Meet tour leader Michele Quaresimin
As he prepares to lead our next Cycling Emilia-Romagna’s Culinary Wonders (a guided tour from Bologna to Parma), we catch up with one of our most experienced tour leaders in Italy, Michele (pronounced mee-keh-leh in Italian). Michele also tells us why he loves accompanying cyclists through this region famous for its food and culinary traditions.
But first, let’s meet Michele!
Michele, why did you decide to start leading cycling tours?
Thanks for this question! I cannot be more sincere in admitting how much I love our country. Travelling through Italy while leading customers on bike, on foot, even on snowshoes and skis, has made my personal journey so much richer.
Also, I am real sports enthusiast, and cycling is an activity that can never be missing in my armoury – even after all these years, it’s an activity that still thrills me, that still brings me a feeling of liberty and joy.
How do you enjoy yourself when you’re not leading tours?
Every now and then I also like to change activities, which is why I relax my body & mind by walking in the mountains. Close to home I am lucky to have the amazing Dolomites, mountains that are truly unique in the world and that express the real purity of the mountain territory.
With a job that keeps me away from home for most of the year, my thoughts are always with my family (my wife and two growing kids); and when I am at home, I try to spend as much time as possible with them – fortunately, they love the outdoors and sport as much as I do!
What do you like the most about cycling?
On the last tour, a customer pointed out to me how more attention is paid to the little things, the detailsand how you can access areas and attractions that would otherwise remain hidden. From the saddle of the bicycle, you can live another vacation experience, which becomes a fantastic journey through the land you are traveling through. But the discovery of new places and being outdoors are perhaps two aspects that most drive my passion for this splendid means of travel.
Where is your favorite place to ride in Emilia-Romagna?
The region is so vast and rich in differences that it is difficult to describe it in an answer, as well as to get bored of visiting it by bicycle. The plains and valleys have a remarkable ease of access, the colors of the peaches on the trees in summer, the wide rivers that gently invigorate the Po River and the view that sweeps away in the vast distances. But honestly I most love cycling on the rolling hills – the landscape is so peaceful, and the towering castles and towers on rocky outposts along the way remind of the rich, wonderful history this region has..
What do travelers say surprises them the most when they visit our country?
The biggest surprise for my clients is often the wealth of testimonies of the past, ancient buildings still lived in every day by people, a historical landscape integrated with rich traditions. Nature, although domesticated in every possible way, is still strongly present, with variety in the landscape and ecosystems.
Mostly, however, travelers are amazed with the culinary delicacies that fill our tables (this is the heart of Italian pasta, and many other dishes and recipes in Italian cooking!). In short: our traditions are always a surprise for visitors.
Can you reveal your favorite city in this region and why?
A question that puts me in trouble! Many places and cities crowd into my mind as soon as I think about it, each with its own characteristics and peculiarities. I think it’s a race already won at the start, but on an equal footing.
What would be included in your favorite regional meal?
Summer is an exciting time of year for me. On a bicycle, exploring majestic places in the company of my clients. Summer brings its fruits and Emilia-Romagna is one of the most important fruit producers in Europe. I love the melon, sweet and orange that grows in the plains. Just as I get excited by the taste of the perfect seasoning of Parma Ham, which receives the wind that comes from afar and reaches the buildings in the hills where its unmistakable flavor develops. Putting these two simple ingredients together, one of the simplest yet most savoury dishes is born – prosciutto e melone – prosciutto and cantaloupe.
If you could do any Cycle Europe trip in the region which would you pick?
Cycling Emilia-Romagna’s Culinary Wonders is certainly one of the best tours to savor all the qualities and richness of this land. It is an easy itinerary of 7 days and 6 nights, cycling between Parma and Bologna.
Parma, rich in artistic masterpieces, spacious green areas, small and large treasures from different eras, welcomes visitors and citizens in the refined atmosphere of a small capital. The presence of music in the history of the city is varied and richly known (think Giuseppe Verdi and Arturo Toscanini). Not to be underestimated for its gastronomic tradition – in addition to meats and cheeses famous all over the world (Parma Ham, Parmesan cheese…), also excellent for fresh pasta. Parma was in fact nominated Creative City of Gastronomy by Unesco in 2015.
Bologna, on the other hand, is a meeting point between north and south, between east and west. This factor has greatly influenced the city to this day. City of art, culture and commerce with an efficient trade fair structure and a renowned manufacturing and motoring tradition, Bologna is known for its almost 40 km of arcades, the longest in the world. And to top it off, its beauty takes your breath away.
Also called the “Learned”, due to its ancient University, and the “Fat” for its gastronomy, the city boasts the title “Creative City of UNESCO Music” and boasts one of the largest and best preserved medieval historic centers of Europe. I love just sitting in an outdoor café watching people stroll by with the lively backdrop of the arches, coloured in every tone of red.
Between these two majestic cities you will visit Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar makers learning their time-tested methods; sample plenty of artisanal gelato; wonder at ancient castles and world-heritage UNESCO sites; and even have the chance to see the Ferrari museum and factory, from the famous car maker’s hometown of Modena. History, art, culture, and tradition all come together to make this an unforgettable holiday and what better way to experience it than from the seat of your bike!
I hope to see you on the road with us!