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France or Italy??(21 posts)

France or Italy??dustin73
Aug 7, 2001 11:07 PM
i'm planning a trip to one of those two, and can't decide where i want to go...and while i'm there, i hope to build a bike. anyone been to either, or have any advise? and does either have more of a cycling presence than the other? it's going to be during the summer, so i Figure france will be buzzing 'cause of the Tour...

or would this generally be a bad idea...i hope to make it about a 2 month endevor, if not longer.
re: France or Italy??davidl
Aug 8, 2001 3:56 AM
I've been wanting to go to Italy and say hello to Andy Hampsten and ride one of his bike tours. You might be able to pick up a pretty decent bike in Italy.
re: France or Italy??Mike Prince
Aug 8, 2001 4:23 AM
I'm going to Tuscany in October and can't wait. I would bring a bike so that I could spend more time riding and less shopping and assembling, although if you're staying for 2 months I guess that's less of a concern. I'm only going for a week.

You will pay a lot less for Italian components and frames over there, especially when you get the VAT waived/refunded. I would find a reputable "pro" shop in one of the major cities and just buy a complete high-end bike. I would think that you could get a top Italian frame with Chorus or Record already assembled for a song compared to what US prices are. I live in England (I am from the US on a work assignment here) and have seen Chorus groups advertised for below $750 mail order. Shimano is the expensive stuff over here.

I've heard good things about France too as many more people from the UK go there rather than Italy just due to proximity and cost of travel. Both have plenty of mountains and tons of country roads to ride on. What a dilemma you have!

Have fun.
Say hello to Andy for me ! [nm]davidl
Aug 8, 2001 5:38 AM
Have you been to Italy before?Jiggy
Aug 8, 2001 6:08 AM
Toscana in Ottobre could be dicey- Fall is the rainiest time of year and mornings may border on cold. OTOH, tourist traffic will be down and with the change in season things become more formal. My experience is that frames and Campy components are marginally cheaper in Italy, and as was previously mentioned most shops do not carry a large stock and what they have on hand is often older stuff. However, there are a few very large shops here and there. Clothes are the real bargains over there, even better if you can get to a mfger or warehouse. This is from my experience of 6 trips throughout northern Italy and visits to dozens of different shops.
Have you been to Italy before?Mike Prince
Aug 8, 2001 6:33 AM
No, this is my first time. Not too worried about the weather as I am used to rain rides here in the UK. At this point it looks like my wife is going to win the bike debate and I will be bikeless for the week. Not too big of a deal as we are bringing our 5-year old twins and my parents with us, so riding time will be in short supply anyway.

However, I will be on the lookout for some clothing while we are there. A new pair of SIDI's sounds good...

My experience is that Italy is a far moreLive Steam
Aug 8, 2001 4:23 AM
American tourist friendly place! Italy also has more to see in the way of historical sites, art, architecture and the food is wonderful. France has all of this too, but from the Romans through the Renaissance, Italy has more.
only one problem with francenm
Aug 8, 2001 6:46 AM
there are french people there
Well you seem to be making my point for me. The Italians areLive Steam
Aug 8, 2001 8:17 AM
more laid back and tolerant of tourists. I know this is a generalization and I have had nice experiences in France. But, there is something about the Italian way - afternoon siestas pretty much let you know what pace they choose to live life at.
reading mat'l for you....ebh123
Aug 8, 2001 5:21 AM
I'm researching my next bike and found this site. The author visited Italy (a couple times I think) and had bikes built for him from Cologna and DeRosa. Interesting reading.........
Aug 8, 2001 5:57 AM
Both have great countrysides, beaches and mountains. France has the Alps and the Pyrenees and Italia has the Alps, Dolomites and the Appenines. Not much difference in the Italian Riviera and the French Riviera.

From a cycling perspective, it's a wash, IMO. You won't be dissapointed no matter where you choose to cycle.

Italian food tends to be more palatible than French, but this is purely subjective.

As far as purchasing a bike or a frame, there are more Italian frame builders than French. Plus, Italia has Campy. Make sure you get your VAT tax back. Being a non-EU citizen, you're entitled to it and you'd be foolish not to. So if you intend to purchased a complete bike, Italia has the edge, IMO.

Edge goes to Italia and this is coming from an Italian.
One more thingmmaggi
Aug 8, 2001 7:34 AM
If you really want to purchase a frame, look into visiting Alberto Masi at the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan, Gianni Casati in Monza (, Pegoretti Cicli ( and Carrera.

Fantastic, custom built frames are available and you would be the only one who has one once you return to the USA.
MMaggi, questions...Jiggy
Aug 8, 2001 8:19 AM
Where is the entrance to Masi? Last time I was there I could only find a boxing gym.

Also, know anything about Atala in Padova? I want a frameset, but there's no US importer/distributor and they don't respond to e-mails.
Masi Locationzelig
Aug 10, 2001 10:12 AM
Its on Via Arona, towards the Piazza Carlo Magno end. I was just in Milano for two weeks and didn't make it over after seeing him in May. Just as well as he's probably on holiday as the Milanese all left town last week for 2-4 weeks.
Aug 8, 2001 7:02 AM
I have this plan where in a few years, I'll quit my job and find some part time thing where I can go over to Europe every year and ride my bike for two or three months. If you have the opportunity to do this, do it!

I love France--I lived there for a year. But I always think of Italy as a more beautiful and colorful country. If you are there for two months, I'm sure you can make your way into France at some point.

My advice would be to avoid the major cities when possible. Do the tourist thing if you must--see Florence, Venice, Rome, etc., but the small towns are where you will meet real Italians and eat real Italian food. You might need to know some basic Italian, but with two months, you'll learn enough to get by.

Don't miss Florence. It is the most amazing place in Italy. Venice is a sight to see, but you'll find few Italians there! It is so touristy it is almost pathetic. Spend a day walking around, then get out! Rome is a big city, and it always felt dirty to me because of the smog and exhaust fumes. But who knows, maybe you'll meet a princess there who snuck out of the palace to see the city. (Sorry, I'm an Audrey Hepburn fan). One other place to go is Pompeii, which is outside Naples.

Keep in mind that August is the hottest month in Europe, and it gets hot and humid. October seems to be the most beautiful month, but it is cold, and usually the first snow comes. Spring, in northern France at least, is wet. It seemed to rain every day while I was there, although usually just a drizzle and then it was gone.

Go for it.
re: France or Italy??Lazy
Aug 8, 2001 7:04 AM
I say Italy for a bike. Here's what I would do:

Before going over there, do some research on Italian builders. Narrow the choice down to 2 or 3 and go visit them. Once there, choose the one you like the best and have them build you a bike.

I did this and ended up with a Carrera. Very nice bike, and less than 1 Carrera on the road for every 25,000 TREKS you see, which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

Here's another thing: if you get your bike near the beginning of your trip ride it around a bunch. Then, it'll be used when you bring it back and you won't have to pay import tax or anything. What I did was have a friend who lived in Italy ship it to me. I saved a ton of money.

The most important thing is to enjoy the process. It's fun. Italy is gorgeous. If you're going to be there for 2 months, you will have time to check out a significant portion of the continent. Don't limit yourself to one country.

Perfect trip IMO: Go to Italy and order bike. Hop on train to France to watch TdF. Go back to Italy to get bike. Ride in Italy for a few days. Get back on train and hit Spain for a bit, maybe Portugal, Netherlands, etc...

Man, I'm jealous. You're gonna love it!
re: France or Italy??Hank
Aug 8, 2001 8:16 AM
I'd go wherever you have stronger language skills. I've done quite a bit of riding in Italay (used to live there, visit frequently with my bike) and it's great. I'd bail on the idea of buying a bike there if you actually want to ride -- too much hassle, and you may not be able to find what you want on short notice. Have fun.
a dumb question...dustin73
Aug 8, 2001 8:36 AM
ok, this might sound dumb, but can y'all give me some italian builders, please? i don't know if Pinarello or Merckx are, but the Prince and the Team SC are the two bikes atop my wish list. i'm thinking that most "exotic" frames are italian...and for those that have gone over there, what travel agency/airliner/and such did y'all use?

oh, and what would i be looking at spending on a high end complete bike with Chorus or Record? i hoping it'll be like maybe $500 less than here in the states...
Here's a site for you.Lazy
Aug 8, 2001 10:18 AM

If you end up going in, ask for Frank, he's one of the founders. He speaks English and will fit you and talk with you about what you want. At least he did for me.
definately go italianfuzzybunnies
Aug 8, 2001 7:17 PM
Been to both places, found the italians to be very friendly and easy to communicate with, though the ones on the dig I was on were a little lazy they were fairly easy going. Couldn't stand the french. The country was nice but I found the people to be rude and obnoxious, and yes I do speak french so I'm not the typical tourist that's portrayed as an overbearing @$$hole. If you go to Italy go to milan, as someone already mentioned they have masi as well as de rosa and colnago. Can also make the quick jump from there over to venice. It's a quick ferry ride from there to greece where the riding along the north coast of the peloppones(SP?) is lovely. You can ride the highway from Patras to Athens in a single day, shoulder is hugh,bikes are allowed on, cars will stop for you at the off ramps, and it's down hill the whole way with no major climb. Than spend 3-4 days cruising the small coastal roads getting back, camp grounds are plentiful and only 2-4 dollars. TTFN
Either one, just go.Starliner
Aug 8, 2001 8:12 PM
I lived in between in Geneva for two years a while back and visited both I and F many times. Either way you go will be a great experience. It all depends on what you want, and with which culture you feel most comfortable with.

I love the south of France from Bordeaux all the way across to the Cote d'Azur. St. Tropez, Nice are real cool places with a lot of climbing opportunities for cycling and a lot of skin for beachside sightseeing. The Italian Riviera coast down to Genoa is also hilly yet more rugged and backwater-like than the French Riviera, alas with less eye candy than in France.

I like the French, but I prefer Italians because I feel more at home with their passionate ways. Plus I like their cheap wine and love their food. It's a country split between the north and the south. You might feel safer in the more industrialized north than in the more rural south.

Paris is a wonderful, beautiful city. But it is located in a big flat region so if you base there you'd best settle for flatland rides. Down in Bordeaux you've got world famous wine country and the Pyrenees and Spain nearby.

I'll tell you what - Geneva is a great place to go for the summer, except for the police-state mentality of its citizens. Drop dead gorgeous scenery, lots of climbing opportunities with the Jura mountains and the nearby Alps (not far from Alp de'Huez), and very safe and secure. You'd be spending much of your time riding in France, because Geneva is a border town, with a lot of beautiful day rides to take. And Italy is about an hour or two away depending on how fast you drive.

Me? I'd hang out in Florence and Bologna and spread out from there.