As spring approaches and the days get longer, so too does the list of fresh local food on offer. Freedom Treks believes a mix of leisurely rides paired with tasty local produce creates the perfect recipe for a satisfying cycling holiday.
The company offers 40 tours that include pedalling through areas famed for their culinary heritage. Tuck into delicious home-grown fare, sip smooth (and sparkling) wines and join in with a cookery course so you can impress friends and family back home.
Here are five enticing options to tickle your taste buds this year.
NEW: Savour local produce from Parma to Bologna, Italy
Home to fertile plains, rolling vineyards and rich culture, it’s no wonder the Emilia Romagna region of Italy produces so many mouth-watering delicacies. Cycle from Parma to the regional capital, Bologna, meandering past impressive sites and cities with numerous alfresco stops along the way. With an abundance of local produce on offer throughout the tour, from fresh Parmesan and Parma Ham in Langhirano town, just outside Parma, to authentic Barozzi chocolate cake in Vignola, velvety balsamic vinegar in Spilamberto and smooth Lambrusco wine in Castelvetro, cycling will come as a welcome break (and a chance to burn off those excess calories!). As well as dining on delectable dishes and learning a number of culinary secrets during a cooking lesson, visit the Parmigiano Reggiano Museum, walk around Torrechiara castle, discover Montechiarugola fortress and Montecchio castle, and marvel at Modena’s UNESCO-listed Cathedral. Throughout the tour, take the time to admire the characterful cafés, fine manor houses and vibrant cities, all at a gentle pace.
Level: Easy to Moderate
The six-night Parma to Bologna tour costs from £1,122 pp (two sharing). The price includes B&B accommodation in a selection of three or four star hotels plus five dinners, cooking lesson, tour guide, Parmesan tasting, Parma ham tasting, balsamic vinegar tasting, wine tasting, welcome briefing and luggage transportation. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. (Electric bikes are also available to hire.)
NEW: Sip crisp Prosecco in Valdobbiadene, Italy
Prosecco is an Italian white wine that can be ‘spumante’ (sparking), ‘frizzante’ (semi-sparkling) or ‘tranquillo’ (still). Sip the world-famous tipple in Valdobbiadene, the capital of the Prosecco region, on this new tour. Based at the luxurious 4* Country Hotel Relais Monaco in Ponzano, conveniently located just outside the city of Treviso, explore the charming towns of the Veneto region by bike on five easy day rides that lead back to the hotel each evening. Foodies will be in their element as they discover where the renowned Pinot Grigio wine has achieved real prestige in Strada dei Vino del Piave, sample delicious Venetian specialities such as fresh seafood, asparagus and radicchio and taste crisp Prosecco while overlooking the spectacular vineyards in Valdobbiadene. Other highlights include finding out about the old Roman roads to Vicenza, Padua and Asolo and admiring Giorgione’s renaissance artwork and the imposing fortress in Castelfranco Veneto. In the evening, enjoy peace and quiet at Country Hotel Relais Monaco, which has air-conditioned rooms, an outdoor pool with sunbeds and a terrace overlooking the undulating hills. A brand-new spa features a Jacuzzi, steam room and Finnish sauna.
Level: Easy to moderate
The six-night Prosecco Vineyards tour costs from £508 pp (two sharing) and includes B&B accommodation, maps and route information, bus transfer to Valdobbiadene with the bike, one Prosecco tasting, entrance to Villa Emo and discounted rate for hotel spa facilities. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. (Electric bikes are also available to hire.)
Taste delectable paella in Fornalutx, Mallorca, Spain
Originating in its modern form around the mid-19th century, paella is an aromatic rice dish comprising chicken or fish and vegetables, or all three, cooked in a flat, dimpled pan over a high heat. Try the flavoursome food when cycling around the largest Balearic Island, Mallorca, on this mostly undemanding tour. Starting and finishing in the capital city, Palma de Mallorca, pedal the circular route alongside glistening beaches, through sweet-smelling orange groves and past UNESCO-listed mountains, stopping to explore historic towns and pretty villages. Look out for Mallorca’s iconic windmills, the pink and white salt lakes of Llevant, the bizarre shapes and beautiful colours of the Dragon Caves in Porto Cristo and Lluc monastery, which towers 1,200-metres above sea level and is reached by bus. Pause in the charming mountain village of Fornalutx and savour some authentic paella before spending the night in the charming fishing village of Port de Soller. Finish the tour with a guided tour of Palma, a vibrant, stylish and intimate city.
Level: Easy to Moderate
The seven-night Mallorca tour costs from £699 pp (two sharing) and includes half-board accommodation in three and four star hotels (except Port de Soller which is B&B), welcome meeting, maps and route information, luggage transportation, special paella lunch with wine, transfer over the Tramuntana Mountains with a stop at the Lluc monastery, trip with the nostalgic “Red Thunderbolt” train from Soller to Palma and a guided city tour in Palma. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. (Electric bikes are also available to hire.)
Cool down with a refreshing pistachio ice cream in Mori, Lake Garda, Italy
Italy is famed for its version of ice cream, gelato, which is considered to be richer, creamier and more flavoursome. Relish this indulgent treat in Mori, with pistachio being a popular choice, before continuing the cycling tour around the sparkling Lake Garda. Pedal along quiet roads and well-marked tracks, passing peach orchards, kiwi plantations and cypress-topped hills. Marvel at the magnificent 13th century Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento, take a minibus to Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and wind through the thousand-year-old town of the royal Gonzaga family. Keen wine connoisseurs will enjoy riding through Lugana, which is famed for its highly palatable white wine. After enjoying the cycle rides and excursions each day, return to the welcoming hotel based in the historic port town of Desenzano each evening. Featuring picturesque promenades and winding alleys, Desenzano is an ideal place to relax each evening.
Level: Easy to Moderate
The six-night Lake Garda tour costs from £508 pp (two sharing) and includes B&B accommodation in three or four star hotels, maps and route information, welcome briefing, train and bus transfers in the itinerary, boat excursion on Lake Garda from Riva to Sirmione and one pistachio ice cream in Mori. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. (Electric bikes are also available to hire.)
Sample the white sausage on the southern lakes of Bavaria, Germany
Made from minced veal and pork back bacon, the Weisswürste (white sausages) are often consumed with sweet mustard, pretzels and a rich Bavarian beer. Try this traditional dish when pedalling between the reflective freshwater lakes of southern Bavaria, against a backdrop of snow-dusted summits and forested massifs. Beginning and ending in Munich, the Bavarian capital, pedal along scenic cycle paths, through unspoilt countryside and idyllic gorges on this exciting tour. Take the Zugspitzbahn mountain railway up to Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze (2,692 m), and admire the spectacular views across the Alps. Spend time exploring the famous Olympic town of Garmisch Partenkirchen and sink into a thermal spa in Bad Tölz, a small Baroque town on the Isar river. Unwind in the local hotels each evening, before continuing the cycling each day.
Level: Easy to Moderate
The seven-night Lakes of Southern Bavaria tour costs from £642 pp (two sharing) including B&B accommodation in three and four star hotels, luggage transportation, maps and route information, welcome meeting, train journey from Garmisch Partenkirchen to Scharnitz and one typical Bavarian breakfast. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. (Electric bikes are also available to hire.)