Italy is renowned for its world-leading food, cultural centres and architectural wonders – so what better way to soak it all in than by bike? A cycling route through Italy can incorporate both the bustling cities of the North and the rural delights of the South, with plenty of pizza and pasta stops along the way.
As with any cycling holiday, it’s always important to be prepared, especially if you’re bringing the family along for the ride. Read on for an in-depth look at everything you need to pack to keep you and the kids happy, with a brief overview of Italy’s cycling culture and some of the must-see sites on offer.
Cycling In Italy
Throughout Italy, cycling is both a popular pastime and a necessary means of affordable transport. This means that the country has invested in excellent cycling infrastructure, where bike shops and repair facilities are plentiful to make your tour all the more effortless.
The country’s passion for cycling is bolstered by the Giro d’Italia, a multistage Grand Tour race that covers scenic routes across Italy, including a passage through the Alps. The record breaking success of Italian cyclists Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi in this race have cemented its position in popular culture.
In addition to the sporting history of cycling in Italy, another major draw is the array of stunning routes on offer. Your tour can take you to a range of historical and architectural locations, where you can also pass through countryside, visit coastlines and explore mountainous regions.
Packing For A Family Cycling Holiday: Practical Considerations
Before you begin packing, there are a few important practical points to consider, especially when travelling with your kids. These include:
- How will you keep your luggage lightweight – excessive packing can slow you down when you’re mid-tour
- How will you store your luggage safely – everything needs to be stowed in an appropriate backpack or attached firmly to your bike to avoid mishaps
- Who will carry what – will you share the luggage load with the whole family, or are your children to young to have their own bag
What To Pack
Once you’ve decided who’s carrying what and how much space you have, it’s time to get down to packing. Peruse this list of essentials to kickstart your holiday preparation
The first question to address is are you taking your own bike? If you’re very comfortable with your bike and are planning a sporty, extended tour, then it may be worth the cost of bringing your bike with you. Alternatively, a more leisurely holiday may mean hiring a bike while you’re there, which is easy to do in a country like Italy where cycling culture is so prevalent.
You may also wish to hire a bike if you need additional seats or trailers to cater for your children. Hiring a tandem bike can also be ideal if you want to assist in your child’s developing cycling skills.
The next aspect of your packing to consider is bike accessories for you and your family. A suitable helmet for everyone is a necessity, where these can also be hired or brought along with you. Cycling gloves and glasses are also useful for added sun protection and comfort, whilst bike lights and bells are important safety features.
Additional equipment may include a speed and distance tracker, which can be a fun motivator for the whole family. A handlebar mount can help you to utilise your phone for navigation on the go, whilst a bike camera can capture memories along the way.
Health & Safety Essentials
A vital part of your packing will be the inclusion of safety essentials. Sun exposure is the main danger during a cycling tour in a warm country, where sun hats and sun cream are of great importance. Special care should also be taken to protect younger children.
You may wish to collect other useful items in a basic first aid kit, where you can add insect repellents, plasters and creams for chafing relief.
You will also need to consider what your whole family will be wearing throughout the trip, where practical cycling attire is a must. Padded shorts and lightweight, weatherproof jackets are ideal for long rides, whilst swimwear options are essential for spontaneous stops to cool down by the coast.
It’s always a good idea to pack extra layers in case younger children get cold, where cycling at speed will tend to make you notice a breeze. Investing in high visibility layers will help you to stay safe on the road, where you can add visibility strips or accessories to items you already own.
Food & Hydration
Although you’ll be guaranteed to be making lots of stops throughout the tour to sample Italian cuisine, it will be wise to pack some high energy snacks to keep you and your family going until you arrive at your destination. Specialist food is available for challenging long-distance cycle tours that is both nutritious and compact. You may also wish to pack extra treats to keep younger family members happy along the way.
A further necessity for your packing list will be to ensure that you have ample water to keep you fully hydrated on your tour. You should have a bottle per person fitted to your bike, or you can incorporate a hydration pack into your bag for drinking on the go.
Technology & Entertainment
If you’re bringing the whole family along, you may wish to provide some added entertainment for length stops or delays. This can include easy to carry packable games, as well as disposable cameras to capture the experience.
You may wish to bring educational tools to encourage Italian language learning as you cycle, or a travel journal to record your adventures by hand. A portable charger is also a handy essential to keep you connected on the go.
Must-See Sights For Your Tour
Tuscany is a central Italian region with a diverse landscape that makes for an excellent holiday destination. Cycling tours in this region can cut through Florence, Siena or Pisa, taking in the mountainous landscapes as well as vineyard country.
If you’d like to visit Northern Italy, then a cycling tour that takes you to Lake Garda is a perfect way to enjoy stunning views and local culture, where this famous lake is situated across three Italian regions – Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.
To enjoy a mixture of cycling and luxury, you may wish to take a trip to Lombardy in northwest Italy, home to the city of Milan, as well as the opulence of Lake Como and a range of up-market alpine resorts.
Incorporating the Lazio region into your experience is a must if you wish to take in the famous city of Rome, featuring the wonders of the Colosseum. Dismount for a taste of the amazing food Trastevere has to offer, or to visit La Tuscia’s historical ruins.
Alternatively you can take a trip through Campania, located in the south west of the Italian peninsula. Recognised for its dramatic Amalfi Coast and bustling fishing villages, Campagnia is the place to look for stunning on-route views.
Take your tour down to Scilily, the country’s largest island region, for a look at a unique array of archaeological history. Visit Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, or take in the wonders of the Valley of the Temples, a site of Ancient Greek ruins.
Hooked on Cycling & Walking: Book Your Cycling Tour Of Italy Today
At Hooked on Cycling & Walking, we have a range of cycling tour packages available suited to your whole family, where you can experience routes throughout several regions of Italy. Our cycling tours in Italy include:
- Cycling around Lake Garda
- Venice to Florence cycle tour
- Apuila/Basilicata southern coast to coast
- West Sicily by bike
- Venice to Porec
- Tuscany to Umbria
We provide tours for both hiking and biking throughout Europe, which vary in difficulty from easy to challenging. You can choose from guided or self-guided tours, where we also provide e-bike hiring options.