2016 was the year of walking paths, and usually, these trails are perfect for bicycle tourists too! Moreover, Italy is rich in suggestive paths and it is the perfect destination in order to discover these places through alternative roads with adequate infrastructures dedicated to bicycle tourists. This year (like every other year) might be the perfect moment to try and cycle on a walking path, and here you'll find our top suggestions. We chose to write a list of the 10 best Italian ways to be cycled: our goal is, like last year, to cycle at least one of them.
The itineraries that we suggest are the most known in Italy. For their own nature, they are conceived to be walked, but in most cases, there is a cycling alternative. In other cases, you can ride on them with a mountain bike by bikepacking or with a backpack on your shoulders. You will find some useful information on the specific websites indicated for each Way. Many of these paths are connected to one another and they allow to travel for a long journey across all Italy by bicycle.
Here are the 10 paths we suggest you:
1. The Way of Abbots - La Via Degli Abati
The Way of Abbots crosses the Tosco-Emiliano Appennine connecting Pavia to Pontremoli. This path starts in Lombardy, then crosses the Emilia-Romagna and ends in Tuscany. The Way of Abbots starts from Pavia, touching the Bobbio Abbey, where youìll find the remains of Saint Colombano, great Irish abbot father of monasticism (together with Saint Benedict), to then reach Borgo Val di Taro and climb down to Pontremoli following a different path than the Via Francigena that overpasses, in this area, the Cisa Pass.
2. The Way of Saint Anthony - Il Cammino di Sant'Antonio
The Way of Saint Anthony is actually divided into two parts. The Last and The Long Way of Saint Anthony. The first connects the Sanctuary of Camposampiero to the one passing through Padua and the Sanctuary of the Arcella where the Saint died in 1231. The itinerary retraces the 24 km of Saint Anthony's last day path. The Long Way of Saint Anthony, on the other hand, connects Padua to the Sanctuary in La Verna in a backward path in the Saint from Lisbon's path during his long permanence in Italy.
The path then connects to the Way of Assisi, connecting the Sanctuary in La Verna to Assisi.
3. The Way of Saint Augustine - Il Cammino di Sant'Agostino
The Way of Saint Augustine is a path connecting Monza to Pavia and draws a rose with its flower touching Lake Como, the leaves in the plain north of Milan and a stem crossing the capital of Lombardy arriving in Pavia. More than 900 km with circular paths allowing the pilgrims to adapt the path to their needs to then reach the city that hosts the remains of this Saint. The "leaves" are easy to be cycled, while the "flower" presents some gravel roads.
In Pavia, the Way of Abbots starts.
4. The Way of the Gods - La Via degli Dei
The Way of the Gods is an old path connecting the cities of Bologna to Florence. It's not a religious path, but an old path created by the Etruscan civilization then walked by the Romans. Its paved way left the place to the trails that now require an MTB, crossing the Tosco-Emiliano Appennine. You can ride on the Way of the Gods by bicycle in 2 or 3 days.
5. The Way of Saint Francis - Il Cammino di San Francesco
- Start / Finish
- La Verna or Greccio | Assisi
- North Path: 217 km | South Path: 194 km
The pilgrimages leading to Assisi are uncountable: we chose one of them. The Way of Saint Francis is actually double. There is a northern itinerary, leading to Assisi from the Sanctuary of La Verna and a southern one starting from Greccio. Both paths cross one of the most beautiful regions to cycle... Umbria! from La Verna you will pass through Gubbio and Perugia, while from Greccio you will cross Rieti, Monteluco and Trevi before reaching Assisi.
6. The Way of Saint Paul - Il Cammino di San Paolo
A beautiful setting surrounds this itinerary on the biggest island of Italy: Sicily. The path on the Way of Saint Paul, connecting Siracusa to Buscemi, in the Sicilian hinterland, passes through suggestive places naturalistically and culturally speaking. Beginning from Ortigia, an island in the middle of the starting city, a rare beauty pearl, on the Way you will cross the Cathedral of Saint Nicholaus in Noto, the gem of Pantalica in the mountains Iblei and much more. Distances from the many places, in this case, are minimal, and this Way by bicycle can be finished in one or two days, or be part of a bigger journey. Unfortunately, you won't find much information about this Way, but we decided to include it on our list in order to promote less known paths.
7. The Way of Saint benedict - Il Cammino di San Benedetto
The Way of Saint Benedict connects Norcia to Montecassino along 300 km between Umbria and Lazio following the monk's footsteps. Valleys and mountains of this particular area of Italy are the perfect contexts for a pilgrim facing this path by bicycle. From the Sibillini mountains to the Aniene valley, from Norcia to Rieti until Subiaco and Collepardo, to then reach the base of the mountain where the Abbey of Montecassino lays: this journey will make you discover some unknown places, with some historic and magical traditions.
8. The Great Cattle-track - Il Tratturo Magno
During the period of transhumance, millions of sheep used to run through this speedway for cattle from the heights of Apennines until the tableland of Apulia. From L'Aquila to Foggia, the Tratturo Magno crosses valleys and, despite the insufficient attentions it gets, is a strong and ideal backbone to know this unknown but spectacular territory by bicycle or walking. We, fortunately, had the occasion to ride on it during our journey through the Apennines.
9. Italy Coast to Coast
Another itinerary crossing the heart of Italy, this time through the exis east-west. Coast to coast, as the name suggests, joins the coasts of the Adriatic and the Tirrenian Seas. From Portonovo, near Ancona, you cross the hills of Marche to reach Nocera Umbra and Assisi. Pedalling through Umbria you reach Orvieto, passing through the Bolsena Lake and entering Tuscany, then passing through Pitigliano and end the journey in Orbetello, on the Tyrrhenian coast.
10. Via Francigena
- Start / Finish
- Canterbury | Roma
- 1600 km circa
We left this one as the last one, because we already treated it diffusely on our website, and because it is for sure the most known path in Italy. The entire track of the Via Francigena connects Canterbury to Roma (and continues even further towards Jerusalem), becoming an international long distance path adequate for long distance (and time-consuming) travels. The areas crossed are many, all suggestive and memorable, so they could be visited partially to be satisfied and in awe.