Biking Italy -- Bolzano to Venice

Description of the trip

I hesitated to write up this trip. Unfortunately, my biking partner, Len, crashed his bike and was rather seriously injured on the fourth day coming down a hill into Vicenza. However, I'd like to remember the good times we had on this trip. Also, I need to remind myself, as well as any readers of this web site, that biking is dangerous. It's easy to forget, and all it takes is an instant of inattention to get hurt.

We've based on past trips on meetings that Len and I help run in Europe, typically in July. In 2007 our meeting was in Barcelona. Since we've often talked about biking in Italy, we decided this was the year to go ahead with a bike trip there. But the questions are always exactly where the route should go and how we should arrange for bikes and hotels.

Italy is a great tourist destination. I've heard that it is the number one tourist attraction in Europe for visitors from the United States. Both Len and I have had a number of visits there, and have always enjoyed the scenery, the people, and the antiquities. While it is really a wonderful country, there are some difficulties in biking there. First, it really can be very hot in July and, second, much of the country is quite hilly. I'd love to bike in Tuscany, for example, but every little town is on top of a big hill. There is yet another difficulty that I hadn't fully appreciated before this trip: the traffic density in Italy is much greater than it is, for example, in France or England. It requires real local knowledge to know which roads are friendly to bike and which are dangerous.

I was looking at biking west to east across the Po Valley, mainly because I had heard it was flat. Len thought, however, that it would be hot, humid, and mosquito-infested during July. With a little research on the Web, Len came up with an alternative, finding a popular bike route that started in Bolzano in the upper middle of the country, and finished in Venice on the east coast. It was a six-day, seven-night trip of about 220 miles.

This was a trip that was packaged by Eurobike ( Although we like to arrange things ourselves, we decided to take advantage of some of their package. We prefer to bike by ourselves on a self-guided itinerary, rather than being part of a larger group, and we like to take our own luggage on our bikes, rather than having it transported for us. Eurobike was flexible on this, and gave us a quoted fee commensurate with our needs.

Here is the route that we took, exactly as recorded on my GPS.

The route from Bolzano to Venice

The yellow line running south from Bolzano and then east to Vicenza is the route we took until Len's unfortunate crash in Vicenza. Had we finished the trip on the last two days we would have approximately followed the dotted green extension that I have added. We biked exactly 165 miles in getting to Vicenza; the last two days would have added about another 50 miles. For almost the entire way from Bolzano to Venice (actually Mestre) the route follows the Adige River.

The GPS also recorded that my maximum speed was 33.7 mph (coming downhill, obviously!) and that my moving average was 9 mph. (Lots of stops and starts, a few places walking the bike, etc., keep this rather low.)

On our arrival in Bolzano to begin the trip we were met by two people from Eurobike, who briefed us on the trip, and gave us rental bikes, maps, and instructions.

The Eurobike map booklet

The maps in this booklet were quite detailed, although of limited usefulness during the trip, since much of the time was spent on bike paths or very small roads. Here is a sample:

Sample map from Eurobike booklet

We were also supplied with a booklet of turn-by-turn instructions. The rental bikes came with odometers, and for much of the route it was necessary to follow the odometer readings religiously, as turns were very frequent. Here's a sample of some of the instructions:

Turn-by-turn instructions corresponding to odometer readings

We were very satisfied with the Eurobike service, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to interested readers.

Proceed to day 1 of the Italy trip

Back to the overview page for the trip