Adventure of the Week: Cycle Parma to Bologna
Adventuring in a new region or country always brings with it the joys of seeing new scenery, immersing yourself in a new culture and expanding your understanding of humanity a little. While this is all true, really we are all thinking about expanding our waistlines! We are on holiday after all. While most of our tours focus on the local specialities of an area, if you are looking to lose yourself in a gastronomic wonderland, then perhaps taking a trip on the Cycle Parma to Bologna tour might be the one for you.
In a Nutshell:
Where: This tour is centred in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna in northern Italy. Sandwiched between Tuscany and Lombardy, Emilia Romagna sweeps across the top of Italy's boot shape and is widely known to produce some of Italy's finest local produce. The trip starts off in Parma, home to the delicate ham of the same name and ends up over to the east in Bologna, the town that gave Bolognaise its name. So the food elements are already pretty obvious!
Distance: There is plenty of flexibility built into this trip. We say that it is 326-351km, but you can, of course, make it less if you feel like it. Many of the day's cycling routes are on circular routes where you have a choice between a longer circuit or a shorter one. Of course, if you are feeling like a day off, you can ignore the loops completely and soak up the local action.
Grade: We have graded this trip as moderate, which means that we would recommend having some cycling experience before heading out on the route. The cycling follows a combination of cycle paths, quiet country roads, stretches of rolling terrain and busier routes when approaching and departing towns and cities. With daily distances of around 55-70km, you will certainly be working up an appetite.
Why Walk Here?
Ok, so while food is mentioned in every paragraph so far, I am going to hold off a little before talking about it and start instead with the scenery on the trip. You will be cycling through rolling hills, farmland and vineyards on this tour, each bursting with Italian flavour. Lush greens surround you as you pedal on the quiet roads and the main thing to remember is that cycling is a national sport in Italy, so car users are very used to seeing cyclists on the road and treat them with great care.
The towns and cities on the route are exceptional. It is a joy to visit cities away from the main tourist hives of Rome, Flornece and Venice and arguably the cities here are better. Parma is somewhere you will likely consider moving to while you wander its traffic-free streets, marvelling at the streetlife and dramatic architecture. Given the frienliness of the locals and the amazing food avaialble at every turn, becoming a Parmesan (local to Parma, not becoming a cheese) will be extremely tempting.
Bologna is a big working city with a stunning medieval centre. With the world's oldest university, there is a relaxed, youthful feel about Bologna, compounded by the new money generated in the Po Valley. Despite food being incredibly important to each of these cities, it is Modena that is the gastronomic heart of Emilia Romagna. Home to Balsamic Vinegar, Modenas backstreets are crowded with restaurants producing the finest, most innovative cuisine in Italy. The best restarant in the world (2018) is also located here and if you have the money and a lot of patience to get it booked, you should defintiely do it.
And so to the food. Parma is the home of Parma ham and Parmesan Cheese. Modena the home of balsamic vinegar. Really, if you are defining Italy through its food, this is the home of all the icons and on this trip, you will get a chance to experience tastings of each at houses that produce these prized goods. There is nothing like tasting real, sweet balsamic vinegar, straight from the producer or walking under towering stacks of ageing parmesan cheese. You will get to learn about all of this in detail, get to taste it all and then take your knowledge into the neverending array of restaurants at night. There are also 3 dinners included on the trip, at places our Italian partners highly recommend.
Planning and Preparation
Getting to the start of the Cycle Parma to Bologna is pretty easy. There are smaller airports in Parma and Bologna, but we would reccommend flying into Milan and taking the train down to Parma from there. It takes around 2 hours, with a change, and is a delightful journey in itself.
If you have any questions about the route, don't hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.