The largest river side reserve in Europe, protected by Unesco, stretches along river Ticino through the Padana plain in a valley rich with history, culture and biodiversity. The route rolls mostly on gravel and trails in the woods, be prepared to put your offroad skills to the test!
The wild forests trails
Abbey of Morimondo
The rope bridge
Lanca di Bernate
The noble residences
Naviglio Grande canal bike path
The Via Francigena trail
The riverside villages
Bereguardo pontoon bridge
Ticino embankments road
When: On Request from March to November
Cost: 300€ per person
Level of difficulty: easy
Lenght: 2 days/1 night
Distance/Elevation Gain: 102 km/400 metres
Terrain: trails, bike paths
Accommodation: 3***hotel or country house
Meals: restaurants and trattoria
Note: in case of bad weather the tour might be cancelled
2 days/1 night
102 km/400 metres gain
The Valley of Ticino is a UNESCO protected Biosphere Reserve and the largest riverside reserve in Europe. It stretches along the course of river Ticino between Piemonte and Lombardy, running for over 100km from Lake Maggiore until the Padana plain, in a territory rich in history, culture and biodiversity.
The valley comprehend primary forests, woods, river shores, wetlands and streams, a landscape which has been preserved since the Roman Imperial times as a testimony of the original environment. Together with the ancient ecosystem it shows a pretty unique rural and leisure carachter, with farms, canals and noble residences built throughout the centuries and still active today.
Day 1: We start from Golasecca, the settlement of tribes living before the Romans who developed a sophisticated culture, and reach the Canale Villoresi cycling the bike path on the shore up until the Alzaia Ticino River bike path. The windy path runs quietly on the shores surrounded by farms. Just passed the Naviglio Grande we leave the canal taking a trail in the woods, and little ahead we must cross a stream, we’ll do that using the only possible passage, a 40 feet-high rope bridge!
We keep following the trail in the deciduous forest along the Ticino river bank: the surface is a bit uneven and requires good driving skills, but again it is a real funny ride for those who like gravel and dirt roads. All around us is all primary forest with no sign of human intervention, we’re back to 2000 years ago. We pass another stream on a wooden boards bridge and cross the wormwood forest to reach the precious Lanca di Bernate lagoon, one of the most important ecosystems of the Ticino reserve.
Out of the lagoon the Naviglio Gran Canal bike path runs parallel to the Ticino river, we leave the trail and take it until the village of Robecco, home to the Milan noble families since the XVI century, our final destination today.
Day 2: We leave Robecco and follow the Naviglio Gran Canal bike path, getting passed Abbiategrasso and reaching the Abbey of Morimondo, built in Gothic style in year 1182. We will have the opportunity to visit this stunning monastery and get to know the daily life of monks in the Middle Ages.
It’s time to leave the bike path and move towards the forest’s paths of the Ticino reserve again. We’ll now be cycling a sector of the European Long Distance Path, a walking route for trekkers starting in North Cape and ending in Sicily. Few km ahead we cross the floating bridge and reach the west side trail of the reserve: we’re surrounded by trees and streams, but sometimes the forest gives space to open fields where it’s easier to spot the white storks living in this area.
After 25km in the woods we get out of the forest and take the beautiful Ticino embankment road which runs above the river level, giving spectacular views over the winding waters. Along the shores we can spot the ancient Via Francigena trail, traveled by pilgrims in the old times and now very popular amongst the excursionists. Passed the scenic white bend we leave the embankments and descend to the Francigena, which we follow it until the Ponte Vecchio covered bridge, the gate to Pavia’s historic city centre. The former capital of the Lombards welcomes us in its pedestrian streets and medieval piazzas. A toast in the main square will be a perfect way to end this tour.
PRICE 300€ PER PERSON INCLUDES:
– night stay in 3*** hotel or farmhouse breakfast included
– 3-course dinner drinks excluded
– two light lunches drinks excluded
– touring bicycle+helmet
– luggage transport
– taxes, entrances, fees
Additional services such as support van, private transfer to/from the start/end of the tour, electric-assisted bicycle, licensed tour guide, shall be quoted upon request.
The tour will be escorted by an english speaking volunteer local expert: he is not a licenced tour guide but a trustworthy companion, fine connoisseur of the places, culture and oenogastronomy. He will join for free, if the clients enjoyed the tour they can tip him at the end.