CYCLING AND MOUNTAIN BIKING
Italians are passionate cyclists and there are a number of clubs for every age and fitness level. For road cycling or racing, consider joining a cycling team. Teams are usually sponsored by local bike shops, which is the best place to inquire. There are weekly races from the beginning of February through the end of October. Bittone, Leopardi and DLF are a few cycling clubs that ride a bit less competitively and keep a leisurely pace. For racing schedules and events, check the UISP site www.uisp.it/ciclismo. UISP also organizes a series of group bike rides called cicloraduni with a pre-planned route and food stops along the way each week from early March to the end of October. Another cycling association is UDACE – Unione degli Amatori Ciclismo Europeo (European Cycling Lovers Union). Their website, www.udace.it , provides detailed information on racing and cycling on the regional, national and international levels. One of the biggest annual races is the rigorous Diecicolli (ten hills), held the first weekend in May: www.diecicolli.it. If you are looking to build a serious road or mountain bike, some bike shop recommendations include:
via Matteotti 1
viale Lenin 4/a
Get to know Velostazione Dynamo (www.dynamo.bo.it/velostation-dynamo-bike-services-bologna), a local community project under Parco Montagnola, where you can hire bikes by the day or half-day, buy bikes and accessories, and get bikes repaired. They also offer guided and self-guided bike tours. Located near Bologna Centrale station and next to the bus station, as well as in the University district (Via Petroni 22/A), the Velostazione is a good place to safely deposit bikes and luggage for those who want to visit the centre on foot.
If you simply want to go for a relaxing ride through the centre, get the Mobike app and hop on one of those orange bikes that seem to be everywhere. The app allows you to find the nearest available bicycle and to leave it wherever it’s most convenient to you, without having to worry about it being stolen.
For information on mountain biking in the Apennines, check out www.appenninica-mtb.com.
Below is a selection of Bologna’s mountain biking clubs:
Monte Sole Bike Group
This non-competitive cycling club offers weekly group rides (mostly off-road/mtb) as well as weekend and week-long excursions.
Ciclovia del Sole (www.cicloviadelsole.it), a brand new bicycle route almost 50 km-long and connecting Bologna and Mirandola, was inaugurated in April 2021. It is part of the EU’s Velo7 Sun Route (www.eurovelo.com/ev7) which will run from the North Pole to the Mediterranean. It is built on the old railway lines and promises to be very scenic and suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
SOCCER AND CALCETTO
The Italian zeal for cycling is matched only by their mania for calcio (soccer). Pick-up games are always going on in Giardini Margherita. Another popular year-round sport is calcetto, played outdoors or indoors with five players on a smaller field about the size of a basketball court. UISP organizes amateur leagues for both calcio and calcetto. Some teams are pretty serious, with sponsors, annual championships and attendance requirements. Others are more low-key. For more information see the UISP website: www.uisp.it/bologna/calcio
Bologna has a number of tennis clubs, most of which are open to the public with a court fee that is higher in the winter for covered, heated or lit courts. Some clubs offer summer activities and programs for children. Tennis enthusiasts looking for ranking tournaments should check out the regional committee of FIT – Federazione Italiana Tennis (Italian Tennis Federation) at www.fitcrer.it. The FIT site also lists all the tennis clubs and schools and in the city and province.
RUNNING AND WALKING
Since the early ‘70s, runners and walkers in the province of Bologna have been organizing camminate, community events that attract podisti (runners/walkers) of all ages and abilities. On a typical Sunday morning you will find hundreds and sometimes thousands of these enthusiasts along the week’s delineated routes – usually 3, 6, 12 or 15 km with a number of half-marathons each year.
In addition to individuals, local running clubs, known as club podistici or polisportive, are also present at the events, some with close to 200 members. Benefits of joining a club include meeting Italians who share your interest as well as a guarded team tent where you can keep your personal belongings during the event.
In order to participate in a camminata, you should have a medical certificate or an athletic tessera obtained through UISP. A minimal participation fee includes a ristoro (rest stop) along the route and at the finish line. Participants also go home with a prize each week such as a bag of pasta or coffee, even a turkey leg!
In the fall and winter these events are held in the pianura (plains) and begin at 9:00. When the weather heats up, the events move to the hills and start at 8:30. Allow yourself plenty of travel and parking time. A schedule may be found on the website of the Polisportiva San Rafèl, the first club founded in Bologna in 1975: www.sanrafel.com.
For running or walking on your own in the city, see this chapter under ‘Green Spaces.’ The bicycle path that runs from the Certosa cemetery out to Parco Talon is a nice flat run, while the walkway up to San Luca makes for a steep climb. For a more gradual descent, take Via Casaglia down. Serious runners who like the challenge of a long hilly run should try the roads that lead upward on the southwestern side of town.
TREKKING AND HIKING
If you prefer walking to running, Trekking Italia (www.trekkingitalia.org/emilia-romagna) and Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) (www.caibo.it) organise group outings of varying lengths throughout Italy as well as in other countries. For both organisations, members pay an annual subscription and a fee for each trek they do. The outings can be half-day walks in Bologna or the hills and pianura just outside; all-day hikes farther afield; and overnight tours. All are led by knowledgeable experts who share their knowledge of landscape, nature and history with groups of enthusiastic walkers. The outings are a good way to discover new, interesting places, as well as to get to know some friendly people.
Associazione Vitruvio (www.vitruvio.emr.it) organises guided tours that focus on the long, fascinating history of Bologna and its traditions. Many of their activities, including ‘urban rafting’ on the Reno, are oriented towards families.
Contact Bologna’s spelunker group for information about courses for beginners and trips for seasoned explorers.
Gruppo Speleologico Bolognese
Cassero di Porta Lame
Piazza VII Novembre 1944 7
Thursdays after 21
You can arrive at two ski areas in the Apennines east of Bologna in less than two hours. While the snowfall is somewhat unpredictable, these small ski areas offer varied terrain and are great for a day or weekend of skiing. They are also accessible by train.
Located 80 km from Bologna in the Appennino Modenese.
Lifts can be accessed in Fanano, Sestola, Montecreto and Riolunato.
When the piste are closed to skiiers, downhill mountain bikers use many of the same routes. See www.cimonebikepark.com for more information.
Corno alle Scale
Located 68 km from Bologna in the Appennino Bolognese
Lifts are accessed about 10 km from Lizzano in Belvedere.