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Espresso Tour of Italy's Highlands

27 Aug to 07 September 2023

Batten down the hatches. You won't forget this experience for the rest of your life. RIDE Holidays will make sure of that…

Overview of the Tour

RIDE Holidays invites you to experience the very best cycling that Italy has to offer. Italy is cycling. Cycling is Italy. No other country has had such an impact on the sport we love. The history books are full of names like Marco Pantini, Fausto Coppi, Giovanni Pinarello and Edoardo Bianchi. The roads are magnificent, the climbs are bigger, the locals love lycra and to top it all off… the food and wine cannot be matched. At the end of your cycling day you will stay in comfortable hotels in some of the most picturesque villages and indulge in the best Italian food and wine on offer! Non-riders (Team Macchiato) you are very welcome and will be well looked after. You will have a separate guide. Vineyards, markets, historic towns and mountain scenery. They all await.

Cycle Tour of Italy | Tour Details

Tour Inclusions


  • 11 nights' accommodation using quality 4* hotels
  • 3 nights - Lake Como (explore the whole lake district)
  • 4 nights - Italian Alps
  • 4 nights - Dolomites

    Amazing Cycling

    • Tick off - Passo Stelvio, Gavia, Gaiu among others.
    • Attack the Sella Ronda Loop
    • Ride at your pace. No pressure
    • Multiple ride options daily

    General Cycling Tour Details

    • 4 to 5 staff depending on final numbers
    • All breakfasts,1 lunch and 9 dinners
    • Cold drinks, Electrolytes and cycling snacks (we advise taking your own energy bars, gels)
    • Airport to airport private transport
    • Souvenir booklet, itinerary included
    • RIDE Holidays cycling jersey
    • GPS assistance & physical maps
    • 10-week training program - designed for the hills
    • Quality Italian meals (inc cooking school
    • Specific non-riding program. You are very welcome and well catered for

    The Tour Price Excludes

    • Airfares and extra accommodation
    • Travel Insurance - compulsory!
    • Meals, alcohol not indicated in itinerary

        The Tour Cost

        $7,100.00 NZD per person
        $1,400.00 NZD - Single room supplement

        We reserve the right to adjust the tour cost. COVID has meant that it's almost impossible to predict currency and the NZD, AUD against the EUR is literally having 10% swings. We will look at this when the tour is guaranteed to run.

        Bike Hire Options

        Alloy Road Bike: (Compact/32)
        Giant - 40 EUR per day

        Carbon Road Bike: (Compact/32)
        Pinarello GAN or Prince - 55 EUR per day

        (based on availability)

        Due to the current Covid-19 uncertainty - There is no deposit to be paid on this tour. Please ignore the invoice that is automatically generated. We will monitor the coronavirus situation and keep you posted if this changes. At this stage - balance is due 60 days prior to departure.

          Click on the map to view a larger version

          Cycle Tour of Italy | Tour Itinerary

          Day 1, Sunday 27 August

          Welcome to Italy, welcome to paradise

          We encourage you to arrive early. Most flights arrive in to Milan (Malpensa) at about 7am. Our bus departs at 9.30am. For those flying Emirates (they arrive at 4pm) then you will need to arrive the day before and spend the night at one of the many airport hotels. Lake Como is only a short drive away. It's without doubt one of Italy's most beautiful lakes. The rich and famous live here - oh, and for a few short days in September, they'll be joined by a handful of Kiwis and Aussies. Check-in isn't until 2pm so that gives us plenty of time to potter around town before putting the bikes together. Your guides will help assemble your bikes. If you have hire bikes then we'll make sure you're comfortable before we head out for a short 30km pedal. All we want to do is get the legs moving. They will be tired after such a long flight. Tonight, we'll crack open a few bottles Prosecco. Here's to you. Welcome to Italy.

          Accommodation: Lake Como (Hotel Miralago)
          Meals Included: Welcome dinner

          Day 2, Monday 28 August

          First big day on the bike

          Life is short and there is a lot to see. This region is made up of three beautiful lakes, Maggoire, Lugano and of course Como. The plan for today is to see as much of those lakes as we possibly can. We'll cover up to 100km on smooth roads. We certainly didn't say flat roads as this part of the world is pretty chunky. Be prepared for some climbing. Lunch will be near Luino. This afternoon we head back to Como and relax. It's the calm before the storm - tomorrow we are off to the mountains. High altitude awaits. Tonight, we've picked a fantastic local restaurant. The owner is incredibly passionate. I dare you to tell him you don't like something. One thing is for sure - you won't lose any weight on this trip.

          Accommodation: Lake Como (Hotel Miralago)
          Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

          Day 3, Tuesday 29 August

          Madonna del Ghisallo

          Heard of a small col called Stelvio? It sends a shiver down the spine. And tomorrow is the day so let's not thrash the legs today. Today is more spiritual than physical. We leave our Como sanctuary and cycle 50km to Madonna del Ghisallo - the Patron Saint of Cycling. Officially recognised by the Pope himself, this small building attracts thousands of cyclists each year. It's serves as a museum, church and most importantly a shrine to local cyclists who have paid the highest sacrifice for the sport we love. One particularly notable artefact is the crumpled bicycle that Fabio Casartelli, a native of the region, rode on the day that he died in a crash in the Tour de France.

          50km doesn't sound like a lot. Now check out the altitude gain… 1600m. Yes, now we have your attention. It will be short, it will be steep. We will have a vehicle on standby though for those wanting to ride less.

          You can feel the excitement as soon as you arrive in to Bormio. It's a cycling mecca. You simply need to see the bike room in the Eden to believe it.

          Accommodation: Bormio, Eden Hotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

          Day 4, Wednesday 30 August

          Passo Dello Stelvio - enough said

          The mighty Stelvio is only 13 metres away from being the highest pass in the Alps. The lungs and legs will burn, especially when you're nearing the top which sits at 2757m above sea level. That's 500m higher than anywhere in Australia. There are 48 bends which also gives you 48 opportunities to stop and take photos. Please remember that it isn't a race. You will be joined by cyclists from all around the world. You'll make friends with the Spanish, Germans and Dutch. You won't meet any Italians as they're all too fast. If 25km of climbing isn't enough then weather dependent, you can pop down the other side and ride Stelvio twice. That would make it 50km of climbing for the day. Those who choose to do this will be drug tested this evening. That's if you're awake. Tonight we suggest you take advantage of the thermal pools that Bormio is famous for. Time to give back to your legs. Or as Jens would say - Shut up legs. ** the pools are amazing however they're also the world's most expensive pools at a 50 euro entry fee. Ouch. Also, in Italy - lond swimming shorts for boys are not accepted. Think speedos.

          Accommodation: Bormio, Eden Hotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast

          Day 5, Thursday 31 September

          Switchbacks... More Switchbacks

          It's important to manage your legs carefully on trips like this. You simply don't want to get exhausted too early in the trip. Yesterday will have been a challenge. Even for the mountain goats of the world. We'll have massage set up this afternoon in our hotel.

          In 2017 we went looking for an easy ride and found Lago di Cancano. It's now on the must see, must ride list. The advantage is that it's only a 40km round trip. Although it does involve almost 1000m of climbing. The switchbacks near the top are actually eye watering. There's even a bit of gravel and to top it all off a fantastic cyclists café. Espresso anyone. Today is all about recovery. And massage. And wine. And coffee. Boom.

          Accommodation: Bormio, Eden Hotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast

          Day 6, Friday 01 September

          Last day in the Alps

          For those who didn't invest in the Grappa (local torture alcoholic drink), we will roll out the door just after breakfast. Our target for today is Lago Bianco The White Lake. When one generally talks about lakes, one has images of nice flat surrounds and beautiful green fields fields. Hmmmmmm, not this lake I'm afraid. It sits at the top of a small false flat. Known as Passo Gavia. For the record - Gavia and Grappa are not a good combination. It's like putting Donald Trump in a room with the password for nuclear weapons (oh, we've done that already haven't we).

          In all seriousness - Gavia is a must do. It's like Stelvio. However, the great thing about Gavia is that the road is straight outside our hotel. You can turn around when you've had enough. Again, we'll have massage booked for this afternoon.

          Tonight - Michelin. Yes, we eat well. Good times.

          Accommodation: Bormio, Eden Hotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

          Day 7, Saturday 02 September

          Arrivederci Alps, Ciao Dolomites

          Transfer day - you will have ridden (weather depending) for 6 days in a row. Your legs (and bottom) will be chasing some time off. After breakfast we pack the vehicles and head off to Arabba. Our home in the Dolomites for the next four nights.

          It's about a 5 hour drive however it is certainly far from boring. Stunning scenery and snow-capped peaks surround you. In fact, you even have to drive over the Stelvio. Our plan is simple - we stop near Bolzano - a gorgeous wine region. Lunch is on us. Actually, it's on you, as you're cooking. We've booked a local Italian cooking class for a late lunch. We'll start preparing at about noon (over a glass of wine) so that we can eat just before 2pm. It truly is a fantastic experience. Culinary masterpieces, tailored to your personal taste. If you don't like it… complain to the chef. We'll arrive in to the hotel late afternoon. Plenty of time to prepare for tomorrows ride.

          Accommodation: Arabba, Sporthotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and Dinner

          Day 8, Sunday 03 September

          D-day for the climbers

          Look out for the likes of Alberto Contador, Dean Mills, and Bradley Wiggins to shine. Probably Italy's most famous cycling circuit and that's really saying something. The Sella Ronda Loop covers 51km and almost 1700m of climbing. Incorporating 4 famous mountain passes - Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi and Passo Sella. All are over 2000m with the highest being 2239m above sea level. The legs will be tested however make sure you take plenty of photos. This part of the world is stunning. It's even a protected UESCO World Heritage area. You'll be in the saddle for anywhere up to 5 hours. We will have a van close by today as the weather can turn nasty very quickly. There's no rush and we'll stop for lunch. Oh, make sure you try the hot chocolate at the top of Passo Sella.

          Accommodation: Arabba, Sporthotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

          Day 9, Monday 04 September

          We always like to build in what we refer to as a weather insurance day.... And, today's the day. There are soooo many rides to choose from. Dean will gauge interest from the group on how far, fast and high you want to ride. One idea may be to simply pop over Campolonga in to Corvara for a spot of shopping. The van can meet you on the other side and bring you and all your shopping home. Another option is to ride the Sella Ronda - in reverse. Today is flexible. Totally up to you.

          Accommodation: Arabba, Sporthotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

          Day 10, Tuesday 05 September

          Close Your Eyes

          Take a deep breath and just pretend for a moment that you're the owner of a certain pink jersey. It's the last stage of the Giro and you're a born climber. What would you choose as your last preferred mountain climb? There's only one answer - Passo Giau. 2236m above sea level and a regular Giro stage. Strava will tell you that the fastest time up Giau is a shade over 34minutes for the 10km at 9%. Don't think about that on the way up. It will only make things worse. We will build Giau in to 100km of cycling that will include other legendary Giro passes. Let's make today a good one. It's your final full day in the high mountains.

          Accommodation: Arabba, Sporthotel
          Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

          Day 11, Wednesday 06 September

          Lake Garda

          Goodbye mountains. Thank you for the entertainment.

          Our drive is just under 6 hours. History shows though that by this stage in the trip you'll be looking forward to the rest. We will break up the drive with a short lunch stop and the popular town of Peschiera Del Garda
          (Lake Garda). Late this afternoon we'll pack all the bikes. Tomorrow we all head in different directions.

          We've booked a lake front restaurant as it's our last dinner together. It's been a fantastic 12 days. Let's recap on the highlights.

          Accommodation: Lake Como (Hotel Miralago)
          Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

          Day 12, Thursday 07 September

          After breakfast we all head in different directions. The shuttle to the airport will leave at 0830 as the majority of flights depart at just after midday.

          The other option is simply to stay put. Lake Como for an extra couple of days would be a perfect way of finish the holiday. You could keep the bikes assembled. You'll know your way around by now.

          Thank you for travelling with RIDE Holidays. We look forward to seeing you again in the near future.

          Safe travels home


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