Frank Turner and his wife, Julie, took to two wheels for an easy-going journey through a beautiful region

IT was hard to say goodbye to No 8, my trusty two-wheel companion. For five days we were pretty much inseparable, exploring the glorious surroundings of Italy's beautiful Veneto region by pedal power.

So when it came to parting, it was tough to say farewell to my steel steed. For No 8 (imaginatively named by me for the identification sticker on the handlebars) helped provide one of the most memorable holidays I have had.

My cycling days had terminated in early teenage years, but taking to the saddle once again in late middle age proved an absolute revelation.

I've driven through some of the most beautiful areas of Europe, without ever realising what I was missing. The two-wheel experience proved a most marvellous eye-opener for myself and Mrs T, a similar cycling returnee.

It was all the more enjoyable thanks to Headwater, a travel company specialising in cycling and walking holidays made easy.

You travel light – just panniers for water bottles and daily bits-and-bobs – as Headwater ensures your luggage is moved on from each night’s accommodation along your route, and each section proved an untesting distance, around 25 miles each day.

So dear reader, pull on the Lycra and join us on our two-wheel adventure.

Day 1: FREEDOM time Cortela to Galzignano Terme We stay the previous night at Il Feudo at Cortela, a farmhouse B&B with simple yet comfortable accommodation and pleasing, rustic food. Then the big moment – time to saddle up and set out, guided by our map, provided by the company.

The weather is pleasantly balmy and the morning is spent mainly on cycleways by the network of picturesque canals, our first taste of two-wheel holidaying proving liberating. Why haven’t we done this before?

Lunch is at Este, a busy little town in full market day mode. We eat in a pretty, bustling restaurant where our salads are large, lovely and great value at about seven euro apiece.

Soon we are at pretty Galzignano Terme and our hotel, the smart, three-star Albergo Belvedere. There awaits a nice room, with a charming little terrace boasting a tinkling water feature, and a delightful evening meal.

Day 2: HERE COMES THE BRIDE To Teolo After a good breakfast we take to rural lanes. But, approaching the little town of Montegrotto, our map-reading skills desert us and we are led in by an aged local on a bike, after stopping him to confirm directions. ‘It’s not a metropolis’, he laughs, as we part with handshakes and ‘grazie milles’. He's right. But the beer which follows is cold and the town bright and pleasant.

We enjoy a great lunch at a posh trattoria (staff unfazed by our cycling attire) in the countryside where we watch a wedding party in the grounds. All white marquees, gazebos and smart guests, it's a wonderful slice of life observed.

Soon we're at the lovely Villa Lussana in Teolo ... a grand bedroom with splendid views, crisp linen, and an evening meal including penne arabiatta, steak and panacotta.

Day 3: FINE FARM FARE To Cortegnano Bags of wildlife to see, including hoopoe birds in flight. Lunch at a pretty roadside restaurant is herb salad with bacon and potato gnocchi and mushrooms for 10 euro. Also a half-bottle of white wine ... well, we are on holiday!

At Cortegnano we are warmly welcomed to Agriturismo L’Albara, excellent farmhouse accommodation that is to be the base for the rest of our stay. It’s a delightful spot and facilities include a large swimming pool.

The meals here are delicious, our first one consisting of antipasti, tagliatelle with peas and tasty roast chicken with green beans and salad, plus a great cheeseboard with lovely fresh bread. We sample the farm’s own merlot and grappa.

Day 4: GOING TO TOWN Cortegnano to Vicenza We see many other cyclists en route, most returning our salute. Vicenza turns out to be beautiful, with imposing Palladian architecture. Lunch at Tardis-like restaurant, appearing small outside but with bags of interesting space inside. Gnoccetti and pizza, small carafe of red wine and water plus coffee all at bargain price of nine euro.

We browse the shops and admire the buildings. Some bits are like Venice, with handsome bridges over canals. The evening meal at L’Albara is mozzarella and tomato with focaccia, pasta with courgettes, and steak with melanzane, followed by cheese and fruit for dessert.

Day 5: PERFECT PLATEFULS Cortegnano to Ponte de Cozza We decide to revisit part of Day 3’s route. P de C has a bar that used to be the village ice house, circular and domed inside. We have coffee there, among the village oldies who are paying attention to the village wine at 10am.

We stop for a break at Trattoria Al Sole, which, at first sight, doesn’t look much more than a bar but is in fact a swish restaurant with blissful food.

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms, followed by thinly sliced medallions of beef accompanied by peas and some veg. Across the table, Mrs T was enjoying bacalao purée, presented like scoops of ice cream. All delicious with a bottle of Merlot for 18 euro that is the best wine of the trip.

Replete, we pedal back to L’Albara along traffic-free lanes to laze by the pool. Evening meal is antipasti, rice broth with turkey and wild hen washed down with Merlot.

Next morning it’s time to say farewell to No 8 as the charming and helpful lady from Headwater whisks us to Vicenza station by minibus and it's back to real life.

Headwater holidays – the company offers many lovely destinations for cycling and walking – are all about getting under the skin of the place you are visiting and travelling through the countryside at your own pace, discovering so much as you go. Ours turned into something of a gastronomic tour, but that's the beauty of this kind of holiday – you can make it your own.

Fact file: Frank and Julie Turner travelled to the Veneto with Headwater, flying Jet2 from Manchester airport. more information at Bookings on 01606 828566.