Author Topic: Riding In Italy  (Read 2739 times)

Riding In Italy
« on: 02 January, 2021, 07:34:45 pm »
Tagging on to the post by QG reference riding in France I'd like to pose the same Q with regards to Italy. Her post unpacked a few interesting and useful nuggets of information.
Details such as the relative safety on each category of roads and if it varies from region to region would be most welcome.
Any advice on how to transit the Po valley without soiling my bibs would be great. I have found pretty good sources, and experience, of the bike paths in the mountains that are awesome but found info on anything into the Po and South a bit thin on the ground.
Previous riding experience in Italy has been either organised backroad trips, the Munich to Venice trail which steers you off the main drags (until the final bit which is terrifying.) and transiting the Alp foothills W to E where I steered North off the plain in search of quieter roads.
I have driven in Italy a few times and felt sorry for the cyclists that were sharing some of the roads we were using at the time. I have no desire to join them if there are alternatives.
often lost.

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #1 on: 02 January, 2021, 10:03:03 pm »
As you might expect, given the heritage, Italy is in many ways very cycle-friendly.
Quote
"I have driven in Italy a few times and felt sorry for the cyclists that were sharing some of the roads we were using at the time."

This is a comment I hear from people about every country I've ever cycled in. Things look very different from inside a motor vehicle. Notwithstanding that, there are quite a few Italian drivers who live up to the Italian Driver reputation. Mostly, though, it's just perception: riding out of Catania drivers were like a swarm of fruit flies, cheerfully taking to the pavement or the wrong side of bollards, through no-entry signs to avoid being behind a cyclist, but were *extremely* careful never to cut me up. Traffic lights don't count unless there's a man on a box with a uniform and a gun.

I don't have specific info on the area you're going to, but generally there are huge numbers of really good quality cycle routes. You can travel 100s of km without using a road and only occasionally crossing one. They have free water, free wifi, well equipped stopping places (often with free tools) every few km. Some are tarmac, others are fine on 25mm tyres. All have sensible gradients. Nearly all guest houses have somewhere for bikes, often with e-bike chargers.

Provisions can be tricky: "convenience" stores are only open a few hours a day and petrol stations *only* sell petrol, nothing else. Not even water. Thankfully public water taps are all over the place, and usually shown on open street map.

Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #2 on: 03 January, 2021, 08:27:08 am »
It's a few years since I've cycled in the area, but...

The Po valley is dull. The best way across it is to put your head down and get across it as quickly as possible.

Italian drivers are quite refreshing in that they give cyclists just as much respect as any other road user. Admittedly that isn't very much, butit makes a pleasant change after the UK. The important trick to remember is to ride Italian, just follow the local style of road use and you won't go far wrong.

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #3 on: 03 January, 2021, 12:34:52 pm »
My experience of riding in Italy is that it’s pretty good and safe. I wouldn’t want to cycle in Milan, for instance, but neither would I want to in London.
However, the down side in my experience are the dogs in rural areas.
Also ( and I may be out of date) be aware that what might be marked on maps as nature reserves may really be military establishments, and certainly not a right of way!

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #4 on: 03 January, 2021, 12:40:51 pm »
I have not ridden much in Italy beyond finishing Mille Miglia several years ago. The Po Valley was dealt with by riding through it overnight at high speed. The roadside cheerleaders were a surprising sight.

I don’t recall any particular issue with Italian drivers but I cycle-commute through West London.

The main thing was getting coffee and food while places were open. Overnight means shut in most places but potable water is reasonably available, provided you know where to look.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

T42

  • *** fool in a hurry
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #5 on: 03 January, 2021, 01:18:28 pm »
Done a bit in the Emilia-Romagna/San Marino area and loved it.  Roads were a bit crackly at times, but in the 10 years since ours have gone much the same way.  The only thing I found disconcerting was the signposting of town limits. To explain: in France every municipality has two borders, that delimiting the built-up area of the community and the other enclosing the area administered by the municipal authorities.  Italy appears to have the same system. The difference is that while in France the town sign indicates the edge of the built-up area (and the speed limit), in Italy it appears to denote the border of the entire area administered.  We often thought we were approaching a town centre, only to find that we still had kilometres to ride.

Greatly enjoyed the ride to San Marino: the climb up through the city is great fun, and the swoop down from the ridge as you leave is superb.

Oh aye, the distance signs in chilometri gave me a wonderful laid-back feeling.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #6 on: 03 January, 2021, 01:46:35 pm »

Thanks for starting this. I was going to do so in a week or two once I was happy with my route so far in France...

I have the advantage that my Sponsor is Italian, which is helpful for getting advice.

What are villages like in Italy? Are they just going to be a collection of houses and not much else, or am I likely to find somewhere to buy food (tho I may not be there at the right time?)?

The only bit of rural Italy I've visited was Südtyrol, which seemed to be a mix of Germanic and Italian food, with Italian drivers...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #7 on: 03 January, 2021, 02:56:29 pm »
What are villages like in Italy? Are they just going to be a collection of houses and not much else, or am I likely to find somewhere to buy food (tho I may not be there at the right time?)?

A small village will have a church and a water point (but possibly broken or for locals only with card access).

Larger villages/small towns may have a few shops, one of which sells food. If it's independent it's likely to be open in the morning for a couple of hours, then maybe 4pm/5pm to 7pm/8pm. Don't expect bread in the afternoon. If it's a chain it will probably be open in the middle of the day, but there won't be much fresh food.

Larger towns may have a supermarket somewhere near, Lidl or Pennymarket, etc, with normal hours including Sundays. Mapping like OSM or Google is essential, it will be outside the town with no signs.

There are cafés in unlikely places like tiny villages or on a cycle path. If you spot one it's worth stopping, you may not see another one for 100km.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #8 on: 03 January, 2021, 03:04:41 pm »
What are villages like in Italy? Are they just going to be a collection of houses and not much else, or am I likely to find somewhere to buy food (tho I may not be there at the right time?)?

A small village will have a church and a water point (but possibly broken or for locals only with card access).

Larger villages/small towns may have a few shops, one of which sells food. If it's independent it's likely to be open in the morning for a couple of hours, then maybe 4pm/5pm to 7pm/8pm. Don't expect bread in the afternoon. If it's a chain it will probably be open in the middle of the day, but there won't be much fresh food.

Larger towns may have a supermarket somewhere near, Lidl or Pennymarket, etc, with normal hours including Sundays. Mapping like OSM or Google is essential, it will be outside the town with no signs.

There are cafés in unlikely places like tiny villages or on a cycle path. If you spot one it's worth stopping, you may not see another one for 100km.

Ignorant foreigner question: How easy is it to find a pizzeria ?

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #9 on: 03 January, 2021, 03:24:32 pm »
Given the quality of the Italian versions of IGN maps I used on my two trips, an up to date GPS is essential now. Italian paper maps were attractive approximations!  OK for bimbling about (in my case on “self guided but supported” tours with pre-booked overnight stops) but not for making time.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #10 on: 03 January, 2021, 03:29:00 pm »
I’m presuming that we’re talking about some time into the future. I’ve a friend living in Italy and they are heavily locked down at the moment, and expect this to continue for a while.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #11 on: 03 January, 2021, 03:30:13 pm »
I’m presuming that we’re talking about some time into the future. I’ve a friend living in Italy and they are heavily locked down at the moment, and expect this to continue for a while.

July...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #12 on: 03 January, 2021, 05:58:48 pm »
My experience of the Po Valley was in the West. Eiger Sanction Audax.
Simplon Pass - Asti - Cuneo - Col De Tende.
It was peachy. Even the towns in PM rush-hour.

Your route may differ. Good luck :-)
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #13 on: 03 January, 2021, 07:31:38 pm »

Ignorant foreigner question: How easy is it to find a pizzeria ?

J

I tend to stay off the beaten track, but I think I've eaten in one *actual* pizzeria all the times I've been there. Restaurants that have pizza on the menu, plenty. And many bars will give you free pizza with every beer.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #14 on: 06 January, 2021, 01:12:24 pm »
Coastal routes around Rimini heading South. (Summer)
Any feedback on the weight of traffic?
Looking for that sweet spot of expeditious riding on roads that are not snarled with stationary cars and holiday traffic yet not on a race track with lorries screaming by.
Any one ridden down that way?
often lost.

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #15 on: 09 January, 2021, 02:04:02 pm »
Ive unearthed this useful guide to the different flavours of Italian roads.
https://italy-cycling-guide.info/planning-your-tour/routeplanning-which-roads/
often lost.

Pete Mas

  • Don't Worry 'bout a thing...
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #16 on: 09 January, 2021, 03:22:23 pm »
Page 3 onwards of this thread on the 999 miles Italian Audax Ride gives a good flavour of riding in the South of Italy. I would  highlight some superb scenery, quiet rural roads, and  kind helpful people, for example cafes and bar staff who would prepare snacks late into the night for riders, but problems including some busy roads, close passes, cars sometimes pulling out without looking poor road surfaces, with potholes, sometimes making it safe to only ride in the centre, aggressive  rural dogs and even sheepdogs, summer heat.

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=100128.50

''It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive."

R.L.Stevenson

Pete Mas

  • Don't Worry 'bout a thing...
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #17 on: 09 January, 2021, 03:33:40 pm »
As for riding in the Po Valley, you could look up the threads for the Alpi 4000 ride, or the Mille Miglia. You could even find the GPS routes online.  I remember the Po Valley as being stifflingly hot and unpleasant in Summer, with clouds of mozzies being the main problem, which combined with boring straight flat roads, made for slow progress. Traffic wasn't the major problem!
https://www.alpi4000.it/en
''It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive."

R.L.Stevenson

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #18 on: 10 January, 2021, 03:39:30 am »
As for riding in the Po Valley, you could look up the threads for the Alpi 4000 ride, or the Mille Miglia. You could even find the GPS routes online.  I remember the Po Valley as being stifflingly hot and unpleasant in Summer, with clouds of mozzies being the main problem, which combined with boring straight flat roads, made for slow progress. Traffic wasn't the major problem!
https://www.alpi4000.it/en

Big ups for these 2 links, thanks so much.
often lost.

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #19 on: 10 January, 2021, 07:28:17 am »
Ive unearthed this useful guide to the different flavours of Italian roads.
https://italy-cycling-guide.info/planning-your-tour/routeplanning-which-roads/

"Some other roads to avoid
There are also other roads where bikes aren’t banned but you’d want to avoid them. I couldn’t possibly list all of them, but here are a few:
... the SS16. A road that follows the Adriatic coast for hundreds of kilometres, and from a quick look at the map looks like it might be an attractive option. The problem is that for much of the route there’s a rail line (on an embankment) between you and the sea. So forget any ideas of sea views to compensate for the traffic"

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #20 on: 11 January, 2021, 10:12:15 pm »
Ive unearthed this useful guide to the different flavours of Italian roads.
https://italy-cycling-guide.info/planning-your-tour/routeplanning-which-roads/

"Some other roads to avoid
There are also other roads where bikes aren’t banned but you’d want to avoid them. I couldn’t possibly list all of them, but here are a few:
... the SS16. A road that follows the Adriatic coast for hundreds of kilometres, and from a quick look at the map looks like it might be an attractive option. The problem is that for much of the route there’s a rail line (on an embankment) between you and the sea. So forget any ideas of sea views to compensate for the traffic"


That just made me fire up komoot and check. I'm on the coastal side of the railway line for the most part. There's a big rode on part of the cost (north of Bari), that appears to have the old road still next to it, and my route takes me there. Will have to make sure I take photos to prove I'm not on the motorway...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Riding In Italy
« Reply #21 on: 12 January, 2021, 12:35:28 pm »
Page 3 onwards of this thread on the 999 miles Italian Audax Ride gives a good flavour of riding in the South of Italy. I would  highlight some superb scenery, quiet rural roads, and  kind helpful people, for example cafes and bar staff who would prepare snacks late into the night for riders, but problems including some busy roads, close passes, cars sometimes pulling out without looking poor road surfaces, with potholes, sometimes making it safe to only ride in the centre, aggressive  rural dogs and even sheepdogs, summer heat.

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=100128.50

Yup some of those reports on the driving sound pretty hairy Peter. Heck of a hard event!
I guess the challenge is to avoid those busy sections wherever possible and at the same time be aware when rerouting to quieter roads that the whole region inland is hilly AF.
With regards to the SS16 conundrum. Its hard to pin down how much of the planned Green Cycle path Adriatic route has been completed, and whether or not it will be impractically slow.  Seafront promenades and all that.
https://www.italian-traditions.com/the-adriatic-bike-path-tourism-by-bike/
often lost.