It may be a long way from home, but a cycling vacation to the Italian Alps can open up a world of picturesque landscapes that are not found back home. Aside from the challenging rides, the mountains are littered with cafes and pizzerias that can be havens for tired bikers. There is little that can compare to the feeling of complete relaxation after touring through winding mountain roads and arriving at a café with a panoramic view of the Alps.
Ride on a sunny Saturday or Sunday and you will be accompanied by dozens of other like minded cyclists looking to enjoy the best of the sun and mountains. Look for biking trails that take you through the small towns that are spotted throughout the mountain valleys. Many of these towns are built upon river banks and base their daily lives on agriculture and farming. Don’t be afraid to try a few words of Italian such as ‘ciao’ (hello/goodbye), ‘come stai?’ (how are you?) ‘un café per favore’ (a coffee please), ‘buon giorno’ (good day), ‘Arrivederci’ (goodbye).
When you are at the café, be sure to try an espresso. Although they are much smaller than North American coffees, they still pack a lot of punch and will surely get you through to your next rest stop. When you stop for an afternoon drink, don’t be surprised when the server brings you some snacks to accompany your drink. This is called ‘aperitivo’ and is an Italian custom. Some places will serve sliced cheese and meat while others will just put out some chips and nuts. Plan ahead and find out where the best places are!