Two of its highlights (and the main reasons that prompted us to design this tour) gave name to the itinerary: Grappa and Prosecco. As iconic as those are, most people would find it challenging to point them out on a map, but that is one of the many things you’ll find out by joining Grappa and Prosecco bike tour.
History comes alive for us every day, starting with our warmup in the town of Citadella with its beautifully-preserved village center and defensive walls that catapult us back to the Middle Ages. From there, the battles and the implications of WWI are palpable in Bassano del Grappa, Asolo and crossing the Piave River. Hemingway, during his days as an ambulance driver in the war, spent many days in Bassano and his time there served as an inspiration for his novel, A Farewell to Arms.
As we enter the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Prosecco winemaking area, we learn about the ancient origins of wine making, and how the reputation and qualities of the wine have evolved throughout the centuries. Then, there is the mighty influence of the Republic of Venice (697–1797). While the towns we visit might very well predate Roman times, the Venetians are the ones who left their mark, from architecture to cuisine to customs.
The riding is just as varied and dramatic as the history, from the challenging climb up the imposing Mount Grappa, to the hilly terrain of Prosecco with constant ups and downs that provide never-ending photo ops. A Tourissimo tour would not be complete without ample exploration of the traditional food, and the cuisine of Veneto offers the perfect base for crisp Prosecco and interesting reds.
Relevant blog: Prosecco: Top Quality Wines and Rides
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Private room (single supplement) USD 495
7 days (6 nights)
Fantastic tour overall - really enjoyed the biking, food, group, and the guides.
Alison Don Bike Tour Emilia[fa icon="quote-right"]
Cittadella - 18 mls - Flat
After an airport transfer, we arrive in Cittadella in the province of Padova. Cittadella is an unexpected gem of a discovery and a relaxed way to start our tour. Founded in 1220, it remains the heart of Veneto's medieval history and architecture. It is beautiful and perfectly preserved, the only walled city in all of Europe to have a fully elliptical, walkable parapet walkway. The walls can be visited with a panoramic 1461 mt. (4793 ft.) walk 15 meters (49 feet) high, a unique experience of walking back into the Middle Ages.
After lunch there will be a bike fitting and a warmup ride. The rest of the afternoon involves a tour briefing and exploring the town center before dinner with some typical and reinterpreted recipes from Veneto.
Cittadella - Bassano - 28 mls - Rolling
Leaving Cittadella, we will cycle along the banks of the Brenta River to reach another gem of the region and one of the most important medieval complexes in Veneto: Marostica. Lying on the foothills that extend between the Astico and Brenta rivers not far from Vicenza and Bassano del Grappa, this town is enclosed within the ancient walls of its castles and still retains the magic of the past.
Marostica is the "città degli scacchi," the town of chess, and it celebrates its nickname with an original bi-annual event: a chess match with living pieces. Hundreds of people wear typical costumes and reproduce a local legend upon which the Lord of Marostica had two noblemen, Rinaldo d'Angarano and Vieri da Vallonara, challenge themselves for the hand of Lionora at a chess game like no other. So, use your imagination when you're in Piazza degli Scacchi (Chess Square).
After Marostica, a very short ride will take us to Bassano del Grappa. Bassano is a charming and lively town steeped in history. Its medieval town center is a plunge into art: the city streets and squares are adorned with the works of artists like Palladio, Canova, Jacopo Da Ponte, Marinali and Dall'Acqua.
The Civic Museum of Bassano is the oldest in the Veneto region and is worth visiting together with the Loggia dei Potestà. A local guide will take us for a walking visit of Bassano which will include…grappa. Grappa is a strong local spirit made by distilling the skins, pulp, and seeds of grapes left over from winemaking. Of course, we will pay a visit to the iconic Ponte degli Alpini, a hub for locals, to indulge in a nice aperitivo! We’ll spend two nights in Bassano to better experience all it has to offer.
Monte Grappa - 32
Bassano del Grappa was also the most important logistic base during the first World War and the resistance was crucial in Bassano and Monte Grappa against the Austrians. Monte Grappa, in fact, dominates the horizon and was the theater of three battles in WWI and was of strategic importance in WWII as well.
Climbing Monte Grappa is optional and those wanting to avoid the climb (or part of it) can do so.
The ascent up to Mount Grappa is a blend of history and scenic views. Imagine, as you climb, the fierce battles that were fought here 100 years ago.
The Giro d’Italia has been run here since 1930 and cyclists know these roads very well. Its’ a 27-km (16.5 mile) climb, with 1500 mt (4,900 ft) of elevation gain. The central part offers about two miles where you can catch your breath when the pitch of the road drops significantly.
Monte Grappa (1775 mt, 5,824 ft), the "Sacred Mountain of the Homeland," is now an important tourist destination and its history is memorialized by the impressive monument built in memory of the tens of thousands of Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers who fell in battle on this mountain.
Bassano - Prosecco - Follina - 37 or 49 mls - Hilly
On the way to reach the Prosecco region we will cycle along rolling hills and across Asolo, a little town atop a short but steep climb and one of Italy's most beautiful borghi (hamlets). Asolo will charm you with its most picturesque town center and views spanning from the Alps to the Venetian Lagoon. Contained within the ancient walls that branch off from the 12th-century fortress, in every corner it preserves testimonies of its thousand-year-old history. Asolo was a destination for poets and writers, artists and travelers who all found inspiration and harmony here. Among them the English poet Robert Browning, the actress Eleonora Duse (la Divina), the composer Gian Francesco Malipiero, the English writer and traveler Freya Stark. For lunch, we’ll enjoy a Venetian culinary tradition, the delicious cicchetti, bite-size snacks, accompanied by a glass of sparkling Prosecco dei Colli Asolani, the excellence of Asolo winemaking.
Narrow and winding roads passing cultivated fields will lead you to the town of Montebelluna, situated on the edge of the Montello Nature Reserve. Cycle through quiet countryside and past the Palladian villas (country houses) dotting the route.
You cross the sacred river Piave, then make your way north towards Valdobbiadene. Now we are officially in the Prosecco DOCG area, also named in 2019 a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Prosecco area is nestled between Venice and the pre-Alps with the Dolomites as the backdrop. At its heart is the Prosecco wine road that runs through endless vineyards from the town of Valdobbiadene, in the west, to Conegliano, in the east.
Prosecco east - 33
We leave the hotel and start riding east. On the left, the imposing Castel Brando dominates the area. After Tarzo we enter a quiet, rolling road and the vegetation thickens with oak and chestnut trees on both sides. We gain elevation and after a pleasant, steady 2.5-mile climb we reach the highest point of the day – 410 mt (1,345 ft). We regroup at the end of the descent in the town of Vittorio Veneto, an important center on the Meschio River. A cappuccino is well-deserved at this point and we have the perfect spot for it: Lodge Serravallese.
The next climb is an out-and-back to the Grotte del Caglieron (caves). The complex consists of a series of cavities, part of which are of artificial origin and part of natural origin, around a gorge incised by the Caglieron Stream in the Middle Miocene (from 16 to 10 million years ago).
The second part of the ride among vineyards and wineries is really stunning and the two main highlights are Rolle (a tiny village with a characteristic bell tower) and the watermill “Il mulino della Croda."
We’ve also planned a visit to a wine producer. Think about how unparalleled this is: you’ll drink prosecco in Prosecco!
We’ll be back in time to pay a visit to the extraordinary Cistercian Abbey with its delightful cloister, monastery, and basilica.
Dinner consists of a menu of Venetian-influenced, seasonal dishes.
Prosecco west - 27
Today we ride a clockwise loop in the western part of the Strada del Prosecco. We start by rolling down the Soligo River Valley for a few miles until we reach Solighetto, Soligo, and Farra di Soligo. We stop for a visit, explanation, and wine tasting at Marchiori winery. This winery is very small and run by three young siblings who not only have a great product but also a unique approach to prosecco. What we love about Marchiori is how informative the visit is and how much enthusiasm for the territory they have.
Back in the saddle, we reach Colbertaldo where we have a split for the regular ride or the Vidor and its nearby abbey add-on.
The Benedictine abbey was founded at the beginning of the twelfth century to house the relics of Santa Bona (princess-saint from Egypt). The site is one of the places targeted during the Great War when the whole area of the Piave was a frontline. The abbey was important for its proximity to a rudimentary yet strategic bridge over the Piave River.
After Tiepolo the so-far uncomplicated ride becomes hillier. We regroup in Valdobbiadene and navigate our way through its winding streets lined with old houses perched along a steep hillside.
Between the villages of San Pietro di Barbozza and Santo Stefano, where the slopes are so steep they can only viably be worked by hand, lies Cartizze, the premier cru for Prosecco Superiore. The next stretch of road is spectacular and fun, and you should take your time to enjoy it.
Back in Follina, we’ll get ready for our final celebrations and a memorable dinner at La Corte, a Michelin-starred restaurant.
• Two professional tour guides throughout the program
• All accommodations in 4-star hotels (one 5-star)
• All breakfasts, all lunches, and all dinners
• Wine and beer with meals, coffee, cappuccino, and gelato stops
• Two wine tastings
• Logistical support during the tour and luggage transfer
• Guided tour of Bassano and grappa tasting
• Shuttle at the beginning and at the end of the tour
• All activities mentioned in the day-by-day description
• Bianchi bike rental
• GPS navigation and maps (digital)
The scenery is nothing short of spectacular with its panoramic vistas and patchwork landscape of steep terraced hills, woodlands, and meadows. UNESCO’s description reads:
Who could have predicted 20 years ago that prosecco would go on to conquer the world? But in many ways, Prosecco has become a victim of its own success. By visiting the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore area you can understand and appreciate why the producers here want to avoid the prosecco marketing clichés and Aperol spritz stigma.
The biggest problem is the fact that most consumers are not aware that there is more than one type of prosecco, much less what the critical differences between them are. And even many wine professionals are not adequately equipped to explain it.
The legislative changes of 2009 were absolutely necessary to protect and preserve Prosecco, but they created some difficulties too, especially for producers in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.
Perhaps there’s a silver lining to all of this. Because DOCG producers—with the limited growing area, lower yields and extremely high cost of production—can not compete with DOC on price, more and more of them are seeking to explore the particularities of their diverse growing area and long viticultural tradition, and find new ways of expressing them in their wines. Only by focusing on what is truly unique to the Prosecco Superiore area can they hope to survive and prosper in today’s marketplace.
There are fewer than 200 wineries in the DOCG area, but 3,423 registered grape farmers who supply them. This creates a close synergy and mutual interdependence between growers and bottlers.
There is no such thing as the ‘Prosecco grape’, in the same way as there is no such thing as a ‘Champagne grape’ (prosecco wine is made from glera). The Prosecco area is wedged between mountains and the plain before the Adriatic and is perilously hilly, with the grapes growing at 150 to 1600 ft (50-500 meters) above sea level. A route has arisen between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and the road between the two has been named the Strada del Prosecco. Yes, that’s right: Prosecco Wine Route, and it’s the perfect riding playground for wine lovers. There’s hardly anything as dramatic as the vineyards of Prosecco with its steep hill slopes perfectly contoured by vineyards.
The fierce topography is a sort of dichotomy to the reputation that the wine has gained as a fun bubbly wine often enjoyed in cocktails. If we have a goal on this tour for delivering the Tourissimo Experience that is to educate on the Superiore (DOCG) production area versus the Prosecco (generic) DOC area. You’ll be surprised at how well you’ll understand the difference in tradition and taste once you ride those hills and engage with the producers. This is the best Prosecco, period.