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Cycle Europe - serving bicycle travellers since 1972

Bicycle Tours — Italy

Discover Emilia-Romagna, the Gastronomic Heart of Italy

Casual self-guided - Bologna to Parma - 8 days

A new spin on our classic cycling and culinary adventure through Italy's renowned foodie region! Wonderful riding through pretty countryside and farms, picturesque towns and great cities. This region offers amazing scenery and a number of UNESCO world heritage sites, renowned food and drink, art and history, and the legendary friendliness of its locals.

New for 2024: in an effort to offer more sustainable options, we now offer this great tour package without luggage transfers between hotels. Self-supported cyclists can enjoy this bike itinerary carrying their belongings in bike panniers, thus reducing fuel and vehicle emissions!

Request space on this Bicycle Tour »

  • Day 1

    Arrive in Bologna

    Highlights: Bologna! UNESCO World Heritage porticoes and culinary traditions

    Arrive in Bologna, Emilia Romagna's administrative capital and, arguably, its culinary capital too. Home to the oldest continually operating university in the world, Bologna has a long tradition of studies, arts, and gastronomy. Speaking of gastronomy, Bologna gave birth to mortadella, vulgarly distorted abroad as "bologna," although the fresh, artisanal mortadella has nothing to do with processed ham! Make sure you put this culinary delight on your 'must try' list! Lots to see and explore in this beautiful city. Come early and book a genuine cooking class at a renowned cooking school or enjoy dinner at a local trattoria!

    Accommodation: Il Guercino Boutique Hotel, or similar.

  • Day 2

    Ride to Modena

    Highlights: Rails-to-trails bike paths, Bazzano, World Heritage Site of historic Modena

    Leave Bologna on its city bike paths to get to the first hills where great views reward you after a short climb. A rails-to-trails bike path leads you out to the fortress town of Bazzano, before heading to Modena. Don't forget to visit the historic town center of this city with the marble covered cathedral and its Ghirlandina bell tower.

    Daily distance: 63 km (39 miles)
    Elevation gain: +212 m (695 ft)

    Accommodation: Hotel Estense, or similar.

  • Day 3

    Modena loop ride

    Highlights: Explore Modena; optional loop ride on the hills

    Take time to explore Modena today by climbing up the bell tower or visiting the Palace of the Duchy. Alternatively, enjoy a ride to the foothills of the Apennines along quiet roads and bicycle lanes. Visit the picturesque town of Castelvetro with its fortified historical center and balsamic vinegar production. If you are a car fan, Modena is the home of Ferrari and other historical brands so there are museums and exhibitions you can indulge in!

    Daily distance: 60 km (37 miles)
    Elevation gain: +374 m (1227ft)

    Accommodation: Hotel Estense, or similar.

  • Day 4

    Cycle the Reggio Emilia countryside

    Highlights: Modena's covered street market, Balsamic vinegar, stay in an agriturismo

    Before heading out of Modena on your bike, we suggest a visit of the local covered market that has been selling local products since the Middle Ages: fruits and vegetables, but also gourmet selections of Lambrusco wine, Amaretti cookies, truffles, cheese and Prosciutto, and of course traditional balsamic vinegar. With your senses alight by the sounds, sights and smells, you will visit the lovely Acetaia Cavalli estate, where the family has been producing the highest quality balsamic for over a hundred years. An easy ride today will lead you along back roads to tonight’s very special stay - an "agriturismo" country house estate with a working farm, parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar production, vineyards and winery, and more, within a wonderful natural setting.

    Daily distance: 47 km (29 miles) Elevation gain: +219 m (720 ft)

    Accommodation: Agriturismo La Razza, or similar.

  • Day 5

    Reggio Emilia loop ride on the hills

    Highlights: Canossa Castle ruins or city of Reggio Emilia

    Head for the hills today on a ride to Canossa Castle ruins, where the Holy Roman Empire Emperor Henry 4th had to show penance to the Pope, waiting in the snow barefoot at the gate of Matilda's castle for three days before Matilda, countess of Canossa, convinced the Pope to open. Alternatively, for a shorter loop ride follow the bike path to Reggio Emilia for a visit of this bustling, pretty town.

    Short option: 19 km (12 miles) with +102 m (335 ft) elevation gain. Long option: 57km (35 miles) with +801 m (2650 ft) elevation gain.

    Accommodation: Agriturismo La Razza, or similar.

  • Day 6

    Bike to Parma

    Highlights: Parma cured ham and parmesan cheese

    We suggest you start your day with an optional visit of a parmesan cheese factory. This wonderful experience, in which you'll learn why Parmigiano-Reggiano is known as "the king of cheeses”, is one of the tour highlights.

    Your destination today is a city where your taste buds will not be disappointed, Parma! Famous for its culinary traditions, the arts also flourished outside of the kitchen in this lovely city: Parmigianino, Correggio, and Giuseppe Verdi are some of its most famous citizens, and their influence are present to this day. The city is still an important cultural and artistic center. Explore and enjoy the historic center, and delight your palate with Parma's signature cured ham (prosciutto crudo) and Parmesan cheese, eaten as an aperitivo or sprinkled on homemade pasta dishes.

    Daily distance: 63 km (39 miles)
    Elevation gain: +291 m (955 ft)

    Accommodation: Hotel Button, or similar.

  • Day 7

    Torrechiara Castle loop ride

    Highlights: Lovely ride in the hills near Parma and the castle of Torrechiara and lunch with a view; explore Parma

    Get ready for your last day of bicycling amidst ancient castles and local traditions! Today's ride will loop to the breathtaking Torrechiara Castle. Dominating the Val Parma, the castle was constructed between 1448 and 1460, devised as an instrument of defense as well as a distinguished home for the count and his lover. This area is famous for its cured prosciutto and local salame—taste them in this historic setting!

    Daily distance: 48 km (30 miles) Elevation gain: +240 m (787 ft)

    Accommodation: Hotel Button, or similar.

  • Day 8

    Last day in Parma, tour ends

    Highlights: World Heritage Site of Parma

    Your cycling tour ends in Parma. Now with a refined palate, shop well and take some recipes home to try in your own kitchen!

    PLEASE NOTE : The final itinerary, including hotels and/or activities described here, are subject to changes according to availability. City hotel taxes are not included.

Includes Includes:
7 nights in 2-,3- and 4-star hotels and B&Bs of similar quality
All breakfasts
Access to smartphone app with preloaded tracks and digital roadbook

Not Included:
Travel to and from the tour start and end
Bike fitting and welcome meeting
Bicycle rental (see Prices tab)
Luggage transfers (see optional pricing)
Entrance to museums or other activities
City hotel tax (€2 to 5 per night per person, to be paid locally by traveler)
Any meals or beverages not indicated as included
Any type of insurance (medical, trip cancellation and interruption, baggage, bike rental)

Half-board option available: €145 per person (4 total dinners, 3-course pre-set menus - drinks not included)

Solo Traveler and Private Group departures available: please inquire.

If you are looking for a shorter version of this tour, see our 5-day option.

Extra nights: available before/after tour, please inquire for prices.

Extra meals & activities: (please inquire for price and availability)

  • Balsamic Vinegar Producer Visit
  • Parmesan Cheese maker visit (closed Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Cooking class available in Bologna: Organized by Le Cesarine, experts in Italian culinary experiences. You will be hosted by a local at their home - your "Cesarina" - in a class that lasts about three hours, during which you will help the Cesarina cook prepare three courses. In the fourth and final hour, you will enjoy the meal (lunch or dinner) which you prepared during the class. Water and one bottle of house wine for every 3 people are included.
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    Navigation and roadbook:
    On our self-guided tours, detailed tour information and route navigation tracks are provided through the free smartphone app Ride With GPS - our "digital roadbook" - which includes daily routes, maps, elevation profiles, and ride descriptions; schedules and hotel itinerary; cultural and sightseeing information, visit suggestions; emergency numbers and more, all stored in one organized, easy to use app. Downloading the app content also allows for offline mode navigation. Participants can also upload the routes to their own GPS device, and even print the detailed route notes before leaving home.

    On our self-guided tours, GPS device rental, as well as a printed roadbook, are available at an optional extra fee:
  • GPS device rental: €50
  • Printed roadbook: €45 (second copy of printed roadbook €15)

  • For more information on our navigation options, as well as the smartphone app, please read our blog: What's it like to navigate on our self-guided tours?.

    PLEASE NOTE: The final itinerary, including hotels and/or activities described here, are subject to changes according to availability. City hotel taxes are not included.

    Tour code: itbs3980
    Countries Italy
    Begin/End Bologna / Parma
    Arrive/Depart How to get there and away:
    In and out of Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ)

    Starting point: Hotel Il Guercino - Via L. Serra 7, Bologna
    We recommend flying into Bologna Aeroporto G.Marconi.
    - Take the Marconi Express monorail, that connects the Bologna airport and train station (trip approx. 7 minutes long). Your hotel is 5 minutes walking from the train station
    - Alternatively, take a taxi from Bologna Airport to your hotel

    Ending point: Hotel Button – Borgo della Salina, 7, Parma
    You can fly out from Bologna, which is connected to Parma by train.
    - We can provide a private transfer service from your hotel in Parma to Bologna Airport - please inquire about prices
    - The hotel is about 1 km from the train station. Take a 5-minute taxi ride or take a bus to the train station
    - From the train station in Bologna to the airport, you can catch athe monorail or a taxi (see “Starting point” for more info).

    Private airport transfers are available: please inquire for prices
    - Bologna airport to Bologna Hotel Guercino
    - Parma hotel to Bologna airport (4-6 pax)

    Long-term Parking:
    - If you choose to drive to Bologna and leave your car parked there (taking a direct return train Parma at tour end) a private, secure parking lot is avalable at the airport.

    Final arrival and departure instructions along with other detailed pre-travel documents, will be e-mailed prior to your travel, with information specific to your departure (including the actual hotels used on your tour dates, which may vary from the hotels listed above.)
    Total Distance 275-325 km (170-200 miles)
    Daily Distance 20-62 km (12-38 miles)
    Rating 101
    Notes Difficulty description: Perfect for cyclists who prefer shorter distances and mostly flat riding. Some loop days into the lower hills, with some short climbs. Bike paths along rivers or rails-to-trails, and quiet country roads. Some of the bike paths are on hard packed dirt roads or levees.
    Terms Terms & Conditions
    Dates Prices Single Supplement
    Dates This tour is available March 1 to October 31

    Starts every Sunday. Other start days available by request (extra fee applies). Please note that starting on certain days of the week will make some visits (such as museums or tastings) impossible.

    *2024 price, per person, based on double occupancy; minimum 2 participants per departure.

    Solo traveler departures are also available (only one person on the departure), with a supplemental fee of €370. This fee includes the cost of the single/double room supplement, as well as a GPS unit with the pre-loaded routes.

    Group Discounts are available for participants booking together on the same departure! Please inquire for details through our contact form below.

    For more ways to save, see our Discounts and Promotions page

    High-Season surcharge (May-June, September and early October): a €100 per person surcharge is applied on high-season departures. If joining an existing, confirmed departure date, the fee may be waived - please inquire.

    2024 Confirmed departure dates:

    April 21
    June 23
    September 30

    Bike Rental options:
    We offer quality bikes in different styles, all great options for this bike tour. Our bikes are maintained and delivered in optimal working condition.

    The prices below are per bike for the duration of the tour, including delivery to starting point in Bologna and collection from ending point in Parma.

    Bike rental rates
    Aluminum hybrid: €130
    Premium Titanium road or hybrid: €170
    E-bike (hybrid with straight handlebar): €255
    Tandem: €295 (priced per bike, for 2 cyclists)
    Tag-along or kid trailer: €80

    Pannier rental: €40 per set (2 side bags per set)

    Bike rental insurance is available for purchase with all our rental bikes – see details in the Bike Rental Insurance section of our Terms and Conditions page.

    For detailed specs and photos of our bikes, see our website - Bike Rentals Italy.


    Luggage transfer option: €310 for 1-4 travelers

    Your luggage will be transported from one hotel to the next. The luggage is normally collected from 09.30 at the reception of the hotel and is delivered at the following hotel by 15.00 hrs. Please use the luggage tags provided by Cycle Europe on all your luggage being transferred. Please have your luggage ready before the driver comes to collect it, otherwise you may have to pay a local taxi for the service. Please consider that the luggage is not insured during the transport. You need to have your own insurance. Do not leave valuables or fragile items in your luggage. Normally, the luggage transport service cannot be used by participants to skip the cycling stage. In case you need help to skip the cycling stage, please contact our emergency number and we will arrange it for you.


    Don't have 8 days? Our shorter version of this tour still offers great cycling and all the highlights:
    5-day Discover Emilia-Romagna tour.


    Additional useful information:

    • Do you have any questions about how our bike tours work? Check out our FAQs page!

    • Curious about the difference between our Casual and Classic self-guided tours? Check out our introduction blog on Casual Self-Guided Tours.

    • We offer various tools for navigation - this page details what it's like to navigate on our self-guided tours.

    • If the self-guided formula isn't right for you, check out this blog introducing the differences between Guided and Self-Guided Tours.
    Prices €755 per person *
    Single Supplement €240
    Next Step Request space on this Bicycle Tour »
    • it was a trip of a lifetime, super exciting and fun!

      Cathy S.

    • 10 OUT OF 10: We loved the tour, and would recommend your company

      Lise V., USA, 2022