I love olives. I love bicycling. I love Italy. I love this bicycle vacation! My cycling acquaintance Lauren Hefferon, a dynamo who runs Ciclismo Classico, has partnered with Colavita USA (“marketers of the #1 brand of Italian extra virgin olive oil“) to create a tour that coincides with Italy’s October olive harvest. Oh that sounds so awesome. The company is based in the Molise region, three hours southeast of Rome.
The sad truth is I won’t be joining them for the standard reasons: time and money. But you should consider it! Here’s info from the press release. As you can see, the tour includes other food fun, history, charming towns (unavoidable in Italy), and, oh yeah, cycling:
The journey starts with a ride to the tiny village of Pastena by way of Guasto and Paduli. On day two, early risers can search for Molise’s famed truffles with a local guide before pedaling to Pietrabbondante to explore ancient theater ruins and the Marinelli family’s renowned bell foundry, which has been producing church bells for over a thousand years.
Next, it’s pasta day! The group will ride to the Colavita pasta factory in Trivento for a tour – complete with samples of freshly made pasta. Yum. From there, it’s on to the medieval city of Campobasso.
Days four and five are all about olive oil – from harvest to production to tasting. Guests will experience Italy’s “green gold” as the tour makes its way through vast groves of olive trees. On day five, Enrico Colavita, the company’s president, will welcome the group to his family’s stone frantoio (olive crushing mill) where Colavita continues to produce extra virgin olive oil using traditional methods that date back thousands of years. Next, a tasting of the novello oil, freshly-pressed from the new harvest. That is too exciting!
On the last day of cycling, it’s on to the rolling landscape known as Italy’s “bread basket.” The group will pedal along fields of wheat, sunflowers, and olive trees before arriving at Cantine Cipressi, one of Molise’s most acclaimed wineries in the town of San Felice Del Molise. Departure is from Rome, another place to visit.
Departure dates are Oct. 8 and 18. Price? $3,700. And, no, it doesn’t include airfare, sillies. But I will tell you that Ciclismo Classico is a first-rate bike touring group. It specializes in but isn’t limited to Italy. In fact, this year the company is leading a Lofoten Island tour in Norway, which Wessel and I did on our own in 2008.
A few other words about founder/owner Lauren, who lives near Boston. Every year she and her elves put on the Jingle Ride, where cyclists donning holiday garb ride the streets of Boston. I did it when I lived there and had a blast. But my most memorable image of Lauren is when I passed her one day on the Minuteman Bikeway. I can’t remember if she was cycling or skating, but she was like nine months pregnant. Cracked me up. That’s Lauren. The woman does not stop, and she has worked so, so hard to keep her company going.
Please, readers, take this trip, write to me about it, and send me some olive oil!