The Sun Cycling Route, known as the Ciclopista del Sole (EuroVelo 7), spans the breathtaking journey from the northernmost point of Europe in Capo Nord to the southern charm of Malta. In this article, we embark on a captivating section of this cycling route, starting in Verona and concluding in Bologna. Our journey takes us through remarkable UNESCO heritage cities such as Verona, Mantova, and Bologna while allowing us to leisurely immerse ourselves in often-overlooked territories — those which have been lovingly reshaped by human hands, enriched with artistic heritage and culinary delights. One of the highlights of this journey is the exploration of the renowned Food Valley.
The itinerary in a nutshell
Verona: the beginning of the journey
Our cycling adventure commences in the enchanting city of Verona, celebrated for its rich history and as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. From here, we head westward, tracing the course of the Sun Route. The picturesque cycling path takes us to the charming Peschiera del Garda, nestled on the shores of the magnificent Lake Garda. This serene location provides the perfect opportunity to pause, take in the tranquil surroundings, and perhaps even take a refreshing dip in the lake.
Cycling along the Mincio River to Mantova
Continuing our journey, we follow the scenic cycling trail that runs alongside the meandering Mincio River, leading us to the captivating city of Mantova. Mantova, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is renowned for its stunning architecture, including palaces, squares, and churches. As we pedal through its cobblestone streets, we are transported back in time to a city steeped in history.
The Po and Secchia rivers
Leaving Mantova, our path carries us alongside two more iconic Italian rivers—the Po and Secchia. These waterways have played a significant role in shaping the landscape and culture of the Po Valley. Along the route, you’ll be able to admire the picturesque views and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.
Cycling on the abandoned railway tracks
The journey takes an interesting turn as we intercept the cycling path built on old, disused railway tracks near Mirandola. This revitalized railway path ensures safe and smooth cycling all the way to Osteria Nuova. The experience of pedaling along this historic route is a delightful blend of nature and heritage.
The final stretch to Bologna
As we near our destination, the path becomes a bit more challenging, but the sense of accomplishment upon reaching Piazza Maggiore, the heart of Bologna, is truly rewarding. Bologna, known as “La Dotta” (The Learned) due to its prestigious university, is a city full of life and history. Its medieval and Renaissance architecture, vibrant culture, and, of course, delectable cuisine make it a must-visit destination.
The Sun Route experience
The Sun Route journey is predominantly characterized by well-paved cycling paths, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable ride for cyclists of all levels. The only slightly undulating section of the path is encountered between Verona and Lake Garda, making this cycling route accessible to a wide range of enthusiasts.
Highlights of the Tour
Verona, Mantova, and Bologna: these historic cities offer captivating glimpses into Italy’s past. Verona’s Shakespearean charm, Mantova’s UNESCO heritage, and Bologna’s academic and culinary excellence make each of them a unique gem on this journey.
Lake Garda: a refreshing stopover at Peschiera del Garda provides the opportunity to soak in the natural beauty of Lake Garda. Whether it’s a dip in the lake or a lakeside picnic, this is a place of serene beauty.
The Po Valley: The vast and picturesque Po Valley is renowned for its fertile plains and agricultural bounty. It’s the heart of the Food Valley, known for producing some of Italy’s most famous culinary delights.
Exploring the Food Valley
As we trace the path of the Sun Route from Verona to Bologna, one of the most delightful aspects is the journey through the Food Valley. This region, situated in the heart of the Po Valley, is celebrated for its culinary prowess and is a haven for food enthusiasts.
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: One of the iconic ingredients from the Food Valley is the world-famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The production of this renowned cheese has deep roots in the region, with local dairies producing this delightful delicacy following age-old traditions.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena: Another culinary treasure of the Food Valley is the exquisite Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. This dark, aromatic vinegar is aged to perfection in wooden barrels and adds a distinct and delectable touch to countless dishes.
Prosciutto di Parma: The tender and flavorful Prosciutto di Parma is yet another gastronomic delight from the region. This dry-cured ham is celebrated for its unique taste, which is a result of the natural and traditional curing process.
Pasta and Fresh Produce: The fertile plains of the Po Valley also yield an abundance of fresh produce and grains, which are essential ingredients in Italian cuisine. From the pasta that Italy is famous for to fresh vegetables and fruits, the Food Valley ensures that every meal is a treat for the senses.
Local Specialties: Along the journey, be sure to stop by local trattorias and osterias, where you can savor the true flavors of the region. Enjoy dishes like tortellini, tagliatelle, and other specialties that make this area a true food lover’s paradise.
The Sun Route, from Peschiera to Bologna, is a delightful journey that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and culinary exploration. As you pedal through Verona, Mantova, and Bologna, and traverse the picturesque landscapes of the Po Valley, you’ll discover the heart of the Food Valley—the epicenter of some of Italy’s most beloved culinary treasures. This cycling adventure is a testament to the cultural and gastronomic richness of this region, ensuring a memorable and mouthwatering experience for every traveler. So, hop on your bike, embark on the Sun Route, and let the Food Valley’s flavors and scents guide you on a remarkable journey through northern Italy.