Bike + Train day
After our disco party night with the locals, we embarked on a day trip to Parma. As Sabbioneta is about 6km from Casalmaggiore, we cycled through calm local roads to catch a train to Parma which was a 30min ride.
The whole region is actually a vast network of bike-friendly cities and villages. Most cities here have a lot of cycle paths, bike parking and, as in the case of Parma, even a Punto Bici, a place where you can leave your bike safely, you can repair it or rent one if you need.
There is only one ingredient missing to make the region a top player among the bike havens as Denmark or the Netherlands: a unified cycling experience from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic.
How to achieve this? Maybe three things could help:
Bike + Train capabilities
When traveling by bike sometimes you’ll need to take the train, either to skip some boring industrial areas, or because you want to rest from cycling. In any case, regional trains are your best shot.
When traveling in Italy however, you must look for trains that have a train carriage. Otherwise your bike will probably have to stay. In our case, we decided to leave the bikes for the day at Casalmaggiore, but talking to the conductor, he told us they would have stayed there in any case.
Italians friends told us that you can probably negotiate with the conductor, but even if you get to negotiate, there’s always the 1 meter-high stairs you’ll need to climb with a fully loaded bike. Regionale Veloce trains, on the other hand are often a bit more modern and have a special bike carriage with about 20 slots, so a far better option.
In general, try at least looking on the Trenitalia website for trains with a bike icon (when you book, under the more info icon), that way you’ll know if you need to negotiate or not.
Continuous bike paths
In more than one occasion during our trip, we’ve encountered an abrupt end to what seemed the perfect path. We don’t know the reason and this is mere speculation, but it seemed sometimes as if authorities (local or regional) can’t get to work together.
At times you feel the change of bike policy from one comune to the other. On others, you feel as if comune X wanted to make sure you know it’s them paying for the path.
As a result, instead of having a continuous path you sometimes find yourself on a Strada Provinciale with vehicles only to find yourself 20m down the road once again on a path.
We’ve already talked about this, but now it is clearer in our heads. We were trying to follow the Eurovelo 8. And in the beginning it was quite simple but all of a sudden we lost the EV08 signs and had to follow the Ciclovia Po o Cremona Sud path for example
In reality, the Ciclovia Po or Cremona Sud path are part of the EV08, so to speak, but the fact that it changed its name and that signs are completely different, makes it hard to follow and to make sure you’re still on the right track.
Parma is very pleasant to visit on foot or by bike, as the city centre is closed to cars, so it’s quiet and peaceful, and there no cars parked on the lovely squares ruining your photos.
We saw the impressive Palazzo della Pillota, but unfortunately it is closed on Mondays, so we couldn’t visit – except the library and by itself, even if small, it is beautiful and full of history.
In a nutshell
- 12km cycled
- 4km walked
- 1 aperitivo on the Mincio right bank
You can follow all the routes we followed on: