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Big bicycle ride highlights upcoming Italian festival

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Gran Fondo is setting the stage for its third year in San Diego. The Italian "Big Ride" brings out more than 3,500 cyclists and thousands of spectators for the ride across the county.

Commencing under the Little Italy sign on April 10, cyclists will cross the finish line a few hours later at the County Administration Building.

To entertain spectators between the start and finish lines, Gran Fondo USA is also hosting "Piazza Gran Fondo." Event attendees can explore Italian cycling heritage and mingle with industry celebrities during a full weekend of gourmet Italian cuisine, music, wine, beer and entertainment on April 9 and 10.

For a schedule, visit granfondosandiego.com.

San Diego's Grand Del Mar resort has recently added to their list of outdoor activities with a 20,000-square-foot equestrian center which includes eight stalls, tack and feed rooms, an expansive riding area as well as eight trail horses and ponies.

For a cost, visitors can take advantage of trail rides, riding lessons, day camps for children, pony rides and more.

Jessica Odom, a skilled show jumper and seasoned horse trainer, oversees The Grand Del Mar's equestrian center and riding program.

Every April, the Italian city of Verona plays host to Vinitaly, Italy's premier wine trade show, now in its 45th year. On April 21, San Diego restaurant Toast will host a wine tasting festival, showcasing more than 40 award-winning wines that were honored just two weeks prior at Vinitaly 2011 in Verona.

Featured wines have scored the highest rating attainable on Gambero Rosso's yearly guide to Italian wine, equivalent to Wine Spectator's 97-point wines.

The event runs from 6-9 p.m. and costs $60, which includes wine tasting and appetizers.

RSVP by calling 619-269-4207.

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