The Italian Lakes Tour

Look here for a more in-depth description of each day’s itinerary, or review our hotels on their own websites.

Hotels:

Pre-Tour Hotel Option

Aemilia Hotel ★★★★

Bologna, Italy

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Tour Hotels

Hotel Rechigi  ★★★

Mantova, Italy

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Hotel San Marco   ★★★

Peschiera, Italy

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BW Hotel Master  ★★★★

Brescia, Italy

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NH Bergamo Hotel  ★★★★

Bergamo, Italy

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NH Pontevecchio Hotel  ★★★★

Lecco, Italy

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Hotel Du Lac  ★★★

Bellagio, Italy

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BW Hotel Continental  ★★★

Como, Italy

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Post-Tour Hotel Options

Sheraton Malpensa Airport ★★★★

Ferno, Italy

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Holiday Inn Express ★★★

Ferno, Italy

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The Weather:

The Italian Lakes region enjoys a warm and pleasant Mediterranean climate with mild temperatures and sunshine all year round. Our visit in September/October is no exception and is a great time to travel to this area.

The sweltering heat and high humidity which can dominate the region in summer, disappear around the beginning of our tour.  Average temperatures range between 18°C/65°F and 13°C/56°F.  High temperatures range between 22°C/72°F and 16°C/61°F, and lows range between 14°C/57°F and 10°C/50°F.  

September and October are also generally drier than the preceding summer months.  The amount of rainfall in September/October can range between 105mm/4.1in. and 121mm/4.7in.  This amount of rain generally comes on 10 to 12 days in September and October respectively.  Fortunately, there is still plenty of sunshine in September/October to make up for the odd wet day.  Although total possible hours of sunshine are decreasing with the onset of Autumn, we can still hope to average approximately 8-9 sunny hours per day.  This is more than enough to enjoy the tour and possibly return home with a tan.

The Terrain:

The Italian Lakes region’s southern border quickly blends with the flat terrain of the Po river valley.  On the early stages of the tour we ride along rivers and gently rolling areas along the lakes southern borders.  Much of the later tour remains flat to rolling due to the tree shaded shoreline roads we travel while we wind between the lakeside villas.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t hills and lumps on the tour.  Generally the climbing comes when we are moving between the glacier gouged valleys which shelter each individual lake.  We couldn’t avoid climbing and still give you the full Italian Lakes experience.  Please be assured, this is not a mountainous tour.  It is primarily another wine region tour with rolling terrain which characterizes most, if not all, the world’s best wine production areas.  There will be a challenge or two to surmount.  Sometimes there is no avoiding them.  Other times, we provide the “challenge” because we know you wouldn’t want to miss your opportunity to conquer!   But take note, even on the biggest “challenge” day, which offers some truly heart-stopping ascents, we provide an easy, shore hugging alternative for the more prudent subset of our riders.

The approximate distance covered in the course of our 13 day tour is 350 miles/563 kilometers.

Route Guidance:

PennyWise provides a highly praised, comprehensive package of route guidance for our explorers. This package includes a simple to follow, but highly detailed, cue sheet. We also strongly encourage the use of Garmin GPS devices.  We provide a Garmin compatible basemap and highly accurate routing for all daily rides on an easily inserted micro-sd card.  You will also be armed with a multitude of our custom designed, daily ride oriented, detailed mini-maps.

While we encourage you to explore “off the line” from time to time, you’ll have to admit, it is a great feeling knowing that you have a “full quiver” of support dedicated to getting you to your destination.

Check out our Day by Day ride descriptions:

Day One

Our luxury motorcoach takes us from our two rendezvous points, (the Aemilia Hotel and the Centrale Train Station), in beautiful Bologna, to our first tour hotel in Mantova.  The Rechigi Hotel is centrally located and has ample space in it’s underground garage for reconstructing our bikes.  Choose a spot within or a more public spot nearby but, be prepared for the curious onlookers if you do.   Later this afternoon we will gather for our mandatory orientation and safety meeting.  We will be sure to give you time to relax again before we gather for our welcoming banquet in a charming restaurant nearby.

Box Lunch

PW Group Welcoming Dinner Banquet

Distance/Terrain: None and “Medieval to Renaissance” 

Day Two

Mantova and its sister UNESCO listed site nearby, Sabbioneta, are polar opposites in style but, are connected through the Gonzaga family that dominated this region for 400 years.   In Mantova, the Gonzaga influence and sponsorship yielded brilliant architectural gems placed upon a town framework that had grown uncontrolled and organically since 2000 BC.   In Sabbioneta, our destination town today, you can see the attempt to rectify this jeweled hodge-podge style using the town planning ideals of the Renaissance.

Our ride along the Po River and the rich farmlands adjacent to it is flat and peaceful.  There are several surprises along the way on our out-and-back passage.  Try not to get swept away!

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 58m/94k, longish but, flat riverside riding

Day Three

We leave Mantova today by crossing one of the bridges which span the artificial lakes so important in the city’s defensive strategy.  Our interim destination today is another strong point along the Mincio River with a storied battle history.  But we are not travelling to Valeggio Sul Mincio for war but, for it’s unparalleled peace and tranquility.

Our first stop is the Parco Giardino Sigurta.  This garden delight is truly a wonder to behold.  You can take your bike along it’s 10 km of trails and enjoy the lakes, English style garden and abundant flower displays.  Follow your visit to the Parco with a stop at the picturesque Borghetta.  Once famous for its part of the formidable defenses at this important river crossing, now it is renowned for its multiple water wheels and mills converted to wonderful riverside cafes and shops.

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 31m/50k, gentle 20 mile climb and then follow the river

Day Four

Peschiera is located on the largest lake in the region.  It will grant us a nice introduction to lakeside pleasure taking – Italian style.  A portion of our ride is along miles long, waterside promenades lined with places to sit and enjoy your surroundings over lunch and a glass of wine.  Consider stopping at the Museo del Vino in Bardolino.  Tastings are free or you can pay a little to sample barrel aged Amarone.

But not all this ride is pleasurable cruising along the water.  We throw in a climb at the far end of our ride that will provide another perspective on the Alpine character of the Italian Lakes.

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 40m/60k, pleasant cruising, climb, great downhill!

Day Five

This morning we have an early stop at a beautiful village called Sirmione.  Its location on the peninsula jutting into Lago de Garda gave the fortress some formidable defensive qualifications.  Take a break here in the maze of cafe and shop lined streets, and perhaps take a quick tour of the Castello Scaligero.dreamstimesmall_69447869

Eventually we must leave the ultra-civilized and flat environs of our first Italian Lake.  Say a fond goodbye to Lago de Garda as you climb out of the valley.  The Roman and Renaissance wonders of Brescia will make you soon forget the travails you endured on the road today.

Breakfast

Group Dinner at a local restaurant

Distance/Terrain: 34m/53k, lakeside riding, a workout, flat the rest of the way

Day Six

Brescia is not often visited by the typical tourist but, I am sure that you will find that it has more than its share of picturesque piazzas, palazzos and duomos.  Brescia was founded by the Gauls and its residents were granted full Roman rights early in the Republic.  Extensive ruins and reconstructed temples from this time of Brixia exist along the via Musei.  Don’t stop here though.  Continue to the top where the Castello is located and make sure to visit the Museo della Citta.  This wonderful museum houses an astounding collection of finds from all periods of Brescia’s past.

If you still feel the need to stretch your legs, (you must have skipped the Castello and Museo, shame), we have provided a beautiful ride to the ancient town of Chairi.  Enjoy your lunch break in the wonderful central square before your return to the delights of Brescia.

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 37m/59k, gently rolling to flat suburban ride

Day Seven

We can tick off another of the Italian lakes today when we ride along the southern shores of Lago d’Iseo on our transit to Bergamo.  Our blast along the lake is preceded by a wonderful pass through the Franciacorta wine district.  We have marked three outstanding exemplars of the wine producers on your route mini-maps.   All provide free samples of their products.  To further encourage you, we have arranged a group tour at one of these producers.  This will allow you to examine how they make their wonderful iteration of the “bubbly” which is the notable product of this area.  Enjoy your aperitif before you lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants a short distance away.

Bergamo is a city divided.  We stay in the lower city while the upper city, the Alta has all the architecture and notable restaurants.  Do look forward to your ride up to the Alta.

Breakfast

Group Dinner at a local restaurant

Distance/Terrain: 47m/75k, rolling

Day Eight

We do a simple little out-n-back route today.   Our destination is situated on an idyllic spot on Lago di Endine, one of the smallest of the Italian Lakes.  Little Monasterolo del Castello is the town below the castle.  The castle is now a premier spot for posh weddings and other gatherings.  Picnic down along the water with something you brought along, or go to the excellent “pizzeria” which serves much more besides pizza.

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 39m/63k, easy, but do remember, castles are always on a hill.

Day Nine

Lecco is our destination today – our first beautiful city on Lake dsc01221Como.  The main focus of your visit will be to take a passeggiata around the waterfront area.  The view along this southern fork of Lake Como, (actually it is called the Lago di Lecco here), is very lovely.  You will want to allow time to stroll, enjoying the views before heading into the town itself.

The famous town bell tower is also near the waterfront, and the bustling squares called Piazza XX Settembre and Piazza Cermenati here are the place to find a good selection of cafes for that all important coffee break or meal.  

Breakfast

Group Dinner at the Hotel

Distance/Terrain: 28m/45k, Starts a little wine country rolly, finishes flat

Day Ten

After our one night stay in Lecco, we leave with an easy challenge.  You don’t have to conquer a mountain, at least all of the mountain, to enjoy an outstanding vista.  There is one attraction here in Lecco that you may want to reach with your bike.  If you don’t like that option, we give you a bus option (with fare).  Either way, you won’t want to miss the highly recommended cable car up to the summit of the Piano d’Erna. On a clear day the views from here are magnificent, and there are plenty of walks to follow from the top if you want to extend your visit.

After enjoying our challenge for the day, enjoy the short lakeside ride to the “pearl” of Lake Como – Bellagio.  Remember to have fresh batteries in your headlight for the tunnel.  And there is only one stinker of a climb to get to the side of the peninsula where Bellagio perches on the lake.

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 22m/35k, flat, lakeside riding with lumps at the beginning and end.

Day Eleven

There are two challenge rides to choose from today.  For those who have decided that there are no more hills to be conquered, there is an option for an easy lakeside ride with ferry rides at beginning and end.  Both of the challenges start with the little ending lump of yesterday’s arrival into Bellagio.  One route goes straight up from there, and the other attacks the Ghisallo from the less challenging back side.  The goal for both challenge rides is the “Santuario Madonna Del Ghisallo”.  

The climb of the Ghisallo is traditionally included in the Tour of Lombardy, and has often been included in the Tours of Italy and France.  For this reason, the Madonna del Ghisallo is especially venerated by cyclists, and in 1948, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Madonna di Ghisallo the universal patron saint of cyclists.  Inside this small church many relics of cycling champions  are preserved, including the bikes used by Bartali, Coppi and Merckx in their victories in the Tour de France.  In the square in front of the Sanctuary there is a statue of the two great cyclists, Coppi and Bartali.  As the Sanctuary in time became too small to hold all the relics, the interesting Museo Del Ciclismo was built next door.

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 24,33,11m/38,53,18k, HILLY, Hilly, and flat

Day Twelve

No more challenges today.  Unless walking through a botanical paradise is taken as a challenge.  As we ferry to the west side of the lake and begin our transit to Como, take some time to stop and enjoy the Villa Carlotta.  The villa has passed between the rich and minor royalty for many centuries until it was given as a wedding gift to its namesake in 1843.  The villa is filled with important art and the surrounding gardens are worth a visit in every period of the year.  Stop, relax and enjoy this singular spot in a singular region.  Partake in the stunning lake views surrounded by century old cedars, sequoias, huge plane trees, tropical plants and elaborate rock, fern, rhododendron and bamboo gardens.

Breakfast

Dinner on your own

Distance/Terrain: 20m/32k, stunning lakeside riding amongst countless villas

Day Thirteen

We provide one last ride in the beautiful alpine countryside today.  Your short, simple ride along the shore north of Como should allow you to drink in all the beauty one more time.  If you want to add one “real” drink in celebration, stop at our turnaround point, the infamous “Peppo’s Bar”.  Peppo claims that his view is better than Clooney’s.  Enjoy the ride and lock it into your memory!

Return from the ride and prepare your bike for transport.  Remember to breathe and relax.

Breakfast

PW Group Farewell Dinner

Distance/Terrain: 15m/25k, two good lumps – reverse

Day Fourteen

We board our luxury motorcoach today for the final segment of our tour.  Sadly, our shared biking adventure ends as we leave the shores of Lake Como and head to the Milan-Malpensa Airport.  If you are continuing with your own personal tour, or heading home, this is the perfect destination.  The Holiday Inn Express and the Sheraton hotel stops were chosen to provide you with a wide range of choices.  The Sheraton shares its location with both the most convenient and direct access to the train station and also to the airport terminal.

If you plan to fly out the next day, you can still choose to do more exploration of Northern Italy.  Express trains travel between the airport and Milan 129 times per day.  To those who have the energy, this is your chance to explore the historic sites, and the shopping, within the king city of Lombardy – MIlan.

Breakfast

Departure from Como – Approx. 10 AM; Arrival at Airport – Approx. 11 AM

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