The mainland and islands of Italy are a joy to discover on a leisurely holiday on two wheels. From the orchards and vineyards of South Tyrol to the windmills and temples of Sicily and from the Renaissance architecture and hill-top towns of Tuscany to the spectacular coastal landscapes of Puglia, Italy is a land made for cycling, whatever your ability and whichever type of scenery you like to explore.
With its charming villages and idyllic scenery of olive groves, rows of cypress trees, vineyards and fields of sunflowers, Tuscany lends itself to leisurely exploring by bike. Gentle routes across the rolling hills can be punctuated with visits to wayside chapels and lunches at pavement cafés, as well as time to explore the Renaissance treasures of Siena.
Choose the Veneto to not only enjoy a leisurely cycling route across a picturesque plain criss-crossed by rivers and canals, but also to uncover the cultural highlights of three great cities, starting in UNESCO designated Vicenza and fascinating Padua, before a fitting finale in Venice, one of the most spectacular cities in the world.
To step (or, more accurately, pedal) even further back in time than the Renaissance, head to Sardinia, where visits to Roman amphitheatres, ancient necropolises, Doric temples and Bronze Age settlements add an extra dimension to the cycling on beautiful inland and coastal routes.
Meanwhile, Sicily is a mosaic in many senses – the rich diversity of cultures contributing to its lifestyle and buildings over centuries, the patchwork of its landscape, the palette of warm colours characterising its hill-top villages, and the exquisite golden mosaics of its cathedrals and palaces. Explore the realm of the Baroque in the east including delightful Ragusa; or the windmills, coast and temples of the island's idyllic western corner.
If you prefer the idea of long hot sunny days near the sea, then it has to be Basilicata and Puglia in the deep south of Italy. In Basilicata, cycle through vineyards and wheatfields passing medieval castles on your way to explore the unspoiled town of Matera and its unique underground sassi houses; or cycle along a picturesque coast in Puglai to reach the very heel of Italy before heading north to visit Lecce, the 'Florence of the South' and the cone-roofed trulli houses of Alberobello.
Italy is famed for its cuisine and no cycling holiday would be complete without indulging in some of the many world renowned dishes – and wines – on offer. Each region has its specialities, from the earthy dishes like strangolapreti (spinach dumplings) and orzet (barley soup) of Trentino in the north; to the succulent frutti di mare of southern Sardinia and tasty pasta dishes of Puglia.
All the regions listed here can be explored with Inntravel, one of Britain's leading specialists in independent self-guided cycling holidays. Theirs is a simple, but winning, formula: armed with detailed route notes and a map, and carrying just a picnic, drinks and a camera on modern well-maintained bikes, you cycle entirely at your own pace from one village to the next, where your luggage will be ready waiting for you. You stay in family-run hotels of character, hand-picked for their warm hospitality and excellent restaurants.
Graded from 1 (easiest) to 3 (hardest), the itineraries are typically of 6 or 7 nights' duration, and can be tailored to your individual requirements by adding extra nights, upgrading to superior rooms or hotels, and starting on the day of your choice. Travel arrangements can be equally flexible. You can make your own arrangements (perfect if you are already in Italy) or book flights and connecting travel from the UK through Inntravel.
This information has been provided by Inntravel.