I’d always been intrigued by the history of the Camino de Santiago—the centuries-old European trail through France and Spain blazed by religious pilgrims since before the Crusades. So when friends invited me to travel its Spanish leg with them last August, I couldn’t refuse. On foot, this stretch takes up to 30 days to complete, but we opted for a ten-day bike tour organized by the Italian company Progetto Avventura (from $2,400 a person; progettoavventura.com). Led by two exceptional guides, Willy Mulonía and Francesco Mazzei, our journey started in Roncesvalles, in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, at the charming Hostal La Posada (rooms, from $80; N-135 Calle Única; laposadaderoncesvalles.com). From there we began our regimen of daily 50-mile rides through the Basque and La Rijoa regions, stopping at cities like León, Burgos and Astorga—home of another personal favorite, Hotel Gaudí (rooms, from $160; Plaza del Ingeniero Eduardo Castro 6; 34-933/179-032; gaudihotel.es). Our meals were often taken at local trattorias that offered authentic food and ideal spots from which to observe village life. The thrill of reaching our final destination of Santiago de Compostala was matched only by that of checking in to the luxurious Hostal Dos Reis Católicos (rooms, from $215; Plaza do Obradoiro 1; 34-981/582-200; parador.es), where, after biking 528 miles, I had the best shower of the whole trip.
While no stranger to the saddle, Ferragamo, chairman of Ferragamo USA, trained extensively for this trip and suggests that prospective modern pilgrims take ample time to physically prepare.