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Italy Info

Old 03-21-08, 07:02 AM
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Raybag
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Italy Info

Hi All-

This summer my wife and I are doing a month long tour starting in Nice France, riding through Provence, the Alps, Switzerland, then over to Italy and flying home from Milans Linate airport. I know Italian cities can be sketchy to ride in but we were still hoping to ride to a hotel near the airport for our last few nights of our tour.
So my questions:
Are we crazy to try to ride into the Milan Linate area?
Are we better off taking a train? If so will the train drop us in the middle of Milan or are there routes to near the airport?
Anyone have experience getting bike boxes from Linate? Or is there a bike shop nearby maybe?
Is it possible to cycle right up to the airport? (we've been able to do that in Nice, Bordeaux, and Shannon Ireland)

Thanks in advance for any advice offered.

Happy trails,
Raybag
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Old 03-21-08, 01:25 PM
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Milan can be busy, but is genarally similar to other places in Italy for cycling. Have fun on the Nice>Provence>Alps>Switz route, thats the exact way I went and it was great.

Irf interested Check the August-September archives of my site: www.bikevoyage.blogspot.com
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Old 03-21-08, 04:03 PM
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If you aren't flying back to Europe then MXP would be a better choice. I can recommend a hotel in Somma Lombardo with a bike shop right around the corner where I picked up a box last year.

Traffic in the city can be a bit crazy. It's not too bad just outside the city.

Instead of staying in Milan, you might want to consider nearby Lodi. It's centro is just what you would think a small Italian town would look like. No problems at all with traffic. It would be a great place to stay to wrap up your trip. But my guess is they would not have a bike shop.

You can check at www.slowtalk.com. A lot of locals hang out there an they are all very helpful.

Summer is a bad time to go to Italy for cycling. First it is very hot, but sounds like most of your trip will be in the Alps so that might not really be an issue. There will be a lot more traffic on the road from foreign tourists and Italian tourists. The northern lake region is very popular with the Italians in the summer time.

If You really want to fly out of Linate then I would recommend staying in nearby Linate. Traffic will not be an issue and it is such a pretty little town. You would probably want to stay in a hotel with a shuttle as there is no train to the airport, so you would probably have to take the train to Milan and then a bus to the airport. Not sure about a bike shop there but you can ask on slowtalk.
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Old 03-21-08, 08:19 PM
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Thanks for the input guys. I appreciate it.
Our time frame is end of May to end of June so hopefully it's not terribly hot by then. Also I'm hoping the Alps will have melted off the snow and all the passes will be open. I'm really looking forward to the Stelvio!

As for Linate airport, we're definitely locked into that since it was the cheapest flight available. We'll connect in Dublin before making it to the US. The hotel we've kind of located is the Air Hotel Milano in Segate (?) which looks like it's just north of the airport.

How would the traffic be from Como to Segate? Passable?
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Old 03-21-08, 09:58 PM
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You made your choice and that is fine. I have been tempted by cheaper airfares for alternate airports but the difference was never much more than $100. Not worth it, to me, for an extra connection and another place where a $1000 bicycle can be lost.

You mean Segrate. I have not been there but have been all over Como. Traffic there is not too bad. I'd avoid Como altogether. Not because of the traffic but because it does not impress me all that much.

For the next to the last night, stay in Lenno, where Casino Royal was filmed. Or maybe Bellagio. If you want to go really cheap, there is a hostel in Menaggio. There is also a very nice B&B I can recommend in the hills above Menaggio, in a town called Cardano. You know all those little Italian villages, you see in the movies? That's what Cardano looks like. But if you eat all of the breakfast the lady set out, you won't be able to ride to Milan!


Segrate seems to be pretty far out of Milano Centro so you should probably be OK. Plus it looks like there are plenty of yellow roads between Como and Milan, so you shouldn't see too much traffic on those roads. But as I said I have not been there. It is my experience that Italian drivers are down right crazy until it comes to cyclists, Drivers always seem to give you plenty of room.


Wow a whole month, I am jealous. With the dollar in the tank, I have been going back and forth on returning this year. I'm leaning toward going, as life is too short to worry about a few hundred extra dollars for the cost of the trip over last year. I just have to convince my buddies to go.


I'm not sure I am up for the Alp passes but I'll probably do the lake region and a little bit of the Italian Alps.
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Old 03-22-08, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Raybag View Post
Our time frame is end of May to end of June so hopefully it's not terribly hot by then. Also I'm hoping the Alps will have melted off the snow and all the passes will be open. I'm really looking forward to the Stelvio!
You can definitely run into some snow that time of year. Many of the higher passes lists the official opening time as June-July. When I did my Alpine tour back in 2001 Col de l'Iseran was closed (but passable ) 14 July after getting 20 cm of snow during the night before. Incidentaly, Jobst Brandt passed the same day and took this picture. There was also some light snow fall on Furkapass a few days later. Check out this page for the current status of the Stelvio.

With a month to go from Nice to Milano you'll certainly have a day or to to wait in case of bad weather.

Which route are you planning on taking?
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Old 03-22-08, 05:41 PM
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Hey Spinnaker-
Typically we don't like flights with connections either but the price difference was enough for us to take the risk. I always keep my fingers crossed when flying with bicycles anyway so....

So Segrate sounds like it is doable, that's great. You mentioned the "yellow" roads. What maps do you use/recommend? I currently have a Michelin Lombardia map but I've also heard about the ITC maps. Any thoughts?

We're planning a night in Bellagio before heading up to see the "Cyclists Chapel", Madonna del Ghisallo. Lenno sounds nice too and we're always open for side trips. We chose Como due to it's proximity to Milan for our trip home.

Yeah, we too went back and forth about another European adventure what with the dollar sliding into oblivion. For a while we were seriously looking at riding the US Pacific Coast, and may still do so in the future. But after we thought it all out, we decided that A: life is too short and B: sometimes you have to pay a little bit more to be somewhere you really want to be. I think in the long run it's worth it.
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Old 03-22-08, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Csson View Post

With a month to go from Nice to Milano you'll certainly have a day or to to wait in case of bad weather.

Which route are you planning on taking?
Yeah, a month is a long time with not tons of mileage. Our usual m.o. is to have a nice 50-60 mile day on average, along the way explore some of the little villages and sites we see, and then relax in our destination town and check that out too. Of course when we hit the higher mountains, even 50-60 miles can be a stretch so....

Our current route idea is to ride from Nice into Provence and tackle Mont Ventoux. Then we'll wnader Provence a bit before heading to le Bourg d'Oison and hopefully climb Alpe d'Huez. We'll head up to Chamonix before going into Switzerland. We'll basically traverse southern Switzerland, with a side trip to Zermatt, before landing in Italy at Prato Allo Stelvio. From there we'll head over to Bormio and down to the Lakes Region before finishing up in Milan.

Lots of climbing but also, hopefully, enough rest days built in so we don't kill ourselves. But, just looking at our route right now makes me think "what am I doing at the computer? I've got to get riding!!".

Whattya think? Thanks.
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Old 03-22-08, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Raybag View Post
Hey Spinnaker-
Typically we don't like flights with connections either but the price difference was enough for us to take the risk. I always keep my fingers crossed when flying with bicycles anyway so....

So Segrate sounds like it is doable, that's great. You mentioned the "yellow" roads. What maps do you use/recommend? I currently have a Michelin Lombardia map but I've also heard about the ITC maps. Any thoughts?

We're planning a night in Bellagio before heading up to see the "Cyclists Chapel", Madonna del Ghisallo. Lenno sounds nice too and we're always open for side trips. We chose Como due to it's proximity to Milan for our trip home.

Yeah, we too went back and forth about another European adventure what with the dollar sliding into oblivion. For a while we were seriously looking at riding the US Pacific Coast, and may still do so in the future. But after we thought it all out, we decided that A: life is too short and B: sometimes you have to pay a little bit more to be somewhere you really want to be. I think in the long run it's worth it.
What route are you using to come into Lake Como from Switzerland?



ITC?? Do you mean TCI (Touring Club Italiano)?


That is what I use. I have the regional maps. They are OK but not a whole lot of detail Kind of like a typical U.S. state map. The provincial maps might be a better choice but it would require a lot of maps. Lombardy would require 11 to cover all of Lombardy.

There is a very good map set of the lake region called Ciclo Via dei Laghi Lecco, Como e Varse. If you write the tourist office in Milan, they may send one to you. There is a book set, mine is in Italian, I got it in Lecco but Milan might have one in English. Or you might need to contact Como. Their email address ois lakecomo@tin.it website is www.lakecomo.org.


I wanted to do Madonna del Ghisallo last year but when I was in Como, we had 2 days of rain. I really did not feel like making that ride in the rain.



TCI maps are broken down into 4 colors.

Black = No go (Autostrada)
Red = Use with caution (sometimes these roads are not bad at all, but sometimes very busy)
Yellow = Kind if a back road, very little traffic.
White = Local road, sometimes unpaved. The white roads are hardest to follow, as they are very short and twist and turn all over the place.

The roads in and around the lakes are narrow, but south of the lakes the roads are usually fairly wide with a decent shoulder.

I use a GPS which was incredible. It even had the bike path we used to go from Somma Lombardo to Pavia. Plus the GPS will have the streets of all of the cites. If you have an address just p;ug it in and it will take you there.


Belligio is only 42 miles from Segrate. You might want to reconsider that as your next to the last night.
Como has a number of nice restaurants, a beautiful cathedral and a tram ride to the top of the mountain but other than that there is not much to see.

Como is expensive but then again so is Bellagio. There is a well run hostel in Como for about 15 Eur a night, But they have no matrimonial, so you and your wife will be required to sleep in separate quarters,


Here are some useful links.


Tourist information. Very, very useful, you should look for similar links for Switzerland and France
http://www.enit.it
(Seems to be down right now, the site seems to have a lot of down time)


Cities, provinces and regions of Italy.
http://en.comuni-italiani.it/


In case you get in trouble and need a ride.
http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html


Free places to stay
http://www.hospitalityclub.org/
http://www.couchsurfing.org/

Last edited by spinnaker; 03-22-08 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 03-23-08, 09:41 AM
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Our plan is to come from Pratto Allo Stelvio, over the Stelvio and into Bormio. Then we were going to head down to Tirano before continuing on to Bellagio. I should mention that we prefer to camp whenever possible and that helps keep the budget intact. On the other hand, we don't do any cooking. We figure why deprive ourselves of the fantastic local cuisine available! With that in mind, are there any smaller towns along our chosen route that might offer that type of accomodation?

I think we're going to take your advice and pass on Como. Sounds like Bellagio is the way to end our Lakes Region stay. Maybe that offers us some time to check out the other villages you had mentioned as well.

I'll check out the TCI maps to see if they are much different from my Michelin. It looks like the detail may actually be greater on them. TCI is 1:200,000 and Michelin is 1:400,000.

And by the way, thank you very much for all the info you've passed along to me. It's been very helpful.

-Ray
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Old 03-23-08, 10:14 AM
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I can see where a month of hotels can be expensive.

Check out the couchsurfing and hospitality club. Couchsurfing is made up of mostly young people. I stayed with two people. One couldn't have been nicer, the other my opinion is mixed. These organizations are really a great way to meet local people. There is also warmshowers but I don't think it has caught on much in Europe.

Switzerland has a program where you can stay in people's barns. Beats pitching a tent and sounds kind of interesting. Search this forum. If I remember there were words like "sleep in the hay". But also what I remember, it was not much cheaper than a hostel.

I'm not too crazy about camping. I put a trip to Yellowstone at the bottom of my list because I figured, without very careful planning well ahead of time for cabins and sticking to the schedule no matter what, I'd have to camp. I don't mind planning but I hate sticking to a schedule / itinerary. I'd much rather get a basic idea of the area, got there, get local knowledge and then just follow my nose.
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Old 03-23-08, 07:26 PM
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Several years ago, I spent two nights (one day) in Bellagio (I took a bus there as it wasn't a biking tour). I was there in late May. The weather the day I was there was hard rain with snow in the higher elevations. While the view across the lake was stunning, there isn't much to do in Bellagio when it doesn't rain and during the storm I spent the whole day reading a book in a cafe (on hard wooden chairs). I don't think I would go back there again.

The road from Como to Bellagio is a twisty, hilly two-lane road that has both truck and bus traffic and it goes at a good clip. The view would be stunning, but you'd spend much of the time looking back for dangerous traffic and grinding in low gears.

Coming to Bellagio from across the lake via ferry would be a much better option, in my opinion.

Ray
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Old 03-23-08, 08:11 PM
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SS583 is a yellow road and really should not have much traffic. I have ridden the eastern side of the route from Lecco to Bellagio and there is very little traffic, no real trucks to speak of. I would imagine the west side is similar.

I have also ridden SS340 north Griante and once again traffic was not a problem but this was all in September.

In good weather, the view from Bellagio is stunning as you say. That is what there is to do there. Far better than Como IMHO.
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Old 03-26-08, 04:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Raybag View Post
Our plan is to come from Pratto Allo Stelvio, over the Stelvio and into Bormio. Then we were going to head down to Tirano before continuing on to Bellagio. I should mention that we prefer to camp whenever possible and that helps keep the budget intact. On the other hand, we don't do any cooking. We figure why deprive ourselves of the fantastic local cuisine available! With that in mind, are there any smaller towns along our chosen route that might offer that type of accomodation?

I think we're going to take your advice and pass on Como. Sounds like Bellagio is the way to end our Lakes Region stay. Maybe that offers us some time to check out the other villages you had mentioned as well.

I'll check out the TCI maps to see if they are much different from my Michelin. It looks like the detail may actually be greater on them. TCI is 1:200,000 and Michelin is 1:400,000.

And by the way, thank you very much for all the info you've passed along to me. It's been very helpful.

-Ray
IIRC there are some routes to/from Bellagio-Milan here: www.turbolento.net (click on le strade zitte). There are some good routes for Northern Italy and Switzerland on the website as well
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