Where to Go Cycling near Piacenza

Have you ever considered visiting Piacenza, the northernmost town in Emilia-Romagna? We’ve just spent three days there with our bikes, just to tell you all about the best cycling near Piacenza!

If you are a cycling lover, you’ll know that the Grand Depart of the 2024 Tour de France will take place mainly in Emilia-Romagna. The first stage will run from Florence to Rimini, the second from Cesenatico to Bologna, and the third will start in Piacenza and end in Turin.

You will probably have heard about most of these towns – except Piacenza. Even as a self-confessed Emilia-Romagna lover, and after having taken dozens of trips to the region, I had visited Piacenza only once before.

piacenza cycling plains
The countryside near Piacenza

The northernmost town in the region doesn’t get as much love as its neighbour Parma, or as larger cities further south like Modena and Bologna. As a result, you’ll find next to no tourists in Piacenza, despite a delicious, unique cuisine, interesting history, and some great churches and museums.

The Tour de France departure also highlighted Piacenza’s potential as a cycling destination. First of all, Piacenza is well connected to Milan and Bologna by train, making it easy to travel with your own bike from other places in Italy. Most importantly, the city is in an ideal location for a variety of bike rides – the cycleway along the Po River is just outside the city, or if you like hilly rides, you can head to the Apennines.

We recently spent 3 days in Piacenza, visiting the city and cycling around. Check out our Piacenza guide if you want to know more about the city itself (including where and what to eat!) or keep reading to discover 4 fun cycling itineraries!

Best Places to Go Cycling in Piacenza

1) The Po Cycleway to Cremona

piacenza cycling po cycleway
Following the Po Cycleway from Piacenza to Cremona

If you look at a map of Piacenza, you’ll notice that the city mainly extends to the south – that is because the Po River runs just north of the centre, acting as a natural boundary.

This means that just a couple of kilometers from the city centre you can start cycling along the Ciclovia del Po (Po Cycleway), an itinerary following the two banks of the Po, Italy’s longest river, separating Emilia-Romagna from Lombardy. The cycleway is entirely flat and crosses some scenic landscapes, with agricultural land, old brick farmhouses and lots of wildflowers in spring.

In theory, you could cycle all along the river to the Po Delta near Ferrara – but don’t expect a single, continuous road. The route follows the paths along the riverbank, but also travels along dedicated cycle paths and minor roads. Traffic is not usually a concern, but it’s worth remembering that some of these roads are also open to motor vehicles.

A popular itinerary along the Po is cycling to Cremona, a town just across the river in Lombardy famous for being the birthplace of Stradivari violins. It takes about 40 km to cycle from the centre of Piacenza to Cremona, following the brown ‘Via Po’ signs along the river on the Emilia-Romagna side.

Then, you can either cycle back or take the train, with a connection in Codogno.

2) The Po Cycleway Loop

piacenza cycling po
The Po River flowing near Piacenza

If you still want to cycle along flat roads, but prefer a loop-shaped trip, we can recommend the route we followed. You can download the itinerary here – it’s a 66 km route, starting and ending in Piacenza, and following the Po Cycleway on the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna side.

From Piacenza, we cycled across the Po to Lombardy, where the itinerary follows the elevated banks of the river, giving you an excellent viewpoint to admire the river and the fields all around. The road had just been resurfaced in May 2024, and was a real pleasure to ride.

After about 30 or so km, the route crosses back into Emilia-Romagna near the village of Caorso. By then, you’re approximately halfway through, and can stop for lunch at Osteria del Morino, a restaurant offering an excellent menu of Piacenza and Piedmontese specialties.

Follow the rest of the itinerary back to Piacenza, perhaps stopping to admire one or more villages along the banks of the Po, where time seems to have slowed down. Just check out places like San Nazzaro or Roncaglia and you’ll know what I mean.

The final stretch of the itinerary includes a loop in a park just outside Piacenza, where the Trebbia river flows into the Po. The Trebbia river is stunning, one of the cleanest and wildest rivers in Italy – to see more of it, just follow itinerary number 4 below!

3) Along the Val Nure

piacenza cycling riva castle
Riva Castle, one of our stops cycling along the Nure

Ok, I get it – flat cycle paths are boring, you’d rather ride your bike in the hills! I totally agree, that’s why we have two more itineraries for you, heading to the Apennines from Piacenza following the course of two rivers.

First up is a 56 km ride along the Nure, a small river flowing from the Apennines to the Po. Here’s a link for you – this is a road ride, and the first part follows SS456, a fairly busy road, so it’s only recommended for confident cyclists.

Follow the itinerary south of Piacenza through Podenzano, until you get to Grazzano Visconti. This village is worth a visit – at first glance it looks like you travelled back to the Middle Ages, but it was built in the early 20th century to be a kind of ‘ideal medieval village’.

Keep riding until Ponte dell’Olio, where you cross the Nure for the first time and start climbing gently. Shortly afterwards we stopped for a picture at pretty Riva castle, and then the route left busy SS456 and started following minor, much more pleasant roads along the valley.

piacenza cycling ponte dell'olio
Cycling through Ponte dell’Olio

The hills started in earnest after Bettola, but we are still talking about gentle gradients – maximum 6 or 7%. Between Farini and Ferriere the scenery is especially beautiful, alternating gentle climbs and descents that make this a really fun ride.

If you can ride over 130 km and are not afraid of double-digit gradients, we recommend following this round-trip itinerary including both Val Nure and Val Trebbia (described below). To do that, climb 7 km from Ferriere to Passo del Mercatello, enjoy the AMAZING 17 km descent to Marsaglia, then continue to Bobbio along SS45.

3) Along the Val Trebbia to Bobbio

piacenza cycling trebbia
The beauty of Val Trebbia

Another fun way to cycle from Piacenza to the Apennines is following the Trebbia river to Bobbio, one of the best small towns in Emilia-Romagna. Here is the itinerary we followed.

Leaving Piacenza, you can follow the brown signs of the Ciclovia del Trebbia, an itinerary that alternates sections on dedicated cycle paths to stretches on minor roads crossing through the countryside.

Cycle through the small town of Gossolengo before crossing a large bridge over the Trebbia – pay attention as the bridge is quite busy. After the bridge, you’ll find at elephant-shaped monument on the right hand side of the road, commemorating the battle between Hannibal and the Romans fought on the banks of the Trebbia, deciding the fate of the Second Punic War.

Shortly afterwards, you’ll reach Rivalta Trebbia, known for its castle and surrounding village. The castle can be visited every day with a guided tour, or you can simply wander around the village and take pictures if you want to keep riding.

The itinerary then follows minor roads until Travo, another pleasant town where you can stop for a coffee. Continue a further 7 km to Donceto, as the road starts climbing and your legs will burn a little, but you’ll be rewarded with views over the Trebbia and vineyards, as the Apennines get closer and closer.

piacenza cycling bobbio
The Ponte Vecchio in Bobbio

We cycled the final 10 or so km to Bobbio along the SS45, the main state road, as the weather was turning bad, but you also have the option of following the old state road (Strada Vecchia on navigation apps) until Mezzano Scotti, and then cycle along the SS45 just for the last stretch.

If you have really good legs and want to keep riding after reaching Bobbio, head to the top of Passo Penice, a mountain pass separating Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy. It’s a further 12 km with approx 900 meters altitude difference. Otherwise, just take your time wandering around Bobbio – don’t miss the Ponte Vecchio!

4) Tour de France 2024 – Stage 3

tour de france trophy
The Tour de France trophy in Piacenza

Lovers of the Grand Boucle might want to follow the pro peloton’s footsteps (or pedal strokes?) and ride Stage 3, from Piacenza to Turin.

Head to our article about the 2024 Tour de France to get more info on the exact route of Stage 3, including what to see along the way and where to plan intermediate stops.

For just a quick ‘taste’ of this stage, ride west from Piacenza towards Castel San Giovanni and Stradella, just over the border in Lombardy. Stradella is a great starting point for rides in the Oltrepo Pavese and Val Tidone, hilly regions with very few cars where we go cycling regularly.

Oltrepo Pavese was included in this BBC article about the best hidden gems in Lombardy – I guess that’s reason enough to visit. Hit us up if you want more tips or GPX tracks!

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