So here is the story. Italy, as we know it, woos you with its traditional charm, with “belle ragazzi”, with pizza & sunshine by the sea. However, to experience Italy on an ebike is new. So new in any case, that even all the other tourists shoot us jealous looks (not to mention the locals: On the occasion, our bike guide for the day Nicoletta happily exchanges her own bike for an ebike!).
My individual ebike cycling experience in Italy starts with a love affair with “N8 695” and lasts a full three days: In this time, my ebike and I go for more than 100 km along the waterways of the Veneto region. Beautiful, honestly. The landscape is a real pleasure, and lived more intensively on such an ebike: The powered bike with its three gauge tempo gear literally takes care of speed, while I have all the time to watch the landscape – and still follow the group. What we experience on our trip and who we have met on the way is what I would like to share with you today.
Chioggia & Pellestrina have one advantage: Venice is at your doorstep, yet you will find more peace and tranquility here.
At least, this is the impression I get once our ebike tour group arrives in the idyllic port town of Chioggia, at the Venetian lagoon, after a long journey from Austria and southern Germany. Venice is within your grasp, but hidden in the haze: We focus instead on the sunset and the relaxing evening ebike tour on the “island beach” Pellestrina. This island, to be reached by a small ferry service, is only about 10 miles long and half a mile in width! Just perfect to relax and soak up the local peaceful atmosphere. Again, our ebikes help to “propel us forward”, a happy cycling experience.
The next morning, Chioggia gently wakes us up to bright sunlight, large colourful markets and the views of many more waterways running through the city. Almost like in Venice – only much smaller and also more laid-back, I think. Again, we grab our ebikes and explore the harbour, the historical places and houses, the extensive beach, the fish and street markets. As we try to process all the impressions, smells and melodic chitchat of the eagerly gesticulating Italians, we find we have to push our ebikes through the crowds eventually: Too big would be the danger to bump into someone, even for us multitasking and very observing women.
The Euganean hills near Padua are such beautiful scenery, a fact the great poet Francesco Petrarca already knew to appreciate. Had he lived in the 21st century – he certainly would have possessed an ebike!
Did you know that the landscape around Padua is littered over and over with great cycling paths? Here, literally everyone rides a bike, and especially the cities of Padua & Abano Terme are kept very bicycle-friendly. Our ebikes make us king of the road: “You are HIGH again?!”, I shout over to Mario who is in our group, having to laugh. “Yeah sure, my goal is to empty the battery using the highest gear possible until the evening, what do you think?” Chuckling, I look after him as he dashes past on his powerful ebike. How good that Manfred Traunmüller, head of the Donau Touristik cycling tour operator, charges our ebikes every night for more fun. Manfred was practically “born on the wheel”, he is considered a pioneer of the famous Danube cycling trail and cycles many thousand kilometres each year, including at least 60 kilometers to work each day and back. Respect! I enjoy listening to him when he tells of the beginnings of cycling tourism, how he has argued for the reclassification of the tow routes along the Danube into cycling paths, and how he ultimately found Chioggia and Padua as a destination for his cycling and ebike trips.
“The landscape, the scenery, the culture, the nature: There is something for everyone here”, he mentions happily on the way from Abano Terme to Arqua Petrarca, the last home of the famous poet Francesco Petrarca. I can definitely see why. Should you think about where to go for a cycling trip in Europe, it is well worth listening to Manfred’s advice!
From Abano Terme to Padua: Cycling along the Waterways of the Veneto with our ebikes.
“‘Canale di Venezia’: Now, how will you translate that?”, Manfred says to us on the last day of our ebike tour through Venetia, laughing. Channel is not equal to “Canale”, the “waterways of the Veneto” finally does it better in terms of expression. Along these beautiful waterways, we are led by the E2 circular trail of the Euganean hills all the way to Padua, the largest city within our residence in Abano Terme. Padua has well over 200,000 inhabitants, with over 60,000 students – a real hot spot in both historical and contemporary terms. Pretty young ladies stroll through the city, guys meander on Vespas through the traffic, and everywhere you can see the traces of many centuries of history. Our first stop is the famous Basilica di San Antonio, which comes to life thanks to the fascinating stories told by our city guide Rosanna. Here, masterful artists perpetuated work with scenes from the life of Jesus and the history of faith using decades of detailed work and care. In addition, believe it or not, the “lower jaw of the holy Pope John Paul II is exhibited here as a relic!” Very impressive …
Definitely though, we can recommend having a pizza in the restaurant Zairo in the centre of Padua: They have those tasty, wafer-thin pizzas, just as they should be. My conclusion is: Even riding an ebike burns (some) calories. And pizza & gelati in Italy are a must – if necessary, simply justify them as a cultural experience. 😉
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Donau Touristik to explore the waterways of the Veneto on our ebikes. All opinions are my own.