we have a car, we have a place to sleep. If we're riding in a new place, we plot our route (or download off Bikely.com) as a "track" (with some alternate tracks) for our GPS with City Navigator Europe map software. We drive to the start of our route, get our bike out, mostly follow our Garmin 60CSx GPS (with a paper maps as backup, mobile GSM or G3 phone,and list of taxi phone numbers we got from the net) - wander off differently when it pleases us, finish back at our car, drive back to our sleeping place.
Also like in the U.S., we do not
bike every day. Some days we drive to a city and walk around. Some days go hiking or do a via ferrata
climb in the mountains.
Renting and operating a car in Italy seems expensive -- until you compare with the cost of the organized bicycle tours targeted to Americans.
dorkypants hotel is in the midst of some pretty terrain with a variety of riding (near some routes mentioned in the Cycling Italy
book) -- though I never met him or stayed there. Nice thing about the "bike hotel" idea is that you have some identified local support, often don't have to the cost and worry of driving a car, and you have a feel of "really getting to know" a particular area -- though some hotels will arrange van rides to bicycling (and non-bicycling) a little farther away.
Veneto - Südtirol - Trentino Alto Adige: That's the region (northeast Italy) we keep coming back to, after seeing lots of other regions. The vineyards + orchards of the gentle Adige valley, surrounded by high cliffs, with roads thru amazing spires of the Dolomites nearby. The mix of Italian and German-speaking (sometimes we get there by flying into Munich). Access south to the Venice and surrounding flat delta, between the foothills and Lake Garda.
We often stay at a "bike hotel" in the valley - which specializes in mountain
biking. But we've never done a mountain bike ride there. Over the years I've accumulated my own guide to road bike rides near Termeno
organized guided tours -- Everyone I've talked to who's done one with a good company has been happy. Deals with the problems of: finding riding partners, obtaining bike + tools and handling problems, planning routes, deciding what to do each day, booking expensive hotels + restaurants. Our reasons for [I]not[\I] going with organized tours: (a) We don't go to Italy so we can spend lots of time hanging out with other Americans; (b) Tour group + orgnanization insulates from "raw" encounters with real Italian life; (c) They can't handle the range of freedom and quick response we've gotten accustomed to in Europe; (d) The awesome amount of money we've saved over lots of trips to Europe not using them.
People do successully fly to Europe with their own unmodified "regular" bikes. Usually there is some sort of hassle with storing a box.
Rental: Works great if you find what you want where you want it. Doesn't work if you don't. The Web helps, but advertising of bike rentals in English
for lots of places in Italy has not so easy to find. I've done lots of very fun days of riding on "low end" rental bikes in Europe. Nevertheless, buying
my own Bike Friday bike which I could disassemble into a normal airline suitcase is one of the best life decisions I ever made. There's more options available now for travel bikes. If you think you're going to fly for bicycling trips more than a couple of times, get one.