Published on: 17 February 2014 | Last updated: 3 March 2018
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The Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) is planned to be a cycle route that runs from the border with Austria all the way to the cost of Sicilia. The route includes a significant amount of surfaced traffic-free cycleways. Between the border and Verona the route is almost entirely traffic-free and surfaced. Beyond that, while there are some traffic-free sections, it is mainly on quiet roads (and occasionally some that are not so quiet).
It's the longest-established of the national/eurovelo routes in Italy - although even so there's a long section south of Minturno near Napoli that is still to be mapped.
There are two branches coming in from the north:
- the first follows the Drauradweg (Ciclabile della Drava) as it crosses the border connecting Lienz with Toblach (Dobbiaco). At Toblach the route makes one of several name changes and becomes the PusterBike as it heads through the wide, green, PusterTal (Val Pusteria) and on towards Brixen (Bressanone);
- the other branch comes in over the Brenner Pass. The traffic-free cycleway starts a short way after the border (the local name in German is the Brennerradroute Brenner-Bozen or Eisacktal Radweg, and Italian it is called the Ciclabile Brennero-Bolzano or ciclabile della valle Isarco). The two branches meet north of Brixen (Bressanone) at the Festung Franzensfeste, (Franzenfeste fortress) which once guarded the narrow point of the valley.
The two branches follow the river on what was once the old road to the Brenner Pass. There's a motorway, a major road, and a rail line running through this valley, but it's a testament to the skill of the landscape designers that you are rarely aware that you are passing through a major transport corridor.
Along the River Adige (Etsch)
The route passes through a series of attractive Sud-Tyrolean towns and villages before it reaches the area capital of Bozen (Bolzano) and from here it joins with the Via Claudia Augusta/EtschRadweg (Ciclabile dell'Adige) follows the Adige (Etsch) river southwards through vineyards and mile after mile of apple trees (this is Italy's largest apple-growing area). From the largely German-speaking Sud Tyrol (or Alto Adige to give it its official Italian name) it crosses into the mainly Italian speaking provincia di Trento (Trentino) and the route's name changes to the Ciclabile della Valle dell'Adige Sud. It runs for a little over 80 kms through the provincia passing through the heart of the city of Trento and skirting around the town of Rovereto.
The cycleway takes advantage of the embankments (levees) that were built to contain the Adige and prevent it from flooding the valley during the winter months. The threat of flooding meant that most of the settlements in the area were built well away from the river - this means that bars, restaurants and other services were built well away from the river. There is a BiciGrill (an ironic take on the AutoGrill - the name used for motorway services) near Nomi.
The route along the Adige is pretty flat, with well-maintained surfaced cycleways and you can cruise for mile after mile. It is deservedly very popular as a route for cyclists heading for the Lago di Garda. Unfortunately this means that on summer weekends it gets quite busy. Personally I would avoid this stretch on summer weekends if you can: not so much because of the numbers of people but because no one seemed very friendly, (especially the large tour group I encountered riding in convoy). Weekdays are a much more pleasant time to do it.
In any case most people turn off at Mori and take the cycleway to Torbole and Riva del Garda on the Lago di Garda.
At the border between the Trentino and the Veneto region, the signs and road-markings that have accompanied you through the provincia (equivalent to a county) come to an abrupt end with no indication of where to go next (in fact there is a sign for the Via Claudia Augusta if you know what to look for). Turn right and head for the road, and after a kilometre or so you'll come to the Veneto section of the cycleway: now called the Ciclabile della Valle d'Adige Sole. This will takes you almost all of the way into Verona although the Ciclopista del Sole heads from the village of Rivoli Veronese towards Peschiera-del-Garda on the Lago di Garda.
At Peschiera you head south following the river Mincio on the border between the Veneto and Lombardia. And yes, you guessed it, it changes its name again and becomes the Ciclabile del Mincio. The cycleway along the river is gorgeous, although as you get closer to Mantova the route follows a rather less scenic irrigation canal. The Provincia di Mantova have produced a leaflet/map: Ciclabile del Mincio leaflet-map (turismo.mantova.it).
There's also a video on youtube (courtesy VeronaReport). It's worth a look even if you don't speak Italian:
I must admit that after watching this video I was kicking myself for not having made a stop at Borghetto - although I have stopped at its close neighbour, Valeggio sul Mincio which I'd also definitely recommend
You've now well and truly left the mountains behind and are now crossing the pianura padana, the great plain formed by the mighty river Po. Given that most of Italy is either mountainous or at least very hilly it seems a little ungrateful to complain, but the scenery here is pretty dull (although the river is magnificent). While this stretch may be lacking in interesting scenery it certainly isn't lacking in cultural interest. If anything there's too much choice, with the UNESCO World Heritage-listed cities on Mantova, Ferrara and Modena, not to mention Bologna - perhaps the nicest of Italy's big cities.
Some people are so intent on getting to Rome that they ignore the treasures along the way. Mantova is one of those places that is easy to bypass, but it would be a shame to do so. In particular there's Andrea Mantegna's Camera degli Sposi - which, because it was a fresco is one of the few gems that wasn't brought by the agent of the British king Charles II when Mantova's ruling family fell on hard times.
After Bologna the route leaves the pianura padana behind and heads for the foothills of the Apennines. Until Bologna the route has been mainly either downhill or on the flat, but now come the Apennines and the most significant climb between here and Rome - although the maximum altitude is less than 1000 and the climb fairly gentle (there are steeper options!). The section around the Lago di Suviana follows a very quiet, wild, road through ancient beech woods.
Once you're over the top there's a cruise down into Prato and then along the river Arno to Firenze.
From Firenze onwards
From Firenze the Ciclopista del Sole/eurovelo 7 follows the Arno valley towards Arezzo. Near Arezzo it picks up the Sentiero della Bonifica, a 62-kilometre traffic-free cycleway through the Val di Chiana which takes you to the Chiusi (or at least to Chiusi station which is at the bottom of a big hill with Chiusi itself at the top). (See also the article on this site about the Sentiero della Bonifica).
While the Sentiero della Bonifica has the undoubted advantages of being traffic-free and flat, it's not the most interesting route. Many people opt to head through the Chianti to Siena, and then through the crete towards Montepulciano rejoining the main route at the Lago di Chiusi. This is a much more scenic option but also involves a lot more climbing as well as some busier roads.
Umbria and Lazio
From Chiusi the route continues, following a relatively flat route, towards Orvieto and from there it follows the course of the Tevere (Tiber) as far as Orte. At Orte it heads away from the Tevere and on towards Rome Via Civita Castellana in Lazio. Again, there are more scenic options (via the Lago di Bolsena and the Lago di Bracciano) but these involve significantly more climbing (the lakes are in the craters of extinct volcanoes).
Onwards from Rome through southern Lazio
The route comes out of Rome along the old Via Appia Antica heading for the Lazio coast. Once again those who are not keen on hills will be pleased to hear that the route swerves to the south side of the Colli Albani - another group of hills and lakes formed by extinct volcanoes. It crosses the flatlands of what until the 1930s was a huge area of marshlands, coming out onto the coast east of Anzio and Nettuno.
From here there's a stretch of glorious coastline. It's not particularly dramatic, but largely unspoilt with the coastal dunes and macchia are protected.
As well as some attractive seaside resorts you can also visit the the emperor Tiberius' villa on the coast and the ninfea (a pool complex he had built partially in a cave overlooking the sea. . You can also see the castle at Gaeta that was the scene of the last days of the Kingdom of Napoli.
Note: as you get closer to Napoli there is a stretch where the coast road becomes busier and there are notably more lorries around. Thankfully things get a little quieter at Scauri when the main road heads inland - taking the heavy vehicles with it. While there is a reasonable shoulder and the traffic isn't particularly intense it is moving relatively fast (or it felt like it), marring what would otherwise be a very enjoyable and scenic stretch of coastline.
On this part of the route you will encounter a couple of tunnels. Legally you are required to wear high-viz clothing and I would definitely advise putting on a bright rear blinking light. It's tempting to think "oh it's only a short one", but when you hear the roar of a lorry roaring behind you (and in a tunnel even a fairly small one makes a hell of a noise) you'll be glad you did.
The mapped route on the mainland finishes here. The bicitalia.org website gives an indication of the intended route. This follows the coast via Napoli, Pompei, Sorrento, Amalfi, Salerno, Agropoli and Sapri where it heads inland via the Parco Nazionale del Pollino reaching the coast north of Corigliano Calabro. From Corigliano Calabro it follows the coast of Calabria along, I assume, the SS106. Further south, there are two branches: one heads via Catanzaro to Lamezia Terme on the Tyrrhenian coast and from there on towards Sicilia via Reggio Calabria; while the other continues along the coast and around the toe of the stivale (boot).
Show distances table
|Rovereto-Peschiera del Garda||25kms|
|Peschiera del Garda-Mantova||46kms|
|Bologna-Lago di Suviana||65kms|
|Lago di Suviana-Firenze||73kms|
Options and connections
The Ciclopista del Sole connects with other national and international routes:
- you could come into Italy on the Via Claudia Augusta and connect with the Ciclopista del Sole at Bozen and continue south towards Rome (the two routes diverge at Trento where the Via Claudia Augusta heads towards Venezia;
- near Mantova it connects with the Ciclovia del Po e delle Lagune (EV8). You could follow the latter towards the Adriatic coast (and Venezia - see article here ) or west towards Torino and the border with France;
- at Verona it connects with the Bicitalia 16 ciclovia Tirrenica (see article here). You could follow the Tirrenica via Parma and then along the coast of Toscana and on towards Rome (although the last section of the route hasn't been mapped).
Maps to print out or view offline
The zip files contain pdf files packaged together for convenience. If you are using a tablet you may find it easier to download the individual sections.
Show map download links for individual sections
Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7): A4 maps
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 1: A4 maps (Südtirol)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 2: A4 maps (Südtirol)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 3: A4 maps (Südtirol)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 4: A4 maps (Trentino)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 5: A4 maps (Veneto)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Lombardia: A4 maps
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 6: A4 maps (Emilia-Romagna)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 7: A4 maps (Toscana)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 8: A4 maps (Umbria)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 9: A4 maps (Lazio)
Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7): A5 maps
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 1: A5 maps (Südtirol)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 2: A5 maps (Südtirol)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 3: A5 maps (Südtirol)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 4: A5 maps (Trentino)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 5: A5 maps (Veneto)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Lombardia: A4 maps
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 6: A5 maps (Emilia-Romagna)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 7: A5 maps (Toscana)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 8: A5 maps (Umbria)
- Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) - Part 9: A5 maps (Lazio)
About the maps
Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.
The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smartphones. As far as eReaders are concerned so far I’ve not managed to get them to work on a Nook - but you may have more success with other devices.
Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) gps files
(.zip file containing 12 gpx track files)
Italy Points of Interest
POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include information about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instructions. Updated April 2018. The file format is only compatible with Garmin GPSes .
Places to stay
In the northern section of the route there are plenty of campsites along the route. South of Bozen (Bolzano) finding campsites gets more tricky. Here's a list of the campsites I know of on or near the route south of Bozen:
- Brentino Belluno (south of Trento): Agriturismo Revena
- Peschiera del Garda: too many to list see Trentino and Veneto campsite maps and directories
- Valeggio sul Mincio: Agricampeggio Borghetto
- Mantova: Agriturismo Corte Chiara
- Bologna: Citta di Bologna
- Modena International Camping Modena
- Montequestiolo Campeggio Montequestiolo (Modena variant)
- Lago di Suviana: Camping Suviana Camping del Lago
- Firenze - most convenient for the route: Camping in Town Firenze (was Camping Michelangelo)
- Arezzo: Camping le Ginestre
- Chiusi: Ristorante Pesce d’Oro and La Fattoria
- Lago di Corbara (near Orvieto): Ristorante-Bar Scacco Matto
- Rome (most convenient for the route): Camping Tiber and Flaminio Village
- Lazio coast - too many to list - see Campsites in Lazio
A list of hostels along, or near, the route:
- Toblach (Dobbiaco) Jugendherberge Toblach
- Brixen (Bressanone): Jugendherberge Brixen
- Bozen (Bolzano): Jugendherberge Bozen
- Salurn (Salorno): Jugendhaus Dr. Josef Noldin
- Trento: Ostello Giovane Europe
- Rovereto: Ostello di Rovereto
- Update: Peschiera del Garda: Meet Hostel (thanks to Maren for telling me about this one)
- Mantova: Ostello del Mincio near Mantova
- Modena: Ostello San Filippo Neri
- Bologna: Ostello Due Torri/San Sisto
- Firenze: see hostels map and directory
- Cortona: Ostello San Marco
- Chiusi: Ex-Collegio Paolozzi
- Rome: see hostels map and directory
- Sperlonga: Ostello Marina degli Ulivi