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Italy: Cycling the Dolomite Valleys

Easy cycling and dramatic alpine scenery are combined on this one-of-a-kind journey through the valleys of the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 45 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 5 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking Activity
  • Perfect for those trying a bike vacation for the first time.
  • Airfare Packages Available

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Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Italy: Cycling the Dolomite Valleys

Cycle through some of Europe’s most breathtaking alpine vistas on routes that won’t take your breath away. We’ll show you easy roads skirting the magnificent massif walls of the Dolomites, and shuttle you as high as 4,900 feet so you can rejoice in unforgettable downhill reels with heavenly views. Along the way, we stop to explore fairytale villages and indulge in a riverside barbecue and a lakeside picnic. All against a backdrop of meadows, orchards, forests, canyons and waterfalls. At day’s end, relax at exemplary 4-star hotels, including one that gives you access to a renowned South Tyrol spa.

Cultural Highlights

  • Descend a thrilling 1,575 feet on the Dolomites Bike Path
  • Pay a rare visit to the scenic home of the Ladin people
  • Picnic on the verdant banks of Lake Calalzo
  • Enjoy spectacular mountain views from flat and downhill bike paths
  • Pedal through the Pusteria Valley, a paradise for cyclists
  • Explore San Candido, an ancient South Tyrol city
  • Feast on a tasty barbecue lunch in the Aurina and Tures valleys
  • Stroll Brunico’s lively pedestrian zone
  • View traditional masi farmhouses from the Plan de Corones plateau
  • Discover the atmospheric Duomo and cloister of Bressanone
  • View the famous steeple emerging from the waters of Lake Resia
  • Admire spellbinding landscapes as you spin through the Venosta Valley
  • Indulge in the thermal baths of Terme Merano

What to Expect

This tour offers easy terrain throughout and is ideal for beginning cyclists. Long miles and exciting rides on easy/moderate terrain every day offer fun for more avid bikers. Our VBT support shuttle is always available for those who need assistance with hills.

Average Daily Mileage: 15 – 45 miles
Average Cycling Time: 2 – 5 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Piacenze – 10 miles from Cortina
May 72°/49°  Jun 79°/56°  Jul 79°/59°  Aug 81°/61°  Sep 75°/55° Oct 63°/49°

Average Precipitation (in.) – Cortina
May 2.8  Jun 2.5  Jul 1.5  Aug 2.6  Sep 2.2  Oct 2.7

What’s Included:

Bicycle Vacation– without Air

  • 6 nights in 4-star hotels
  • 12 meals – 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in 4-star hotels
  • 14 meals – 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners
  • Airport transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Venice – 2 nights for only $545 • Post-trip: Verona – 2 nights for only $345

Both Vacation Options Include

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $445 | Land Only Single Supplement: $295

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2016/2017 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

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Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Venice

Depart from home for Italy. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive in Venice

Arrive at the airport in Venice, Italy. Once in the arrival terminal you will be met by a VBT representative holding a VBT sign. He or she will be located just outside of customs and will assist you with your transfer by water taxi to the hotel. From the airport pier, you’ll transfer (approximately 35 minutes) with our transfer company, Venezia Taxi, to your centrally located hotel in Venice. The rest of the day is free to discover and dine on your own with the VBT City Information as your guide.

If you are going to be delayed for more than 15 minutes at the Lost & Found desk due to delayed or lost luggage, please let our transfer company know by calling +39 328 23 89 661 (at a fee). You may also contact our One Call travel assistance to advise of your delay, and they will contact our transfer service.

Please note: If you arrive early in the day, your hotel room may not be available until 2:00 p.m. You may store your luggage with the reception desk.

Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you fly in earlier than the scheduled program dates, transportation from the airport will be at your own expense.

Hotel: Hotel Duodo Palace
Alternate Hotel: Hotel Saturnia International

DAY 3: Meet Trip Leaders / Warm-up ride / Welcome reception

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your fellow travelers and Venice Representative at 10:00 a.m. at the Venice airport. The meeting point is the bar called Cafe Restaurant Wien on the docks of Venice Marco Polo airport, about 8 to 10 minutes’ walk from the air terminal. The Cafe Restaurant Wien has a large red sign as well as yellow chairs and tables outside.

If you arrive from the airport terminal: Follow the white walkway all the way to the docks and water. At the end of the walkway, cross the road, turn right, and walk on the sidewalk to a rotary. There, on your left, is the Cafe Restaurant Wien.

If you arrive by water with Alilaguna: After you exit the terminal, keep the water on your right and walk along the docks toward a white walkway (leading to the air terminal). Ignore the walkway and continue on the sidewalk to a rotary. There, on your left, is the Cafe Restaurant Wien. Your VBT representative will be there, holding a VBT sign. Once the group is gathered, you will depart for Cortina d’Ampezzo by private coach. If you need to contact our Representative, her name is Claire, and her mobile phone number is +39 347 563 7921.

If your arrival at 10:00 a.m. is delayed, please contact our hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo to advise staff of the delay, and they will pass your message along to your VBT Trip Leaders. In the event of delays, also please see page 3 of “For Travel-Related Emergencies.” VBT highly recommends flying to Italy at least one day before the tour begins. This allows you to rest and recover from jet lag before you begin sightseeing and cycling.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Extension guests: Meet your VBT representative at 9:00 a.m. in the main lobby of our Venice hotel; he or she will be holding a VBT sign.

From the hotel, a water taxi will transfer you first to the mainland and the Venice Marco Polo airport, where you’ll board your private motorcoach and continue on to Cortina. The transfer will last about 2 hours, with a short stop on the way. Your VBT Trip Leaders will meet your small group at its arrival point and escort you to your first hotel, in Cortina.

You’ll arrive in Cortina in time for lunch on your own. The hotel is located in the heart of the city, in the main shopping and pedestrian area full of life, elegant shops, restaurants, and trendy cafés. After lunch, enjoy time to settle into your hotel. Later, your VBT Trip Leaders will hold a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a warm-up ride.

Tonight, enjoy a welcome cocktail reception in the hotel’s cozy bar, followed by a special welcome dinner in the hotel’s elegant restaurant. Some local Ampezzan specialties like casunzei, or crescent-shaped ravioli, will immerse you in the culinary traditions of a region that has inherited influences of both Austrian Tyrol and Italian Veneto kitchens.

Hotel: Hotel Ancora
Meals: B (included for Air Package guests only), D
Daily Options: 6 miles (10 km)

DAY 4: Cycle to Cadore / Picnic with tour leaders

After breakfast, you’ll start biking downhill along the Boite River valley on the Dolomites Bike Path, which descends from 4,100 feet (1,250 meters) to 2,790 feet (850 meters) in Calalzo. The path was once a railway track that connected the little villages of the Cadore mountain community. Le Tofane mountain range marks our progress. Soon you’ll admire the towering pyramidal peak of Antelao to your left and the saddle-like summit of Mount Pelmo to your right. The latter is a natural reserve area that protects the discovery of many fossils and dinosaur footprints.

You are now in the Ampezzan Valley, one of the four historic Ladin valleys. The Ladins—a population evolved from Celtic tribes and Roman soldiers—call this lovely pocket of Italy home. Long remote and secluded from the rest of Italy, they remain a proud people whose rare language, Ladin, is closely related to the Swiss Romansh, Surselvan, and Friulian. It is also still spoken in nearby Austro-Italian border regions.

The two Italian provinces of Trento and Bolzano are administratively independent from the rest of Italy, affording them a degree of autonomy. In particular, Cortina retains its own legislative system, one that is unique in the Dolomites: a council known as Regole d’Ampezzo. Under the regole and the ancient Celtic structure of property ownership, the 800 original families administer the community’s common land, which cannot be split or sold to outsiders or other families.

Lunch is a picnic organized in a very panoramic setting along our route and including a lot of mountain specialties. Early this afternoon you have the option to shuttle or cycle back to Cortina, where you have the rest of the afternoon to explore on our own. You may want to follow our routes on an easy walk around Cortina or visit the Ethnography Museum to view its collection of antique tools and cultural artifacts. In the summertime, ride a gondola up to the slopes of Le Tofane or Faloria to enjoy the breathtaking vistas of surrounding peaks. Or take a taxi ride and a walk to the open-air Museum of the Great War, high on the peaks of Rifugio 5-Torri, one of the most exciting and moving excursions in the Dolomites. Dinner is on your own tonight; in the summer, you may opt to dine at a rifugio high on the peaks.

After dinner, we recommend a stroll in Cortina. In the summer, your visit might coincide with a cultural event, folk festival, or classical music concert.

Hotel: Hotel Ancora
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 17 or 33 miles (27  or 53 km)

DAY 5: Cycle on bike paths to Dobbiaco, San Candido, Brunico

Embark on an optional moderate ride up to Cimabanche Pass through a wooded and scenic area, if you wish. Or, if you prefer an easier start, you may take a brief shuttle before joining an easy downhill and flat ride on bike paths to Dobbiaco and San Candido. The views on the way are spectacular: we pedal by the Pomagagnon Mountain, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (the “Three Peaks”), and picturesque Toblacher Lake. En route, you might stop to pay tribute to the fallen of World War I at the intimate cemetery at the foothills of Monte Piana.

As you arrive in Dobbiaco, the landscape changes: rocky mountains skirted with green and roadside alpine lakes give way to open meadows and green pastures dotted with large, isolated houses, or masi. Snow-capped peaks rise in the distance. This is the Pusteria Valley, a paradise for cyclists with its network of bike paths, bike hotels, and bike shops aimed at promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle and healthy discovery of the valleys.

Soon, you’ll arrive in San Candido in South Tyrol, close to the border with Austria. Here you’ll stop for lunch and have time for a stroll in this thousand-year-old little city. You can visit the ancient, Romanesque Duomo della Collegiata—the oldest monastery in the Dolomites—and drink at one of the many stone fountains in the cobblestone pedestrian area. The Pusteria Valley is rich in history and legend, as it was on the ancient trade route to Aguntum (now in Austria) from Rome.

In the afternoon, continue biking along the Upper Pusteria Valley to Brunico through open lush meadows, forested woods, and charming villages, always following the course of the Rienza River. As you cycle through the heart of South Tyrol, you’ll experience the strong Austrian influence that is everywhere, from the language (all signs are first in German and then Italian) to the architectural features and local traditions. The terrain is paved except in some short stretches in the woods. VBT offers both an easy and an easy-to-moderate ride. Later, you’ll arrive at your hotel in Riscone, beautifully located at the foothills of the Plan de Corones mountain ridge. You’re sure to feel comfortable and even spoiled here: the hotel features a large garden, an indoor swimming pool fed by unspoiled mountain springs, in-room waterbeds, and sauna options. Dinner is served at the elegant hotel restaurant and includes a large salad buffet.

Hotel: Park Hotel Schoenblick
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 24, 37, or 45.6 miles (38.7, 59.1, or 73 km)

DAY 6: Cycle through the Aurina and Tures Valleys

After breakfast today, begin cycling north to discover the beauty of the valleys of Aurina and Tures. About 90% of our biking today is on easy paths along the Rio Aurino River. After an initial stretch through Brunico’s open fields, your path runs by high mountains dotted with slope-hugging castles and cattle farms. Brunico was built in a strategic position at the crossroads of four valleys; castles once played the important role of watching and defending the territory. Pass tidy hamlets of wooden houses, high steeples, well-manicured gardens, and cattle pens. Lunch is included today, a special barbecue meal of tasty meats and crispy vegetables prepared by our host, Mani. From your lunch spot, you can take a short easy walk to the roaring Riva waterfalls. In the afternoon, you may choose to explore more of these lovely surroundings and maybe walk to the higher waterfall. Bike back to our hotel or hop a shuttle to pamper yourself at our hotel spa. An optional easy-to-moderate loop is also offered if you feel energetic and wish to ride more!

If you’re riding back to our hotel, pause on your way to discover the city of Brunico and its pedestrian area, full of cafés and gelato shops and boutiques. Or visit the Ripa Castle, once the summer residence of the prince bishops. Today, it is one of the five museum-castles that world-famous mountain climber Reinhold Messner has transformed into a cultural center dedicated to mountain people from four continents.

Dinner is at the hotel tonight.

Hotel: Park Hotel Schoenblick
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 16.7, 26.2, or 31.7 miles (26.8, 42.3, or 49.7 km)

DAY 7: Ride the Isarco River Valley / Medieval towns of Bressanone

This morning, you’ll leave your beautiful hotel and pedal across the wide Plan de Corones plateau. On the way, you can admire the traditional masi farmhouses above Brunico. Soon you rejoin the picturesque Pusteria Valley bike path along the Rienza River and enjoy a beautiful ride though more forests, tiny villages, and covered bridges. Before lunch near the ruins of the Rio Pusteria fortress, you may either shuttle into the medieval city of Bressanone or ride there on a more moderate stretch through a thickly wooded scenic area. Bressanone, at the confluence of the Rienza and Isarco rivers, has been a very important bishop town, evidenced by its Duomo and beautiful frescoed and sculptured cloister, the Hofburg Bishopric, and the stone city gates. The narrow, porticoed streets and multicolored house façades will capture your heart while following our local guide Gerdi on a walking tour. Lunch is on your own here.

Early this afternoon, your small group shuttles to the next destination: Merano. Our hotel  is centrally located on the pedestrian Kurpromenade on the River Adige, opposite the historic Kurhouse. Relax, perhaps enjoying the hotel wellness center and pool, or the famous thermal pools for which Merano is so wellknown in Europe, before dinner on your own.

Like Cortina, Merano is a vibrant cultural city, offering concerts and entertainment on summer evenings. The city features great gourmet restaurants and fine wine bars.

Hotel: Hotel Terme Merano
Alternate Hotel: Hotel Meranerhof
Meals: B
Daily Options: 18.7, 24.2, or 30.5 miles (30, 38.7, or 48.8 km)

DAY 8: Resia Lake / Venosta Valley

After breakfast, you’ll shuttle to an altitude of 4,921 feet (1,500 meters) to Lake Resia, near the borders of Austria and Switzerland. The lake is famous for the steeple emerging from its waters, from a church that was submerged after the village of Curon was evacuated, dynamited, and flooded following the construction of a dam. More energetic bikers may want to bike the loop around the lake, which includes an uphill ride. As you gradually descend, your route follows the course of the River Adige. The ride is particularly picturesque with spellbinding landscapes. Surrounded by mountain peaks, you’ll cycle through dozens of sprawling apple orchards, for which Venosta Valley is famous. You’ll also pass vineyards and castles adorning the slopes. In late August, you roll by many tractors and farmers tending to their fields. It’s sure to be one of your more memorable rides. For lunch on your own, we recommend pausing in the Renaissance village of Gorenza.

If you are a very strong biker, you can ride all the way back to Merano. Otherwise, we have planned to shuttle you by local train (a 20-30 minute ride), a very popular and convenient option for bikers in this area.

Later tonight in Merano, raise a glass of Blauburgunder wine and toast our week over a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

Hotel: Hotel Terme Merano
Alternate Hotel: Hotel Meranerhof
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 23, 38 or 48, or 50 miles (37.4, 52.9 or 76.2, or 80.4 km)

DAY 9: Free time in Merano / Transfer to Verona / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: Your tour ends at our Merano hotel today. The morning is free. You can take a taxi on your own to the Merano train station. Most trains connect in Bolzano. The taxi to Merano train station costs approximately €10-15, and the ride is about 5 minutes. If you prefer, you are welcome to board our coach to Verona at 1 p.m. and get off at our Verona hotel around 3:30 p.m.

VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, say ciao to your Trip Leaders and spend the rest of the morning discovering Merano. You can enjoy the amazing Terme Merano thermal pools in the beautifully designed building set in a 12-acre (five-hectare) garden at no cost if you stay at Hotel Terme Merano (with 10% off, if you stay at Hotel Meranerhof). For more information, visit www.termemerano.it. A private underground tunnel connects our hotel to this public facility.

If you prefer, shop and stroll the historic city center. Or take a walk out of the city to visit the Truttmansdorff gardens and castle, where Austrian Empress Sissi lived. The gardens’ 30 acres (12 hectares) are beautifully landscaped and were voted the most beautiful Gardens of Italy in 2005. After lunch on your own, be ready to leave at 1:00 p.m. on the private motorcoach to our hotel in Verona, where we will arrive at about 2:30 p.m. You have the rest of the day to explore or relax in Verona.

VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: If you have chosen the independent Post-Trip extension to Verona, you remain at this hotel for three nights. When you arrive today, our local Verona guide will meet you and hold an informative hospitality introduction, followed by an orientation tour of Verona. The rest of the day is free to explore on your own with VBT’s City Information as your guide. If you are visiting from mid-June to the end of August, don’t miss the opera performances in the Roman Arena, a very short walk from our hotel. A little tip: local opera lovers say the best seats (particularly for acoustics) are the very affordable “Unreserved Stone Steps in Sectors D or E (Gradinata D or E).” You can buy these last minute at the ticket office, but it is best to purchase them in advance online at www.arena.it/arena/en. An open-air opera or concert in the Arena is an unforgettable experience.

Please note: Italian museums are closed on Mondays.

Hotel: Hotel Giberti
Meals: B

DAY 10: Depart for Home

Early this morning*, transfer to the Verona Airport for your departing flight. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated transfer time**.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**Please note: VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Accommodations

Hotel Terme Merano

Located in the center of Merano, a chic health resort, the Hotel Terme Merano is directly connected to Merano’s public thermal baths and park, and also features its own Wellness & Spa facility. Take advantage of its many amenities, including indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, whirlpool, steam bath, sauna, aroma bath, and beauty and cosmetic treatments. The innovative modern architecture of this stunning property, created by celebrity designer Matteo Thun, blends harmoniously with the beautiful South Tyrolean Alps that surround it. Your comfortable room features air conditioning, a flat-screen LCD satellite TV, mini bar, safe, and bath with private shower and hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included

Duodo Palace Hotel

The two adjacent buildings that comprise the lovely Duodo Palace Hotel were planned by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century. It is located near the famous La Fenice Theatre and a short distance from St. Mark’s Square. Private docks for water taxis are right outside your doo. During your stay, you’ll appreciate the hushed atmosphere typical of Venice hotels and the small and cozy bar, lounge, and two breakfast rooms. Splendid Murano glass chandeliers adorn the common rooms. Your room includes a private bath with shower. Wireless Internet is available throughout the hotel at not cost.
Free WiFi Included