This summer we will be celebrating our 30 year weeding anniversary. We are thinking about going to Italy and taking the traveling tandem with us. We could fly into a city, letís say Milan or Venice, assemble the bike, tour the city and the surrounding areas for 3 days, pack the bike if necessary and catch a train to another city, say Bologna or Florence. We would do the same thing a couple more times going as far down as Rome or even Naples. We are thinking on flying back to the US from the last city we visit. We would appreciate it if any of you can give suggestions that can help us avoid rocky mistakes or point us to a site than can help us planning this trip. We both love art, culture, food, wine and people but we are particularly fond of the countryside and agriculture.
YES! We spent about 10 days in Tuscany and rode about 6 days. I would stick around Tuscany, you can fly right into Florence and book Villas for a day or two and then move on to the next. I enjoyed the countryside more then the cities, but we did like seeing Pisa. Trains have special sections for bikes, and go to most all cities of any size. Tandems are not common in Italy, but I'm sure people travel Italy with them all the time. Biking in the larger cities will be nuts, too many people, cars, etc... in the country it will be wonderful. I felt safer there then on the county roads around my small town.
I'm not sure about trying to hit the cities by bike, just hard to get around. I might split time between two "home" bases and not try and see too much. There will be plenty to see even at a more relaxed pace. The people and land are amazing.
We went with Trek Travel, and they handled everything. So I'm not one to ask about planning. It was pricey, but there are many other travel companies that can assist you. From the full package like we took to simply giving you some route slips. There are companies that will transport your luggage from hotel to hotel, you might want to go that route. We really enjoyed traveling with group and had lunches, wine tastings, cheese tastings, olive oil tastings, cooking lessons, dinners, more wine tastings, etc... and that was a very fun part of trip.
Do a search on touring Italy and you should find some more info on tour companies. Backroads is another good one. Many of the small companies can cater to exactly what you want and need. Trek is first class, but comes at a price. We could have spent more time for the same money, but we had a very short windows to travel with kids, etc...
Ciao, you should post this in the Europe section of the forums, more Italians there.
I am originally from Italy and did my first tandem touring/camping trip from Roma to Sorrento by Napoli on the coast. We than got on a boat to Capri and returned by train to Roma. A great trip.
PM me if you want more datails.
It was before our Bike Fridays days so the big tandem (a mtb one with slicks) and the heavy gear was a challange on public transportation.
I also rode my tandem around Brescia, my home town, it's between Milano and Venezia. A bit around Verona and the north end of the Lake of Como.
As far as your particular questions, biking in the cities might not be the best idea, most of the big cities are pretty heavy with traffic, so you just want to bike out of the city or back in but have most of your riding on the countryside. I would rather walk or use public transportation for looking at a city.
You can not bike in Venice, only walk or take the boat. I would never bike in Milano, too much traffic.
Napoli was a bit stressful, they are crazy even for an Italian. Rome was actually easy and not much of a problem.
Trains are great, just always assume they are going to be late.
We have toured in Italy with three different tandems, in fact bought our first one there 20 years ago. I agree with Dabbo that tandems don't really add to your experience of Italian cities. I'd never tandem in, into, or out of Naples, Rome or Milan. All these cities, plus Florence, Verona, etc have lovely small towns, villages and countryside ideal for cycling (though hot in summer) a few miles from their outer suburbs. For example, the area north of Verona airport, to the east of Lake Garda, is superb if you like hills.
We love Italy and go there at least twice a year. When we go in the summer we bring our tandem and stay away from big cities. When we go in autumn, winter or spring, we fly to Rome, Naples, Milan, Venice, etc and enjoy what cities have to offer. During those non-tandem holidays we sometimes rent bikes (eg we've done this in Lucca, Bergamo, Piacenza, Treviso, Verona, Rome, Padua, Pavia, Cremona, etc) cycle around the town and sometimes to outlying villas, eg in the hills to the north of Lucca). We have rented cars once or twice but more often take public transport to other cities and even villages. Nearly as much fun as tandeming. In the last 10 months we have tandem toured once in Tuscany/Umbria, once on the Slovenia/Italy border and next week are visiting Mantua, Parma, etc without our tandem. (Still too chilly for us.)