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Duration
10 days
Activities
  • self guided cycle
Accommodation
  • 9 nights in 3 star hotels and B&Bs
Meals
  • 9 Breakfasts

Price

$2490USD

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Overview

Trip Code: VF1

Trip highlights


  • Cycling from the Great St Bernard Pass on the Swiss-Italian border
  • Starting your trip surrounded by 3000m peaks and deep valleys
  • Discovering Piedmont's unique landscape with its fairytale-like castles and vineyards
  • Exploring the foodie-haven of Parma

This section of the Via Francigena is far more than a pilgrim trail. It is an epic and moderately graded bike ride from the Alps to the vast and fertile Po River plain, keeping everyone, including foodies, wine lovers, history buffs and landscape “aficionados”, entertained. Beginning from the Great St Bernard Pass on the Swiss-Italian border, towered by 3000m peaks, an exhilarating freewheel takes you down to the ancient Roman city of Aosta. The route criss-crosses the fast flowing Dorea Baltea river on cycle paths and stone walled country lanes as you exit the Aosta Valley. Continue through a scenic landscape of gently rolling hills, dotted with sleepy old villages, vineyards and orchards that give way to the checkered expanse of rice, wheat and corn fields that surround the historic and culturally rich towns of Vercelli, Pavia, Fiorenzuola and Parma. On your way stop to visit imposing castles, churches and roman ruins as you eat and drink your way through the best Northern Italian cuisine for which the region is famous.

Trip Grading

moderate to challenging

More info about grading system

Make your own way to Aosta, regional capital and a Roman valley town surrounded by the Alps. Here you can contemplate the history of the region in the silence of the cloisters of Sant'Orso, or visit the impressive Roman theatre. We recommend taking an afternoon stroll through the alleyways of the town centre, admiring the high mountain peaks visible over the house roofs.

Meals:  Nil

This morning a transfer will take you to the jagged peaks of the Saint Bernard Pass, the gateway to the Via Francigena. It was here that Saint Bernard built the first pilgrim hospice and it's where you start your descent back to Aosta. Today's ride is an exhilarating downhill cycle, taking you along a panoramic route with breathtaking views. You will cycle through orchards and woods, and through enchanting villages such as Saint Rhemy and Etroubles. Note: For early season departures the pass will likely not be open (usually opens from late June) and the location of your transfer will be dependent on road conditions. This will also affect the day's cycle distance. ascent 103m/338ft, descent 1270m/4167ft

Meals:  B

Today you continue cycling across the valley, following a cycle path that runs along the river Dora. En route you will pass castles and vineyards. You will discover the enchanting Saint Germain castle, with its imposing tower which once served as a defence tower for the De Mongioveto family who dominated the valley. From here you continue to Verres, enjoying breathtaking views along the way. Verres is a small town with just 2700 inhabitants. It is home to an impressive hilltop manor and the rock fortress was built around 1390 by Ibleto di Challant. ascent 230m/754ft, descent 450m/1476ft

Meals:  B

Today you will enter Piedmont and the alpine scenery will give way to gentle hills. As you make your way towards Roppolo the ascents will become less and less challenging. The cycle route alternates through forest trails and passing through typical towns such as Ivrea, with its quaint old town centre and the tall tower of Santo Stefano. As you continue you will notice the imposing Serra of Ivrea, Europe's largest moraine, before arriving at the village of Roppolo. At times and subject to availability, your accommodation may be in nearby Viverone. ascent 370m/1214ft, descent 480m/1575ft

Meals:  B

The route today will take you past rice fields. If you are travelling during April or May the fields are flooded at this time, which creates a landscape of great fascination. The cycling today is easy and enjoyable. You will detour from the Via Francigena to visit the Bosca della Participanza (the Wood of Community), whose name originates from the fact that the locals of this area take care of the wood together. If you appreciate local dishes, be sure to sample the traditional peasant dish known as Panissa. Today's destination, Vercelli, is one the oldest urban sites in northern Italy. Historians believe it was founded around the year 600BC. ascent 35m/115ft, decent 205m/672ft

Meals:  B

Today you will cross the fertile plains of the Po river valley, leaving behind Vercelli, the vast rice fields and the Piedmont region. As you reach the Ticino river you will enter the Lombardy region and the town of Vigevano. During the Renaissance period Duque Ludovico Sforza ruled this land and it's said that he commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to design Vigevano's beautiful central square. This afternoon you can mingle with the locals and soak in the splendour at one of the outdoor terraces on this famed square. The ride today is flat and relaxing, giving you ample time to explore this picturesque town. ascent 40m/131ft, descent 62m/203ft

Meals:  B

Today you will follow the Ticino river, one of the most important rivers in Italy, enjoying the beauty of the wild nature of the river bank. If the weather is good you may even wish to sunbathe on the beaches or meadows near the river. If you're lucky you may also see squirrels running through the trees. Later you will leave the river to visit the Certosa di Pavia, a beautiful monastic complex built in the 14th century. Continue to Pavia, one of the pearls of the Via Francigena. We recommend ending your day with a visit to the delightful historical centre, where you can enjoy an aperitivo in Piazza della Vittoria. ascent 53m/174ft, descent 45m/148ft

Meals:  B

Today you will travel through the flood plains of the basso Pavese, with its typical flood terraces. Follow another great river, the Po, to Piacenza, in the Emilia Romagna region. This land is famous for its hospitality, fabulous food and wine. Here you can taste the renowned charcuterie and wash it down with a glass of Gutturnio wine. Be sure to pass through the Porta del Paradiso to discover the Romanesque interiors of the Basilica. ascent 116m/380ft, descent 119m/390ft

Meals:  B

Today's route to Parma whilst long is quiet and flat. Along the way we suggest visiting the Cistercian abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba, where you can admire the carved wooden interiors of the church or stand in thought for a few minutes in the silence of the cloisters. Continue among the Parma hills until you arrive at your final destination, Parma. A foodie's delight, Parma boasts a large number of gastronomic products including Parmesan cheese and Parma ham (prosciutto). It's the perfect place to celebrate the end of your trip. ascent 62m/203ft, descent 311m/1020ft

Meals:  B

Arrangements conclude after breakfast. Extra nights can be arranged in Parma or continue on to Siena.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 9 breakfasts
  • 9 nights in charming B&Bs and 3 star hotels (hotel taxes extra, payable locally - allow €5-10 pp)
  • Information pack including smartphone app with maps plus a route book per room booked
  • Luggage transfer from day 3 to day 9 (max 1 piece per person) - excess charges apply and must be pre-paid
  • Transfer on day 2 from Aosta to Saint Bernard Pass
  • Emergency hotline
  • Hybrid 21 speed rental bike with front bag map holder, odometer, pannier, lock, repair kit and helmet
  • Bike theft insurance
  • Credenziale - the pilgrim’s passport

  • Travel to Aosta and from Parma
  • Lunches and dinner daily and all beverages
  • Entrance fees to museums, parks and archaeological sites
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tour guide – this is a self guided trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Hotel taxes (allow €5-10pp)

Bike information


Grading

moderate to challenging  

This trip involves 8 days cycling with daily distances between 40 to 98km/25 to 61mi. The cycle route is mainly along well-asphalted country and secondary roads. As you approach larger towns you will cycle on roads with more traffic. The accent is on keeping a relaxed pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a good level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure. *For safety reasons we insist that helmets be included as a compulsory item on your equipment list.


Departure dates

Daily from 1 Apr to 31 Oct

Notes

DN1
The transfer on Day 2 will be subject to local conditions - the Pass is usually open from late June.
DN4
Prices valid to 31 December 2021

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Total Priceper person from

$2490USD

Options & Supplements*
  • Electric bike supplementUSD$180
  • single supplementUSD$460
  • single traveller surchargeUSD$1270
*Prices listed are per person

Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Making Europe Affordable

We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

Self-Guided Specialists

Our wide range of self-guided itineraries embody the UTracks philosophy of exploring Europe your way. We handle the logistics so all that's left for you to do is enjoy exploring Europe at your own pace. Most depart daily with a minimum of two people, meaning maximum flexibility.

Our Wide Range

With close to 400 trips in almost 50 countries, including the largest range of bike & boat holidays in Europe, we're confident that we can organise an Alps walk, Camino de Santiago or Via Francigena experience, Food Lovers' trip or a tour in a lesser-known pocket of Europe that you will love. 

Videos

Walking Italy's Via Francigena | Italian Camino | UTracks
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