Cycling Holidays in Italy: Emilia Romagna Region

8 days / 7 nights | Self guided bike tours | Parma, Modena and Bologna

The Emilia Romagna region offers many of Italy's finest Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) products: Parmigiano Reggiano, Modena authentic Balsamic Vinegar, Parma ham, DOCG classified wines, traditional hand-made stuffed pasta. An easy cycling journey through this area enables you to enjoy these specialties onsite directly from the producers. At the same time you can experience the art and history of the area and explore its castles and heritage villages dating back to the Ducal period when in this region was flourishing in extraordinary art.

Via Emilia is the theme of this trip. This road, built by the Romans in 187 B.C., gave rise to important cities such as Bologna, Modena and Parma at a time when the greatest artists and architects worked in this domain. You will discover Parma, with its cathedral and Abbess room displaying Correggio's frescoes. And Modena with its preserved medieval center, World Heritage Site, and Romanesque Cathedral. And finally Bologna, the capital of the region, rich in palaces and medieval towers. Bologna will charm you with its unique atmosphere and its 40 km of medieval and Renaissance arcades. On this tour you will encounter a hard-working region where everything reflects the Italian savoir vivre: the preservation of historical and artistic heritage, the pleasure of good food and the love of good music, from Verdi opera to Pavarotti.


Day 1: Parma

Individual arrival in Parma. Visit Parma's city center where you will find masterpieces of art, open green spaces, and significant treasures from across the ages. This city welcomes visitors into the refined atmosphere of a small capital. Dinner is on your own. Overnight in Parma.

Day 2: Parma – Soragna – Fontanellato – Parma (Cycling 57 km / 36 miles)

After breakfast cycle through the countryside along partially paved lanes and past the Paradigna Cistercian abbey, celebrated by Stendhal as the Certosa di Parma. Enter San Secondo where you have the opportunity to visit a "caseificio", a cheese factory where Parmigiano Reggiano is produced. Parmesan, one of the most ancient cheeses, is still produced with the same traditional care taken eight centuries ago. The strict production regulations, the close link to the land of its origin, the use of raw milk and other natural ingredients (16 liters of milk are required to make 1 kg of Parmesan!) are key features which distinguish this cheese from the imitations. Don't miss a tasting! Soragna also offers many good reasons to stop: the Parmigiano Reggiano Museum, the Nicola dell'Abate's frescoes and English garden of Meli Lupi Rocca. Continue towards Fontanellato where you will find the mighty fortress of San Vitale, a castle dating back to XIV° century and home to a great Parmigianino painting. Dinner in a typical trattoria. Overnight in Parma.

Day 3: Parma – Langhirano – Reggio Emilia (Cycling 59 km / 37 miles) (+/- 450 - 500 mt)

Discover the precise area where Parmigiano is produced along with the famous Parma ham. Parma's delicate flavor, slightly salty with fragrant aroma, is the result of the particular climate conditions in which this ham is dried and aged. The air of the region, scented by the pine woods and Versilia chestnuts of the Parma hills and balanced by the mountains of Cisa, produce the essential features of real Parma Ham. In Langhirano you can visit a "prosciutto". For a taste of history do not miss Torrechiara castle. Set on a high perch overlooking the Parma valley, this structure dating back to 1460, is one of the best preserved fortifications in the region. Continue this pleasant route through cultivated fields until you reach the ancient fortress of Montechiarugola overlooking the river Enza and the castle of Montecchio, part of Matilda di Canossa's duchy defense system. End your day with a ride through the city of Reggio Emilia; enjoy the beautiful buildings and churches in old town. Dinner is on your own. Overnight in Reggio Emilia.

Day 4: Reggio Emilia – Carpi – Modena (Cycling 57 km / 36 miles)

Today's route through the countryside of the Po Valley will offer many possibilities for tours and tastings. First arrive at Correggio, a prestigious small Renaissance court bearing the name of the famous painter born here. Continue through the vineyards of Lambrusco di Santa Croce DOP on the way to Carpi, a pearl of the Renaissance and ancient home to the Pio lords. Experience the significant artistic heritage of this city dating back to the Middle Ages. Visit the beautiful Romanesque church known as "La Sagra", the historic Deportation Museum, and the city square, the third largest in Italy and the site of the great castle. Cycle the last 18 km to arrive at the day's destination, Modena. This city offers extraordinary beauty concentrated in its graceful historic center. UNESCO has acknowledged the universal value of the city's monumental treasures by designating the Cathedral, Piazza Grande, and the Ghirlandina Tower UNESCO World Heritage. Piazza Grande is the heart of life in Modena and the place where the most significant and most-loved monuments are located. The Cathedral, one of the finest masterpieces of European Romanesque, is the work of great architect Lanfranco and master sculptor Wiligelmo. Dinner in a local trattoria to experience the typical dish "Gnocco e Tigelle". Overnight in Modena.

Day 5: Modena – Vignola – Castelvetro – Modena (Cycling 65 km / 41 miles (+/-350 mt)

After breakfast depart Modena via the cycle path tracing an historic railway route to Spilamberto. Here you can visit an “acetaia”, a factory where the authentic Balsamic Vinegar is produced. This vinegar, proudly receiving PDO status in 2000, is unique among the world's vinegar-based seasonings. Unlike other vinegars which are produced from an alcoholic liquid, Balsamic Vinegar is produced directly from the juice of the grape. Continue to Vignola, the city of cherries and the famous Barozzi cake. Savor
a slice of cake at the celebrated Gollini pastry and take a stroll to the mighty castle. Continue on small roads to the town of Castelvetro renowned for the PDO Lambrusco wine. Stop at a winery and enjoy a tasting. On your way back to Modena, you can stop and visit Luciano Pavarotti’s house! Dinner is on your own. Overnight in Modena.

Day 6: Modena – Nonantola - Bologna (Cycling 55 km / 34 miles)

Before leaving Modena, take your time to visit Enzo Ferrari house museum. Follow the cycle path leading out of Modena along the banks of the river Secchia through countryside and vineyards. The first stop is in Nonantola to visit the Abbey. Dating back to XII° century, this Romanesque masterpiece lies along the Romea Nonantolana route followed by Pilgrims around the year 1000 as they traveled to Rome. This area, dotted with manor houses and Romanesque churches, offers many options for tasting authentic Aceto Balsamico as you continue to Bologna. Dinner in a typical trattoria. Overnight in Bologna.

Day 7: Bologna (Cycling 20 km / 13 miles)

After breakfast a half-day of cycling will provide a tour of Bologna. In the afternoon you are free to enjoy a stroll in the beautiful city center famous for its nearly 40 km arcades, the longest in the world. Nicknamed "The Learned" for its old University, and "The Fat" for its food tradition, the city is also a "UNESCO Creative City of Music". It has one of the largest and most well-preserved medieval historical centers filled with restaurants, taverns, theaters and shops. Piazza Maggiore, where medieval palaces overlook energetic daily life and economic activity, offers a prime view of this beautiful city. History combines perfectly with the present while preserving antique charm. Among the symbols of Bologna are the medieval towers, particularly the magnificent Two Towers: Asinelli tower (98 m) and neighboring "twin" Garisenda (48 m, mentioned in Dante's Inferno). When you are ready to relax, indulge yourself with a slice of mortadella and a glass of Sangiovese wine! The best way to end your trip. Dinner is on your own. Overnight in Bologna.

Day 8: Bologna

After breakfast the tour ends

Please note: All cycling distances stated above are approximate only.