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Our little black book of enchanting places

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Italy by two wheels

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

After two stages in The Netherlands last week, Italy’s top cycling race, the Giro d’Italia, resumes in Italy tomorrow, finishing in Turin on May 29. It’s pretty gruelling stuff but, as our friends at Italian holiday specialist Citalia, point out, you don’t have to be a top athlete to enjoy cycling in Italy. Here they suggest some of their country’s best spots to get on your bike, whatever your level.Castel Monastero, TuscanyFor all levels: Tuscany

The beautiful medieval walled town of Lucca is perfect for beginners, or those simply wanting to set a leisurely pace, as cars are largely banned and cycling is the most popular mode of transport. More serious cyclists can head for the Apuan Mountains, where the terrain is marked by steep hills and valleys, or Crete Senesi, in the south of Tuscany, where there are trails among its lunar-like landscape. The Castel Monastero, near Siena, offers a range of guided cycling tours for all levels and takes in the nearby towns and villages of the Chianti region. Seven nights’ b&b for the price of five at the five-star plus Castel Monastero costs from £1,445 per person,including six days’ car hire and return flights from London Gatwick on July 13.Borgo Egnazia, PugliaFor foodies: Puglia

Puglia offers unspoilt countryside and some of Italy’s quietest stretches of coastline. Just like Tuscany, it is a popular wine destination and it’s possible to cycle from one vineyard to the next. The five-star Borgo Egnazia offers guided cycling tours as well as bicycle hire for the day, with or without a picnic basket. Five nights’ b&b at the five-star Borgo Egnazia costs from £1,635 per person, including return flights from London Gatwick on July 6. Relais Corte Cavali, Lake GardaBest for scenery: Lake Garda

Set between the Alps and the Dolomites, Lake Garda enjoys diverse scenery, ranging from low-lying countryside in the south to pine covered cliffs to the north. There are many flat cycle trails around the lake and more complex paths towards the mountains. The four-star Relais Corte Cavalli offers complimentary bicycle hire, allowing guests to explore the extensive grounds and the scenic Peschiera-Mantova cycle path that runs alongside the Mincio river. Seven nights’ b&b for the price of five at the four-star Relais Corte Cavalli costs from £459 per person, including return flights from London Gatwick on September 19. Hotel Su Gologone, SardiniaBest for mountain biking: Sardinia

Sardinia is a great option for more experienced cyclists. While the coastline is one of the Mediterranean’s finest, the mountains in the north are perfect for adventurous types looking to explore. The four-star Hotel Su Gologone near Oliena offers easy access to a series of ancient shepherd’s paths leading to canyons, archaeological sites and beautiful beaches. Guests can hire bicycles or mountain bikes and guided tours are also available through the hotel. Seven nights’ half board for the price of six at the Hotel Su Gologone costs from £965 per person, including return flights from London Gatwick on June 21. Arc en Ciel hotel, LiguriaBest for coastal trails: Liguria

The Italian Riviera is one of the most popular cycling destinations in Italy. Liguria’s Cycling Riviera is a new cycleway that runs along the old coastal railway line, offering constant sea views. The path is easy to ride and car-free. The three-star Arc en Ciel hotel near Diano Marina offers guests complimentary bicycle hire. There is also a picturesque cycle path connecting Diano Marina (a 15-minute walk from the hotel) with the quaint quay and old port of Imperia. Seven nights’ b&b for the price of six at Arc En Ciel costs from £485 per person, including return flights from London Gatwick on May 29. 

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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