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This is a special and memorable bike tour around the largest and most beautiful pre-alpine lakes. It allows you not only to explore the splendid Italian lakes with their picture postcard scenery, but also takes you through the nearby hills and valleys, well off the beaten tourist track. You will have the opportunity to take routes that wind through places where nature is still unspoiled and history seems to stand still. Just cycling through valleys and mountains in picturesque settings where peace and tranquility reign. The final stop on your tour will be Montisola, on Lake Iseo, recently the setting for ‘The Floating Piers’ by the artist Christo. You will be cycling with the reassurance provided by the constant presence of the minibus and technical support. Join Road Bike Tours Italy and cycle around the most beautiful lakes!
You will be staying in various exclusive accommodations that have been inspected and chosen personally by Road Bike Tours Italy's staff. You will be staying in Arona on the first night, Santa Maria Maggiore on the second night, Laveno-Mombello on the third night, Dongo on the fourth night, Bellagio on the fifth night, and Iseo on the last night.
On the first day, you will be welcomed by the staff. There will be a presentation of the bike tour, welcome drink, and dinner served for you.
Departuring from Arona, you will reach Piedmontese, a town on the shores of Lake Maggiore. You ride along the entire perimeter of the lake and then get ready to face the Val Cannobina ascent. From the lake, you go up to Sella di Pian di Sale which leads to the Val Vigezzo where the Cannobino stream forms deep gorges and creates evocative scenes, with the valley opening up as you ride higher. In Val Cannobina, with its mountains, alpine farmsteads, and pastures, you ride back in time: this wild and almost deserted valley is perfect for cycling. There is no need to worry about the climb because the minibus is always nearby, so you can relax as you ride through the splendid mountains of Val Vigezzo. With its green forests and evocative atmosphere all year round, not surprisingly, it is also known as the “Valley of Painters”: portrait and landscape artists used to come here in search of inspiration. Pedaling onwards, you then reach the largest and most important town in the valley: Santa Maria Maggiore, a historic village situated on a high plain at just over 800 meters a.s.l. There will be time to relax before dinner together.
After a nourishing and tasty breakfast, you will be on your bikes for a long but easy ride. After riding through Re, the last municipality of Val Vigezzo, you enter Switzerland in the Canton Ticino, heading for Borgnone, then down towards Losone to reach the city of Locarno, situated on the north shore of Lake Maggiore. After your visit to Switzerland, you head back into Italy from the small and charming village of Tronzano in the province of Varese. Heading for Luino, you then continue along the lake for the last part of your ride to Laveno-Mombello. This important town on the eastern shore of the lake is well-known for its marina. Monte Sasso del Ferro, the mountain above the town, can be reached by cable car and has one of the best views of the lake, as well as a popular starting point for paragliding.
After meeting for breakfast, you leave by minibus for the short transfer to Lake Como. Then, you will get back on your road bikes in Cernobbio, a renowned tourist resort on the western shore of the lake, and ride along the lake to Argegno. Here, the Val d’Intelvi ascent is waiting for you: a mountain valley in the province of Como near the Swiss border with San Fedele at 779 meters a.s.l. Nearby is the summit of Monte Generoso surrounded by unspoiled nature that makes an imposing landscape. Leaving the mountains, you go back down to the lake to Porlezza, an important tourist resort on the shore of Lake Lugano. You continue downhill until you return to the western shore of Lake Como in Menaggio with a superb view of the lake. Riding along the lake, you end your day’s ride in Dongo, where you can enjoy the lake scenery and surrounding landscape.
You leave from Dongo and, following the road along the lake, you ride through Colico Piano on the eastern shore of the lake, with its Four Montecchi, small hills near the lake. Your road bikes take you in Varenna where a ferry transfer you in Bellagio, here, you deal with the challenging ascent that leads to the sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron of all of the cyclists.
Those in the know believe that the Ghisallo, for the “Tour of Lombardy” is like Grammont for the Tour of Flanders. If you feel up to the challenge, as always accompanied by your guide, you can ride up to the sanctuary, otherwise as an alternative in just a few kilometers, you can reach your final destination for the day: Bellagio, one of the most beautiful towns of the lake with its splendid views.
After breakfast, you will be transferred by minibus to Lake Iseo where you will start the day’s ride in Sarnico. This pre-alpine lake with its characteristic “S” shape is in both the province of Brescia (east side) and Bergamo (west side). Pedaling clockwise, you will go through Predore and Riva di Solto and, riding along the lake, soon reach a stretch of road from where you can admire the small beaches and old lakeside road dating back to 1910 that runs right next to the lake. With hairpin bends, short tunnels carved out of the rock, and a small picturesque waterfall, you reach Castro.
You then carry on to Lovere, with its colorful and picturesque alleys, ancient churches, and elegant squares. Continuing along the lakeside, you reach Pisogne with its ancient medieval center and churches with frescoes by well-known artists like Romanino, before continuing through the villages of Marone and Sale Marasino to Sulzano where you will take the ferry to Montisola together with your bikes. Montisola is the largest lake island in Europe making it an ideal destination for a day trip on your road bikes because cars are not allowed. Some of the roads that connect the many villages are right next to the lake, others higher up. Along the beautiful lakeside road called ‘Road of Olives’, with a romantic view of the nearby island of Saint Paul, you get to Sensole, from where you carry on towards Menzino and Siviano, admiring the island of Loreto which, with its neo-Gothic castle and its inaccessibility to the public, since it is private property, is the subject of legends and stories. After Carzano, it is just a short final ride along the eastern side of the island to the small village of Peschiera-Maraglio. Montisola became famous in 2016 when it hosted the celebrated project of Christo ‘The Floating Piers’, a temporary pedestrian footbridge across the lake, from Sulzano to Montisola and the private island of Saint Paul. An ambitious and almost surreal work that enabled thousands of Italian and foreign visitors to “walk on the water” of Lake Iseo, enjoying it from a totally new perspective. After taking the ferry back to Sulzano, you pedal to Iseo, the final destination of your day’s cycling in no time at all. You will be having dinner in a typical restaurant.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Arona. See you on the next tour!
This bike tour is located in Italy covering Arona, Santa Maria Maggiore, Laveno-Mombello, Dongo, Bellagio, and Iseo.
You will have breakfasts and dinners served for you based on local products.
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