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Weekend bike trips in Emilia-Romagna

by /// September 11, 2023
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes



Emilia-Romagna, land of cyclists.
Whether you’re already organizing a cycling getaway in our region or you’re just looking for inspiration, we have only one thing to say: look no further!

Cycling is a religion for many people in Emilia-Romagna. It is no coincidence that this area was the birthplace of great cyclists such as Marco Pantani, and that a city like Ferrara has been called the Italian bicycle capital.

The opportunities to explore the region on two wheels are almost endless. And there really is something for everyone: from the simplest routes, also suitable for children, to the more challenging ones on the Apennine ridges; from urban routes to the natural scenery of the Po Delta Park.

Here are some useful ideas to spend a cycling holiday in Emilia-Romagna.


Cycling in the art cities

Piacenza, tour in bici | Ph. MikeDotta via Shutterstock (solo uso editoriale)
Piacenza, bike tour | Ph. MikeDotta via Shutterstock (editorial use only)

Discovering a new city by bike is the best way to experience it like a local, as well as one of the most sustainable. And you just need two things: a city bike and lots of curiosity!

Urban routes in Emilia-Romagna’s art cities are mostly flat, which means they’re perfect for any type of cyclist. You could go for a 24-hour itinerary of history and art through the streets of Piacenza, and then move on to the nearby Castelli del Ducato area of Parma and Piacenza, crisscrossed by a 5-stage bicycle route of varying difficulty.

Another interesting option in Emilia is a cycling weekend in vibrant Bologna. The region’s capital city has a lot to offer when it comes to bike tours, from themed itineraries (focused on street art, for example) to more classic ones dedicated to the city’s highlights. If after a day in the city centre you feel like a trip out of town, you could follow one of the many bike routes in the surrounding areas between the hills and the plains.

Ferrara is the city of bicycles par excellence. Here, the bike tours range from the classic ones in the city centre – make sure not to miss the easy 5-mile bike route along the walls, suitable even for children – to the themed routes, such as the one inspired by the famous Ferrara writer Giorgio Bassani.

If you wish to visit more than one art city in a single weekend, you can opt for a 48-hour bike route from Ferrara to Ravenna, the ideal tour to explore the wonders of two UNESCO World Heritage cities.

The bike tours of Ravenna’s historic centre and its marvellous mosaics, as well as the routes between the sea and the Marecchia Park in Rimini are also not to be missed.

Flat cycling routes

Modena, itinerari in bici | Ph. Visit Modena
Modena, bike route in the countryside | Ph. Visit Modena

If you’re dreaming of a relaxing weekend in the open air, a bike ride through the plains of Emilia-Romagna is just what you need.

Have you ever heard of the Ciclovia del Sole? This is a 31-mile-long cycle path that runs along an abandoned railway line between Bologna and Verona, which will take you from Mirandola to Bologna through many places of historical and natural interest.

Among the itineraries departing from Bologna we recommend the Navile Cycle Route, a 22-mile flat route that will allow you to learn more about the history of one of the city’s most important canals.

If you are planning a weekend out of town between Modena and Reggio Emilia, you could opt for one of the many cycle routes in the Modena and Reggio Emilia lowlands, such as the Percorso Natura Secchia (Secchia Nature Route) and the Crostolo Route, from Reggio Emilia to Guastalla.

The province of Ravenna offers plenty of flat routes as well. For instance, the ring-route to the house museums of Romagna, which will take you to the birthplaces of great personalities of the past such as Francesco Baracca, between the towns of Bagnacavallo, Lugo, Fusignano and Alfonsine; or the mills and Ravenna passatelli food & wine route.

Bike riding in the Po Delta Park

Cervia (Ra), Fenicotteri alle saline
Cervia (Ra), Flamingos in the Salt Pan | Ph. Massimo Briganti via Flickr

With its landscapes suspended between land and water, the Po Delta Park is one of the most fascinating places in the Emilia-Romagna region, but also a favourite destination for cyclists.

The itineraries on two wheels through the park range from the Comacchio Valleys to the Ravenna pinewoods, and on to Cervia. Amidst valleys, wetlands, woods and pinewoods, nature lovers will be able to indulge in simpler routes, such as the scenic Argine degli Angeli, or the Comacchio Valleys Ring with its large colony of pink flamingos, to more challenging ones such as the Destra Po cycle route, which from Stellato arrives in Gorino, following the last 62 miles of the Po River to the Adriatic Sea.

Round off your biking weekend with a touch of art and cycle to the spectacular Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe. You could also stroll through the centre of Comacchio or visit the breathtaking Saline di Cervia saltworks.

Cycling in the Apennines

Appennino-Reggiano-(RE), Appenninica MTB Stage Race, ph. The Outdoor Lab, Archivio VisitEmilia, CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0
Reggio Emilia Apennines (RE), Appenninica MTB Stage Race | Ph. The Outdoor Lab, Archivio VisitEmilia, CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0

We told you about bike tours in the city, in the countryside and in the wetlands between the Po and the Adriatic Sea. Only one place is missing and that’s the hills and rugged mountains of the Apennines.

If your idea of a cycling weekend is a mix of green landscapes and a vigorous ride, you can have a look at the Ciclovie dei Parchi dell’Emilia-Romagna (Emilia-Romagna Parks Cycle Routes), a list of 10 itineraries scattered in the parks and nature reserves of the region, from Piacenza to Romagna.

To those who can’t wait for the weekend to get on their mountain bikes, we recommend a ride in the province of Forlì-Cesena. This area is full of routes of high difficulty, such as the one from Forlimpopoli to Polenta via Bertinoro or the itinerary from Portico di Romagna up to the Mount Busca volcano, studded with single tracks and dirt roads.

The hills between Forlì and Cesena are also the ideal place for quieter, easy to medium cycling weekends that allow you to fully enjoy both the landscape and the cuisine. Along the Tuscan-Romagna Cycle Route, for example, you will find some low difficulty stages for a total immersion in the atmosphere of the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines.

The itineraries to discover the Marecchia Valley and the Rimini hills, such as the tour of the Upper Marecchia Valley or the panoramic tour leading from the village of Santarcangelo to San Leo, are also worth adding to your bucket list.


Maria Grazia Masotti

An eternal dreamer, but I try to stay grounded. I was raised in the countryside but I love big cities. I’m always ready for a trip, as long as it’s sustainable.

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