Top Cycling Routes in Italy’s Emilia Romagna Region

STORY BY Patrick 30th May 2024

As the world’s elite cyclists prepare for the historic start of the Tour de France in Italy next month, the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna invites cycling enthusiasts of all abilities to explore its diverse routes and landscapes.

These include the 126km Romagna Toscana Cycle Route that winds across the Apennines, recently featured in The Green Travel List 2024 by Wanderlust magazine – the only Italian destination included.

From the gentle plains to the challenging Apennine peaks, Emilia Romagna offers a unique blend of beauty and grit, perfect for every level of cyclist. Here’s Emilia Romagna’s top cycling routes:

Ciclovia del Navile (Easy) – Distance: 35 km

The Ciclovia del Navile is a 35-kilometre cycle (and pedestrian) path that starts at the Sostegno della Bova, just outside the centre of Bologna, Emilia Romagna’s capital city. The route is suitable for everyone and combines history, industrial archaeology and nature. The Ciclovia del Navile follows the ancient Navile canal, which was built in 1221 and served as a waterway connecting Bologna to the Po River; ultimately, linking the city to the sea. This is a flat route comprising dirt roads, paths and short asphalt stretches, suitable for less experienced cyclists too.

Valli di Comacchio Loop (Easy) – Distance: 49 km

This route is a tranquil journey through the stunning Po Delta Park, one of the most beautiful oases in Italy and the second largest wetland in Europe, hosting hundreds of animal and plant species. Cyclists can enjoy the scenic beauty of the wetlands and the chance to spot the vibrant pink flamingos that inhabit this area. A highlight of the loop is the Argine degli Angeli, a spectacular path that gives the feeling of cycling between waters, with the sea on both sides.

Food Valley Bike (Easy/Intermediate) – Distance: 70 km

This is an alternative cycling experience that combines the love for bicycles with the passion for food. Food Valley Bike is a journey through the heart of the Parma lowlands, a region famous for its culinary delights (including the famous prosciutto di Parma). The cycle path spans approximately 70 km – divided into three stages – and is guided by two main themes: pasta and cold cuts, the undisputed protagonists of the local cuisine. As well as food, cyclists can enjoy passing through charming villages, castles and museums along the way – a great experience that will delight both cycling enthusiasts and food lovers alike.

Rotta del Sale Bike Trail (Easy/Intermediate) – Distance: 278 km

The Rotta del Sale Bike Trail is a remarkable 278-kilometre off-road cycling route that connects the coastal town of Cervia – known as the ‘salt town’ due to its production of ‘sweet salt’ – to the city of Venice. Actually, the trail recreates an ancient sea route that was crucial for salt trade during the Middle Ages. Along the way, cyclists can expect encounters with protected areas (such as the Po Delta Park), ancient pine forests and enchanting places like the lagoon town of Comacchio, known as the “little Venice” due to its vast network of canals. Despite its length, the Rotta del Sale Bike Trail is completely flat and accessible to all.

Romagna Toscana Cycling Route (Intermediate) – Distance: 126 km

The Romagna Toscana Cycling Route is a 126-km long path that connects the towns of Bagno di Romagna and Castrocaro Terme/Terra del Sole, renowned for their thermal hot springs. The route winds through low traffic asphalt roads and gravel paths, woodlands and hills – and explorers keen to go off-piste should consider tracking down a hot-spring. The Romagna Toscana Cycling Route is also linked to other cycling routes and walking paths that reach different parts of Italy and Europe. The route has been recognised in The Green Travel List 2024 by Wanderlust due to the community efforts to help restore the route after the flooding that affected the region last year.

Monte Cusna Loop (Expert); Distance: 52.3 km

The Monte Cusna Loop is an exhilarating cycling adventure through the wild and little-known Reggio Emilia Apennines. Monte Cusna is the second highest peak in the northern Apennines, but it is much steeper – hence the local nickname of “the Giant.” Only suitable for expert cyclists, the loop stretches 52.3 km with a significant elevation gain of 1,780 m. It offers a mix of high mountain singletrack and narrow ridge trails, requiring excellent riding skills and a good dose of hike-a-bike. The expert-level route promises an exhilarating ascent with rewarding panoramic views.

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