We arrived at the train station in Riccione, where we were picked up by staff of The Belvedere Hotel. After a welcome glass of Prosecco on the patio near the sparkling blue pool, we joined the cyclists who had come in from a hard days ride, for the daily afternoon buffet of grilled vegetables, seafood salad, a variety of pastas, assorted breads and desert. After settling into our room, we joined other guests in the lobby bar for drinks and to see photos of the days adventures. Another huge buffet was spread! The food is simple yet delicious…the Italian way. Pasta, heated cheeses, grilled vegetables and meats. It’s a good thing we are doing lots of cycling! The staff are all cheerful and relaxed yet very professional.

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Day 2 began with another large meal and a chance to burn it off. We joined the explorer group at the civilized hour of 9:30 and cyled about 80k at an average speed of 22-25k. Of course that doesn’t take into account the small mountains we were climbing. It was a challenging pace through beautiful countryside and mostly quiet roads and ending with a ride along the coast on a bike path. We stopped for a wonderrful coffee on the waters edge next to a little park. Our guides were Philipo and Peter who hails from Vancouver. Canadians dominate this hotel. We were back around 3pm for our afternoon buffet. Changing quickly, we headed off on a market excursion that took us to a historical castle offering stunning views over the quilted Italian fields. There were stalls offering local cheeses, salami’s, crafts, jewelry,etc, and in the square was a band dressed in black and red. The lead singer was belting out popular songs from the ’70’s like Abba. We found an Enotecca with a 400 year old cellar. The properietor, showed us around,cheerfully exptaining the atmosphere that maintains the wines. After sampling the wines we headed back to the hotel for more food!

Day 3 was similar. We chose the panoramic tour,at a lower speed for a more relaxing day. Again, the scenery was stunning. We cycled to another castle where we enjoyed gelato. After cycling and more food,we decided to take advantage of the include spa. Start with a walk through the wading hot and cold pools; sit in the sauna for a while. Take a cooling shower with scents of tropical fruits; open your pores in the eucalyptus steam room; float in the salt pond with a starry ceiling above; chilled in the cold shower and rub yourself with ice. Finally relax on a chaise lounge with a cup of herbal tea. Then we were treated to a Spanish night with tapas, sangria and paella cooked in front of us on the pool deck! We had 2 Italian guides; one full of life and the other fairly quiet.

Day 4 we upped the ante and joined the explorers again. More stunning scenery with a great guide, Stefano. The hote l owners hosted us for a bbq at their villa in the hills nearby; a beautiful spot with a spiectacular view. The guides marched through with a roast suckling pig on a plank between them. Later we were served Limoncillo from Sicilia. When we got back to the hotel, we tried the cold pool, learned how to make spinach gnocchi and took a long stroll along the beach.
Photos to come.

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