Biking Italy’s Apennines Mountains In Emilia Romagna

Biking Through Emilia Romagna
Biking Through Emilia Romagna
Reggio Emilia, Italy

Biking is an excellent way to explore the Reggiano Apennines Mountains of Northern Italy, home to medieval castles, chestnut forests, and rural farms.

Italy’s Emilia Romagna region is typically known for exotic cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini) & cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano). But head up into the foothills and you’ll find adventure, like I did.

Bikes are the preferred mode of transportation in these parts, and a large network of single track paths and country roads makes for great mountain biking or road touring outside the town of Reggio Emilia.

If you truly want to experience “real” Italy, this is the place. While millions of travelers overrun the more popular destinations like Rome & Venice every year, Reggio Emilia is relatively tourist-free. Locals are proud farmers, the food is excellent, and the pace of life is slow.

Grape Vineyard Italy
Lambrusco Grape Vineyard

Parmigiano Reggiano

After a short 1.5 hour train ride from Milan I arrived in the town of Reggio Emilia to meet my adventure guide Claudio. We would spend 2 days hiking & mountain biking the edge of the Apennines Mountains learning more about this lesser known area of Italy.

Geared up with full-suspension bikes we peddled into the countryside.

Agriculture is very important here because the economy runs on parmesan cheese. Much of the farmland isn’t dedicated to cows though. Instead they grow special grass to feed the cows — a critical part of creating true Italian parmesan (aka Parmigiano Reggiano).

Fiat 500 Italy
Old Italian Fiat 500L

Travel Back In Time

Wine & Balsamic vinegar are also big exports from Emilia Romagna, so there are quite a few vineyards here too. Obviously food is a big deal in Italy! In fact, my friend Ayngelina created a wonderful Modena food travel guide if you want some tips.

We continued biking through large fields, dirt roads, and past tractors that must have been 50 years old. At one farm we discovered a bright red classic Fiat 500L in pristine condition.

I stopped briefly to chat with a local farmer named Gianni (with Claudio translating) about farming & the economy. This was rural Italy like I’d imagined it — right out of a movie.

The people are sincere, down to earth, and genuinely friendly.

Local Farmer Italy
Gianni the Farmer
Canossa Castle Italy
Castle of Matilda de Canossa

Castle Of Canossa

There’s a lot of history in these hills too. Matilda of Canossa was a wealthy & powerful Italian noblewoman who was famous for her military accomplishments. We peddled up to her ruined castle perched on a rocky cliff, which turned out to be quite a workout.

Built in 940 AD, Canossa Castle was the agreed location where Roman Emperor Henry IV & Pope Gregory VII met to settle a dispute about the authority of European monarchies at the time.

I loved traveling by bicycle around Reggio Emilia, you can explore an area & learn about its history in ways traveling by car can’t match. Slow & deliberate travel. My favorite kind of experience. ★

Travel Planning Resources For Italy
Location: Reggio Emilia, Italy
Company: Trekking Emilia Romagna

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Biking Italy's Apennines Mountains In Emilia Romagna! More at ExpertVagabond.com
Biking Italy's Apennines Mountains In Emilia Romagna! More at ExpertVagabond.com

READ NEXT: Milan’s Bizarre Church Of Human Skulls

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#Blogville is made possible in partnership with Lombardy Tourism, Emilia Romagna Tourism, and iAmbassador. Content & opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my journey.
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16 thoughts on “Biking Italy’s Apennines Mountains In Emilia Romagna”

  1. I’d love to do some long distance cycling. The problem is, I’m a bit of a cissy about cycling on roads. Especially on the other side of the road. With crazy Italian drivers! Maybe I should just book a flight and a bike and get on with it though.

  2. Hey, if you want to bike somewhere else in Emilia Romagna, I recommend you the Sanctuary of San Luca nearby Bologna. The road to reach it isn’t very hard, but the sanctuary and the views on the hills are wonderful! :)

  3. It seems a wonderful place where you can enjoy both mountain biking and the picturesque scenery! The Castle of Canossa is also very interesting!

  4. Great post! I’ve been dying to go to Italy. I also just got my first mountain bike and one of my goals for this year is to gain more confidence on the trail. So if I ever make it to Italy, this is going to the top of my list.

  5. I absolutely LOVE traveling by a bicycle! I did it on my recent trip in Hampi (India). It is an excellent way to explore the countryside at your own pace, stop to take photos, chat with people and relax whenever you want to. Apennines look absolutely marvelous! Anything about Italy fascinates me a lot! Castle Of Canossa story sounds intriguing.

    • Matilda was quite a woman. In an age where women didn’t get much respect, she was the exception. She owned a few different castles in the area.

  6. You are perfectly right, you got to get off the main roads to have the opportunity to see and understand the real Italy. Biking is one of the easiest ways to do it, i suppose you had a great time over there.

  7. Biking is a fantastic way to travel around Italy. I have never biked around this area, but it looks fantastic……plus the Parmesan cheese sounds delicious.

  8. Love this post. Biking is my absolute favorite way to get around (I actually have a bike tattoo on my wrist). Never been to Emilia Romagna but Adventurous Kate was just telling me it’s absolutely amazing. Guess I need to get myself over there. Great pix, by the way! :)

  9. I was in Northern Italy 3-1/2 years ago & loved it. Although I stayed in Venice, as you must, I followed that with a couple of peaceful nights in a little town in Cotignola in the Emilia Romagna region, just south of Venice. Whilst it is even less travelled by tourists than Reggio Emilia, it is well worth the time to just relax & unwind after the craziness of Venice. It’s known for its ceramics if you have a penchant for art. The food is wonderful, the landscape flat & open & covered in grapevines and the people very friendly & welcoming. I stayed in the totally delightful Palazzo Boschi, a renovated monastery run by Samuel, whose Mamma cooks delicious cakes and preserves. He makes the best latte coffee in Italy and their restaurant food is to die for. It does pay to carry a phrase book or brush up on your Italian though, as I found people in the small towns didn’t speak much English & had to revert to sign language when my pidgin Italian was insufficient! An oh yes, the sunsets are spectacular!!

  10. Nice post.
    I love the benefits of traveling by bicycle. As you say, slow and deliberate. I would add that you are approachable to people. There are no windows or doors on a bike. Anyone can start a conversation with you at any time. Apart from the fresh air and the exercise you get.
    Lots of us ditched the backpack for a bicycle to travel long time ago. You should give it a go Matt :P

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