Home > Challenging Piedmont: The Realm of Italian Legends
Special departure dates may be possible for groups of 5 or more (on request).
In the Alpine foothills known as “Piemonte” in Italian, you’ll find cities and towns graced with towering cathedrals, vast fortresses, hilltop castles, or UNESCO-protected vineyards… and sometimes, all those things in one place! More than that, however, you’ll find the real delights of Italy’s Piedmont to be its warm and welcoming citizens. We think you’ll agree they certainly have good reason to be passionate about their homeland.
When you’re not ambling along the streets of Alessandria, Torino, or Casale Monferrato, you’ll be — where else? — on the seat of your bike. You’ll test your strength on the very hills where cycling legend Fausto Coppi learned to ride and where he and Gino Bartali forged a competition to earn Italy’s admiration. Ride like a champion, celebrate like a champion — enjoy spectacular Italian cuisine featuring white truffles, cheese, and more mouth-watering delights, paired (of course) with award-winning wines.
This itinerary is designed for cyclists who can comfortably ride 90 km (56 miles) and climb an average of 1,200 meters (3,940 ft) daily. We offer a similar, less-challenging itinerary, called “Piedmont and its Treasures,” for those who want to explore one of Italy’s best-kept secrets at a more leisurely pace.
For travel and cycling tips to Piedmont, visit our "Travel and cycling tips" section.
Once you’ve gotten your bearings and your bike, there are a number of interesting sites worth a visit! Admire the medieval frescoes in the Sale d'Arte, or head across the river to the citadel, which rose to importance during Napoleonic times. Trade your helmet for a hat and cap off your stay in Alessandria at the “Museo del cappello Borsalino” — a museum for the famed milliner Borsalino, whose fedoras have sat atop many a fashionable head (including Humphrey Bogart!) for well over 100 years.
Wave goodbye to Alessandria and travel the back roads to Castellania, the hometown and resting place of cycling legend Fausto Coppi. Stop and visit his birthplace, now a museum, then follow in his tire tracks as you zip around the country lanes where he learned to ride. A hilly ascent brings you to Novi Ligure, another prominent place from Coppi’s history. The surrounding vines produce the highly acclaimed Barbera and Dolcetto d’Acqui wines. Enjoy a taste — and perhaps a relaxing bath at one of the local spas — at your evening’s destination, Acqui Terme.
Today you’ll ride through the Langhe, an area known for decadent white truffles and outstanding wines. Make sure you eat well but save the wine for later — your route includes three very challenging climbs. Reserve some energy for the last climb, the “Gino Bartali” ascent — stretching from Sinio to Albaretto Della Torre, you’ll encounter a 10% average gradient over 3 kilometers. The ride to Alba is, thankfully, all downhill.
Call on the strength of the local vineyard workers to conquer the vine-covered hills and stock up on local hazelnuts for a sweet treat for later! Enjoy a feast for your eyes as you cycle through the Monferrato vineyard landscape, a UNESCO-protected region. The Rocchettoa Tanaro Natural Park and Val Sarmassa Nature Reserve won’t disappoint, either. Celebrate your arrival in Asti with a glass of Asti Spumante, the area’s namesake tongue-tickler, or a classic red wine, if you prefer.
You may wish to get an early start today as you have lots of ground to cover on your way to Torino (Turin), the capital city of Piedmont. Your route includes the classic Superga hill, a seven-kilometer ride (at an 8% gradient) that’s been featured for over a century in the Giro del Piemonte. Rest easy once you reach Torino — the hard part is over and you’re free to explore at your leisure. Catch a train back to Asti for another overnight.
As you pedal north to Monferrato, you’ll feel yourself inching closer to the towering Italian Alps, thanks to the steep climbs you’ll encounter! As tough as the ride is, the dramatic scenery is a just reward for your effort, so don’t forget to stop and look around once in a while. When the Torre Civica comes into sight, you’ll know Casale Monferrato is near! Be sure to stroll down Via Lanza for a chance to try the locals’ favorite biscuits, Krumiri — they’re a perfect snack to dip in your drink. Use the energy from your pick-me-up for a walk around Casale’s historic center to admire the many palaces and public squares.
More of Piedmont’s pastoral beauty awaits you on your final ride through the countryside. Wind down your week of hill climbing with a serene route through farmland and small towns. Today would be a great day to visit a local winery, if you’re so inclined! Follow the Po River to Alessandria for a formal end to your tour.
Say "Arrivederci" to Alessandria after breakfast.
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