Non Riding Partners Testimonials

A lady walking in the Dolomites

A 5 star experience for a non rider

A 5 star experience for a non rider

Nancy and Damian have crafted a bespoke, authentic Italian experience which totally exceeded my expectations.

As a non rider I enjoyed guided hikes in the wonderful towns and surrounding areas. Nancy uses local guides who are passionate about their home town and incredibly informative. We experienced the beauty of the Dolomites on foot, visited a cheese farm near Bergamo and met some of the wonderful people living their daily life.

Taking the funicular to the top of Mount Baldo showed me some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. The mountains of Lake Garda smack you in the face with their beauty. Seeing 50 paragliders jump off Mount Baldo with their colourful shutes to drift over Lake Garda was amazing.

We explored local lakeside towns via the ferry and enjoyed hearty (and healthy) lunches as a small friendly group of non riders. Nancy speaks the language fluently and aims to meet individually curiosities. She’s been doing this for 8 years so she knows where to go and who to speak to 

Nancy and Damian have a chillax approach but you know everything is under control and the groups’ needs are considered. This sets a comfortable tone for the entire trip.

As someone who is GF, I really appreciated the great variety and tasty food throughout the entire tour – I never felt like I was missing out on authentic Italian cuisine.

Group activities with the riders included wine and olive oil tasting (so good!) and cheering on the cyclists in the Giro d’Italia during the tour. Even as a non rider, you couldn’t help but get swept up in the excitement of this international cycling event.

The quality and variety of the accommodation was excellent from a 14th century converted townhouse overlooking the cobbled streets of Bergamo to a modern lakeside boutique hotel in Lake Garda and our personal favourite, the chalet in Cortina – a colourful Arthouse chalet that punches colour and oozes cool everywhere you look.

We researched lots of companies before deciding on A’qto. This tour offers the best of both worlds. While we enjoyed the excitement of the Giro, we also experienced the different regions of Italy through carefully considered planning of meals, accommodation, transfers and all non riding activities.

For non riders, you’ll need to feel comfortable in small groups, happy to meet new people and enjoy walking. This is not the tour for individuals who aren’t team players and don’t want to share the lived experience and cultures of the Italian people. I was lucky to be with a group of non riders who embraced all that Nancy had on offer and together we created special memories.

We don’t usually go on tours, but this one gets a 10/10 rating – all the decisions are made for you and you realise that what Nancy and Damian have in store for you is exactly what you would have planned – only better.

Belinda D

Authentic is the word that best describes this trip

Authentic is the word that best describes this trip for me. I felt I experienced a genuine view of Puglia Italy – many layers beyond what tourists generally see. Thanks to Nancy and Damian for offering such a wonderful tour.

I chose this tour for its non-riding activities, hoping I would enjoy going along with my husband on his cycling tour. I’m so happy I did. We have visited Italy and other European countries in the past. This highly curated tour was the ultimate experience of a region. We had the most amazing accommodations, delicious native meals and true cultural experiences.

We stayed in lovely rooms in converted abbeys and palaces located right in the heart of the old town, and beautiful country masserie. It would be hard to find these accommodations through general online searching. This is an example of how the many hours spent by Nancy and Damian to find the best of everything around the cycling routes is very obvious.

Evening dinners were a highlight of the day – great conversation of the day’s events with the entire group, Nancy, Damian, and their wonderful ride team expert cyclists, Sergio and Sylvia. The food was amazing… authentic Puglian specialty dishes with many courses of antipasto, fresh fish, local vegetables, excellent drinks, wine, and desserts.

Daily non-riding tours were phenomenal. Nancy requested our interest in activities prior to the tour. We then enjoyed the best small group guides of Trulli in Alberobello, Tuk tuk tour of Ostuni, Orecchiette making/delicious dinner with Nonna Anna and her family on their farm, hiking, and many other wonderful activities. With Nancy’s Italian heritage and language, it was like having a fun, Italian cousin guiding you through all the very best her country could offer throughout the entire day. Nancy showed us the more genuine experiences of the region, not just the top tourist spots. Touring with someone who understands the language, people, and the region gives you freedom to go beyond English speaking tourist spots with ease. Priceless!

Already trying to figure out which A’qto trip we can do next.

Chris K

A woman hiking on an Italian cycling tour

Authentic Italian experiences in beautiful locations

The Como, Stelvio & Dolomites Tour visits some really stunning locations that offer some great opportunities for day trips and hiking on the Non-riding Partners Tour. The hotels and evening meals throughout the tour were also lovely. At the time of our tour, Lake Como was inundated with tourists – the fast ferry was out of action, the regular ferry and bus services were not coping with the extra pressure and a large tour company had bought up all of the tickets to Villa Balbianello.

Nancy worked really hard against this challenging background to re-arrange our itinerary so that we could still enjoy some of the real gems of Lake Como (Villa Balbianello included!)  before heading off to explore the Alps and the Dolomites. The morning spent  at the Ladin family cheese factory in the Dolomites was a real highlight of the trip, a fascinating insight into a very different way of life and an opportunity to see first-hand the skill and dedication required to produce these artisan cheeses.

This is not the tour for you if you are looking for a slow-paced leisurely holiday – but if you enjoy walking and want to experience some really authentic Italian experiences in beautiful locations, it could be just right for you.

Rachel W

Two people at a prosecco wine tasting in Italy

an absolute treat....

We recently returned home from A’qto’s inaugural 10 day Tour of Sicily with Damian and Nancy – what an absolute treat. As with our previous A’qto experience in the Dolomites several years ago, this adventure was exceptionally well researched and planned by Nancy and Damian, who, as always, put their hearts and souls into ensuring that every aspect of the trip is truly memorable. From the delightful boutique accommodation, extraordinary food and wine opportunities, to the fascinating cultural and local experiences for the nonriders. The question is how do they find those little lunch venues, up a side lane without any signage, in a village with two residents, in the middle of nowhere!

Whilst Dave was expending all his energy on the road with the other cyclists, we nonriders shared a plethora of amazing experiences – hiking in national parks and up Mt Etna, wandering around medieval villages soaking up the atmosphere, wine and food tastings and experiences (wine, olive oil, pasta and chocolate), and archeological and cultural tours – many of them with exceptional guides to complement Nancy’s knowledge. Though I can’t personally write on the cycling component of the trip, from all accounts Damian (and the team) provided an equally excellent experience.

As well as truly satisfying our individual interests Nancy and Damian provided us with a wonderful introduction to Sicily and all it has to offer. An additional and very enjoyable bonus was to meet other likeminded travelers to share this journey with. Congratulations Nancy and Damian and our heartfelt thanks.

Viv and Dave

A lady at the top of a hill near Lake Ga

Loved the mega 5 star ‘wine and dine’ experience.

I recently undertook the Giro Tour 2023 as a non riding partner and was thrilled with the variety of experiences and the fantastic support throughout the tour. Loved the mega 5 star ‘wine and dine’ experience every night as well. Being a regular hiker I found the forest and mountain trail walks perfect for me. Thank you Nancy!

Maria W

highly recommend the Tour of Tuscany

A thoroughly enjoyable trip both for the cyclist and non-cyclist. A great small group adventure with like minded participants and very supportive hosts. Nancy and Damian have done a great job in crafting this experience and we can highly recommend the Tour of Tuscany. Based on this experience I have no doubt their other tours are equally brilliant.

Elizabeth L


“Thanks again for a lovely experience. I just thought I’d give you my feedback and comparison after doing a tour straight after yours.

I enjoyed the A’QTO tour so much more.

The hotels were better.

The meals were better.

The smaller group was much nicer.

The non-rider program existed and was really lovely. (It existed on the other tour but it was basically following the riders around)

The rides started from the accommodation.

You and Damian really organised us and looked after us well and made us feel special. (On the other tour they didn’t really “host” their guests anywhere near as well as you guys do.)”


Tour of Como, Stelvio & Dolomites 2022


Having waited two years for Covid to ‘end’ we were very excited to head to Italy on the Como, Stelvio, Dolmites tour.  We’d previously joined Damian & Nancy on a tour in Bright, Victoria so we knew the level of professionalism and dedication they are all about.

Italy was magical from the spectacular scenic cycle routes to the thoroughly delicious meals each night at carefully selected restaurants.  The cuisine is a truly memorable part of the tour bringing the group together reminiscing about the days events.

We stayed in stunning accommodation again carefully selected.

The non cycle program is fabulous and Nancy goes the extra mile to make sure you feel part of the tour experience.  Excursions included guided tours & visits to iconic sites, amazing hikes (so you can justify the amount of food you’re eating that night!) a cheese making experience and of course some shopping.

We were lucky to have our 21 year old son join us on this tour and he thoroughly enjoyed the challenging climbs and descents and the camaraderie of the group.  Matteo & Stefano the two assistants on tour add to the dynamics of the A’qto group.

Damian & Nancy are true professionals passionate in what they do to give you the most unforgettable experience.

We can’t wait to do more tours in the future.

The Stirlings

Tour of Como, Stelvio & Dolomites 2022


My daughter(Jenny) and I enjoyed ourselves very much. I was the non-riding partner.

On the tour my days included: pleasant walks, interesting & varied tours, and in the evenings great food & wine, and much laughter.

The cooking lesson with Andrea & Ruth at their home was literally a day to remember. We ate what we made and drank beautiful wine. 

The whole tour left me smiling everyday with the memories.

Rosemary V

another fantastic A’qto tour

Having just completed another fantastic A’qto tour, I would recommend it if your partner rides and you don’t. The daily activities were varied, interesting and highlighted the region’s local culture and environment. Nancy and Damian are excellent hosts who know how to give their guests the optimal Italian holiday experience on and off a bike. 

Mary F

A lifetime of many wonderful memories!

As a non -rider on the recent Puglia tour I was thrilled with the rich variety of experiences with Nancy. I especially appreciated the active walks to new places off the beaten track and my enjoyment was greatly enhanced by Nancy’s enthusiasm, experience and local knowledge. 

I can heartily recommend non- rider participation in this tour. It exceeded my expectations. A lifetime of many wonderful memories!

Anita N

A man and woman at a prosecco tasting in the Veneto


We were very excited about our trip to the Dolomites and Prosecco Road with A’qto in July, 2019. We had high expectations, but with Nancy and Damien’s enthusiasm, professionalism  and attention to detail the whole journey far exceeded those and made the trip truly memorable.  Mauro and Andre, our local guides added to our feeling of being cared for. It was the total  Italian experience – cultural, gastronomic and the cycling and hiking mountain way of life. They catered perfectly to the various idiosyncrasies within the group and if an issue arose or something had to be quickly changed due to unforeseen circumstances they found the solution calmly and promptly.

We would highly recommend A’qto to anyone contemplating a cycling tour to Italy, and especially those with a non-cycling partner who normally wouldn’t be included in such an adventure. Our best wishes to Nancy and Damien and their team for the continuing success of A’qto Cycling.

Vivien & David

A man and a woman sitting in a piazza in Tuscany


We signed up to do the Tuscany tour for a friend’s 50th birthday.  Karen was not a rider so the non-riding element of the tour was quite important to us. 

In the months leading up to the tour Damian and Nancy were in regular contact. Damian with training advice and ensuring he had all the information necessary to equip me with the right gear (which was of a very good quality) and Nancy to discuss the types of activities and experiences Karen wished to do as a non-rider.

The trip itself was excellent and it was a truly great experience.  

The cycling routes were well thought out, the cycling support was great, the scenery breathtaking, the accommodation hosts so welcoming, and the food magnificent. Karen enjoyed the non-riding side of the tour so much she’s eyeing off our next tour!

Damian and Nancy clearly put a lot of time and thought into their tours and it certainly shows in the quality of the product. We would thoroughly recommend A’qto Cycling to anyone wanting to do a European cycling trip. 

Sean & Karen

A man relaxing in a boat off Otranto


I was a non-cycling partner on the A’qto Tour of Puglia and was left wanting more; so sad to part ways with a great group of people that Nancy and Damian assembled to share their knowledge of this wonderful area. Each day Nancy unveiled a different experience for us from a cheese making factory to a 3 hour forest walk, culminating in a cooling off swim in the beautiful clear ocean.

Each night we were treated like royalty with pre-dinner drinks to culinary delights that would please the most discerning palette, accompanied by tasty wines from the local area. Everything ran smoothly and more than met my expectation as a non peddler.

I can highly recommend this fantastic experience, thanks Nancy and Damian.


A lady sitting in front of a blue door


Picturesque destinations.
Delicious local foods.
Quality local wines.
Fantastic and unique accommodation.
Interesting and varied regional activities, giving a great insight into local culture.

This is what I have experienced as a non rider with A’qto Italian riding holidays on the recent tour of Puglia and also on previous Tuscany and Giro tours.

Special thanks to Nancy and Damian for creating such memorable holidays


A man and woman watching the sun set over the Tuscan hills


Rod is a keen Cyclist – I’m not.

He has talked about doing a cycling tour of Italy (I wasn’t that keen as – what was I going to do?) He had liked an A’qto cycling Facebook post, I saw this and downloaded the itinerary (as I have always wanted to go to Italy).
I was impressed!!

I placed it on his computer at work with a sticky note saying “Choose tour and date and I will book”.

Welcome Tuscany!!
We incorporated the bike ride with an extended holiday in Italy and to say the Tuscany part with A’qto Cycling was the best part was an understatement.

Damien had chosen rides that were challenging but rewarding and achievable with great back up support. Nancy had tours and days that catered for all the non riding partners in the group and we were totally immersed in what Tuscany had to offer. Their attention to detail and thought in choosing Local menus, wines and accommodation locations (even massages) is what made it so memorable for us

We are already choosing dates for our next A’qto tour.

Meg & Rod

A couple of spectators at the Giro d'Italia in Como


Italy is a wonderful country to visit. The Giro d’ Italia Tour organised by A’quto Cycling made our recent visit unforgettable. From our initial contact with Damian and Nancy we had full confidence that this would be a tour to long remember.

Every aspect of the tour was well organised so all we had to do was enjoy each day.  From communication with us prior to departure, bike hire and adjustments for each rider, checking into our very comfortable hotels, communication with all participants to arrange the daily events and departure from venues, everyone was kept well informed of what was happening, when and how. If there was a need to be flexible with plans, Nancy and Damian adjusted them to meet the needs of all participants, weather conditions or time constraints. If there were problems behind the scenes, these were never obvious and everything ran smoothly and enthusiastically.

Mention must also be made of the excellent way Damian and Nancy catered for a gluten free diet, both when riding and all meals on the tour. The small size of the tour group also provided the opportunity to get to know and enjoy the friendship of others.

Nine days of outstanding bike rides, fantastic and varied non rider activities, great food, wine and amazing scenery ensured everyone had a brilliant time. Watching, cheering and enjoying the Giro certainly added to the Italian experience.

Thanks Damian, Nancy and your very efficient and capable staff for an amazing nine days. We hope to be back in Italy again next year for more great rides, interesting Italian experiences, wonderful friendships and lots of fun. Your personal touch set you aside from other tour groups and makes a trip with A’qto Cycling Tours a unique and memorable experience.

Greg & Fran

A lady in the snow in the Dolomites


Thank you to the A’qto team for a wonderful tour. Nancy looked after the non riding partners so beautifully. She was a delightful companion. In each area Nancy listened to our suggestions, offered her own suggestions, expertise and local knowledge then took us on guided sight seeing tours and scenic walks which were most enjoyable. Our accommodations were excellent and the included meals absolutely delicious! The tour exceeded my expectations. We will definitely book with A’qto again.

Marianne P

A lady hiking in the Dolomites


My husband Michael and I went on the A’qto Giro Tour. It was part of a five week holiday in Europe, and it was by far the best part of our trip. Michael, a keen cyclist, has always wanted to participate in a cycling tour in Italy and on hearing about the A’qto trip that coincided with the 100th year of the Giro, thought it would be a good year to go.

I initially thought I would meet Michael after the tour, until I found out I could participate as a non rider. I want to reassure all non riding partners, you can go on a bike riding holiday and have a fantastic time.

I felt part of the group, whether I was travelling in the support van enjoying the fantastic scenery and being amazed at the climbs the riders were achieving, or enjoying the non-rider activities such as treks in the countryside with Nancy.

Nancy and Damian put a lot of research into sourcing restaurants that emphasise local produce and quality local wines. The food we enjoyed was excellent ranging from aperitivo, to pizza, to five course banquets.

Thank you, Nancy and Damian for a wonderful trip that has left me with many fond memories and unique experiences.

Mary F

A lady at a chocolate tasting in Piemonte


What an amazing time I had in Italy. As a non-riding partner I really didn’t know how my holiday was going to turn out. Even though you made contact with me a few weeks before the trip, it was impossible to really know. As it happened, my expectations were well and truly exceeded.
The accommodation was wonderful and the activities you arranged were just fantastic. I would never organise these things for myself and they just opened me up to different experiences.

The truffle hunt was the most memorable, the cooking class was just complete fun, the chocolate tasting was lovely, made even better with the young chocolatier telling us his life’s journey and the beautiful guide we had through Monforte and Alba was a delight. Our walk through the vineyards was also fun. Finding fruit trees along the way and encountering local workers happy for a chat was great.

Coming together with the riders every evening meant that we could share our stories. I think they were just a little jealous of us. Nancy, you really made my non-riding experience a joy. People connect so much with you, your own Italian heritage and your wonderful personality.
Thanks again for a life-affirming experience.

Lydia JP

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