Cycling in Italy throug 10 unmissable cities with the highest density of bike paths. We begin in Venice. Which ones are on the podium? Read our mini guide to find out.
Riding a bike and wandering through tree-lined avenues, elegant palaces and scenic squares are some of the most immersive activities you can do in the beautiful country. Especially if you are two-wheel lovers, know that here you will find bike paths where pedalling will be a pleasure for your eyes too. A self-respecting trip to Italy should develop at the right speed: it is a place that imposes a certain slowness on its visitors. The reason lies in its unique lifestyle, the iconic dolce vita from the movies that in everyday life translates into a specific taste and contentment in living well, enjoying the beauty and slowing down. The countless little villages on your itinerary and the most famous cities you've always dreamed of visiting are pleasant labyrinths in which to get lost while walking. Nevertheless, renting a bike can be a valid option to speed up your travels without sacrificing a single inch of beauty. Visit Italy brings you to discover the 10 most bike-friendly cities in Italy.
Venice needs no introduction. Rivers of words have been written about the city of gondolas. Now you also know that here you can find over 120 km of bike paths. Fancying about doing a TikTok on a saddle in Piazza San Marco? Unfortunately, you can't ride in the historic centre. However, you can still enjoy the famous lagoon panorama pedalling along one of the picturesque paths that unfold in the surrounding area. The Ciclovia delle Isole route starts at Lido di Venezia and goes through villages and nature areas. You'll pass amid the most famous buildings of the tourist centre, such as the Casino and the Palazzo della Mostra del Cinema, ride next to the Murazzi barriers and from here take a diversion to nearby Malamocco. A ferry will take you to Pellestrina, where you can continue to the Ca' Roman nature reserve and the borgo of Portosecco. New in town: now partially available, the Pordelio trail will become the longest (and probably one of the most beautiful) suspended cycle/pedestrian routes in Europe.
A popular destination for Italian cycle tourists, the capital of Trentino Alto Adige is an enchanting place to glide around on two wheels. A happy mix of historical eras and different cultures have shaped Trento. You'll see it in its Renaissance fountains, porticoes, stone castles and medieval frescoes that dot the city. Wandering through the streets of the centre, you will come across pretty squares to stop in: the small Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Giovanni Battista Garzetti, where the Mercato dei Gaudenti is held once a month, and Piazza Fiera. Between one bike ride and another, why not stop for a spritz or a bite of a fragrant strudel? Perhaps, sitting at one of the cafés in Piazza San Virgilio, in the shadow of the Duomo and with a view of the magnificent 18th-century Neptune fountain. We also recommend a stop at the Castello del Buonconsiglio, the prestigious 13th-century residence of the prince-bishops.
This beautiful university town in Emilia Romagna has 106.83 km of track for those wishing to visit the centre and its surroundings. To enjoy the incredible landscape, choose the route from Forlì to Rocca San Casciano, passing through Castrocaro Terme. Cycling is one of the best ways to meet the "zitadòn", for years the most populous town in Romagna. What to see? First of all, the famous San Domenico Museums, with the five buildings that compose the complex: Palazzo Pasquali, the church of San Giacomo Apostolo, the convents of the Dominicans and Augustinians and the Sala Santa Caterina; the Abbey of San Mercuriale, a regional symbol; Piazza Aurelio Saffi, one of the largest in Italy; the 26 hectares of the Franco Agosto urban park (you can get there from the city centre following the cycle path); Palazzo Romagnoli, a magnificent historic building whose interior conceals wonderful Liberty-style frescoes.
Remaining in Emilia-Romagna, Parma has 0.55 m of bicycle lanes per inhabitant, about 106 km overall. Here you will also find various bike-sharing services. The flat terrain lends itself well to cycling, making visiting the historic centre easy even for the less experienced. We recommend the Food Valley Bike, a 70 km route where you can discover the culinary traditions of the most iconic places in Italy. It starts in Parma, the Italian Capital of Culture in 2020, and passes through natural oases and enchanting, mouth-watering villages where you can sample Parmigiano, salami, ham and culatello. The city where Giuseppe Verdi was born is a delight for the eyes and the palate. Although small, it is so full of things to see that a single day spent here will not be enough. Don't miss the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Renaissance basilica of Santa Maria della Steccata, the National Gallery, the masterpieces of Parmigianino and Correggio, the Church of Santa Maria del Quartiere di Parma, topped by one of the largest domes in Italy.
As Leonardo da Vinci wrote in the Atlantic Codex, "Piacenza is a land of passage", a border area between Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont and Liguria in the heart of the Po Valley. With 66 km of trails, it is part of ComuniCiclabili, an award from the Federazione Italiana Ambiente e Bicicletta. It is not a place overcrowded with tourists, although history has left its mark on the buildings rising in the centre: churches (there are about a hundred), museums and stately mansions. Piazza dei Cavalli is the town's symbol. Here you will find the famous Mochi horses, the 17th-century equestrian statues depicting Ranuccio and Alessandro Farnese, lords of Parma and Piacenza; the 1281 Palazzo Gotico; the Collegio dei Mercanti and the neoclassical Palazzo del Governatore. Visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the ancient Basilica di San Savino, the Alberoni Gallery and the majestic Palazzo Farnese. The Trebbia cycle route is one of the most beautiful areas around Piacenza. It takes you right into the river nature, among cultivated fields and small villages that you'll love to discover.
Padua is the Veneto city with the most cycle paths, spread over 150 kilometres. One of the scenic cycling routes leads to Vicenza and flanks the Bacchiglione river. The trail has quite a view over medieval villages and charming castles. A tour of the city's most evocative sites must include Palazzo Bo, Galileo's university: visit the Aula Magna and the Anatomical Theatre. And make a diversion to the Specola, the former seat of the astronomical observatory. Continue towards the Palazzo della Regione, a 1218 construction that houses Annibale Capodilista's great wooden horse and the curious (and irreverent) Pietra del vituperio, a stone on which debtors were forced to strike their buttocks three times. Stop off at Piazza delle Erbe e della Frutta and Piazza dei Signori, where the Torre dei Carraresi stands out with its astronomical-astrological clock. This work of art and science is more than just a watch: it tells moon phases and planet positions. One zodiac sign is missing among the dials representing the constellations: try to guess which one.
Trentino Alto Adige is a superb theatre in which mountain nature plays a leading role. Cycling is a must in these parts, and Bolzano, with its almost 76 kilometres of cycle paths, will make you want to zigzag through the streets of its well-kept historic centre. For an easy but scenic tour of the surrounding area, we suggest the cycle route to Merano. You will see vineyards (we are in the Terlano white wine production area), rose gardens, farmhouses and characteristic villages. If you have never been to Bolzano before, you should know that this city, often described as having a “double soul”, is also one of the most liveable places in Italy. And at Christmas time, the magical atmosphere will steal your heart away. Among the most beautiful spots: Via dei Portici, with its Gothic buildings; Piazza Walther, Bolzano's “living room”; Piazza Delle Erbe, a marketplace since 1295; the Archaeological Museum, home to Ötzi, one of the oldest mummies in the world.
Taking the third step on the podium is Modena, the first Italian city for the number of cycle paths. Some go as far as the 'bassa', the southern part of the Po Valley. The Via dei Ciliegi is one of the most beautiful (and delightful) to ride. It crosses the Modena area as far as Vignola, passing through expanses of cherry trees. Exploring Modena is an experience that involves the senses. Taste, because here the cuisine is a symbol: tortellini/tortelli/tortelloni, tagliatelle, cotechino and gnocco fritto. And to top it all, vinegar: the balsamic IGP and the finest ABTM. Sight, because the historic centre is a concentration of beauty, with its long porticoes, the Romanesque cathedral featuring sculptures by Wiligelmo, the Torre Ghirlandina, the Ducal Palace, the Galleria Estense and many churches. Hearing, because music in Modena is an ancient and deep-rooted tradition that has been constantly renewed over time (and a certain Pavarotti was born here).
2. Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia has 1.13 metres of cycle paths per inhabitant. Cycling tourists will love the literary-echoed 14 kilometres that separate the birthplace of Ludovico Ariosto from the Reggia di Rivalta. In between museums, parks and stately homes. The main feature of Reggio Emilia? Elegance. An elegance that you will find in the architecture of the historic centre, proportions of the buildings, geometry of squares and cloisters, in the recent and futuristic works of Calatrava, and in the rich local cuisine too. A city on a human (and biker) scale wrongly off the beaten track of regional tourism, but this may work in your favour. Now that you know that Reggio Emilia is much more than a stopover point to destinations better known, you can explore a city with an authentically Italian spirit (this is where the tricolour flag was born) in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. Fancy a dip in nature? The Pietra di Bismantova is just a stone's throw away: it looks like Ayers Rock, but we are in the Apennines. Go there: it is a spectacle that will enrich your itinerary with beauty.
The title of Italy's most cycle-friendly city goes to Ferrara and its 150 km of cycle paths. Here, cycling is an authentic lifestyle. The perfect experience: riding a bike around the perimeter of the boundary walls and getting lost in the streets of the medieval old town and the Jewish quarter. Ferrara is an unmissable destination to add to your Grand Tour. A UNESCO World Heritage Renaissance city, the Castello Estense dominates its centre and is still, centuries later, the symbol and bulwark of the Este clan's power. A sightseeing tour will take you to the Cathedral of San Giorgio and under the arches and walkways of the picturesque Via delle Volte. The Addizione Erculea is the Renaissance quarter made up of wide streets, green spaces and grand palaces. One of the most fascinating is the Palazzo dei Diamanti Diamond palace). You will understand the reason for its name by looking at its façade: there are 8500 white ashlar stones cut into diamond points that seem to be embedded in the external walls.