Although EuroVelo 8 is called the Mediterranean Route, its 1050km Italian leg doesn’t meet the coast until its final stretch. Rather, this is a gentle tour along the broad Po Valley of northern Italy, clipping the north of the peninsula on a lazy, looping amble along quiet roads and cycleways.
The first day’s riding descends to Turin, all Baroque architecture on a Roman grid pattern. This is where the Slow Food movement began, should you need any more excuse to take the route at a leisurely pace.
Skirting the foothills of the Apennines, from here the route has two ‘braids’ most of the way to the coast, one on either bank of the river. Both are flat, winding, piecemeal collections of single-track lanes and the occasional cycle path; your choice of which to follow is more likely to be led by refreshment and accommodation than any great scenic difference.
After Adria (fittingly) we meet the Adriatic Sea for a dreamy coastal route past harbours, fishing villages, causeways, lagoons and, oh yes, some little port or other called Venice. You’ll have to catch a ferry a few times en route. The quiet port city of Trieste marks the end of the Italian section, just before EV8 crosses briefly into Slovenia.
This is essentially a EuroVelo river route much like the Rhine, Danube and Loire. As such, it’s well suited for families and a ‘pick and mix’ approach choosing one or two sections. The infrastructure is rather more sporadic than the Central European routes, mostly a patchwork of lanes and agricultural tracks – but with cycleways being built beside the busier roads, there are few nasty traffic surprises.