The Italian Job
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2009 The Italian Job
From Amsterdam to Venice

The start of a journey from the North Sea to the Meditteranean, Summer 2009

Pinched by the credit crunch, with unemployment rising and in the midst of a global economic crisis, 2009 didn't look like a great time to go travelling. But the idea of sitting at home scrimping, saving and worrying about what we'd do if we lost our jobs wasn't going to make things better. And since we didn't have jobs anyway (at least that's how it feels when you're self employed) we figured we spent enough time each year worrying about that anyway. We know we can live about as cheaply on the road as at home so figured we'd have more fun getting away and trying to stimulate the economy than sitting at home sulking about it. And that's how we came to spend the summer 2009 doing our own version of The Italian Job; our mission simple: –to get to Italy by bike.

The kids at John O Groats
We're not exactly Michael Caine, but the spirit's the same!

We started from Newcastle, crossed the North Sea by ferry to begin our ride in a cyclists paradise, Amsterdam. From there it was south all the way, following great European rivers to try and keep things flat!. First the the Rhine, then the Main, Tauber, Lech and Inn, through Holland and Germany towards Austria. It's amazing how far you can go without meeting a hill. But then you hit the Alps. So we set ourselves a goal, to get up, over and into Italy, then to make the journey symmetrical by finishing as we started, in a great European city of canals, Venice.

Map of Cycle Route Amsterdam to Venice
Our route took us from one city of canals to another

Travelling as a family we let the kids set the pace; we knew they weren't going to be satisfied until they'd had ice cream in Italy. As always we weren't sure whether we could make it, with what we thought was 1600km to cover in six weeks on two tandems, pulling two trailers and with three kids 8 and under. But we planned to just keep going until we got sick of pizza, pasta and pannini or ran out of money.

It turned out to be a lot further than we thought (almost 2000km), the crashing pound made everything expensive but still we had another extraordinary ride. Follow the links below and you can get a virtual taste of this unusual family adventure from the comfort of your computer.

No bikes allowed at the other end. But we made it all the way.

We blogged everyday on the road so if you’d like to join in our virtual journey, why not take a look at our blogs. You can keep up with us these days on Twitter, subscribe to our blog or hook up with us on Facebook.

From this page you can read more about our journey from the blog postings we wrote as we rode across the UK on this pedal powered journey to meet everyday cycle heros.

You can also view our route, look at some pictures from the tour or even buy resources so you can do a similar tour yourself.


See and explore our route on Google Maps

View The Italian Job in a larger map

Let us inspire you with a talk about this trip

Like us to come talk with you about our musical adventure?
Download an outline of our talks here. Then contact us to set something up.

Our stories from the tour
(from our blog)

European Tour: a physical, cultural and linguistic family challenge, 19 June 2009, Home
Top 10 items for a family cycling tour, 22 June 2009, Home
In the grip: pre-trip gear anxiety, 6 July 2009, Home
The storm before the calm, 10 July 2009, Home

The language barrier, 19 July 2009, Maarsee
Getting into the rhythm of the road, 20 July 2009, Duisberg
Crossing the line, 21 July 2009, German border

8 things that make you feel small, 23 July 2009, Koln
Carry on up the Rhein, 23 July 2009
Four Cities in four days, 24 July 2009, Bonn
Ripples, 25 July 2009
10 things I like about Germany, 25 July 2009
Moment of Quiet, 27 July 2009
A word from Father Rhine, 28 July 2009
The Pleasures of Forbidden Fruit, 29 July 2009
Not Just Desserts, 30 July 2009, Frankfurt
Allo, Allo and the Mexican Tandem Wave, 31 July 2009
I have trousers I call Manchester, 3 August, Tauber Valley
I'm Swimming in the Rain, 3rd August 2009, Bestenheid
Stay calm, stay calm. OK now PANIC, 3rd August 2009, Weikersheim
Finding Romance on the Romantic Road, 8th August 2009, Rothenburg
Fate, fortune or fortitude, 9th August 2009, Augsburg
From the Doorway of a Launderette, 10th August 2009, Augsburg
One hump or two, 11th August 2009, Schongau
The Man who Loves Trees, 12th August, Via Claudia Augustus

What is the Opposite of Stone, 14th August 2009, Austrian Border
Garlic spam, is that all? 14th August 2009, Over the Austrian Border
It's only a hill stupid, 18th August 2009, Switzerland, then Austria again

Encounters with a tranny granny, 19th August 2009, Glorenza
The Fashionista, 20th August 2009, Merano
Little Italy, 22nd August 2009, Trento
The Waiting Game, 23rd August 2009, Cartigliano
It's not real, it's just a dolly, 24th August 2009
D&G vs Tesco's: the battle of the shades, 27th August 2009, Lido
Party time in Venice, 27th August 2009, Venice
Celebrity Square, 29th August 2009, Venice

The aftermath
Twitter while you Travel
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Take a look at some pictures on PicasaWeb



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