Jewish Journal


May 4, 2000

Pedaling Through the Past

Rob Paperno chose wheels over meals


Rob Paperno, whose paternal heritage goes back to Livorno, Italy, left the family restaurant business in Los Angeles seven years ago (remember the Oak Tree Deli in Encino?) to devote himself to the great passion of his life- a bicycling exploration of his Jewish heritage.

Since then he has developed bicycle tours of Tuscany, Italy, a region that has been a continuous home to Jews for 700 years; of Provence, where Jews have flourished since the time of the medieval popes; of the Czech Republic, where Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague created the Golem; and Mississippi, where Jews have been entrenched since the Civil War.

The series of innovative biking tours is developed by his Historical Cycling International, a recent entry in the growing field of Jewish-oriented travel services.

Each of the weeklong trips is limited to a dozen participants, accompanied by two experienced guides and a guest lecturer or historian. HCI provides 21-speed hybrid bicycles and a support van for each day's run, which varies from 15 to 40 miles. Participants of all cycling levels and abilities are welcome. Accommodations are in four- and five-star hotels, and meals are on a similarly high level, with emphasis on regional cooking.

HCI's tours for the rest of 2000 include the following:

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