Hannibal - Barcelona to Rome
Cycling on some of Europe's most iconic and picturesque bike touring routes through Spain, France and Italy; the Hannibal expedition has it all.
A modern day tour gives riders the chance to take up Hannibal’s trail in Barcelona, Sommieres, Costiglione Saluzzo or Garfagnana and ride 1, 2, 3 or 4 stages of this epic expedition.
The trail passes through some of the most beautiful cycling areas in Europe - Catalonia, Languedoc, Provence, Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria among others. It takes us over the Pyrenees, Alps and Apennines as we challenge ourselves on routes that feature regularly in the Vuelta, Tour and Giro.
We will sample the culinary delights on offer. We will also embrace the abundant cultural & historical elements of these areas as we meander our way down the road less travelled by modern day tourists, but once travelled by the Carthaginian general Hannibal.
Conceptualised by Sam Wood, archaeologist and documentary maker - 'On Hannibal's Trail' - and Dylan Reynolds, a bike guide who has lived in all 3 of the countries we travel through, the Hannibal Expedition is one of the world's great bike journeys.
Watch our latest video to get a taste of the Hannibal Expedition and please get in touch for more information.
The Itinerary for the Hannibal Expedition is split into 4 stages. Riders may participate in 1, 2, 3 or all 4 stages. For more information on each stage click on the links or images below. If you'd like to take on the entire Hannibal challenge choose the Epic!
Stage 1 - The Road less Travelled
Cycling Highlights: From the mountains of Montseny to the Mediterranean; Climb over the Pyrenees; Discover the beguiling region of the Languedoc; Overload your senses as we pedal through Provence.
Historical Highlights: Visit Barcelona, Gallic France, Cathar castles, Carcassonne, Cross the Rhone - How did Hannibal get his army and elephants across?
Gastronomic Highlights: Compare the respective merits of crema catalana and crème brûlée; Rustic simplicity of the Languedoc cuisine; Jamon Serrano; Cote du Rhone wines; Provencal tapenade; Afternoon Pastis.
Barcelona – Spain’s favourite city. Few visitors would know that according to legend, the name Barcelona comes from Hannibal’s family: the Barcas. Hamilcar, Hannibal’s father is thought to have founded the settlement. Barca in Hannibal’s language, Punic, means lightning which is a great omen for our upcoming ride!
Stage 1 takes us through classic cycling in Northern Spain and Southern France:
• Beautiful quiet roads and Spanish Pueblos in Catalonia home to many cycling teams.
• The quietest route over the Pyrenees where we can test our legs in preparation for the ride ahead.
• Beautiful Southern Gaul or what some may call France - Vineyards, classic towns such as Carcassonne, Olargue, Sommieres and Avignon.
• Languedoc, Provence and the Rhone which was one of Hannibal's greatest early obstacles.
• Historical sites such as Empuries, Pont du Gard, Cathar castles and Carcassonne.
• Stage 1 ends in Avignon seat of the Popes and one of Provence's most beautiful towns.
Stage 2 - Over the Alps
Cycling Highlights: Mont Ventoux; Traverse the Alps - Alpe d'Huez, Galibier. Izoard, Lautaret & Agnel. Hannibal's route over the Alps. The beautiful Langhe area of Piedmont.
Historical Highlights: Vaison la Romaine; The Gorges du Gats - Hannibal ambushed!; Chateau Queyras - Hannibal trapped! The route into Italy - choosing Hannibal's route over the Alps.
Gastronomic Highlights: Beaumes de Venise dessert wine; Chateauneuf du Pape ; Osso buco; White truffles from Alba; Barolo – King of Italian wines; Sisteron lamb; Porcini mushrooms; Piedmont - home of the Slow food movement.
Stage 2 of journey in the footsteps of Hannibal takes us on perhaps the most iconic leg of his journey – across the Alps. We won’t have 39 war elephants to provide us support but we will have our support vehicles to lend us a hand if you need it. Highlights of this journey include:
• The chance to climb Mont Ventoux, Alp D’Huez, Col Agnel and/or Col du Izoard (or none of them!) – classic climbs of the tour de France ridden by tour winners such as Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans, skirted by legends such as Hannibal!
• Classic Alpine pass riding – following Hannibal’s most likely route will not take us in a straight line but it will talk us through some of the most spectacular areas of the French Alps.
• A chance to follow Hannibal’s most likely route – one of the most debated parts of Hannibal’s journey is where he crossed the Alps – we give you a choice – trek or cycle Italy is the destination!
• Piedmont - arguably the country’s finest region for cycling and gastronomy
Stage 3 - The Italian's Italy
Cycling Highlights: Ride over the vine clad hills of the Monferrato; Challenge yourself on the spines of the Appennines in Emilia Romagna; Cross the Appenine mountain range; Cruise through beautiful medieval towns.
Hannibal Highlights: Trebbia – Hannibal’s first major battle on Italian soil; Crossing the Arno swamps.
Gastronomic Highlights: Pinched Peimontese ravioli - agnolotte del plin; The cured meats (affettati) of Emilia Romagna and the king of cheeses – Parmigiano Reggiano; Balsamic vinegar of Modena; The Florentine steak.
Stage 3 of the Hannibalic Odyssey takes us from Piedmont to Tuscany through some of Italy's most beautiful regions:
• Piedmont – The Italian's Italy - hilltowns, gastronomic delights, beautiful cycling.
• The Padana flatlands known as the bread basket of Italy where a number of Italy’s culinary jewels are found
• The Appenines – not the Pyrennes or Alps but a challenge none the less but with Tuscany and Umbira on the south side worth the effort!
• Hanniballic History - Arrival in Italy, Ticinus, Trebbia, Elephants and the beginning of an epic campaign.
Stage 4 - Classic Italy
Cycling Highlights: Explore the green heart of Italy – Umbria; Challenge yourself up the Medieval town ramps of Tuscany and Umbria; Roll along the picture postcard Chianti route.
Hannibal Highlights: Lake Trasimeno the site of one of Hannibal’s greatest victories; The Servian Walls in Rome, over which Hannibal launched a symbolic spear, the Arno swamps where Hannibal lost an eye.
Gastronomic Highlights:Wines of Brunello & Montepulciano; Pecorino cheese from Pienza; The Florentine steak; Black truffles of Norcia; lake fish of Bracciano.
Stage 4 takes us from the city of the iconic tower across Tuscany and down through Umbria and Lazio on our way to Rome:
• Renaissance Italy on the road less travelled meandering our way through Tuscany and Umbria.
• Lazio provides us with our final Italian canvas, the prominence of Roman heritage increasing as we make our way towards Rome.
• Hanniballic History - Trasimene, Arno Swamps and Rome.
Please get in touch for a full Itinerary which includes everything about Stage 4 of the Hannibal Expedition.
Epic - Barcelona to Rome!
Highlights! If you want to challenge yourself and ride the best of Spain, France and Italy, whilst experiencing the culture, history and gastronomy of the areas through which we ride, then this is the tour for you. Cycling on some of Europe's most iconic and picturesque bike touring routes the Hannibal expedition has it all. If you are up for riding from Spain to Italy through Catalonia, the Pyrenees, Provence, the Alps, Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria then this is for you! This will be a challenging ride but the cycling, historical and gastronomic highlights are spectacular!
Ride from Barcelona to Rome over the Pyrennes, Alps and Apennines in the footsteps of one of Antiquities greatest leaders. This is no tour around the countryside, this is a 2300km ride through 3 countries! This Epic takes arguably the greatest cycling areas in Europe.
• Girona - thought to be the best touring cycling in Spain
• The Pyrenees - A serious mountain chain always a feature in the Tour de France
• Provence - classic French cycling and cuisine
• The Alps - Ventoux, Alp d'huez anyone? Crossing this mountain chain is something few cyclists will ever do.
• Piedmont - The Italians Italy - great food, wine and rolling italian countryside.
• The Apennines - The spine of Italy - they may seem minimal after the two biggest mountain chains in Europe but beautiful challenging riding none the less.
• Tuscany - Perhaps the no. 1 cycling destination in the world.
• Umbria - Rougher than its western cousin Tuscany but home to beautiful hilltowns and fantastic cycling.
If you do one Epic expedition tour in your life then this is it.
|Stage||Start Date 2015||End Date 2015||Days||Distance||Cost (Euros)|
|1. The Road less Travelled
Barcelona to Mazan
|5 September||12 September||8 (7 nights)||658 km (411 miles)||€2295|
|2. Over the Alps
Mazan to Alba
|12 September||19 September||8 (7 nights)||599 km (374 miles)||€2295|
|3. The Italian's Italy
Alba to Pisa
|19 September||26 September||8 (7 nights)||622 km (389 miles)||€2295|
|4. Classic Italy
Pisa to Rome
|26 September||2 October||7 (6 nights)||590 km (369 miles)||€1995|
|Epic! - Barcelona to Rome||5 September||2 October||28 (27 nights)||2529 km (1581 miles)||€8095|
We take in three different regions as we travel from Barcelona in Spain to the charming town of Mazan. Barcelona is the capital city of the fiercely independent state of Catalunya that has become increasingly associated with fine gastronomy in recent years. The world famous El Bulli restaurant (chef Ferran Adrià ),rated by the Michelin guide as the world’s best a record 5 times, bears testament to this. The next region we pass through is the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. A strong Spanish influence can be found in this region and you will see a lighter style of eating (less creamy rich sauces) than in the north of France. Languedoc cuisine relies heavily on local produce: olive oil, tomato sauces, herbs from the wild garrigue landscapes of the region such as thyme, rosemary and sorrel. Locals take eating seriously with meals often taking hours and including several courses. Provence is next on the itinerary with a wealth of seafood based dishes and local specialities. Olives are grown in the area and some high quality olive oil is produced in this region. With a strong Italian and Spanish influence the cuisine of Provence has a distinctive flair that sets it apart from more classic French fare. Blessed with an abundance of natural ingredients that flourish in the region, Provence is unsurpassed for the freshness of its produce and variety of its dishes.
We continue our journey through Provence as we head up towards the Alps in the north of the region – Alpes de Haute Provence. This sprawling area is crossed by the river Durance which is a fruit growing region, however, the cuisine in general is far more filling and heavy which will give you more fuel for climbing by bike. Based on butter rather than olive oil it is characterized by wild herbs, spelt and goat produce. Perhaps the best known product of the area though is the lamb from Sisteron which features in many local recipes. After climbing the Alps we descend into Italy and some great new culinary experiences.We enter Italy through the Piedmont region to discover the home of the “Slow Food” movement, Barolo wine, white truffles and nutella. Arguably Italy’s most culinary progressive region we delight in the symphony between tradition bound cooking and a burgeoning new wave gastronomic scene. For a more detailed overview check out our Piedmont tour page.
We continue our journey through Piedmont and in to Emilia Romagna. This region truly is a gastronomic treasure trove with local delicacies including Parmigiano Reggiano- arguably the cheese of which Italians are most proud, Balsamic Vinegar and Proscuitto de Parma. As stage 3 continues we next find ourselves in picturesque Tuscany. Simplicity is the key to Tuscan cuisine with dishes based on top quality ingredients including legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables and fresh fruit. The delicious Tuscan soup called ribolitta will refuel you at the end of a long day with its ingredients of bread, cannellini beans and vegetables. For more detailed information on Tuscan cuisine visit our Tuscan tour page.
From Tuscnany we then pass into Umbria where the renown Norcia black truffles are found. Other produce includes fresh ricotta, delicious pecorino cheese and high quality olive oils from the Trevi area. For main meals expect Strangozzi pasta and perhaps even suckling pig. Visit our Umbrian tour page for some more detailed information on Umbrian Cuisine. Our journey is coming to an end as we enter the Lazio region and in to Rome. There is a predominance of pork in dishes in Lazio including as an ingredient in pasta sauces or roasted (porchetta). Other typical dishes to look out for are Carciofi alla giudea (lightly fried artichokes), fiori di zucca (stuffed zucchini flowers) and baccala (deep fried salted cod).
Trip Difficulty / Espresso Grading
Stage 1 - Barcelona to Mazan - The Road less Travelled
Stage 2 - Mazan to Alba - Over the Alps
Stage 3 -Alba to Pisa - The Italian's Italy
Stage 4 - Pisa to Rome - Classic Italy
Frequently Asked Questions
I will either find a way, or make one.Hannibal
Hannibal Barca is one of the greatest military commanders of all time. As a leader of the ancient superpower, Carthage, he waged a lifelong war against the Romans and nearly destroyed them. And yet, today we know very little about Hannibal or his people: the Carthaginians. What we do remember is one of his amazing feats: to fight the Romans on their own turf, Hannibal led an army that included nearly forty elephants, over the frozen mountain tops of the Alps and into Italy.
That achievement, leading the largest land animal over one of the biggest mountain chains, was just part of an incredible journey that took Hannibal and his force of sixty thousand men from southern Spain, through France, into Italy via the Alps and finally, over the sea and back to the now Tunisian city of Carthage. For Hannibal Barca this was a very personal conflict - a family affair. As a boy he'd sworn to his father Hamilcar that he would fight Rome to the death and his top generals were his two brothers, Hasdrubal and Mago. Their struggle was the main event during the biggest and bloodiest conflict of ancient times, the century long Punic Wars (264-146 BC). With Hannibal as commander, it really looked as if Carthage was going to win. European civilisation came so close to being something very different – Rome-free,and yet Rome totally dominates our imagination when we think about the ancient world. When Hannibal lived, things were very different.
Our Expedition Tour reading lists are aimed at being accessible to everyone - all the books are historical but there is fiction, primary authors and serious historians so take your pick! As always if you want any more information or more recomendations please contact us
Possibly the most comprehensive history of Hannibal's War.Serge Lancel Hannibal
An excellent and accessible history of Hannibal and his legacy.Dexter Hoyos Hannibal's Dynasty
The most trusted primary source, written by a Greek General who talked to veterans of the Hannibalic Wars.Polybius The Histories
An entertaining and easy read. Cottrell follows much of Hannibal's route in a campervan!Leonard Cottrell Hannibal: Enemy Of Rome
Excellent historical fiction by this best selling author.Ben Kane Hannibal
Authentic primary source. Livy was a Roman who wrote about 100 years after the Hanniballic War. All modern histories are based on his and Polybius' works.Livy The War with Hannibal
Felix Lowe, Guardian journalist and Author rode Hannibal with us in 2013. This entertaining encounter brings in cycling history, Hanniballic history and all the adventures on the road.Felix Lowe Climbs and Punishment
Sam and Dylan had obviously put a lot of time and effort into researching and organising the Hannibal Epic. The detail in the planning is obvious from the start and resulted in a magnificent experience every day. The hotels, restaurants, routes, lunch stops including several picnics, coffee breaks and extras such as wine tastings and farmhouse meals were superb. An added feature of their tours is the historical aspect which was regularly explained to us in regard to our location. I feel very lucky to have found this tour and to have been able to participate as it was challenging, unforgettable and a great opportunity to meet other like minded cyclists and create new friendships. It was hard coming home after such a unique experience. Thank you Sam and Dylan.Kay Jacob
Ride and Seek certainly do more than just take you from A to B. They take you to C, D, E, F and just about every other letter of the alphabet. The 25 days I spent on the road with Sam and Dylan was the best month I have had in my life. To be able to travel through Spain, France and Italy, and to see, do, eat and enjoy so much, was a real privilege. Sam and Dylan eliminate any stress that may come with such a huge undertaking. Really, all you have to do is keep pedalling and not lose control of your bike when you pinch yourself to check you are not actually dreaming.Felix Lowe
Sam and Dylan are both great guys, but as a team they are simply unmatched. All the bases are covered, everything you need has already been thought of, they have been there, done it themselves and that experience shines through. The riding know how and guidance is invaluable and the knowledge of the region and its history second to none, these guys are the best!John Keppel
A spectacular, challenging, exquisite , unforgettable experience. When you ride and seek you wil hit the bed each night knowing you are truly alive and you have experienced something very special.Luke Naish
Although I am only a fairly new cyclist, Ride and Seek gave me the opportunity to take on some of the most famous and challenging routes while feeling in control and well taken care of. Ride and Seek give you everything you need to enjoy your cycling holiday worry free. The routes, the accommodation, the support. Set off every day knowing that they have prepared a stunning experience, but left you the ability to choose your own adventure. Ride and Seek showed me everything I love about Europe and gave me new things to love about cycling.David Griffiths
What an event, exceeded my expectations in a big way, Dylan was an absolute professional, great communicator, the tour ran smoothly, nothing seemed too much effort for the boys.James Earnegy
I thoroughly enjoyed my week with Ride and Seek following in the footsteps of Hannibal. The stage 2 route was well-conceived to provide a variety of terrain and riding. The meals and accommodation were a highlight which enhanced the joy and challenges of the days on the bike. Sam, Dylan and James were thoughtful and supportive guides and great hosts. I hope I get the chance ride with them again.John Neil
The Ride and Seek Hannibal tour exceeded our expectations. The riding was fabulous, the regional food and wine were amazing. The organisation was seamless. This was the trip of a lifetime, only I am pretty sure we will be doing it again.Francesca Boase
Challenging, but thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Great riding, scenery, food, wine, company.and support from the guys at Ride and Seek. Would highly recommend for any rider thinking of a European cycling tour.Phil Roche
It is a rare thing to experience something that changes your perspective on life permanently, even more rare when that something is a choice, and not a challenge that life has forced upon you.
In 2012, the Hannibal Tour, led by Dylan and Sam at Ride and Seek, did just that, it changed my perspective on life. I started the tour with very high expectations, to see the best of Europe, to make friends, to challenge myself physically. What it achieved was well beyond this. The Hannibal Tour covered some of the most extraordinary landscape I will ever see, including times when I truly was on top of the world. Meeting the physical challenge of 26 days of cycling when I have never in my life before been a cyclist has left me with an incredible belief that anything is possible in life. I have made lifelong friends from across the globe. On this tour, I felt more alive than I had since I was a kid. We all laughed hard, ate and drank like kings, and at the top of the Alps I cried with joy. And all this, from the seat of a bicycle.
Dylan and Sam did a faultless job running the tour from the hotels to the food, the support, the hire bikes and the incredible history of Hannibal along the way, I cannot imagine how it could have been executed any better. They were both professional, dedicated, friendly and supportive. Their experience shone through and is their greatest asset.
I already have my next Ride-and-Seek tour planned, and it won’t be the last.Jason Langer
To go on a trip that has congruency with the challenge of the ride -the epic and the history, gastronomy, the culture, the landscapes and to provide such intelligent support is amazing . I loved it, felt challenged, gave myself to the whole experience and have no criticisms, just grateful to Ride and Seek for a marvellous trip.Bernadette Redfern
Hannibal Barca, the wily Carthaginian General, was a fine strategist and leader. His attempt to conquer Rome by taking war elephants across the Alps was a real feat. If you wish to ride across the Alps, in fine style, without the support of war elephants, then you should sign up with Ride & Seek. They are great operators and their tour is first class. Roddy Johnson, Dubai, UAERoddy Johnson
This was by far the most fun I have had on a bike. It was a pretty stern physical test for me, and thus perfect. I eyed off the van once or twice but never had to get in it. Lovely places and lovely routes that you would never find by yourself, and all fully supported.Ted Robinson
The guides, Dylan & Sam, on the Hannibal Expedition 2012 were excellent.
Both are excellent organisers, who think ahead, and are always looking to make the best possible experience for the riders, wether this be making sure the bikes are in top condition, or the picnics lunch is in “the spot”, or the evening meal is an experience to remember. They are happy to answer to questions on the route, and change things as weather or circumstance require. Sam’s historical knowledge and has willingness to share this knowledge really added to the trip.
I am very much looking forward to riding with either or both of them again.
The Hannibal Expedition has been the major riding highlight of my 20-year riding career. The scenery, food wine and accommodation were something I have no hesitation in recommending. For me, the greatest plus was achieving the challenge the Hannibal Expedition thoughtfully crafted route provides. Plenty of personal challenge, in beautiful and historic countries, with almost no traffic. What more could you ask for.Stephen Seymour
Ride & Seek, fantastic adventure, really well organized, every detail considered. The highlights would be the routes and food along the wayAndrew Colgan
Ride and Seek operated a sleek tour over some of the best riding roads I never knew existed. Clearly their experience has been built over a number of years. The cultural aspects (food, wine and history) provided an interesting backdrop to a sensational ride across the alps.Jeff Sapier
The Stages at-a-glance
Choose from any of our 4 one week stages or take the entire epic journey!
- Trip Difficulty
- Advanced - 100 km / 60 miles per day
- Stage 1 - Barcelona to Mazan
- Length: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Distance: 658 km (411 miles)
- Stage 2 - Mazan to Alba
- Length: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Distance: 599 km (374 miles)
- Stage 3 - Alba to Pisa
- Length: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Distance: 622 km (389 miles)
- Stage 4 - Pisa to Rome
- Length: 7 Days / 6 Nights
Distance: 590 km (369 miles)
- Epic! Barcelona to Rome
- Length: 28 days / 27 nights
Distance: 2469 km (1543 miles)