La Réserve is a refined, exclusive wellness centre and a spa resort. It is located in the Orfento Valley nature reserve, in the heart of the Majella national park.
A stunning portrait of Italy awaits you on this six-region bike tour exploration. Pass sleepy fishing villages along the canals of the Po Delta. Face hilly climbs and zigzagging descents in the verdant Apennine Mountains. Explore Florence, the jewel of the Renaissance, and delight in the vibrant palazzi. Pedal through the cypress groves of magical Tuscany to the melting blues and golds of Umbria. Allow the mystical moonscape of the Sibillini to astound you. Be energized by the rustic ruggedness of le Marche and Abruzzo. Italy’s varied scenery, gastronomy, and cultures combine in this inspiring and unforgettable trip.
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Today we meet at 1pm at our hotel for a light lunch followed by an introduction talk, bike fitting and a warm-up ride. Ferrara is one of the centers of Italian Renaissance history and an outpost of papal power in the north. Bicycles are the favorite mode of transportation on its streets, which are closed to car traffic! Ferrara, with its uniquely well preserved walls, is home to the stupendous monuments from the 13th-15th century: the Castle of Estensi, the Lion’s tower, della Quercia’s Madonna of the Pomegranate, Rossetti’s Renaissance Palace of Diamonds, the poet Ariosto’s home, and many more!
Today’s bike ride crosses into Emilia Romagna following a gorgeous path that snakes its way through orchards of fruit trees and lagoons. We’ll cross the Reno River via a boat bridge. Match grass, vast rice paddies and wheat fields line the road. In the afternoon we make our way to Ravenna, a quiet city with a sparkling history. Heir to the Roman Empire, the port of Classis (later Ravenna) was one of the only European cities to prosper during the Dark Ages. Ravenna’s churches host some of the finest mosaics from this time, and as Dante’s city of refuge during Florentine exile, Ravenna also hosts his tomb and museum. We recommend that you try to keep a steady pace in order to arrive in Ravenna in time to enjoy the incredible mosaics, museum and piazzas close to the hotel.
Today’s journey is the longest ride of the trip and also features our first real climb as we cycle from the Emilia Romagna region to Toscana. Beginning in Ravenna, this gorgeous bike ride spins through endless fruit orchards and along tiny farm roads all the way to Faenza, a charming village internationally known for its ceramics. From Faenza, the elevation gain begins but so do the beautiful views of the Tuscan hills! The farmland turns to mountain landscape as we spin our way to Marradi. The descent to Borgo San Lorenzo is exhilarating but twisting - so take it slowly! After Borgo, the second climb of the day begins gradually and becomes steeper through Polcanto. The descent down from Vetta La Croce is called La Panoramica, a perfect nickname as it looks out over Monte Morello.
Take the day off from the bike today to explore the smaller back roads of Florence. We start with a guided tour of this magical city, wandering through the labyrinth of streets that painters, philosophers, and princes once called home. Meander around Signora Square and stand next to the statue of David, admire the Duomo of Florence, and go in search of the city’s best gelato! Our Florentine guide will show us the best-kept secrets of this marvelous town. After lunch you’ll have the afternoon to yourself to continue exploring this jewel of the Renaissance.
Today’s ride offers a lovely sample of this picture-perfect Tuscan landscape. Drop down into the Arno valley, cycling along smooth roads lined by olive groves. The climb to Reggello is shaded, steady, lovely, and never too steep. This area is known for its delicious olive oil. From Reggello, the ride is heavenly, curving in and out of the foothills of the Aretina. Enjoy the views of vineyards and olive groves to your right and lush forests to your left. In the distance to your right, you’ll see a long mountain range - the Chianti hills. We slowly lose elevation as we spin through tiny villages, of which, Loro Ciuffena is the most picturesque. Make sure to stop and take lots of photos today!
We begin with flat and rolling terrain through corn, wheat, and sunflower fields. Then the route dips up and down through several small villages. It’s a favorite route for local cyclists so be sure to say: “SALVE” (greetings), ALE’ ALE’ (go, go), or FORZA, FORZA (push, push). The hills are not too long, although there are a couple of steep sections. In the distance you can see many tiny hill towns. The extra loop to Pienza is challenging but absolutely gorgeous with golden hills framed by cypress trees. The descent from Montepulciano is fantastic! Reserve some energy and time to stroll through Cortona, the gorgeous hilltop town where time seems to have stood still.
Today is a long ride into Spoleto. Cycle through the heart of Umbria as you encounter several hills around Lago Trasimeno and then pedal along a flat road to Bevagna. About 10km after passing Torgiano, stop to admire the mountains to your left. On a clear day you can see Assisi on the hillside. In July these fields are covered with glowing sunflower fields. There’s a bit of traffic near Torgiano where many roads go to Perugia (where Baci Perugina are made). Try to keep a steady pace with short stops in Bevagna and Montefalco so you’ll have time to see Spoleto. But make sure you DO stop in Bevagna and Montefalco, for they are wonderfully charming and historic towns. Bevagana boasts Roman baths covered in elaborate marine mosaics, and Montefalco’s frescoes by Gozzoli depict the life of St Francis.
This is a great ride through this peaceful side of Umbria. We start with a gradual 9 km climb immediately outside Spoleto that highlights the Valnerina, this amazing Umbrian landscape. After the 1st pass we descend a bit until we reach Borgo Cerreto, a rolling road until Preci. This is where we enter the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, the first of many National Parks we’ll ride through on the tour. We also recommended a detour to visit the Abbazia di Sant’Eutizio from the VI-XIII century. After Preci, continue with the last 9 km climb of the day, followed by a final descend to Norcia. Famous as the birth place of San Benedetto, Norcia is also very famous for black truffles and norcinerie. Today is the first day of a week in the mountains so pace yourself it’s only the beginning.
From Norcia, it’s all uphill for about 13 miles and most of the climb is a steady at a predictable grade. Witness incredible views of Norcia and the surrounding valley the entire way. The secret to a long climb like this is to find a pace that you could keep all day long and stick with it. Be patient with the hill and yourself – expect the climb to take 1-2 hours to complete (there’s no hurry). At the very top is a magnificent, unforgettable view of the Piano Grande and the surrounding peak softly molded by time and the elements. Your efforts will surely be rewarded. From Piano Grande another climb starts gradually and gets steeper as you approach the summit, offering more gorgeous views and photo ops. The descent is fabulous. Then it's a bit of an uphill to Balzo as you zigzag through a peaceful green forest. The last hill to Venarotta goes by quickly compared to your morning efforts. Descend into Ascoli to complete your day on the bike.
Explore the region on a loop ride to Offida, world famous for its bobbin lace works. Ascoli Piceno is an almost perfectly preserved medieval town. The buildings are ancient, and many roads are narrow, winding, cobblestone paths. This sets the theme for most of the towns and villages we visit for the rest of the tour – all are charmingly ancient, authentic, and unspoiled by tourism.
Before departing, take a quick spin to see the market behind the main square of Ascoli. Grab some fruit for the road while making friends with the locals. A spin through Ascoli’s sparkling main piazza in the morning is a special treat. The marble surface of the piazza looks practically polished. Our ride starts out with some traffic but as we climb through the valley, the traffic subsides.
Today’s ride is truly glorious with cascading descents and plenty of crisp mountain air. We start out climbing towards Campo Imperatore from Fonte Cerreto. A soft light highlights this spectacular moonscape - even a panoramic camera couldn't do this landscape justice. We have a fast and fun descent through a lush plain, just don’t forget to look behind you to see the views! We climb again just before Castel Monte and then the Abruzzo curtain goes up.
Unlike yesterday’s barren, dramatic landscape, today’s ride offers a taste of the lush yet rugged Maiella, a mountain range that was more recently made into a national park. Our ride takes us through several charming villages in the morning, each one conveniently placed on top of a hill with valleys separating them. We cycle our way through two mountain chains via beautiful gorges and orchards. From San Eufemia all the way to the top of the pass, the road gently climbs along the edge of this spectacular chain. From Passo San Leonardo, it’s a roller coaster descent towards Pacentro and down to Sulmona. Sulmona, the capital of confetti (the almond candies given away at Italian weddings), is easily visited in 2 hours and it’s quite a lively little town. From Sulmona we have a long climb to Pescocostanzo with some flat parts.
From Pescocostanzo we ride through the Abruzzo National Park, Italy's second largest park. The oldest in the Apennines, this park plays an important role in the preservation of many species such as the Italian wolf, Chamois and brown bear. Keep a look out for these rare animals, among the park’s plentiful array of flora and fauna. Roughly two thirds of the area consists of beech trees, although many other trees grow here, including the silver birch, black and mountain pines. We end our ride along the coast in the town of Gaeta, a historic city with beautiful vistas of the sea. Check out the city’s famous Anjou-Aragon castle. Purportedly built in the 10th century, it was recently reconstructed due to substantial damages sustained during WWII. Tonight we’ll celebrate our remarkable Italian journey with a succulent seafood feast and abundant toasts!
At around 9am after breakfast we provide a 15-minute group shuttle to the closest train station in Formia. If you like to extend your stay in the area we highly recommend an excursion to the sleepy volcanic island of Ponza with its emerald water, white sandy beaches, and pastel-colored houses.
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