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Italy

Emilia-Romagna - The Food Valley

Self-Guided Leisure Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

$1,815 P.P.

E-BIKE HIRE AVAILABLE

This holiday is well-suited to both regular bikes and pedal assist e-bikes, and you can choose to hire either when you book your tour with us. Confident cyclists will enjoy the boost from a battery for those cheeky climbs, and with less effort required on the bike, you’ll have more energy at the end of the day for off-the-bike activities.

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Our self-guided cycling tour in Emilia-Romagna will take you from the splendid classical musical town of Cremona in the north to bustling Bologna in the south, all while cycling on quiet country roads and cycle paths. Along the route you will enjoy panoramic views of the northern Italian plain, quaint historic villages and town centres, Renaissance art and architecture, and delicious food and wines. Each day will allow you to sample some of the finest food that Italy has to offer.
Starting from Cremona, where you'll find Mostarda di Cremona, a mustardy sweet preserve, you will follow the River Po to Busseto, the hometown of Giuseppe Verdi, a classical composer, before you'll slowly make your way onwards to Parma, a cultural and culinary gem and the hometown of Parma ham, a cured meat eaten all around the world. Making your way further south from Parma to Reggio Emilia you will pass fortified hamlets and imposing castles, as well as having a chance to taste the world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano in its town of origin.
The second part of your journey will take you to Modena and Bologna, both important towns boasting splendid historic centres, and both featuring on the UNESCO world-heritage list. Here you will cycle through lush countryside and visit towns and villages that fiercely guard the recipes of some of Italy’s most well-known foods. Both towns boast gastronomic specialities with Modena being home to the Museo dell'Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, a museum dedicated to Aceto di Balsamico (Balsamic Vinegar), and Bologna being named as the culinary capital of Italy due to its impressive food, ranging frm Ragu alla Bolognese to Mortadella, you won't be disappointed!
We're sure that by the end of this cycling tour you will not only have admired some of Italy’s most marvellous cultural sights and learned about its history, but having journeyed in the heartland of Italian cuisine, you'll also have tasted some of the country's most famous products.
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Highlights

  • Gently cycling on quiet roads and cycle paths through beautiful countryside
  • Sampling tasty slow-food produce on the Food Valley Bike route from Cremona to Parma
  • Tasting authentic Italian food in their towns of origin such as Parma Ham, Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar, and Bolognese
  • Visiting the hometown of the famous Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi
  • Exploring modern and bustling Modena
  • Taking in the vibrant university city of Bologna

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival Milan Bergamo Airport - Transfer to Cremona

On arrival into Milan Bergamo airport, we’ll transfer you to Cremona (approx 1.5 hour drive). Time permitting, we recommend visiting the Museo del Stradivario – Cremona is the hometown of the Stradivarious violin and music is very much at the heart of the town.

Food is also central to the town of Cremona, with famed chef Mario Batali writing that Cremona is “absolutely essential to the gastrovoyager.” Being on the border of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, means influences from both. Expect charcuterie, Grana Padano cheese, and stuffed pastas such as marubini and tortelli di zucca. Let’s not 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.

Day 2
Cremona to Busseto
25 Miles / 40 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 160 Metres Approx.

This morning you will receive your welcome meeting and also your bike fitting (if renting). Now is the perfect time to ask any questions to your local representative.

Leaving Cremona, you’ll 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, a delight for those interested in gastronomy. You’ll pass cultivated fields and small farms, arriving in the hamlet of Le Roncole where Giuseppe Verdi 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 which merits a visit. 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 a great local wine.

Day 3
Busseto to Parma
34 Miles / 55 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 200 Metres Approx.

Heading back towards the Po River, you’ll continue riding through rural countryside and the Food Valley Bike route, through a region renowned for the production of the Culatello di Zibello, a type of meat known as the King of Dried Meats, as well as the classic Parma Ham. Culatello di Zibello can only be certified as PDO (Denominazione Origine Protetta) if it is produced in a very small region of Emilia-Romagna, sandwiched between the Po River and the main autostrada that runs from Milan to Bologna.

Meandering along the cycle Food Valley Bike route you’ll reach Colorno. Known as the Versailles of Parma, the Reggia di Colorno is an 18th century ducal palace well worth a visit. True to its location close to Parma, it houses the headquarters of ALMA, the International School of Italian cuisine.

The town of Parma itself is yet another Italian cultural (and culinary!) gem, famed for its dried meats. Parma is world renowned for its ham and salami, as well as it’s 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 centre 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).

Day 4
Parma to Reggio Emilia
43 Miles / 70 Kms Approx
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 500 Metres Approx.

Today you’ll ride closer to the hills and into the Val Parma, passing several fortified hill top 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).

Day 5
Reggio Emilia to Modena
34 Miles / 55 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 200 Metres Approx.

From Reggio Emilia today you will cycle on quiet country lanes to Modena.

Along the way you will pass through the towns of Correggio and Carpi both of which preserve several splendid churches and civilian palaces, as well as offering plenty of opportunities for a cappuccino or gelato break. In Carpi, if you’re not feeling gelato, Zuppa Inglese might hit the spot. A dessert made with vanilla and chocolate pudding, Savoiardi biscuits and a splash of liqueur, it’s almost a mix of a tiramisu and an English trifle.

Your destination today is Modena, a modern bustling town dating back to the Roman era. Here 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.

Day 6
Free Day in Modena or Optional Loop Ride
37 Miles / 60 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 350 Metres Approx.

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, from Modena you’ll head south along the Panaro River in the direction of Spilamberto, famous as the regional centre for Aceto Balsamico production. Food buffs here definitely need to visit the Museo dell’Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale.

You’ll then continue to Vignola where in the late spring you can refresh yourself with the locally produced black cherry of Vignola (moretta di Vignola). On 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. A must-see for foodies.

Day 7
Modena to Bologna
37 Miles / 60 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 270 Metres Approx.

Your last cycling day will take you from Modena to the region’s capital; Bologna. Sticking predominantly to quiet, secondary, 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 the seat 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 when going out for dinner!

Day 8
Departure from Bologna
  • Meals: Breakfast

Arrivederci! Time to head to the airport for flights home (approx. 30 min transfer to airport).

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The Cycling

Terrain

You’ll be riding predominantly on quiet, country roads shared with vehicle traffic (approx. 60% of the route) – 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 we recommend hybrid or gravel bikes for this tour. A road bike would suffice if happy to pushover these short sections. An e-bike is also suitable for this tour and will make day 4’s distance in particular (and 500 metres of climbing) a little more manageable, and it’s a good option to help manage the heat on those hot summery 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.

For more information about riding an electric bike on our holidays please click here

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 / humidity.

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Leisure Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 2-3: Gentle/ Moderate

Aspects of both our grade 2 and 3 trips

Suitable for those looking for some cycle friendly routes

Some modest climbs

Possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc)

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

Trips that are graded as a 2-3, will have aspects of both our grade 2 and 3 rides. These tours are still suitable for those perhaps who have recently got into cycling, and offer an array of accessible, cycle friendly routes, cycle paths and quiet roads, however there will be some days / sections where you may have to tackle some ups and downs, the occasional steeper climb and perhaps some varying terrain (forest tracks, gravel paths etc). Suitable for those with a decent level of physical fitness, looking for some leisurely rides with occasional (achievable!) challenges along the way.  

For more information about the grading of this holiday in particular, please check out the terrain section which will give you some specifics of what to expect on this tour.

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Dates & Prices

Daily departures available. The season prices below are per person and are applicable for all start dates between and inclusive of the stated dates.

2024 25 Mar – 30 Oct

Season 1 – $1815 03 Apr – 17 Jun and 04 Sep – 30 Oct

Season 2 – $2010 25 Mar – 02 Apr and 18 Jun – 03 Sep

Secure Your Holiday With A Deposit

Book now with a $250 deposit and nothing more to pay until 60 days before departure. Choose a date to start your booking and see all prices, including bike hire and single room supplements.

Select a date to view prices and book
Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
Return Date
--/--/----
Duration
8 days
Price
$1,815.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms) in small hotels / agriturismi / guesthouses

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) English speaking local representative (with welcome meeting – either in person or video call)

D) Access to an app for holiday information and navigation

E) Luggage transfers

F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Milan Bergamo (BGY)

G) Financial Protection through ABTOT

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Local tourist tax (to be paid locally – Approx. 2€ per day)

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

This tour starts in Cremona and finishes in Bologna.

Airport transfers on your arrival day are included in the cost of your tour. We ask that you fly into Milan Bergamo (BGY). Please aim to arrive between 09.00 and 16.00.

At the end of the tour, the most convenient airport is Bologna (BLQ). We ask that you make your own way to the airport. We can help organise a transfer (price on request), or you can make your way using public transport.

If you’d prefer to fly into Verona (VRN) we can organise this for you for an additional $45.

Most flights from North America require overnight travel, and a stop over in an intermediary airport. Please note that flying from North America may involve multiple travel days.

Please check with Skedaddle before making any travel arrangements. Please note – If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the above time windows there may be an additional charge for your transfers.

Accommodation

You’ll stay in comfortable 3 star hotels all with en-suite facilities which have been carefully selected for their location, local cuisine and service.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available to rent.

These bikes are typically 21 speed aluminium city bikes (as above), 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.

We can provide a helmet locally on request, please let us know if you’d like to rent one when you make your booking.

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.

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