Italians have turned the dolce vita into an art form. Anyone who’s visited Italy will notice the daily ‘passeggiata’ ritual, where the locals meet in a piazza for a gentle stroll (and a fine excuse to catch up on gossip).
And with the Giro d’Italia almost upon us, we got a little sentimental thinking about not only all the awesome riding that can be done in that stunning country, but all the eating and drinking that can be done along the way.
So we thought – why not live vicariously and go to some of our favorite Italian cycling tour operators and find out about their tastiest stories; just to whet the appetite!
Introducing Clare from Wide Open Road Cycling Tours.
Since 2001 Clare has owned and operated Wide Open Road Cycling Tours. Clare brings to her tours an incredible depth of travel experience in Europe, and has cycled extensively throughout the continent. She has her finger on the pulse when it comes to the best cycling routes on offer, and has detailed knowledge of local cultures, traditions, food and wine. Wide Open Road relishes the chance to adapt their tours to their clients – if you still have energy to ride up another hill, or if you’d prefer to settle in for a long lunch, Wide Open Road makes it all possible.
Here’s what Clare had to say.
“Having ‘uno spritz’ in an historic Italian piazza while soaking up the atmosphere and watching the world go by is a perfect pre-dinner activity after a day on the bike! Around aperitif time (5pm to 9pm), you invariably get a small snack, a ‘spuntino’ free of charge along with your drink. This could be a few crisps or olives right up to something more elaborate, such as warm crostini or mini focaccia slices, depending on the bar. Keep in mind that the spuntino isn’t likely to be sufficient to re-fuel a hungry cyclist who has just conquered an Alpine passo, but it’s a great light snack to go with your drink.
And the ideal drink is an Aperol Spritz, one of the most popular aperitivo in Italy. Known as ‘Veneziano’ in northern Italy, it’s bright orange, zesty, bitter, refreshing and makes a perfect early evening pre-dinner drink. It originates in the Veneto region of northern Italy – on a warm summers evening the piazzas and cafes are filled with people enjoying the sparkling orange drink along with a small spuntino.
One of my favourite places to enjoy an Aperol Spritz is in Piazza Walther in the cosmopolitan northern Italian town of Bolzano; the ‘gateway to the Dolomites’, where we will spend a night on our upcoming 2015 Milan to Venice ride.
The only downside to the Aperol Spritz is that they are so delicious it’s hard to stop at 1 or 2… and one always needs to consider the miles and altitude gain the next day!”
Traditional Aperol Spritz
According to the Campari Group (who own Aperol), the ‘official Aperol Spritz’ is made of:
- 3 parts Prosecco
- 2 parts Aperol
- 1 part Soda
Place a handful of ice cubes into a standard white wine glass.
Pour over ice three parts Prosecco.
Add two parts Aperol (pour in a circular motion so liquid goes all over the ice and Prosecco).
Add one part soda and a slice or two of orange.