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Discover the signature dishes and medieval towns of Emilia Romagna on this food lovers cycling tour from Parma to Bologna, spending each night in atmospheric, historic 4* hotels.
Cycle across the fertile plains, rivers and towns of the Po Valley as you follow the ancient Roman Road of ‘Via Emilia’ dating back to 187 B.C. Starting out in Parma, discover the renaissance artworks of Correggio and Mazzola and lunch on plates of prosciutto ham and parmesan cheese. Ride to the UNESCO listed Piazza Grande of Modena, and sample the local Balsamic vinegars.
Pedal along the river Secchia to the terracotta porticoes of Bologna and into the Piazza Maggiore, the perfect place to end your journey. Dine on fresh beef ragu pasta and quaff generous glasses of Sangiovese wine, reflecting on your delicious week in the saddle.
The city of Parma can be easily accessed by the nearby airports of Bologna (1 hour) or Milan (1hr 30—2 hrs).
One of the most affluent cities in Italy, Parma’s riches include the renaissance artworks of Correggio and Mazzola, an impressive 12th century octagonal pink baptistery and a café culture serving plates of fresh air dried Parma ham with large glasses of Sangiovese wine.
Beginning with a loop ride into the countryside, cycle west out of Parma via the Paradigna Cistercian Abbey towards the village of San Secondo. Here you can visit a traditional Parmesan Cheese house where production follows strict 13th century rules, so a tasting here should not be missed! En-route back to Parma, visit the San Vitale fortress where the famous painting ‘Room of Diana and Acteaon’ by Mazzola is housed. On return to Parma, dinner this evening will be at a local trattoria (a local family restaurant).
Cycle: 57 or 70 km
Dinner & Overnight: Parma
Cycling out into the Parma hills, visit the village of Langhirano where there is the possibility to taste local Parma ham and visit the 15th century Torrechiara Castle, with its impressive viewpoint down into Parma Valley. From here, continue via the Montechiarugola fortress towards the old town of Reggio Emilia, birthplace of the modern Italian flag.
Cycle: 59 or 71km
Overnight: Reggio Emilia
Today’s route heads through the Po Valley to Modena. Your first stop is the village and hometown of artist, Correggio. Next, cycle into the vineyards of Lambrussco di Santa Croce on the way to Carpi. On arrival at Carpi, head to its piazza (the third largest in Italy) for long lunch. Later cycle onwards to the UNESCO city of Modena. In the evening dine in a local trattoria serving plates of Gnocco e Tigellla.
Dinner & Overnight: Modena
Following an old historic railway line, cycle to an ‘acetaia’ where Balsamic vinegar is produced directly from grape juice, giving Balsamico it’s unique identity and taste. Ride onwards to Vignola the city of cherries and Barozzi cake, perfect for a late morning café stop. From here, return to Modena stopping at the town of Castelvetro, the home of Lambrusco wine.
Cycle: 65 km
Leaving Modena, cycle along the river to the Abbey of Nonantola, which once was important place of rest for pilgrims as they travelled to Rome. Here, in the heart of Balsamico country, cycle onwards to San Giovanni where there are opportunities to sample different types of ‘Aceto’ (vinegar). Finish the day cycling into Bologna by way of the Navile cycple path. Dinner is in a typical local trattoria this evening.
Cycle: 68 km
Dinner & Overnight: Bologna
An optional shorter ride today leaves plenty of time to explore this UNESCO city of food and music by foot. Wander the labyrinth of medieval terracotta towers and lunch in Piazza Maggiore where you can indulge in fresh handmade tortellini, traditional pasta with stewed ragu or slices of mortadella (cured pork). Round off the day by sampling several glasses of local Sangiovese wine.
Depending on your onward travel arrangements you may have more time to explore Bologna. The central train station connects through to Milan (approx 2 hours). Alternatively, Bologna airport has regular connection via a shuttlebus (20 min journey).
During this trip you will stay in a selection of 4* hotels. We regularly use the following properties but will accommodate in a hotel or of equal standard should any of the following hotels be unavailable. Each stay at the listed accommodation is based on a standard room.
Included are 7 breakfasts and 3 dinners. Breakfast usually consists of fresh pastries, breads, fruits, yogurts, cheeses, meats and granola. Dinners will be in local family trattorias and serve local rustic dishes of the region. If you have special dietary requirements do let us know at the time of
Lunches and 4 dinners are not included. Your route notes will suggest a number of local places to dine
and of course, being in the heart of Emilia Romagna means you're never too far from a bowl of freshly folded pasta.
If you're travelling with friends or family but prefer your own room, single rooms are subject to availability and a supplementary payment. This trip is also available to solo cyclists.
Located in the heart of the old town opposite the Palazzo della Pilotta, this traditional style hotel is close by to all the attractions of Parma. Including the Steccata Church and Farnese Theatre.
This 13th property is perfectly located between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza del Monte, located in the oldest part of Reggio Emilia which makes it ideal for exploring the sight.
A contemporary hotel that enjoys a central location and is only a sort walk from Enzo Ferrari’s birthplace. Complete with relaxing spa, this hotel offers the perfect recharge after a day in the saddle.
Located in the heart of the medieval centre, the hotel overlooks Gothic stained glass windows of the Basilico di San Petronio and is nearby the Palazzo del Podesto and famous 'Two Towers'.
This trip is available to start on any Saturday from March to October and we suggest that you contact us as soon as
possible if you are considering a departure during the peak season of May-June and September.
This cycling route follows a combination of cycle paths, quiet country roads, stretches of rolling terrain and busier routes when approaching and departing towns and cities. Please always be mindful of other roads users at all times, especially when cycling on routes shared with traffic. The tried and tested detailed routes notes and maps are easy to follow during your self-guided adventure.
Should you require assistance, local 24/7 telephone support will also be available throughout your trip.
21 speed touring bikes are available for hire. Rental bikes come equipped with a basic repair kit, pump and helmet (though we recommend using your own). Male and female frames are available. If you’d like to hire a bike, please let us know your height and frame size you currently ride.
EBikes are also available for hire if you would like a power assisted ride. For more information on EBikes please click here.
If you would prefer to bring your own bicycle please ensure it is thoroughly serviced and is an appropriate bike for this trip such as Scott Sub, Trek 7200 or similar.
If you do intend to bring your own bike, please do let us know at the time book as extra transfer arrangements may be required for any large bike cases/boxes.
If you’d like to hire a bike, please let us know your height and
frame size you currently ride, along with any other specific requests
you may have. We’re always happy to answer any questions regarding hire
If you would to bring your own road bike please ensure it is
thoroughly serviced and is an appropriate bike for this trip.
All bike tours are unescorted. The distances listed are approximations of the recommended routes.
Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, cycle clothing and personal medications etc.
It is a requirement of booking this tour
with Macs Bike that you have suitable Travel Insurance which covers you
for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.
Getting to Parma
For general travel planning, we recommend the helpful site www.rome2rio.com
Parma does have a small airport and has connections through to regional services in Italy.
From Milan Linate a 20 minute airport shuttle connect through to the main Milan train station. From here there are regular, direct services to Parma (approx 1 hour journey).
From Milan Malpensa it is possible to connect through to Parma by train (changing once at Milan Centrale). Journey time is around 2hrs 15mins).
Bologna Airport does have a number of services across Europe. Journey time is just over an hour from Parma with train services connecting through approximately every 30 minutes from Bologna Centrale.
Getting from Bologna
Bologna Airport is only a 20 minute shuttle bus link from Bologna Centrale.
Alternatively it is possible to return to either Milan Linate or Milan Malpensa airport via train to Milan Centrale Train Station. Journey times are around 2 hours to Linate and 2 hours 30 minutes to Malpensa.
We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries.
This trip is graded moderate with daily distances of 55 km— 70km. You will encounter some stretches of shallow hills, but these usually don't last for too long. It's a good idea to get out on your bike for a couple of consecutive days in the lead up to your holiday so you get used to riding back to back days. However, it’s not all cycling. Each day there are plenty opportunities to stop and sample local foods and explore the rich history of this region.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this region is extremely popular especially May to June and September.
Of course! We understand the relationship between rider and bike and know many cyclists would never consider riding another steed. If you are unsure, we are happy to discuss bike hire options with you.
March and April offer fresh days, cooler evenings and are generally much quieter in the cities. Into May and September the days are warm, with the Po Plains in full bloom (May only) and piazzas buzz with life. During June, July and August you may encounter one of the regions many music festivals in the bustling piazzas. During these months days are gloriously long and hot so you may decide to cycle earlier in the day or take an extra long lunch to savour the local foods and avoid the midday heat! No matter when you go, the piazzas of Emilia Romagna are always perfect for savouring the local foods and wine.