Arrivedeci Bella Italia …

On Sunday, with a day in hand before heading back to Venice for our flight home, we cycled 25 miles northwest of Verona to Lake Garda. Nested in the foothills of the Dolomites, the lake is one of the premier tourist destinations in Northern Italy. It is easy to see why, the location is beautiful and despite the huge number of tourists, is very tranquil by the water.

Garda Town, Lake Garda

There are plans for a dedicated cycle path all around the 34 x 10 mile (at its longest and widest points) lake but currently it’s a bit of a free-for-all. Pedestrians, holiday makers almost exclusively on electric bikes, sandy paths, coarse stoney sections, diversions on to roads and a bridge requiring riders to carry their bikes up and down the steps either side are just a few of the obstacles encountered. It took twice as long as it should have to get to Peschiera Del Garda, at the southern end of the lake, where we spent the night.

Building in Vicenza designed by Andrea Palladio, a 16th century architect considered to be one of the most influential in his field

To avoid a repititious, return, journey to Verona on Monday we caught an early train to a village just east of the city. We had a very enjoyable ride, largely following bike route I1 alongside the river Bacchiglione, through vineyards and farmland. A 250 metre climb up a long hill gave glorious views of and a heady descent into the city of Vicenza, where we passed a couple of hours viewing the architectural legacy of the city’s most famous son, Antonio Palladio. His palladian coloumns and facades grace many fine palaces and public buildings. A star exhibit in a gathering of vintage cars in the main Piazza was made in 1908.

Typical cobbled Street in Padua

Our penultimate night was a very comfortable ‘Agriturismo’ B&B at the small village of Montegalda. Paulo, our charming host, runs the oldest Grappa Distillery in Italy, it has been in his family for 179 years, with the farmhouse dating back to the 1400s. Today’s ride continued on route I1, with a small detour to visit Padua. We enjoyed its cobbled streets, fine old Piazzas and the amazing carvings and frescos in the Basilica of St Anthony.

A further 30 miles this afternoon sees us about 3 miles from Venice’s Marco Polo Airport for our flight home tomorrow.

Another wonderful trip, 1,038 miles pedaled, through five countries with just one puncture and a wobbly mudguard.

A couple of happy pedallers leaving Paulo’s Distillery.

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