Wondering what it's really like to go on a European bike tour? Ciclismo Classico super-alum Matt M. shared his thoughts during his Bike Across Italy tour last June. Matt's eye for photography, passion for riding, and determined spirit shine through as he recounts the first six days of the 11-day journey from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean with Top Guides Marcello Bonini and Andrea Vitali.
Pesaro (20 miles): Met up with our group today and after bike fittings and an intro lunch, took off on our warm-up ride. The ride took us up into the headlands overlooking the Adriatic for some terrific views. We capped off the day with one of those multi-part Italian dinners, and since we're on the coast, it was more seafood and less pasta, but much wine.
Urbino is quite the interesting place. We visited the Palazzo Ducales, considered the finest example of a Renaissance palace. It was built by the duke Frederico Montefeltro, who, though a mercenary, accumulated great collections of arts and books. Over the ensuing centuries, his collections were ransacked by everyone from the Pope to Napoleon. Many of those works reside today in Paris and Florence.
Urbino is also interesting, because over one-third of its population are college students from all over Europe. It is quite a lively place on a Friday night. As I write this, Blondie is blaring over the piazza loudspeakers.
We arrived in Gubbio mid-afternoon, a medieval city originally built by the Romans. We rode this very unusual stand-up gondola up to the church of Saint Ubaldo, and had magnificent views of the Umbrian countryside. The church serves as the finish line of sorts to an annual festival race in which three teams carry 600-pound 'ceri' up the switchbacks of a 1,000-foot mountain.
Finally, we returned from dinner to a music festival in the main square right outside our hotel. It's why I'm not finishing this post until 11:30 pm. The music is still going, but I really don't mind a bit.
Here's another interesting factoid I learned today that ties together cycling, Assisi, and the Holocaust. Gino Bartoli was a great Italian champion (2-time Tour de France winner). During the war years, he would claim to be out on training rides, but in reality, he was carrying forged identification papers rolled up in the bicycle frame tubes to Jews hidden out in convents in Assisi and other places. Many were saved.
Curious about this trip? It's one of our most popular bike tours in Italy—find out more about this coast-to-coast cycling adventure.
All photos courtesy of Matthew M.