"Wheel Time" in Friuli & Slovenia - Tales from the Tour
Ciclismo staff member Rachel, will be blogging her experience on the Friuli & Slovenia tour as it happens! Also stay tuned for updates from the guides, Cristiano Bonino and Federica Luppi.
This departure of Friuli & Slovenia has concluded. Like what you read? Spots are still available on our September 13th departure!
Day 7: new!
For our last day, we went biking in Bled. In the morning, we got up and ate breakfast before boarding a bus that took us up over the Italian Alps. The views on this trip were so beautiful, the scenery just absolutely gorgeous.
We arrived at our hotel, La Villa Bled, which was stunning, thanks to it being locaed directly on the lake. The rooms inside were HUGE! It was like staying in an apartment. The area we are in is very classy. Members of the Hapsburg nobility vacationed here in this spa town.
We were already in biking gear upon arriving at the hotel, so we immediately hopped on our bikes. There was an optional 4km of riding which was by far the best scenery of the day. If you take this trip in the fall, you MUST do this optional ride!
For lunch we dined near Lake Bohinj, the largest in Slovenia. It was a little resort area with spectacular views. Afterwards, it was back to Bled for a farewell cocktail and our final dinner at a 1 Michelin star rated dinner. Rounding out the trip, we sat outside on the terrace drinking wine and talking about all the fantastic things we saw and experienced on this trip. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip!
Today we did something very different in Ciclismo's 20 year history... we went rafting on the Soca River in Slovenia! We have never done this on any trip before, and the guests looked good in their helmets and wetsuits, so we'll be sure to keep it in for the future. Enough of me talking though (this is Cristiano), I'll let some of the guests talk about the trip.
Joe M., Arlington Heights, IL
These guides are incredible. Cristiano is especially great... he's paying me lots and lots of money to say this. In all seriousness, they really are both amazing. Today's scenery was incredible. Very memorable.
Chuck B., St. Cloud, MN
This is my third trip with Ciclismo. The last two days have been the most beautiful days of scenery. Rafting on the Soca River was wonderful. I even did the optional 25-mile bike. It was a great way to split up the day.
Brian S., Toronto, ON
Now for the Canadian perspective. Let me preface this by saying we never exaggerate... This trip is [expletive deleted] AWESOME!
Susan R., Toronto, ON
This is the more refined Canadian perspective, of course. I joke, but really, at the end of today's ride, I'd rate it a 9.5 to 10 out 10. Just a great trip overall. We've seen many new, interesting and exciting things. What we have here is a bunch of people who don't know much about the country of Slovenia. Now we know more than ever before and are going to educate the world!!
Jim P., Carmel, IN
It's after dinner and we're all just sitting here enjoying some of the delicious local red and white wines. This has been a seriously awesome trip, just terrific. Cristiano and Federica are doing a wonderful job. The activity day concept was a very good idea and the weather has been wonderful the past couple days.
Well, that is it for now. I think it's time to finish this bottle of wine! Arrivederci!
What beautiful biking it was today! Probably the best day of the tour so far. Everybody was happy to see the sun.
We crossed the border into Slovenia and there was green green green everywhere! It was like the vegetation exploded. Right now we're in Bovec, which is in a valley surrounded by high mountains and it is very beautiful.
This afternoon we had a visit to a WWI museum. It was beautiful. The local guide we had was very very good! The museum itself is something incredible. There are a lot of pictures of the war. When you visit the museum, you can feel how the war could have been. The places we are biking, you can almost feel what was happening over 70 years ago. It's very touching and adds something special to the tour.
The group is melding together pretty well. Out of everybody on tour, there is a group of 6 people (3 couples) who all met on Ciclismo Classico tours and now they travel together! Many people tell me the tour is very very nice. They like the bike rides and even though I ask which country they prefer, they say they love it all!
-Federica Luppi, Ciclismo Classico tour guide
We got up this morning in Gorizia and the weather was holing up okay as we biked into Cormons. There, we had a wine tour and tasted some of the delicious wines of the region. One in particular is called Vino del Pace, or Wine of Peace. It's comprised of over 600 grapes!! What really cool is that the bottles are designed by local artists, giving each one a very unique and exclusive look. One of the most common grapes used in the wines is Tocai, a grape from Hungary. It's used to make some sparkling reds and whites.
When we left, it had started raining once again. One guest came up with the brilliant idea to wear shower caps over our helmets and it worked wonderfully! Who knew!?
For lunch, we dined in an alpine village and tried Frico, a special quiche-style food. It was definitely a comfort food for how soggy we were all feeling. After lunch, it was raining too hard to go on the bikes so Cristiano gave us some grappa while we were waiting for the van.
Feeling pretty good after the drink, we came back to the hotel where everyone took off to the pools, sauna and massages, so everyone's pretty happy! Speaking of which, I think a massage sounds perfect right now!
Ciao from Friuli! Tonight we have dinner on your own, so while the guests are out eating, I will take this time to talk about today's ride.
Friuli is a primarily flat west of the Alps. The scenery is very different than other regions in Italy, due to how flat it is, but it is still very green and nice. The town we visited today was Palmanova. The whole place is like one big fortress and we visited a museum that tells us all about it. We had lunch in the market and everyone appears to be enjoying Friuli!
After lunch we came back to Gorizia for a wine tasting and Italian language lessons. All in all, it was a very nice day.
The group is getting along very well. It's actually a very unique situation where everyone is very similar in their riding ability, so they're staying together for each ride! That's all for now, tomorrow is our last day in Italy and then on to Slovenia! Ciao Ciao!
-Cristiano Bonino, Ciclismo Classico tour guide
This morning, the sun came out for us! We started by biking up and out of Trieste to the town of Prosecco. The guides promised us that this will be the most steady climbing of the whole tour. It was tough, but totally beautiful: right along the Adriatic Sea - incredible views, twittering birds, the works! We had fabulous weather all day - 75 and sunny.
From Prosecco, we biked another 4k to the Grotto Gigante, which was a huge hit. The group descended 500 steps into an enormous natural cavern with crazy pancake rock formations, different colored stones, and a ceiling that must be about 20 stories from top to bottom.
Then we buzzed on to an outdoor restaurant over the Slovenian border and ate a "your grandmother's lasagna" type lunch (read: delicious). The last leg was mostly descents, one more climb, and we re-crossed the border to arrive in Gorizia for a guided walking tour of the city.
Tonight, we had dinner in a once Franciscan monastery, now a charming cafe and restaurant. The food has been incredible and we're tasting TONS of Friuli wines. Tonight we also tasted frica (Friuli fried cheese).
Luckily, I made it to Trieste on my intended flight (there were some worries I was going to miss my connection). Met the group today, and they're great! Everyone seems in good spirits despite the cold, wet weather... excited for the tour to come.
Trieste is a beautiful little city. It's green, green, green, with rust-colored tile roofs. The Adriatic is the color of glacial water - that sort of ice blue, sometimes tealy color. None of the buildings are much higher than 4 or 5 floors. To me, if feels like a less warmer version of the French Riviera.
For our warm-up ride, we biked right along the coast to Castello di Miramare, a castle on a cliff. Had some prosecco (white grapes) for lunch and in a bit we're doing a "welcome cocktail" and then dinner. I'm having a ball!
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