Biking Italy: A Countryside Spin to Borghetto sul Mincio
A friend once told me that they don't count a visit to a new city unless they do a walking tour. While some visitors may eagerly cross off a visit to Germany just because of a layover in Frankfurt (a purchased souvenir proves it, right?), this individual could stay a week and still wouldn't consider themselves to have traveled there until that dang walking tour.
Somehow this makes sense to me. Though I spent an extended amount of time in some places, I only truly felt acclimated after I started exploring on my own two feet. Adventuring this way creates an intimacy with a place that a tour bus or the window of a metro car can't replicate. All of a sudden, the unseen neighborhoods, the local restaurants, the alleyways, and the less touristy districts all become yours to explore.
Because your feet can bring you into the nooks and crannies of a city, there aren't many better ways to introduce yourself to a new destination than by foot. However, I'd say a bike ride is a close second.
Bike Trails in Italy
I wasn't sure what to expect about cycling culture in Italy, but I found that it's one of the best ways to get around the city. Cycling in Rome proves an easy way to bypass the congested traffic. The busiest bus stop in the city is across the street from the Colosseum, so it's no surprise that during high season you can expect to wait an hour or more for a bus. Even after waiting so long, it's not uncommon for riders to be packed like a can of sardines inside. Don't expect AC on the bus either.
You can find Lime bikes and scooters (a constituent of Uber) all over the capital city, offering an easy and cheap transportation option. On the other hand, cycling in Venice Italy is illegal, but for good reason.
This city is full of antiquated charm, which also pertains to the city layout and the street width. Streets are narrow and prone to twisting around old merchant buildings. Not to mention the city is surrounded by canals. Pair those two aspects with a ton of tourists on wheels and you've got a recipe for disaster.
Bikes Riding Through the Italian Countryside
It's not all about saving time as you get from landmark A to landmark B. I'm an adventurer who loves to embrace the slow life, and usually find it in the countryside.
Cycling in Italy is an opportunity to see some of those nooks and crannies beyond the tourist zones. To connect with nature and earn a local perspective. During an extended stay in Brescia, a mid-sized city between Verona and Milan, I discovered an integral piece of northern Italy that's sometimes overshadowed by the major attractions in the area.
The sub-alpine landscape with rocky hills and sulfuric green rivers is unlike the typical picture you'd imagine for the Mediterranean. The endless stretches of corn fields segmented by apple orchards reminded me more of my New England home than it did of my Italian ancestral roots.
Biking Italy from Peschiera del Garda to Mantua
Little known beyond local cycling enthusiasts is a 43.5-kilometer (27-mile) trail that connects the lakeside town of Peschiera del Garda to Mantua. It follows the Mincio river and offers sights to some of northern Italy's best-kept secrets.
While I only made it as far as Borghetto sul Mincio, there are a ton of beautiful sights all along this trail. If you want to take a self-guided approach to cycling holidays in Italy, follow the Mincio bike path. It's a paved path along smooth, flat terrain: perfect for families or a leisurely afternoon spin!
Peschiera del Garda
As your starting point, you could easily spend a morning exploring the downtown area of peschiera del Garda. This little down is built on rolling hills next to the lake. Make sure to visit the fortress of Peschiera del Garda, a venetian fortress that juts into the water and is UNESCO-protected site.
Ponti sul Mincio
This little commune is a short distance from Peschiera del Garda and is famed for its Scalinger Castle and Ardietti Fort.
While biking on the trail, you'll see a large tower in the distance. This is the church of San Michele, set in the center of this hillside town.
Valeggio sul Mincio
A village recognized by the Touring Club Italiano, a national organization promoting bike tourism and culture. It's quaint, narrow streets are perfect for a little detour.
Borghetto sul Mincio
While it was my final stop on the Mincio bike path, this hamlet was one of the most picturesque areas of Italy I had the pleasure of witnessing. It's set right on top of the Mincio river and still has operating watermills. If not to take pictures, this is a great spot to stop for lunch.
How to Get to Peschiera del Garda
The best way to get to Peschiera del Garda is by public transportation. There's a major train station with multiple lines crossing through it only fifteen minutes away from town center. Thousands of visits come to visit by the train since the lake is so popular, and there's also a theme park called Gardaland where tons of families and teens come to hang out in the summer. Peschiera del Garda is only about a 1.5 hours from Milan and thirty minutes from Verona.
Bikes Rentals in Peschiera del Garda
Peschiera del Garda is delightfully bike-friendly, with tons of routes separate from the automobile roads. You can easily spend an entire day (or weekend) exploring the lakeside towns by bike, so naturally you'll also find bike rentals everywhere you turn.
The guys are Garda South Cycling were super friendly to me and accommodating with my broken Italian. They rent bikes (both standard and e-bikes) by the hour or full day. The cost of an eight-hour rental was just over ten euros.