Here is an overview of the trip as presented by Bike Dreams:
"Italy doesn't need an introduction. The country has everything : a wealth of culture, idyllic villages and historical cities. An impressive coast line, slumbering volcanoes and the landscapes of "La Dolce Vita".
Except the impressive history of the Greeks, Etrusks, Romans and other peoples, Italy has also a very rich cycling past with famous names like Bartali, Coppi and Pantani. They competed on the climbs of the Apennines, the majestic Dolomites and on the flanks of the Stelvio.
Bike Dreams combines all attractive sides of Italy; on the one hand an extraordinary varied bicycle journey with rolling hills, scenic roads and challenging climbs. On the other hand rest days in the neighbourhood of historical attractions such as Pompeii, Rome, Florence and Venice. Besides these places the route passes several other less known cities, villages and regions, which certainly deserve a visit.
The second edition of "La Bella Italia" starts Friday May 22nd, 2009 in Palermo. After a couple of days Sicily you cross the Street of Messina and continue slowly north in the "boot" with daily averages of 110 kilometres. The stages alternate regularly between the coast line and the hilly country side, but you don’t loose sight of the cultural places of interest. The finish lies after 33 days and 3,000 kilometres at Madonna del Ghisallo; thé pilgrimage site for every cyclist in the middle of Lake Como.
The whole route follows well paved roads, which are relatively quiet. The course varies from flat winding roads along the Italian coast line to steep hills in the inland, and from long straight roads on the Padan Plain to the mythical climb of the Passo dello Stelvio with its 48 hairpins.The major part of Italy has a Mediterranean climate with ideal bicycle conditions in spring, although rain can always play a part. The north of Italy is mountainous and is unsettled all year round. The circumstances can become heroic if you reach altitudes over 2.000 metres.Sufficient time remains to visit the highlights of Italy and to enjoy a cappuccino, a gelati or a glass of vino.
The tour is open for cyclists from all around the world to create an exceptional atmosphere, during as well as after the bike ride. "La Bella Italia" is a physical challenge in a wonderful country. You'll get the feeling that you cycle continuously in an open-air museum. Italy is a country to dream away. Certainly on a bike."
Photos: you can find two slide shows of the 2008 edition here: http://www.bike-dreams.com/BI/EN/00_Slideshow.htm
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