Cycle touring in Italy - any experience?

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Pottsy, 13 May 2010.

  1. Pottsy

    Pottsy ...

    Location:
    SW London
    Hi all

    I'll be cycling in Italy in late June and early July. Starting from Rome, heading north to Tuscany where I pause for a few days for a wedding, then onward north then west towards the French border.

    As you can tell, it's a fairly fluid plan and will probably remain so. ;)

    So the sort of advice I'm looking for is regarding what the roads are like, which roads (types or letters) you can't ride on, what the drivers are like, availability of campsites, places to avoid, any special stuff to take etc.etc. So anything really that you think might be helpful to me.

    Many thanks in advance.
     
  2. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Location:
    Brighton
    I cycled from Austria down to Bologna a couple of years ago and two days from Venice to Slovenia last year and found it much like France. The drivers were okay on the minor roads but it was a bit hectic on the major roads and a bit grim getting in and out of big cities such as Verona and Bologna. Apart from in the Dolomites I don't remember there being too many cycle paths but a pleasant experince overall.
    The campsites were okay but not cheap. I think it was amongst the most expensive I've paid for ordinary sites, between 20 and 30 euros for a tent and 2 persons. It might be an idea to get the maps sorted before you leave or in Rome at least as it wasn't easy to find open shops in small places to buy them. I had assumed that petrol stations would be a good source of food, drink and maps but most didn't have any shops.
    The food's good though:tongue:
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Pottsy

    Pottsy ...

    Location:
    SW London
    Thanks rich p. That does seem to echo other comments I've dug out elsewhere on internet forums. Generally not bad news then. :ohmy:

    Do you recall the road lettering system? e.g. in the UK A-roads, B-roads etc. and which ones who cannot cycle on (like motorways) or should avoid (like dual carriage ways and A roads).

    I'll get the appropriate Michellin maps sorted before I go, or possibly the torn pages from a road atlas trick. I also plan to avoid cities wherever possible.

    Definitely looking forward to the food! :ohmy:
     
  4. gavintc

    gavintc Guru

    Location:
    Southsea
    I am a little bit further south of your intended area. But, one of the most important tips I was given was not to cycle in heavy rain. The roads do not drain well and standing water is the norm. As a direct result, the potholes (of which there are many) are nearly impossible to spot.

    I note when out with Italians that they do not like cycling the rain and once we were caught in the hills in a mild drizzle. They were dreadful at descending and complained continually about the cold and conditions. To me, it was like a pleasant British spring day.

    I hope you have a great tour. The people are just so much more bike friendly and has already been stated the food is excellent. Use small shops for your food rather than supermarkets and generally you will pay less. Learn a little bit of Italian, use it and people will be more supportive. Most speak adequate English.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Pottsy

    Pottsy ...

    Location:
    SW London
    Thanks gavintc.

    Generally I'll be hoping not to have too much rain. :ohmy:

    Good tip about the shops and I'll be trying for some basic conversion of my holiday Spanish into holiday Italianish.
     
  6. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Location:
    Brighton
    I can't remember how the roads were designated but I've just had a look at the Michelin 1cm:4km maps I bought this year. I had intended continuing my route south from Bologna but deferred it till next year.
    It seems that the white roads are undefined on this scale, the yellow ones are P 'strade' which I rode without a problem. The larger roads are S and I think are worth avoiding but probably not disallowed. It sounds like a great route though.
     
  7. dragon72

    dragon72 Veteran

    Location:
    Mexico City
    "A" roads are Autostrade (Dual or Triple carriageway motorways)
    "S" roads are Statali (mostly single carriageway road like British A roads)
    "P" roads are Provinciali (like B roads or quieter)
     
  8. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Location:
    Brighton
    grazie mille!
     
  9. psmiffy

    psmiffy -

    Location:
    Midlands
    Cycling in Italy is as Rich said is not dissimilar to France. Generally, traffic is pretty friendly to cyclists and the minor roads are not too badly surfaced. Late June/July will be hot so take your time.

    Camping away from the coast can be difficult to come by and is invariably more expensive than in a lot of other countries. Worth finding and marking the sites inland on a map before you go if it is your intention to go inland.

    Eating out unless you live on pizza can be a bit expensive but shops and supermarkets (pick your time to shop as it can be a bit of a rugby scrum around the meat counters in the supermarkets) stock good quality fresh food.

    The cities can be a bit exciting to cycle through – lots of pretty girls on scooters to compete for road space with - personally if I was cycling through Tuscany I would be looking to do as many of the named – Florence, Sienna, Pisa –cities and some of the smaller pretty towns as possible.

    It is difficult if not impossible to avoid La Spezia coming along the coast - quite exciting at rush hour – no camping from S of La Spezia to just before Sestri Levante - but the coast road is wicked between the two places – a bit lumpy – main road is hilly but not so steep.

    From Sestri Levante going west to the French border is a nice meander.
    Look out for cycle paths Taggia to San Remo
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Pottsy

    Pottsy ...

    Location:
    SW London
    Thanks for the info guys.
     
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