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Old 01-03-09, 04:45 PM   #1
cny-bikeman 
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Roads in Southern Italy

I am planning a long dreamed trip to Italy to visit my grandparent's hometown (Squillace, CZ) as well as Rome and maybe Tuscany. I am combining bike and train, and am curious about the type of roads I will encounter. I will be traveling for a large part on secondary roads (typically light yellow in Google) such as from Squillace to Sella San Bruno and then down to the Tropea area. The other area I may explore for a couple days is Tuscany. I will be riding a Novara Randonee fairly lightly loaded (not camping), with 32-35mm tires. I am a very experienced tourist and mechanic, so I don't anticipate many problems, but I need to know what distance will be reasonable.

p.s. I must say that I am enamored of the ability of Google Earth to give me a preview of not only the countryside but the actual ride I have planned. At the same time it does remove a bit of the mystery and adventure.

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 01-03-09, 05:34 PM   #2
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While Google Maps/Earth overall are excellent resources (as are GPS devices), none of them is 100% correct (perhaps a consequence of the underlying geographical database, whether from Naviteq or TeleAtlas, being out-of-date or data having been entered erroneously).

Roads marked as "secondary" on maps (printed or online) can turn out to be anything from well-paved to unpaved to non-existent. I'd say your best bet is to make contact with local cycling organizations and ask them about recommended routes for cyclists. You might start with the Italian Federation of Friends of the Bicycle (Federazione Italiana degli Amici della Bicicletta), known by its acronym, FIAB http://www.fiab-onlus.it/english/index.htm. There are regional chapters, some of which have their own websites.
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Old 01-03-09, 06:21 PM   #3
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Thanks, I have that as one of my resources, thought I'd check to see if any forum members have on the road experience where I'm headed.

I will be using paper maps and gps as well as asking for help (learning Italian now). I am using Google Earth just for the fun of it - it's amazing to be able to "fly" over Italy at low level. Actually paper maps can be unreliable on smaller roads. I'm told that occasional intentional mistakes are made to help detect copyright violations. I did find many years ago that seemed to be true. Not mistakes a driver would care about but sometimes immportant ones for a cyclist.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:22 PM   #4
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These three sites might help in your planning.

This one will help you find the local tourist office

http://www.enit.it/default.asp?Lang=UK

The first thing you should do when you hit town is to go into the tourist office. They will help you with camping, hotels, local roads etc.

This site

http://en.comuni-italiani.it/

will give you information on what cites are in which province and region.


This site

http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html

will help you find train schedules. Please be aware that there are only certain trains that you can take bikes on without being boxed. They are mostly Regionale trains. They are short distance trains. If you plan on going a long distance then it can be done but give yourself plenty of time and expect lots of train changes.

Also be certain that you validate your ticket before gettin on the train. It is done with the yellow boxes at the platforms. Be sure to watch the electronic signs above the platforms. They like to switch platforms on you.

You should get Touring Club of Italy maps. The TCI maps are color coded. You will want to stick to the yellow roads if you can. Sometimes a road is red but really is not that bad regarding traffic. I would avoid white roads as they are usually local roads, are unimproved and often dead end. If you pick one make sure you know where it come out.

The far south I have ridden is Pisa. With very few exceptions, the roads are very bike friendly and Italian drivers are very courteous to cyclists.

When are you going? The the Euro is supposed to fall to around $1.20 by mid year. If it does and if it holds I plan on going back but I will probably be cycling the lake region.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info. I knew about the trains for the most part, and will be checking in more detail, as I plan on some rather long segments right now. I'm planning on late September right now - way too hot in summer in southern Italy, and travel/lodging rates are lower then as well. The tourist office is a great idea, will be doing a lot ahead of time once I know where I want to overnight. I have found some other great sites and will be posting info myself on a website as I progress toward the trip. I'll definitely get the TCI maps - I see they now have an Italy by bike guide.
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Old 01-03-09, 08:03 PM   #6
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Many years ago, I biked from Bari through the interior of southern Italy to the Amalfi coast, then up to Pompeii & Naples. The roads were fine.
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Old 01-04-09, 12:57 PM   #7
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The TCI maps are excellent, I found the 1:200,000 scale regional maps to be really useful for cycle touring. http://www.touringclub.com/ENG/Trave...d_Atlases.aspx

You can get them at Trek Tools or you can order them direct from TCI.

I cycled around Tuscany between Florence and Pitigliano two years ago (spring 2006), the roads were excellent. The roads marked in white (strade bianche) were very quiet and very well maintained, even the gravel stretches were easy to ride on. They can be steep, though.

I found it hard to completely avoid tunnels in Tuscany/Umbria and in Sicily last spring. A good taillight and some well placed reflector tape will make these a lot safer, and a headlight wouldn't hurt either.

Last edited by markf; 01-05-09 at 04:22 AM.
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Old 01-04-09, 02:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markf View Post

I found it hard to completely avoid tunnels in Tuscany/Umbria and in Sicily last spring. A good taillight and some well placed reflector tape will make these a lot safer, and a headlight wouldn't hurt either.

I was a little afraid of tunnels at first. I aborted what could have been a very nice ride to Cinque Terre because of them. I wish I didn't make that decision.

Tunnels are not a bug deal once you get used to them. The taillight is an excellent idea though.

Some tunnels have a bike path bypass. Look for them sometimes not easy to see unless you know they are there.

BTW Bike path is pista cicabile. There are a number of them in the north, not sure about the south.
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