Biking through the Tuscan countryside, Bike tours, Italy, Italy (Photo courtesy of Austin Adventures)
Biking through the Tuscan countryside

Biking in Italy and cycling tours of the countryside

Seeing the Italian countryside at the pace of pedal power is one of the best ways to appreciate the pace of life in the Olde World, and to see the kind of small villages and hamlets that feel straight out of a storybook.

A bicycle in Italian is bicicleta (bee-chee-KLET-tuh)—or bici (BEE-chee) for short.

D.I.Y. Italy by bike: Transporting and renting bicycles in Italy

You can rent bikes at private agencies in just about any city or town.

Avid cyclists who plan to tour a whole region by bike, however, will probably want to bring their own bicycle. 

Some airlines charge extra to bring a bike; many count it as one of your pieces of checked luggage. Either way, your bicycle must be properly boxed—remove the pedals and front wheel; buy the box at a bike shop or the airport for around $10 (here's a good article on the best way to pack a bike for the plane ride).

You can bring your bike onto all Italian trains for free. However, it must be dismantled and in a carrying bag or box measure not more than 80cm x 110cm x 40cm (31.5" x 39" x 15.5"). 

You can take a bike on regional trains in Italy without taking it apart, but must pay a small supplement.

Either way, you have to leave it in the train car's luggage area.

For regional trains, you can reserve the supplemento bici  in advance:

  • Go to Trenitalia.com
  • In the booking box, look at the teensy fine print at the bottom and click the second one, "Altre opzioni / stazioni."
  • On the booking page that pops up, click on "Other Services" at the bottom. 
  • The drop-down menu on the following page should already be on "Supplemento bici." Put in your travel date and continue.
  • Click on "Go on withiout logging in" and fill out everything requried.
  • Your supplement is good for the date you booked. (Not you still jhave to get the actual train ticket for yourself.)

Neophytes might want to try a short trip at home first to learn the basics and figure out the essential gear. Perhaps the best way to do it the first time is to hook up with a cycling tour:

Cycling tours of Italy

There are two basic types of bike tours:

  • Escorted tours - The company provides everything: Bikes, accommodations, sag wagon, guide, and usually meals. You provide the pedaling and the enjoyment.
  • Self-guided/Supported tours - You pedal yourself from country inn to village B&B, but a host provides the bikes, daily itineraries, and accommodation reservations (usually), as well as a sag wagon takes care of luggage transfers. Sometimes it's just you and your friends/family; other times there are others following the same itinerary in a sort of loose group. 

The links below can hook you up with dozens of tour outfitters—as well as provide general useful intel—whether you are interested in a one-day bike trip or a multi-day cycling tour.

Bike Tours

More tours
 
Cycling