Peggy Guggenheim isn’t the only person to have fallen for the charms of Venice. Whether you’re an art lover in search of a close encounter with Titian, a bon vivant keen to eat baccalà (a type of dried salt cod) or an itinerant tourist looking to lose yourself in winding backstreets, Venice abounds delights for any holidaymaker. Now boutique travel agent Butterfield and Robinson offers a more invigorating way to arrive in Venice: by pedal power. B&R’s new cycle route to Venice from Verona traces the ancient Roman road Via Postumia, passing Mantua, the Po River and the perfectly preserved Renaissance center of Ferrara before finishing in the floating city. The tour d’elegance features pit stops at five-star hotels and Michelin-decorated restaurants, as well as expert-led tours of the cities. No need to worry about stamina—a support van accompanies cyclists in case of punctured tires or overzealous gourmandising.
• Saddle up in Verona and ride past the medieval Castelvecchio onto a gentle bike path along the Adige River.
• Arrive in the countryside beyond Pescantina for a gentle climb through the vineyards and olive groves of Bardolino, source of the fruity red Valpolicella wine and a stone’s throw from Lake Garda. Fill up on a local dish of tomato gnocchi before a lakeside cycle to the hotel Villa del Quar, a classic Piedmont villa dating to Roman times.
• Cross the Adige River, passing the village of Custoza, which lends its name to the crisp white wine produced there. Lunch at Valeggio sul Mincio on the banks of the Mincio River. Then set off for Mantua, where attractions include the Palazzo Te, adorned by the intricate frescos of mannerist painter Giulio Romano.
• Return to the hotel for a dinner at its restaurant, the Arquade, which holds two Michelin stars. Signature dishes from chef Bruno Barbieri include piglet in a balsamic vinegar sauce and sea snail with roasted scallops and pork fat. (Good job there’s all that cycling.)
• Begin with a short transfer to Montagnana and admire the Paolo Veronese frescos in the town’s cathedral. Then back to the saddle, weaving through the Po River plains to the grand 16th-century Villa Pisani for a buffet picnic in its magnificent gardens (replete with maze), hosted by Contessa Scalabrin, the lady of the house.
• In the afternoon, ride through Arquà Petrarca, where classical poet Petrach spent the last years of his life, to the Hotel Duchessa Isabella in the heart of Ferrara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later, visit the city’s 14th- and 15th-century buildings.
• Bike along the Po to the village of Bondeno for lunch. Take a cooking lesson from a Romagnola chef and devour pumpkin-filled tortellini. In the evening, sample regional cuisine at Ferrara’s finest Slow Food restaurant, L’Oca Giuliva.
• Pedal to Chioggia on the Adriatic Sea. At the southern end of the Venetian lagoon, take in the canals, architecture and boutiques bordering the streets.
• Board a private boat for a short cruise to the island of Pellestrina. Bike to lunch at the seafood restaurant Da Nane, overlooking the local fishermen at work. Back to the boat for transit to the northern end of Lido, where a private water taxi whisks you into central Venice. There, take a gondola through the channels, passing Palazzo Pisani Moretta before arriving at the legendary Hotel Cipriani. After a stroll through Piazza San Marco, take a gondola to the Palazzetto Pisani for a warm Venetian welcome. Dinner includes live music from a string quartet and guests are dressed for the occasion in hand-crafted Venetian masks. The trip is priced at $6,995 per person and offered in July, September and October. Bikes and equipment are provided.