As the northeast of Italy disappears into the Dolomites and the northwest aligns with the Alps, cyclists endure or enjoy steep climbs and mountain vistas. Head south to Venice or the Piedmont region, where the Panoramica del Monferrato and Strada del Vino, respectively, set a more relaxed scene for Italy cycling vacations. Cycling to the west of the Apennines from the five fishing communities of the Cinque Terre to Pisa reveals Ligurian waves melding into Tuscan folds. Follow the coast south and you’ll find the Bay of Naples and the beautiful Amalfi Coast. Finally, Puglia, in the southeast ‘heel’, provides peaceful paths to wild beaches, while Ostuni, Gallipoli and Otranto prompt time out of the saddle in between the Ionian and Adriatic.
Amalfi Coast cycling, Italy

1. Amalfi Coast cycling, Italy

Cycle just a short distance from the curvature of the famed Amalfi Coast and you'll discover a world away from the hairpins that leave you just as exulted but without the stress. Cycling north from Capo Palinuro towards Positano, Ravello and Salerno unveils the Bay of Naples. Pedal to ancient Greek settlements and seaside villages, with steep climbs and plenty of freewheeling to the beach.
The Dolomites cycling, Italy

2. The Dolomites cycling, Italy

Italians are famed for drama and there’s no more dramatic stage for cyclists than the alpine routes and classic cols of the Dolomites. However, there are also some lovely leisurely rides from beautiful Bolzano where fruit orchards and vineyards run adjacent to the Adige River and tracks lead past Lake Caldaro en-route to Tyrolean treats in the traditional mountain villages of Ora, Egna and Salorno.
Italian Lakes cycling, Italy

3. Italian Lakes cycling, Italy

Lake Como combines chic cafe culture with one of Giro di Lombardia's classic climbs: the Muro di Sormano. Lake Garda allows for leisurely cycling with cheeky short cuts by ferry to Riva del Garda and the lakeside town of Desenzano. From massive Maggiore, sharing shores in Lombardy and Piedmont, to glacial Lugano, set close to Switzerland – Italy’s Lake District always reflects well on cyclists.
Lombardy cycling, Italy

4. Lombardy cycling, Italy

Monte Grappa, the Padova and Vicenza hills, and the foothills of Monte Baldo, all come into play on a cycling vacation in Lombardy which is why this region of northern Italy is often best left to the purists. Autumn is an exquisite season to cycle in Lombardy with the added bonus of the Il Lombardia Gran Fondo adding to the wish list for cyclists seeking challenges and Lycra-clad action.
Piedmont cycling, Italy

5. Piedmont cycling, Italy

Practically half of the northwest Italian region of Piedmont is mountainous with the Alps creating an exquisite natural border with France and Switzerland. Cycling in Piedmont leaves nothing to the imagination with a series of 50km stretches encapsulating the agricultural Montferrato hillsides, topped with vineyards, churches and castles, which lie between Torino, Asti, Alba and Bossolasco.
Puglia cycling, Italy

6. Puglia cycling, Italy

As the heel of booted Italy, Puglia serves cyclists with an enviable variety of countryside and coastal scenes all the way from Matera in the north to Santa Maria di Leuca in the south. Landscapes are flat, and distances are easy-going - don’t expect too many challenges. Prepare to pedal to the unique architecture of Alberobello and the ancient sites of Otranto, as well as seafood stops in Savelletri.
Sardinia cycling, Italy

7. Sardinia cycling, Italy

Find yourself in fishing villages and flamingo-fringed wetlands as you cycle Sardinia’s Costa Verde. Here, flat routes follow golden beaches and the foothills of the Monte Linas provide more of a challenge. Ferry rides to the islands of San Pietro and Sant' Antioco unlock further cycling secrets off the west coast of Italy, including rocky routes along headlands and sandy coves overlooking the Med.
Sicily cycling, Italy

8. Sicily cycling, Italy

What better way to work off one too many cannoli than cycling in southeast Sicily. From Syracuse to Scicli via Capo Passero you’ll pedal past plantations of olives and through the lower valleys of the Iblean Mountains, with average daily distances of 50km. Enjoy a good combination of challenging canyon climbs and flat coastal plains plus an abundance of ancient and natural history.
Tuscany cycling, Italy

9. Tuscany cycling, Italy

Set between the Apennines and the Med, Tuscany always appeals, with the iconic sights of Pisa and the Renaissance art of Florence offering options for free days after time spent freewheeling. From the medieval ramparts of Vinci and the baths of Montecatini Terme, to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and the Cinque Terre coast, cycling in Tuscany can be challenging but rewards are unforgettable.
Umbria cycling, Italy

10. Umbria cycling, Italy

Take your time on a self guided cycling vacation in Umbria or tackle the route from Florence to Rome via hilltop towns, back roads and felt-green fields. Umbria’s uncrowded undulations are ideal for cyclists with yellow seas of sunflowers and towns like Perugia, Assisi and Spoleto punctuating the journey. Discover medieval monuments, ancient basilicas and some darn fine early morning coffee.
Venetia cycling, Italy

11. Venetia cycling, Italy

The region surrounding Venice is rarely seen by the cruise and coach brigade, but places like the Paduan Plain and the Berici Hills are picture perfect, with excellent pedalling past vineyards and villages en route to lakeside picnics or gelati on a peaceful piazza. Explore in the Euganean Hills or visit Vicenza, Verona or Venice, feeding mind, body and soul in one trip.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Italy cycling or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: ickick] [Intro: Sjaak Kempe] [Amalfi coast: James Burke] [Dolomites: Sjaak Kempe] [Italian Lakes: Allie_Caulfield] [Lombardy: Kevin] [Piedmont: Roberto Ferrito] [Puglia: Güldem Üstün] [Sardinia: Dave Haygarth] [Sicily: Scott Wylie] [Tuscany: Einheit 00] [Umbria: simone_aramini] [Venetia: George Damian]