Home > Love, arts, and food: The finest from Verona to Florence
For those who can’t settle on just one area of Italy to visit, this bike tour is for you. Following a stretch of the Eurovelo 7 cycle route (aka the Sun Route), this week-long itinerary from Verona to Florence gives riders a taste of the Veneto, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, and Tuscany regions, enough to entice you back for a longer return visit!
Past and present intertwine as you cross moderate daily distances along quiet roads and cycle paths into the heart of Italy. The way is largely flat, leaving you with plenty of energy to explore the impressive cities you’ll encounter during your trip. Admire stunning feats of Roman and medieval architecture in Verona and Mantua; eat to your heart’s content in Modena and Bologna (a city rightfully nicknamed “The Fat” for its gastronomic tradition); and fall in love with the artistic spirit of Florence, birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. In between the grandeur, you’ll be pedaling through the tranquil Italian countryside and its cozy villages, sun on your back, and new memories made with every mile.
Arrive at your leisure in Verona, a city of romance and imperial grandeur! Enjoy a stroll riverside or through the bustling town centre with its gorgeous Renaissance architecture. Pay a visit to Juliet’s House and balcony, where you can leave a letter to Shakespeare’s most tragic heroine. And don’t miss the Roman Arena -- in these modern times, you may be able to catch a concert or opera performance here rather than a gladiator fight.
Eat well at breakfast, for you have an exciting first day of riding ahead! Heading west out of Verona, you’ll soon approach Peschiera del Garda (25 km/16 miles), a pentagonal city on the shores of stunning Lake Garda. Stop for a while if you choose, and marvel at the massive fortifications that surround the town centre, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From here, it’s southward bound, as you follow the Mincio River and cycle paths through the idyllic countryside. Fall under the charms of small riverside towns as you pedal, including the peculiar village of Borghetto Sul Mincio on its islet rising from the river. The rest of the way is largely downhill, bringing you into Mantua, one of the main cultural hubs in all of Italy. Its medieval and Renaissance cityscape offers many photo-worthy sights, including the elegant churches and palazzos in the historic centre.
If you are reluctant to pedal out of Mantua in the morning, let the promise of more delights to come beckon! Almost halfway into your ride, you’ll cross the Po River and reach the lovely countryside village of San Benedetto Po, home to the 11th-century Polirone Abbey. The beautiful abbey and a scattering of oratories, chapels, and cheese shops are all part of the village’s charm. From here, you’ll cycle along a peaceful path following the Secchia River as it leads you into Emilia-Romagna and your destination at Mirandola. This former city-fortress is also the hometown of Pico, a rather controversial Renaissance philosopher and nobleman whose 900 Theses was the first book to be banned by the Catholic Church.
Your ride today takes you through the “bassa modenese” (Lower Modena) in the serene countryside outside Modena and the fertile Po Valley. As you cycle, you may still see traces of the 2012 earthquake that hit the region, though even more evident is the hard work of the inhabitants who have helped the area recover and flourish once more. A final crossing over the Secchia River brings you into Modena, Italian capital of balsamic vinegar and flashy sports cars. Fill up on local nosh like Tortelli, cold cuts, and gnocco fritto; and explore the lovely historic centre, with its not one, but three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Romanesque Cathedral, its Ghirlandina Tower, and the Piazza Grande where they stand.
In the morning, you’ll trade the city for fields, fruit orchards, and the occasional manor as you follow a cycle path through the countryside towards another gastronomic hub: Bologna. Pedaling peacefully away from noise and traffic, the only challenge will be to not lose track of time -- an early arrival means more time to explore this vibrant city! Go for a stroll among the grand medieval palaces in the Piazza Maggiore, enjoy an evening of music and theatre, and unwind with a glass of Sangiovese wine.
The world’s oldest university, a wonderfully-preserved historic centre, delicious mortadella and Bologna sausage all call this cultural capital home...and by the end of your stay, you’ll likely want to too!
If there’s one city that could tempt you to leave Bologna, we think it would be Florence. Wave farewell as you board a train with your bikes, for a one-hour ride that will bring you to the charming small town of Vaiano. Take in sweeping views of the Apennine mountains as you begin an exciting descent into Tuscany, winding with the bends in the Bisenzio River. Surrounded by a picturesque landscape of lush green, alpine towns, country houses, castles, and abbeys, you may feel like you’re cycling through a postcard!
After 28 kilometers (17 miles), you’ll leave the Bisenzio for a bike path along the Arno, entering Florence through the historic Parco delle Cascine. How you spend the rest of the afternoon in this Renaissance city is entirely up to you: whether it’s to view artistic masterpieces at the Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, or the Accademia dell’Arte; marvel at the stunning domes and facades of the city’s many cathedrals and churches; or simply enjoy a pizza and gelato in a lively piazza.
Florence is well-connected by train and plane, making it easy for you to get to your next destination. Head to another Tuscan city or Italian metropole...or perhaps extend your stay in this magical city for just a while longer.
6 nights’ accommodation in 3-star hotels