Cycling in Italy: Art & Fine Gastronomy in Emilia Romagna Region
7 days / 6 nights | Guided bike tours for foodies from Parma to Modena and Bologna
The Emilia Romagna region offers many of Italy's finest Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) products: Parmigiano Reggiano, Modena authentic Balsamic Vinegar, Parma ham, DOCG classified wines, traditional hand-made stuffed pasta. An easy cycling journey through this area enables you to enjoy these specialties onsite directly from the producers, while dinners on the tour will include extraordinary local dishes made according to tradition. At the same time you can experience the art and history of the area and explore its castles and heritage villages dating back to the Ducal period when this region flourished in extraordinary art. Via Emilia is the theme of this trip. This road, built by the Romans in 187 B.C., gave rise to important cities such as Bologna, Modena and Parma at a time when the greatest artists and architects worked in this domain. You will discover Parma, with its cathedral and Abbess room displaying Correggio's frescoes. And Modena with its preserved medieval center, World Heritage Site, and Romanesque Cathedral. And finally Bologna, the capital of the region, rich in palaces and medieval towers. Bologna will charm you with its unique atmosphere and its 40 km of medieval and Renaissance porticos. On this tour you will encounter a hard-working region where everything reflects the Italian savoir vivre: the preservation of historical and artistic heritage, the pleasure of good food and the love of good music, from Verdi opera to Pavarotti.
Day 1: Parma
Individual arrival in Parma. Visit Parma's city center where you will find masterpieces of art, open green spaces, and treasures from across the ages. Welcome meeting at 6pm, briefing and bike delivery. Typical dinner in a trattoria. Overnight in Parma.
Day 2: Parma – Parmigiano tasting – Fontanellato – Parma (Cycling 57 km / 36 miles)
After breakfast we cycle through the countryside along partially paved lanes and past the Paradigna Cistercian abbey, celebrated by Stendhal as the Certosa di Parma. We enter San Secondo where we will visit a "caseificio", a cheese factory where Parmigiano Reggiano is produced. Parmigiano, one of the most ancient cheeses, is still produced with the same traditional care taken eight centuries ago. Don't miss the tasting! We continue towards Fontanellato where you will find the mighty fortress of San Vitale. Return to Parma and dinner in a typical trattoria. Overnight in Parma.
Day 3: Parma – Langhirano – Parma ham tasting - Reggio Emilia (cycling 74 km / 46 miles) (+/- 500 mt)
Today we will discover the land where Parmigiano is produced along with the famous Parma ham. Parma's delicate flavor, slightly salty with fragrant aroma, is the result of the particular climate conditions in which this ham is dried and aged. We will take a break in an agriturismo to taste Parma ham and other delicious products. For a taste of history do not miss Torrechiara castle. We continue this pleasant route through cultivated fields until you reach the ancient fortress of Montechiarugola overlooking the river Enza and the castle of Montecchio, part of Matilda di Canossa's duchy defense system. We end our day with a ride through the city of Reggio Emilia, enjoying the beautiful buildings and churches in old town. Dinner in a typical trattoria. Overnight in Reggio Emilia.
Day 4: Reggio Emilia – Carpi – Modena (Cycling 57 km / 36 miles)
Today's route through the countryside of the Po Valley will offer many possibilities for tours and tastings. First stop is in Correggio, a small Renaissance court bearing the name of the famous painter born there. We continue through the vineyards of Lambrusco di Santa Croce DOP on the way to Carpi, a pearl of the Renaissance and ancient home to the Pio lords. Cycle the last 18 km to arrive at the day's destination, Modena. This city offers extraordinary beauty concentrated in its graceful historic center. UNESCO has acknowledged the universal value of the city's monumental treasures by designating the Cathedral, Piazza Grande, and the Ghirlandina Tower UNESCO World Heritage. You are free for dinner. Overnight in Modena.
Day 5: Modena – balsamic vinegar tasting – Vignola - Castelvetro – wine tasting - Modena – Gnocco e Tigelle (Cycling 65 km / 41 miles) (+/-350 mt)
After breakfast depart from Modena to Spilamberto. Here we visit an "acetaia" where authentic Balsamic Vinegar is produced. This vinegar, proudly receiving PDO status in 2000, is unique among the world's vinegar-based condiments. Continue to Vignola, the city of cherries and the famous Barozzi cake. Savor a slice of cake at the celebrated Gollini pastry and take a stroll to the mighty castle. This fortress is open to visitors and offers amazing views of the surrounding landscape from its walkways and towers. Continue on small roads to the town of Castelvetro renowned for PDO Lambrusco wine. Stop at a winery to enjoy a tasting. After passing Formigine, the route returns to Modena. Stop at Luciano Pavarotti's house. Dinner in a local trattoria to experience the typical dish "Gnocco e Tigelle". Overnight in Modena.
Day 6: Modena – Nonantola – Bologna – cooking experience (Cycling 68 km / 43 miles)
Follow the cycle path leading out of Modena along the banks of the river Secchia through countryside and vineyards. The first stop is in Nonantola to visit the Abbey. Dating back to XII° century, this Romanesque masterpiece lies along the Romea Nonantolana route followed by Pilgrims around the year 1000 as they traveled to Rome. Before heading to San Giovanni in Persiceto we will stop for a tasting at local wine cellar and private museum, with a motor section including some F1 cars. We will then follow the Navile cycle path through Sala Bolognese and on to Bologna. During our farewell evening we will all participate to a cooking lesson: we will learn how to cook some Bologna typical dishes, and we will end the experience by eating all together what we prepared! Overnight in Bologna.
Day 7: Bologna (Cycling 20 km / 13 miles)
After breakfast end of services. If you have time, take a walk through the beautiful city center famous for its nearly 40 km of porticos, the longest in the world. Nicknamed "The Learned" for its old University, and "The Fat" for its food tradition, the city is also a "UNESCO Creative City of Music". It has one of the largest and most well-preserved medieval historical centers filled with restaurants, taverns, theaters and shops. When you are ready to relax, indulge yourself with a slice of mortadella and a glass of Sangiovese! The best way to end your trip.
Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.