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Eight Italian art cities to explore by bicycle

If you enjoy cycling, these eight Italian cities of art are made to measure for exploration on bikes.

05 October 2022

4 minutes

In flat cities, the bicycle has always been the most common means of transport and it is still so today, thanks to cycling lanes, bike-sharing systems and an increasingly green approach. Cycling is the best way to move around in the city but also to enjoy the city as a tourist: what about feeling the breeze in your hair and the sense of freedom? There’s no comparison! What’s more, by bike you can cover long distances quickly and with little effort, it is cheap and you don’t have to worry about parking. If you like cycling, these eight Italian art cities are just perfect for exploration on two wheels.

1. Ferrara by bike

Ferrara, the city of the Este family, boasts an amazing historical center that is Unesco World heritage site, rich in Renaissance squares and buildings – the Castello Estense, the Town Hall, the Diamond Palace, the Cathedral – and has had a bike friendly character for a long time: the first cycling lane was accomplished in 1908. One-third of its inhabitants move by bicycle and there are many events and itineraries for cyclists anywhere in the area. If you want to cycle in the middle of nature, you just have to go a little south of Ferrara, in the Po Delta Park: there are plenty of easy itineraries between land and water, where you can enjoy a real safari by bicycle among cormorants, deers and wild horses.

2. Mantua by bike

The bicycle is perfect to visit downtown Mantua, the jewel of the Gonzaga family: you can easily move around from the Ducal Palace to Palazzo Te, Piazza delle Erbe and the Basilica. Exploring the surroundings of the city on the two wheels is also convenient and full of interesting itineraries: the lakefronts, Bosco Fontana and Bosco della Carpaneta, the Mincio River Nature Reserve, the Forcello Archeological Park, or the Unesco Cycleway from Mantua to Sabbioneta, UNESCO World Heritage site together with Mantua, and the Mincio Cycling Lane, from downtown Mantua to Peschiera, on Lake Garda (43,5 km long).

3. Lucca by bike

The historical center of Lucca is a huge cycling and pedestrian area away from cars. The bicycle is the best way to visit Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, the Ducal Palace, the Clock Tower, Piazza San Michele and the Cathedral and especially to have the full tour of the old city walls: the walls itinerary is about 4,5 km long with several points where you can rent a bike. The route offers many convenient slopes to access the city center. By bicycle, you can also get to the villas and churches in the surroundings, like Villa Oliva and Villa Grabau.

4. Vicenza by bike

With riding a bike, you can easily visit the city center of Vicenza – from the Basilica Palladiana to the Palazzo del Capitanio, from the Olympic Theatre to the Cathedral – and the wonderful Renaissance buildings that earned the city the Unesco world heritage title: the Palladian Villas, a masterpiece by architect Palladio. Along routes at the foot of the Berici Hills and cycling lanes like the Riviera Berica Cycling Lane (36 km), a former railway line, you leave Vicenza flanking Villa La Rotonda by Palladio until Noventa Vicentina, where a must-do stop is Villa Barbarigo-Loredan-Rezzonico, or along the Bacchiglione Ceresone Cycleway (31 km) connecting Vicenza to Padua.

5. Parma by bike

A small bike-friendly town, Italian capital of culture in 2020, Parma is ideal for exploration on two wheels: unmissable stopovers are the Ducal Palace and the Ducal Park, the museum complex of Palazzo della Pilotta, and the heart of the city, Piazza Duomo with the Cathedral and the Baptistery. An easy, quiet excursion by bike from Parma is to the Torrechiara Castle, of the late medieval period, consisting of a 36 km-long flat path. Along the way, the hamlet of Vigatto, with the Church of St Peter and Villa Meli Lupi, is also worth a visit. An interesting tour is the loop in the lands of Giuseppe Verdi through cycling lanes in the districts of Soragna, San Secondo, Roccabianca, Zibello and Busseto, where famous composer Giuseppe Verdi was born.

6. Pesaro and the "Bicipolitana"

Eco-sustainable mobility is a special feature of Pesaro that conceived an odd project: the Bicipolitana, a network of cycling lanes divided in different lines organized as a metro network. The blue line connects the Port to Fosso Sejore, on the seaside, the green line Baia Flaminia to Borgo Santa Maria along the Foglia River, the yellow line the city center to Pantano, for a total of twelve lines with new ones under construction. Line 1, instead, crosses the heart of the historical center, passing through Piazza del Popolo, the birth house of well-known composer Gioacchino Rossini and the Miralfiore Park.

7. The Spoleto-Norcia-Assisi Cycleway

Basilica di San Francesco - Assisi, Umbria

In Umbria, you can have an amazing journey on two wheels along the cycling lane between Spoleto, Norcia and Assisi, among the region’s major historical and artistic beauties. Mainly flat, this route unwinds in a scenic setting dotted with mild hills, often along waterways. The leg from Spoleto to Assisi is about 50 km long to which you can add the 50 km-long itinerary of the former railway line Spoleto – Norcia, with gentle slopes and a bumpy track. Impressive stopovers along the cycle-way include Trevi, enlisted in the association of Italy’s most beautiful villages, Bevagna, an old town with a lovely medieval square, and the Pissignano Castle.

8. Trento and Rovereto by bike

Trento has a millenary historical center that can be easily visited by bike: starting from Piazza Duomo, with the Cathedral and the frescoed buildings, Palazzo Pretorio and the Civic Tower, and then shifting to the Buonconsiglio Castle and MUSE, the science museum. The beautiful Vallagarina Cycling lane heads south flanking the shores of the Adige River arrives at Rovereto (30 km), with its downtown with a Venetian atmosphere, seat of the unmissable MART, the contemporary and modern art museum of Trento and Rovereto. The cycling lane continues to the south for more 20 kilometers, among vineyards and panoramic views, until Avio, where is the Sabbionara Castle; alternatively, in Rovereto you can take the Adige-Garda cycling lane, from the beautiful village of Mori to Torbole, from where you pedal along the lake until Riva del Garda.