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.
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).
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.
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. ★
Location: Reggio Emilia, Italy [Map]
Company: Trekking Emilia Romagna
Useful Tips: Make sure to try some Parmesan cheese! Nothing like you’d typically get in the United States. Reggio Emilia itself is very quaint with beautiful architecture too. An easy day trip from Milan by train.