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Espresso Tour of Italy's Highlands

25 Aug to 05 September 2024

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

This Italian adventure is our 2nd longest running trip. Behind TDF. Over the years we’ve tinkered with it. It’s now perfect in every way.

Great hotels, fantastic riding, amazing restaurants. There’s a great balance between rest and exercise.  

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. For 2024 – Katrina Mills will be your guide.

Ride Holidays cycle tours are achievable for anyone who rides a road bike, not just the serious cyclist. There are two - three rides to choose from daily. All include the famous Italian mountains. We try and take the pressure off by giving you plenty of time and have plenty of support around you all times. Yes e-bikes are an option if you wish.

See you in Italy.

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. Milan - Malpensa (MXP)
  • Souvenir booklet, itinerary included
  • Ride Holidays cycling jersey
  • GPS assistance & physical maps
  • 10-week training program - designed for the hills
  • Quality Italian meals
  • Specific non-riding program. You are very welcome and well catered for. Your guide for 2024 is Katrina Mills.

The Tour Price Excludes

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

      The Tour Cost

      • $7950.00 NZD per person
      • $1700.00 NZD - Single room supplement

      Bike Hire Options

      • $1000.00 NZD (Road bike - Standard, Shimano 105 & Disc) (Scott Addict or Similar)
      • $1600.00 NZD (Road bike - Excellence, Shimano 105 Di2 & Disc) (Pinarello X3 or similar) Please note: Excellence Road bikes on request with limited stock.
      • $1900.00 NZD (Road e-bike, Shimano 105 Di2 & Disc) (Pinarello Nytro E5 or similar)

      Payment details..

      The initial deposit is $1500.00 per person. Full payment is required 60 days prior to departure. At which time we suggest that you have a comprehensive travel insurance in place.

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        Cycle Tour of Italy | Tour Itinerary

        Day 1, Sunday 25 August

        Welcome to Italy, welcome to paradise

        We encourage you to arrive early. Most flights arrive in Milan - Malpensa (MXP) 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.

        Team MAC – Today we will set our sights on exploring the beautiful villages of Lake Como by ferry, it’s the only way to go. We will head over to Como and hop on the Brunate funicular for a spot of lunch overlooking the lake. The views are simply breath-taking. If your super keen, then you can walk (hike) to the top and take the funicular back down after lunch. We’ve invited George Clooney to join us. Maybe he’ll invite us up to his place afterwards for a Nespresso. Thanks GC.

        Tonight, we'll crack open a few bottles Prosecco. Here's to you. Welcome to Italy.

        / Accommodation: Hotel Miralago - Cernobbio Lake Como
        / Meals Included: Welcome dinner

        Ps, generally speaking… the majority of this group actually arrive on the Saturday. It’s not a silly idea as it allows the body to recover before the start of the tour. We will arrange the extra accommodation and transfers for you.  

        Day 2, Monday 26 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, Maggiore, 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 with two ride options 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 in the small town Morcote, Switzerland.

        There will be support vans in and around you today. When you’ve had enough all you need to do is put up your hand. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

        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.

        Team MAC – Katrina knows the area very well so will come up with a cunning plan that involves a descent walk, ferry ride on Lake Lugano and of course a nice lunch in Switzerland of course. Vico Morcote is position among woods and vineyards making this village a small architectural jewel. We will jump on the ferry and explore “The Path Of The Senses”. This walk was designed to rediscover the joy of experiencing nature with our senses.

        / Accommodation: Hotel Miralago - Cernobbio Lake Como
        / Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

        Day 3, Tuesday 27 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.

        The ride length today is only 50 km…. Not a lot, right? Now check out the altitude gain… 1,100m. Yes, now we have your attention. We will take the traditional Lombardi route up from Bellagio. It will be short and steep. We will have a vehicle on standby though for those wanting to ride less.

        Team MAC - We recommend that today you also visit Madonna del Ghisallo. However, after breakfast we will make a bee line to Bellagio and explore the famous Gardens of Villa Melzi. The Gardens are among the most beautiful of Europe, rising up the shores of Lake Como near Bellagio, harmoniously inserted into the hilly landscape between the two branches of the lake. Inside the Gardens stand the Villa, the Chapel and the Orange Greenhouse (or Orangérie), now a Museum of great historical relevance. The Gardens of Villa Melzi d’Eril are a splendid expression of the Neoclassical style, and have been declared a national monument.

        After the museum we all pile into the vans and drive the short 3 hours to Bormio.

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

        Tonight, we eat in a restaurant that dates back to 1600’s. It was an old barn. It has beautiful old stone walls. A great way of finishing the day.  

        / Accommodation: Eden Hotel - Bormio
        / Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

        Day 4, Wednesday 28 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.

        Random – I know, but make sure you listen out for marmots. Between them and the cows with bells it provides a beautiful soundtrack.  Anything to side-track you from the climbing. Have fun.  

        Team MAC…. plenty of options on offer today, how about an 8 hour trek. Hmm, that sounds tiring. Again, a mixture of walking, eating, and of course, getting to the top of the mighty Stelvio pass for a hot chocolate. While the cyclists reach the dizzy heights of 2700 meters above sea level, we plan to go higher. Let’s take the Funivia Trincerone for the best views.

        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: Eden Hotel - Bormio
        / Meals Included: Breakfast

        Day 5, Thursday 29 August

        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.

        Team MAC – today your in for a real treat. You head off to the gorgeous town of Tirano to experience the world heritage listed Bernina Express. The scenic train crosses the Swiss Engadin Alps as it runs along the heritage listed Rhaetian Railway. The complete journey has 196 Bridge, 55 tunnels and reaches a staggering 2,253 meters above sea level. Make sure you have a fully charge phone or camera. You’re going to take plenty of photos.

        / Accommodation: Eden Hotel - Bormio
        / Meals Included: Breakfast

        Day 6, Friday 30 August

        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.

        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.

        Team MAC – our plan for today is flexibility. The summit of Gavia offers quite a few picturesque walks and the lake is simply stunning. You may like to simply hang out and spend some time in Bormio Or, head back for to the Thermal Spa resort for a day of pampering.

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

        / Accommodation: Eden Hotel - Bormio
        / Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

        Ps, for the whippets amongst us. There’s also the option of riding up to Bormio 2000 this afternoon. If you choose to do so, then you will be tested for drugs.   

        Day 7, Saturday 31 August

        Arrivederci Alps, Ciao Dolomites (rest day)

        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 and is considered a bridge between Northern Europe and Southern Europe due to the three spoken languages of Italian, German, and Ladin. Lunch is on us at one of the many fantastic wineries in this area. Let's start with a wine tasting followed by lunch before jumping back on the bus for the last leg of our transfer.  We'll arrive into the hotel late afternoon. Plenty of time to prepare for tomorrows ride.

        / Accommodation: Sporthotel - Arabba
        / Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

        Day 8, Sunday 01 September

        Sella Ronda (the most beautiful 50km on the planet)

        Look out for the likes of Alberto Contador, Richard Thorpe and Russell Hill 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.

        Team MAC – We suggest you join us in the van this morning as you simply need to also see the Sella Rhonda Loop. There are a few walks in the area so you certainly won’t be car bound. This afternoon we drive to Cortina which is where the rich and famous hang out. We’ll fit right in. Especially from our favourite wine bar. No doubt some of the cyclists will want to join us.

        / Accommodation: Sporthotel - Arabba
        / Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

        Day 9, Monday 02 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 Valparola & Falzarego Pass. Today is flexible. Totally up to you.

        Team MAC - How about some culture? There are some fantastic museums and galleries in Bolzano which we suggest you visit. The Archaeology museum is particularly famous – just ask Otzi the iceman. We’ll leave early to avoid the queues.

        There’s also the Andraz castle. Built in 1027 it really is a must see. It’s the symbol of the Livinallongo valley. The castle was also visible from Laste, Rocca Pietore, Avoscan and Alleghe, using fire signals. It was also a block against the vast expansion of Venice.

        All in all, a great day of exploring.

        / Accommodation: Sporthotel - Arabba
        / Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

        Day 10, Tuesday 03 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.

        Team MAC - You’ll also meet the cyclists at the top of Giau. We plan to drive up via Passo Falzarego, stopping at Castello di Andraz. This museum was conceived to promote the knowledge of the local culture heritage. Later at the summit of Giau, we plan to walk one of the many trails and simply take in the magnificent views.    

        This afternoon we suggest you all hop on the local cable car and head up to one of the outstanding ski lodges for a quiet Prosecco. The views are certainly worth the small cost. Make sure you bring your camera. And jacket – it can get chilly at 2500m.

        / Accommodation: Sporthotel - Arabba
        / Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

        Day 11, Wednesday 04 September

        We return to our Lake Como home!

        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 as tomorrow we all head in different directions.

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

        / Accommodation: Hotel Miralago - Cernobbio Lake Como
        / Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

        Day 12, Thursday 05 September

        After breakfast we all head in different directions. The shuttle to the airport will leave at 08:30 as the majority of flights depart 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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