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Thread: Switzerland-Italy Bike Tour

  1. #1
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    Default Switzerland-Italy Bike Tour

    Easily the most spectacular and enjoyable day I've ever spent on a bike. Oberalp Pass to Chur (link to Strava route), along the Rhine River in Switzerland.

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    We got back late Thursday and I'm still recovering from jet lag, unpacking, and going through 1000+ pictures and GoPro videos.

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    So close. I'll be on the River Rhine from the Bodensee and Rheinfalls in two weeks.

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    Looks like you chose your direction wisely in terms of elevation.

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    Judd is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    The like button is back, but this one deserved an elite. Great pictures!

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    Quote Originally Posted by consularrider View Post
    So close. I'll be on the River Rhine from the Bodensee and Rheinfalls in two weeks.
    We got as far as Konstanz (with a zero day to ride the Bernina Express), then headed for Italy. I'll anticipate your report for future EV15 trip planning!

    A loop around Bodensee would be another great trip.

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    Here's the itinerary, for those who've asked "where'd you go, and how'd you do it?"

    The first week we spent in Switzerland, following the Rhine River bike route (EuroVelo 15). The second week we spent in Italy, navigating our way from Venice to Perugia via routes we'd found on the internet or made up ourselves, and riding trains for some sections.

    Day 1: DC to Andermatt

    Flew to Zurich (BWI to ZRH via Air Canada) and took a train to the main station. Unpacked our bikes, and put the cases in baggage storage. Explored the city for a few hours, then put the bikes on a train for Andermatt, where we had reservations to stay at the Gasthaus Skiklub.

    Day 2: Andermatt to Chur

    Put our bikes on the cog rail train for a short trip up to Oberalp pass, the source of the Rhine River. Here's where the official Rhine River bike route (Eurovelo 15) begins. We descended out of the Alps via switchbacks at first, then detoured from the river's edge to some rolling hills through small towns. About 30% of the official route was on quiet gravel roads, and the rest paved trails or streets. Arriving in Chur we found the campground (Camp Au Chur) which was adequate to pitch our tent for the night.

    Day 3: Bernina Express

    We took a zero mileage day to ride the Bernina Express scenic train over the Alps to Tirano, Italy round trip. The bikes stayed locked up and cabled at the train station in Chur, and when we got back to town late we found a close by hotel (Hotel Post in the old section of town) for the night.

    Day 4: Chur to Oberriet

    Our one planned activity for the day was in Bad Ragaz, to take advantage of the public thermal baths. We spent about 3 hours enjoying the luxury of the Tamina Therme resort, then resumed our ride. Just after we crossed over the river to say we'd set foot in Liechtenstein, it started to rain. We rode in light mist to steady rain the rest of the day, and were pretty thoroughly soaked by the time we stopped for dinner in Oberriet and called it quits to stay at the Hotel Krone.


    Day 5: Oberriet to Friedrichshafen

    Today we made it to Lake Constance (Bodensee), touching briefly into Austria and staying on the Swiss side of the lake until we reached Romanshorn. From there we took a ferry to Friedrichshafen on the German side of the lake, and had the afternoon to visit the Zeppelin Museum. We chose the closest campground and pitched our tent at Campingplatz Fischbach for the night.


    Day 6: Friedrichshafen to Zurich

    Packed up camp and rode to Meersburg, where we hopped on another ferry over to Konstanz. Explored the town and climbed the bell tower of the church (just as they rang!). Eventually got on a train back for Zurich, where we retrieved our bike cases and took apart the bikes in our room at Hotel Limmathof.


    Day 7: Zurich to Venice

    Took a high-speed train to Venice, with the bikes on board as luggage. In the old part of Venice bikes are prohibited, with hefty fines if you're caught. We left them in baggage storage at the train station while we went into the city. Through Row Venice we took a lesson in how to row like the gondoliers, in a wooden batellina. At the end of the day we retrieved our bags and took a ferry to the Hotel Giardinetto in Lido.

    Day 8: Venice to the Po River delta

    First thing in the morning we assembled our bikes at the hotel, and handed off our bike cases to be picked up by a courier who would get them to our final destination. Then we took a ferry back to explore Venice some more. After seeing the sights we could absorb, we went back to Lido and resumed our bike tour, heading south on a series of islands along the Adriatic coast. Ferries closed the gap between a few of the islands. By sunset we'd made it well into the regional park land that protects the delta wetlands, and stopped at a point called Cason Moceniga. A perfect rest area with a pavilion and picnic tables provided our tent site for the night.


    Day 9: Cason Moceniga to Ferrara

    Our longest day of riding, made longer by an unforeseen detour. We were following a bike route we'd found on the internet, which lead us to a ferry that would take us across a short canal to the town of Porto Levante. Except the ferry is seasonal and wasn't scheduled to run for another month, and there are no bridges. So we backtracked, and reconnected with the route alongside the Po River, arriving at our destination of Ferrara in the early evening. Signs led us to the beautiful Camping Estense campground less than a mile from city center.


    Day 10: Ferrara to Bologna

    With no recommended bike routes for this day, we'd used Ride With GPS to navigate our way mostly off the main drag and through some interesting small towns where no tourists go (seriously, someone actually asked us "What are you doing here?") Arrived in Bologna, handed off our bikes to a local bike shop that put them in protected storage while we explored, and found our room at La Suite B&B Apartments close to city center. Retrieved our bikes and took them to the hotel.


    Day 11: Bologna to Florence
    Explored Bologna all morning. Rather than navigate the narrow roads and big hills over the mountain range to Florence, which even the locals didn't recommend, we decided to call it quits and take the train. Stayed at a great B&B (just a hotel with fewer than 5 rooms) a block from the train station in Florence.

    Day 12: Florence to Perugia
    Put the bikes on one more train to Perugia, where Peter lived for awhile and has friends who welcomed us to stay with them. Arriving in Perugia, we rode the new Mini Metro to the top of the hill, and met Nikola and Sonya. Our bike cases had been shipped to their house and had arrived just in time.

    Day 13: Perugia to Rome
    First thing in the morning, we broke down the bikes and packed everything for the flight home. On foot we explored Perugia, then got on an evening train for Rome. Our hotel the Magic Guest House was only a few blocks from the train station, but lugging all that weight and bulk was exhausting. Peter went for a short walk while I collapsed.

    Day 14: Rome to DC
    Schlepped our bags to the train and airport, then flew home. We arrived at BWI too late for the Marc trains and Metro, so we bought a ticket on Amtrak and took a cab home from Union Station.

  9. #7
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    While reading through that itinerary, I just realized I really need a trip like this in my life lol. Seems like you had a ton of fun, Ginacico.

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