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There’s something about Emilia-Romagna—Italy’s region known as the Food Valley—that makes it so inspiring and irresistible to artists. It’s where the classical composer Giuseppe Verdi is from, it’s home to Stradivarius violins, and it’s the setting of your 8-day self-guided cycling adventure! It’s where you’ll pedal through the authentic Italian countryside, taste some of the finest food the country has to offer, and discover culturally rich towns—what more could you ask for? Starting from the charming Cremona and ending in the bustling Bologna, you’ll sample the very best of this region, including beyond-this-world delicacies: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham, cappelletti pasta, and much more! Let the quiet cycle paths and the atmosphere of this region inspire you for years to come.

  • Cremona, Bologna, Modena, Parma…

    Take your time exploring Emilia-Romagna’s favorite towns, sit at cafes, sip on Aperols, and stroll through piazzas

  • Quiet country roads through lush landscapes

    Nature here is just as impressive as Renaissance towns—discover the pastoral countryside at your own pace

  • Mamma mia, the food here!

    It’s not called the Food Valley for no reason—this is where you’ll find some of the tastiest food in Italy

Itinerary

This 8-day self-guided cycling tour of Emilia-Romagna really has it all: spectacular landscapes, exquisite food, and plenty of history and culture. Hop on your bikes and get ready for a week of all things Italian! Departing from Cremona, make stops in wonderful cities like Modena and Parma, among many others, and finally finish in the medieval and Renaissance Bologna. Along the way, you’ll cruise through lush countryside and taste marvelous specialties, some of whose original recipes are fiercely guarded! Take your time discovering Emilia Romagna, also dubbed the Food Valley, and have a carefree holiday with this organized, self-guided tour!

  • On arrival into Milan Bergamo airport, you’ll get transferred to Cremona (approximately a 1.5-hour drive). If you get the chance, visit the Museo del Stradivario—Cremona is the hometown of the Stradivarius violin and music is very much at the heart of the town!

    Food is also central to the town of Cremona, with the famed chef Mario Batali writing that Cremona is “absolutely essential to the gastrovoyager”. Being on the border of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, means that there’s a mix from both. Expect charcuterie, Grana Padano cheese, and stuffed pastas such as marubini and tortelli di zucca. And don’t forget the famous Mostarda di Cremona, a sweet and gently spiced fruit preserve with mustard, usually served with a classic stew called bollito misto, traditional to Cremona. Get some rest for tomorrow as cycling begins!

    Accommodation: A small hotel, agriturismo, or guesthouse

    High angle view of Cremona in Italy
  • In the morning, you’ll have a welcome meeting and your bike fitting (if renting). Now is the perfect time to ask any questions you might have about the tour! Leaving Cremona, follow the River Po bike path heading into the open countryside. The River Po separates the regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, serving somewhat as a cultural bridge.

    Pass by fields and small farms, until you reach the hamlet of Le Roncole, where Giuseppe Verdi (Nabucco, Rigoletto, La traviata…) was born and spent his first years, starting his long and illustrious musical career by playing the village organ. A short ride will take you to the quiet town of Busseto, home to the Teatro Verdi and the Giuseppe Verdi National Museum. Another must-see whilst you’re in Busseto is Piazza Verdi, an old winery set at the end of the Food Valley Bike route, where you can sample cold meats and Italian cheeses, paired with great local wine.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Cycling: 25 miles / 40 km
    Elevation gain: 160 m / 525 ft
    Accommodation: A small hotel, agriturismo, or guesthouse

    Busseto town in Italy and Verdi monument
  • Heading back towards the Po River, continue riding through the countryside and the Food Valley Bike route, a region renowned for the production of the Culatello di Zibello (known as the King of Dried Meats), as well as the classic Parma Ham. Culatello di Zibello has the PDO certificate only if it’s produced in the very small region of Emilia-Romagna! Soon you’ll reach Colorno, a town boasting the 18th-century Reggia di Colorno palace, also known as the Versailles of Parma. It also houses the headquarters of ALMA, the International School of Italian cuisine.

    After a bit more riding, you’ll reach the town of Parma, which is in itself yet another Italian cultural (and culinary!) gem. Parma is world-renowned for its ham and salami, as well as its Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In Parma, it’s all about how unique and high quality the products are that make their way to the table whether that is cheese or truffles. Make sure to find the time to walk around the historic center and its piazzas before sitting down for dinner! Please keep in mind that restaurants in Parma are open for dinner between 7pm and 11:30pm (as is traditional in Italy).

    Meals: Breakfast
    Cycling: 34 miles / 55 km
    Elevation gain: 200 m / 660 ft
    Accommodation: A small hotel, agriturismo, or guesthouse

    Parma Baptistery in Italy
  • Today you’ll ride closer to the hills and into Val Parma, passing several fortified hilltop settlements and castles on your way to Reggio Emilia. Torrechiara is the most imposing of them all, with its 15th-century castle overlooking the valley. This fairytale castle is not to be missed, enveloped in a romantic story between the count who built it and his lover.

    Cycling on through the Parma countryside, you’ll make your way to today’s overnight stop, Reggio Emilia—the birthplace of the Italian flag and home to cappelletti (a stuffed pasta dish, usually filled with meat and served in broth) and gnocco fritto (fried dough).

    Meals: Breakfast
    Cycling: 43 miles / 70 km
    Elevation gain: 500 m / 1,640 ft
    Accommodation: A small hotel, agriturismo, or guesthouse

    Torrechiara castle in Italy
  • Departing from Reggio Emilia, you will cycle on quiet country lanes all the way to Modena. Along the way you will pass through the towns of Correggio and Carpi, both of which boast several splendid churches and civilian palaces, as well as offer plenty of opportunities for a cappuccino or gelato break.

    In Carpi, if you’re not up for a gelato, Zuppa Inglese might hit the spot! This dessert made with vanilla and chocolate pudding, Savoiardi biscuits and a splash of liqueur is almost like a mix of a tiramisu and an English trifle. Your destination for today is Modena, a modern bustling town dating back to the Roman era. Make sure to visit the Duomo, the Torre Civica and the Piazza Grande, all of which made it onto the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in 1997.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Cycling: 34 miles / 55 km
    Elevation gain: 200 m / 660 ft
    Accommodation: A small hotel, agriturismo, or guesthouse

    Modena, main square in Italy
  • This morning you can opt to stay in Modena to explore its numerous sights or enjoy another day on the bike! If opting to ride, you’ll head south along the Panaro River in the direction of Spilamberto, famous as the regional center for Aceto Balsamico production. Food buffs here definitely need to visit the Museo dell’Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale!

    Continue to Vignola, where in the late spring you can refresh yourself with the locally produced black cherry of Vignola (moretta di Vignola). Upon reaching the village of Marano sul Panaro, you’ll start heading north again cycling back to Modena through slightly hillier countryside.
    If you‘re staying in Modena today, consider a visit to the Mercato Albinelli (open in the morning, closed on afternoons, Sundays, and holidays), a food market where you’ll find authentic family-owned stalls that sell aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar, and tortellini.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Cycling: 37 miles / 60 km
    Elevation gain: 350 m / 1,150 ft
    Accommodation: A small hotel, agriturismo, or guesthouse

    Spilamberto town in Italy
  • Your last cycling day will take you from Modena to the region’s capital: Bologna. Sticking predominantly to quiet country roads, you will soon reach the outskirts of the town, where you’ll pass through Borgo Panigale, home to the Moto Ducati factory.

    The town of Bologna is home to the oldest university of the western world and boasts an extensive historic center! Symbols of the town are its shady porticoes and the twin towers Torre degli Asinelli and Torre della Garisenda. Make sure you also visit the splendid Piazza Maggiore with the Basilica di San Petronio. With tagliatelle al ragu, erbazzone, mortadella, and tortellini coming from Bologna, it’s no wonder that it’s known as the culinary capital of Italy. You definitely won’t be disappointed for your final dinner!

    Meals: Breakfast
    Cycling: 37 miles / 60 km
    Elevation gain: 270 m / 885 ft
    Accommodation: A small hotel, agriturismo, or guesthouse

    Aerial view of Bologna, Italy
  • Your self-guided cycling tour has come to an end! After a final breakfast, it’s time to head to the airport for flights home (approximately 30-minute transfer). If you’d like to stay longer, just ask us for some recommendations!

    Meals: Breakfast

    Fruit and vegetables market in Bologna
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Meet your guide

Saddle Skedaddle
5.00
Saddle Skedaddle
Saddle Skedaddle was founded by a couple of MTB pros (Paul and Andrew) while trapped in a snowstorm during their year-long biking adventure in Chile. They believe travel should move you and that there’s no better way to see a place properly—its people, culture, and natural wonders—than by bike. Saddle Skedaddle currently runs tours in 36 destinations, offering adventure junkies incredible places to tour on two wheels.
5.00 (1 reviews)
Simon (source: Guide’s website)

Great cycling – would recommend this holiday. The Skedaddle representative was excellent. Helpful, pulled out the stops when we had an emergency, and provided an emergency bike repair overnight before the final day. Without them the holiday would have been very different.

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • 8-day Emilia-Romagna self-guided cycling tour
      • Accommodation for 7 nights in 3-star hotels, agriturismi, and guesthouses (in shared twin or double ensuite rooms)
      • Breakfasts
      • Local representative (with bike delivery and welcome meeting)
      • Access to the navigation app for holiday information and navigation
      • Luggage transfers
      • Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Verona Airport (VRN)

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to Italy
      • Bikes (rental available at an additional cost)
      • Single supplement (available at an additional cost)
      • Meals not listed in the itinerary
      • Personal clothing and equipment
      • Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities, etc.)
      • Entrance fees to museums and other attractions enroute
      • Local tourist tax — to be paid locally, approximately 2 euros per day
      • Guide gratuities — optional
      • Travel and medical insurance — optional
  • Fitness and experience
    While this tour is also suitable for those who have recently gotten into cycling, there will be some days and sections where you may have to tackle some ups and downs, the occasional steeper climb, and perhaps some varying terrain. The most important thing for this Emilia-Romagna cycling self-guided tour is that you have a decent level of physical fitness, capable of covering distances and elevation gains that you’ll find in the day-by-day itinerary. You’ll be covering between 25 miles (40 km) to 43 miles (70 km) per day.

    Terrain and roads

    • You’ll be riding predominantly on quiet country roads shared with vehicle traffic (approx. 60% of the route), while the remaining 40% will be on cycle paths (some mixed use, i.e., shared with pedestrians) or on cycle lanes.
    • Day 4 will pose the biggest challenge being the longest in distance and in terms of climbing, but you can take it at your own pace.
    • There are some short sections throughout the week on hard-packed gravel tracks and on gravel / dirt roads, so hybrid or gravel bikes are recommended for this tour. A road bike would be suitable if you are happy to push it over these short sections. An e-bike is also good for this tour and will make Day 4’s distance and climbing in particular a little more manageable, and it’s a good option to help manage the heat on those hot summer days in June and September! E-bikes are generally heavier than hybrid bikes, which is worth bearing in mind if needing to lift the bike up / down steps or over cobbles in some of the towns.
    • Although the tour is available to book in the summer months, Emilia-Romagna is a flat region, usually with little wind, so it can get hot during July and August. That said, if you manage your day to avoid riding at the hottest times of day, seek shade when you can and take lots of water with you. The route is still manageable, even in the summer months! You may however want to consider riding an e-bike if you’re not accustomed to riding in the summer heat or humidity.
  • Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

      • Bike — available to rent
      • Helmet — available to rent
      • Comfortable, season-appropriate riding or athletic clothing, preferably moisture wicking or synthetic material
      • Padded shorts
      • Peaked helmet
      • Sneakers or sport shoes
      • Breathable outside layer or jacket
      • Sunglasses
      • Plenty of water, water bottle or hydration bladder
      • Daypack with snacks
      • Biking gloves are optional but recommended
      • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)

    Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

  • Indeed you can! If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own, you can rent one with your guides. Rental bikes will be provided with a pannier rack and 1 bag, a phone mount, a tool kit, a spare inner tube, a bike lock and a bike pump.

    These bikes are typically 21 speed aluminum city bikes, with both unisex frames and frames with a cross bar available (usually height dependent, please specify at the time of booking if you have a preference). We also have e-bikes available.

    A helmet can be provided locally on request, please let us know if you’d like to rent one upon booking.

  • A self-guided tour is an independent exploration without a formal guide leading the way. Instead of being part of a group with a tour leader, you will navigate the tour yourself, using resources provided by the operator, such as maps, guidebooks, audio guides, or digital apps.

    By going on this Emilia-Romagna self-guided cycling tour, you’ll have lots of things arranged for you, making your cycling experience a lot less stressful and a lot more enjoyable:

      • accommodation at small hotels, agriturismi, and guesthouses (shared twin or double ensuite rooms)
      • all breakfasts
      • airport transfer on arrival
      • app for information and navigation
      • luggage transfers
      • local representative for a welcome meeting

    After you get transferred to Cremona and once you’ve talked to a local representative, the self-guided tour starts! Keep in mind that your guides offer support along the way should you need anything.

  • Group sizes and pricing

      • For this Emilia-Romagna self-guided cycling tour, the maximum group size is generally set to 15 participants.
      • It takes a minimum of 2 people for this self-guided tour to operate.

    Emilia-Romagna self-guided cycling tours can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Children as young as 10 are able to go on trips with a legal guardian. They may be able to participate on a case-by-case basis.

    If your group has riders under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • The starting point of your Emilia-Romagna self-guided cycling tour is Cremona in Italy. If you fly into Milan Bergamo Airport (BGY), your guiding company will pick you up and transfer you to Cremona (approximately a 1.5-hour drive). This is included in the price of the tour.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance.

    With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more. Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

    We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to. If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • A non-refundable $250 deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 2 months (60 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

      • If the Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to sixty (60) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, the Client will forfeit the deposit.
      • For cancellations thirty (30) to sixty (60) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the trip price.
      • If you cancel your booking less than thirty (30) calendar days prior to the departure date, Client is not entitled to any refund.

    If you need to cancel the trip, please contact us in writing. If you wish to transfer a booking to another person, please write to us at least seven (7) days before your trip. Administration charges may arise.

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