View Full Version : Cycling Tours of Italy? (Or others)

06-15-2009, 10:03 PM
I've seen a few people here comment about doing Tuscany or other Italian tours, self-guided or otherwise. Anyone have a good recommendation?

My husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this year, but it's in May and with Ironman in June, that just doesn't work for a vacation. I'm looking more at the mid-September timeframe now. We're probably looking to do 4-7 days, 20-40 miles/day, some climbing, not super hilly or super long (I would like to stay married - he might go for the century ride if I promise beer ;)).

I'm not dead set on Italy, maybe France, maybe Germany, maybe Spain? (Somehow I don't see France and Germany going very well with "vegetarian" though ;)) Price-wise, I'd rather be comfortable and relatively well-supported than compromise on price.

A couple of people I work with have done Backroads vacations and switched (upgraded?) to Butterfield & Robinson for their last several biking tours. They haven't done any tours of Italy, though, mostly France (though they did Prague-Vienna). B&R (and Backroads) are relatively expensive, but these people have always enjoyed their well-supported tours and quality hotels/food. I have a little "back of the head" concern that either outfitter might attract a crowd a little older and a little more pretentious than ourselves - we have the money, but it's more about saving for it than it is "mad money" (something you'd do on a whim). We did do an REI weekend vacation last year that we enjoyed, but I don't think I'd want to camp for 7 days while riding. ;)

Anyway... opinions welcome. It's possible opinions of any European outfitter might be relevant. :)

06-16-2009, 04:06 AM
First, don't discount Germany because of vegetarian. Some of the best vegetarian food I've had was in Germany. There is a large vegetarian presence and almost every restaurant had more than one veggie entree and it wasn't just the US "pasta primavera".

Same with France, but a little less so. In one high end hotel we were served the French "pasta primavera" -- a mushroom omelet, but at a little restaurant in a small town, when we told them we were vegetarian, the chef sat down, talked with us and made us the most awesome, tastiest 3 course lunch you'd ever imagine. Often, if you don't see veggie on a european menu and the restaurant isn't too busy--just tell them you're vegetarian and to "surprise you". Nine times out of ten, you'll be purring through dinner.

Gee, I must be hungry this AM....anyway, with repect to tours. If you want to self-cater somewhere, look up Rondonee ( http://www.randonneetours.com/ ) Lower mileage, nice routes. You ride, but someone else schleps your bags between hotels and is available if you run into problems. It is self-catering with backup support.

If you're interested in Italy, also look at CycleItalia (cycleitalia.com). They don't skimp on hills, but you will never eat as fine as you will on a Larry and Heather tour. Their guided tours are in spring/summer, but they might still have a self-cater option in fall.

I'm too low brow for Backroads or B&R. We've travelled with ExperiencePlus! and enjoyed it. A lot of people rave about cyclismo classico. You should be able to find a review or two on them.

06-16-2009, 04:11 AM
We did an Easy Rider tour of the Azores in 2005 and were very happy with teh company.

The Azores tour doesn't work for your time frame, but you might see what they have in September.


06-16-2009, 06:14 AM
I have friends who tour every year or so with this company: http://www.ciclismoclassico.com/index.php

They're incredibly down to earth, nice people, so I don't imagine you would see too much pretension (though, I expect, it depends on the week you go and who happens to be in your group).