Gone Bike About...

Lavin–Scuol (Switzerland)–Reschenpass–Meran–Bozen–Trento–Lake Garda–Verona–Vicenza-Padua–Venice (Italy) (600 km)

See Map

Now if this itinerary sounds like a string of pearls to you, you’re not mistaken. Our two-week trip took us from the Engadine Alpine region of Switzerland, through the blooming orchards of South Tyrol, taking in medieval towns and great gelatis all the way to Venice, in the Adriatic. As the landscape became duller, the towns grew more extravagant. It was an easy ride on beautiful bike trails or quiet roads most of the way; 600 km that we can highly recommend.
Allegra, the local Romantsch greeting in the Engadine, was a fitting chorus from friendly locals and tourists alike. Spring is a perfect time when the white of the alpine crocuses replaces the snow fields, and the temperatures reach a pleasant 20°C in the sun, while the snow-capped peaks form a beautiful contrast to a clear blue sky.

The Engadine in springtime

Scenery that makes climbing easy

Typical Engadine house

Relaxing in the Scuol spa
The last climb on the trip! Once over the Reschen Pass it was pretty much downhill all the way to the Adriatic! We followed a fabulous new bike trail along the Etsch/Adige River in South Tyrol. Cruising past turquoise lakes and loads of medieval castles, set among orchards and vineyards, was an absolute joy.

South Tyrol – The Promised Land!

Snow capped mountains …

…& turquoise lakes

Apple blossoms & snow-capped mountains; South Tyrol is the business!

The bicycle trail actually follows the Via Claudia Augusta, an ancient Roman road that joined the Po river with southern Germany, crossing the Alps as we did.  Cycling along an ancient Roman trail

Along the Via Claudia Augusta there are lots of little medieval villages

Apple blossoms and castles all the way

Meran spa Meran is the tourist capital of the region and acts as a very pleasant rehabilitation centre with its renowned spa and easy walkways.
Kurt managed to get barred

Lots of castles overlooking Meran

One of the local attractions is to visit a rehabilitation centre for birds of prey, where flight demos are part of the show.

Like to meet him on a dark night?

Bozen backdrop Bozen, the administrative centre, has a fabulous location at the gateway to the spectacular Dolomites, which are visible from almost everywhere in town.  
Downtown Bozen

Castle and vineyards in Bozen

Leaving Bozen, we did a wee detour via the South Tyrol vineyards. A former railway line has been converted into a bike train leading up to Kaltern, famous for its light red plonk!
Kaltern

The road south

Trento’s main plaza Our first pleasant surprise along the route was Trento. Not having heard or read anything about the town, we were rightly impressed with its medieval centre including painted facades, airy plazas all topped off by an imposing castle. This was where we had to change from speaking German to Italian, and where we had our first real taste of Italian cuisine. Fruits of the Forest and Wild Mushroom Risotto got the ball rolling nicely!
No trip to the region is complete without a detour to the largest lake in Italy – Lake Garda. Cycling from north to south there is a real feeling of leaving the Alps and entering the fertile plains of northern Italy.

Prime real estate on Lake Garda

Along Lake Garda

Along  Lake Garda

In his element

O Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Verona was the first place where we had a full touristy itinerary… and we took the lot in our stride! The arena, castle, roman theatre, and of course, Juliette’s balcony on the second floor were all worth the visit.
Decorative Verona

Arena in Verona

Verona from Roman theatre

Arena detail

You never know who might appear!

Street artist in Verona

Vicenza, on the UNESCO world heritage list for it renaissance palaces and villas by the architect Andrea Palladio, is one of the richest towns in Italy. It’s no great surprise then that hotels are on the expensive side, but the rooms do have a certain palazzo feel to them.

Fit for a king

Vincenza

Central plaza in Padua Thinkin’ I was dyin’ I gave my soul to God to keep, And a tenner to St. Anthony to help me get some sleep. Inspired by Christy Moore’s DTs’ lyrics and the reference to the patron saint of lost things, Kurt spent a tenner on a map and found St. Anthony’s basilica in Padua! Actually, we both liked the town a lot because of its numerous spacious plazas, arcades, churches and palaces.  
St. Anthony’s bascilica

Arcades and plazas, Padua

Gondoliers in training We approached Venice from the south with a little island hopping along the sand banks that protect the lagoon, and found a neat B&B in Lido. From there we did our sight seeing, but we won’t say anything about Venice, because judging by the crowd, the chances are you were there too!
Island-hopping to Venice

Chioggia

Rialto bridge

Downtown Venice

Gondolier

Along the canals

Guess who lives here!

To return home it was a marathon 13-hour ferry/train journey back to St. Gallen via Milan. In Italy it’s absolutely no problem transporting bikes on trains, as long as they are regional/local. However, don’t even think of trying to buy an international ticket in Milano Centrale on Easter weekend! “Impossible” is the only response you’ll get, even after standing patiently in line for an hour and a half. A ticket to the border is the way to go, and let the neighbours deal with the rest! Buona Pasqua!

Regional train