Day 1: Arrival in Venice
Quite early in the morning we took off in the Eurobike-bus headed from Salzburg to Venice. Around midday we arrived at the hotel in Mestre, our rooms were ready which allowed us to freshen up for the trip into the town built on a lagoon. The cost of the tickets which we were able to purchase at reception was EUR 1.20 each way. The tram station was also very close by. You can already see the houses of Venice during the ride along the Via Libertá and also the harbour is visible with all the cruise ships moored there. We gathered lots of impressions whilst strolling through the city and walked across Marcus square and over to the Rialto-bridge.
Day 2: Venice – Chioggia
Before we even started cycling we met up with Marco, our stage-manager in Venetia. After a cordial welcome he explained the special features of the tour to us and then we received our bikes. Initially you only cycle on the cycling path along the Via Libertá to Venice, from there by ferry to the Lido di Venezia where we got back on our bike saddles. En route there were again and again marvellous views onto the sea and particularly at the start onto the city of Venice. Also a quick cooling off in the sea is always an option. Luckily we brought along our swimming things. Then anther ferry crossing and at the end a journey by Vaporeto to Chioggia. To our big surprise we happened to be there for the Medieval Festival taking place this weekend and it was a big hustle and bustle which immediately drew us in. Our overnight stay in the hotel Grande Italia was excellent and we especially enjoyed the sea view during breakfast.
Day 3: Chioggia – Adria
In the morning we rendezvoused again with our stage-manager Marco. After he loaded the suitcases and a quick chat with us we were off again on our bikes. Today’s route again led us on completely flat terrain. Whilst having a short drinks break on the river Etsch, a truck suddenly stopped and the kind driver handed us two large handfuls of carrots – very nice! Enjoying our carrots we continued finally along the river Etsch until Cavazere, where we had lunch in a café and also enjoyed a short nap after. After that unfortunately the cycling path was closed due to road works, but with the aid of our Bikeline-cycling map we quickly found an alternative route there.
Today we came across a lot of agribusiness in this region: the scenery is characterised by corn-, wheat-, and dill fields. The little villages we cycled through were a welcome change and we were fascinated by how lovingly people looked after their houses. On arrival in Adria we eventually tested the Eurobike-App and hence found our hotel Stella D’Italia very quickly. After a short stroll through Adria we finally ended up in a really nice restaurant in the evening. We enjoyed the end of the day with pasta and Frutti di Mare. Situated directly next to the hotel is a music school, where an open-air concert happened to take place. Listening to music we went to bed and were looking forward to the next day.
Day 4: Adria – Commacchio
Today we started our day with stocking up on various ‘electrolyte drinks’. Then we continued on totally level terrain again. After a short section along the country road we were back on the dam-cycling path running along the river Po.
In Ariano nel Polesine we decided to cycle directly into the village in order to have a short break in a very nice café. At the Lido di Volano we all agreed to a detour of about 900 m, so we could dip our feet into the sea. Today was again totally characterised by scenery. Again and again we cycled past carefully arranged canals and cultivated fields. We also came across many pump stations as well as lots of animals such as herons and baby ducks. When we were waiting for each other at a small car park at a junction, an elderly couple emerged from their house and pointed us in the right direction. They must have recognised our bicycles knowing that every Wednesday Eurobike-guests cycle past here. We soon reached Commacchio and we were able to see the impressive church already from afar. This village is renowned for breeding eels, consequently we went and tried this type of fish for dinner. Initially we were sceptical but it was very well prepared and tasted a little bit like bacon. For this we can really recommend the restaurant in the hotel ‘Locanda La Comacina’, because you eat your meal on a moored boat on the canal. Despite feeling quite full after our dinner we still had room for delicious ice cream (gelati). 😊
Day 5: Commacchio – Ravenna
Our day started in a car repair workshop. Unfortunately my mum ran over a nail, so her bike needed the inner tube changed. Initially the mechanics refused ‘No Biciclettas’, but once they realised that we girls can do it ourselves (thanks to the instructions from the blog ‘How to change the tube on a bike tyre’), they helped us a bit with handling the repair. When we finally resumed our tour we had already reached the sea and continued along a lovely grazed cycling path. Here we had a fabulous view onto countless flamingos looking for crabs there in the mudflat. After a short section along the country road we continued on a gravel cycling path along the sea. We felt just like in a national park!
We could not help but plunge into the cool water. Back on our bikes we proceeded along the lidos all the way to Punta Marina Terme. Inbetween we enjoyed a ferry ride, for which we recommend to buy the tickets beforehand at the ticket machine, since on board they are double the price. After Ravenna we continued along a very well maintained cycling path. In the hotel we had a warm welcome by the family Fabbri in the hotel Cendrale Byron and I was given a verbal list of whom in Eurobike to say hello to. Naturally I was more than happy to oblige and pass on the greetings after my return. We also had immediate help with our bikes, which we could leave in the courtyard. Today we really fancied a pizza for dinner!
Day 6: Ravenna – Brisighella
Through Italy’s orchard: kiwi plantations, pear and apple trees and nectarines all grew along the way. At a farm where we had a quick stop in the shade, we were all given a nectarine for free – our carrots had all been eaten. Then we continued along flat side roads with the hills of Tuscany approaching. In Faenza we eventually stopped for lunch. Although the menu of the bistro did not feature warm dishes, the chef still produced a bit of pasta with Pomodoro for us which tasted heavenly.
After Faenza we tackled a slight ascent, which we hardly noticed and after two speedy descents we had reached Brisighella.
We were greeted in the hotel La Meridiana by Mercedes and settled down in the garden in our cycling gear enjoying an Aperol-Spritz and the peace and quiet. After a quick shower we decided nonetheless to take a walk into the village. A short walk – and yes, we were happy to leave the bikes behind for a change – and we had reached the centre of the village with its traditional houses and little bars and pubs. Who had enough energy left ventured up the Rocca, towering far across the valley. If you fancy a visit however you need to be there before 7pm, since it is closed after that. We ended today with a nice evening in the hotel restaurant and enjoyed the tranquility of the picturesque village.
Day 7: Brisighella – Florence
Our final day of cycling started with a train ride. Since on this date several guests were cycling, our bikes were picked early in the morning by our stage-manager Alexander. That meant for us 25 min on foot to the train station and then by train via the pass to Borgo San Lorenzo. As soon as we stepped out of the train we were in awe of the view onto the hills of Tuscany. We were slightly worried that the terrain might become too hilly for our taste, but we were positively surprised. The route initially took us downhill and then on level terrain along a side road through the hills. And then there was an ascent. This one was hefty however after approx. 1.5 km it was over and we leisurely continued downhill.
Just after Fiesole there is a small unobstructed spot from where you have a stunning view onto Florence and its sheer size. The dome of the cathedral naturally stands out. Along the road to Florence there is of course traffic to endure, but soon the route leads you into a quiet side road and onto a cycling path. In order to find our hotel Grifone we made use of the Eurobike-app again. Around midday we finally parked our bikes after a total of approx. 320 km and felt really pumped about our lovely time spent together on this holiday. After lunch and a quick shower we walked into town for about 20 mins and then marvelled at the amazing buildings of Florence.
Day 8: Departure
On our final day we took the train back to Mestre. Here we learnt our lesson that it is preferable to purchase tickets beforehand, for instance at the train station in Brisighella at the ticket machine. The thing in Italy is that they only sell as many tickets as there are seats available. Thus we had to wait for a bit for our departure. But my sister in law and I seized the extra time for a spot of shopping. Naturally we had to bring home a couple of souvenirs. From Mestre we returned to Salzburg by car.
Although previously I was not too keen on Italy, this holiday however definitely changed my mind about it. The cordiality and helpfulness of the people there was amazing and there was a chance to chat with everyone everywhere. Although south of Lake Garda – except for the cities – there are no cycling paths, we never felt endangered by the traffic. Vehicles always overtook us leaving lots of space or drove past us very slowly. I especially enjoyed the cycling tour from Venice to Florence because each day was so incredibly varied.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our two stage-managers Marco and Alex, who took great care of us locally and assisted us with answering lots of our questions and providing background knowledge. That way we heard all about the story of the cat of Chioggia, but it is best we leave that up to Marco to tell you all about it …