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Mountains of Cilento Bike Challenge

 
Mountains of Cilento Bike Challenge
Grade
Comfort level
6 days road cycling tour - bases in hotels & agriturismo’s
 


Overview

Mountains of Cilento Bike Challenge

Undiscovered cultural heritage and abundant nature in a pristine landscape

The region of Campania has been known as a paradise on earth from ancient times on. The Greeks built some of their most impressive temples here and under the Romans it became known as ‘Campania Felix’ or the Happy Land. When travelling the region, one becomes overwhelmed by its wealth of cultural and natural attractions, from the great city of Naples to the well-known ‘Costiera Amalfitana’, with its towering cliffs and picturesque coves.

But Campania’s real secret is located south of Salerno. Here the coastline bulges out into an expanse of mountainous landmass known as the Cilento, now one of Italy’s biggest National Parks, with World Heritage listing. This is an area offering endless possibilities to the road cyclist, amateur and well trained semi-professional alike. Few flat areas, mainly concentrated along the coast, immediately make way for rolling hilly country punctuated by several low mountains. This makes for an interesting ride, where challenging climbs and exhilarating descents follow up at a breath taking pace.
We will cycle along world famous cultural sites, through pristine natural areas and along dreamy coastal scenery. Our trip will take us on small country roads passing through rough mountain scenery as well as through attractive countryside, with vineyards and olive groves. We’ll visit some of the nicest medieval villages of the area, where the traditional way of life is still evident. And we’ll enjoy visiting some of the Cilento’s greatest cultural treasures, like the archaeological sites of Paestum and Velia and the ruins of the abandoned 18th century town centre of Roscigno Vecchia. All linked together by great well paved and quiet roads, ideal for cycling.

After a short visit to the Greek temples, the first day we will move inland from the plain of Paestum, cycling through the Cilento’s foot hills offering wide views on its marvellous coast line. We’ll pass through Trentinara, spectacularly located on top of a sheer rock cliff, pass through the valley of the Calore River and climb the high plateau of the Alburni Mountains. The next couple of days we will explore the mountainous inland of the region, descending into the Diano valley and climbing up the Cervati Mountains before arriving at the Cilento South Coast dominated by Mount Bulgheria. Here we will enjoy marvellous views, launch ourselves in exhilarating descents and ride through deep gorges, before heading inland towards the ‘piece de resistance’ of our tour, taking on Mount Gelbison (1700 m a.s.l.). During the last day of our tour we will shortly visit the Greek city of Velia and then tackle Mount Stella, passing through several of the villages dotting its slopes, before turning back to Agropoli and Paestum.

Please note: this is a hard tour even to road cycling standards, for which extensive experience with road cycling and a very good general physical condition are necessary to make your travel experience enjoyable. Average cycling times: approx. 6-8 hours each day.

Day-to-Day

Genius Loci Travel Walking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Trekking Italy Tour holiday

Day 0 Naples (or Salerno)
Arrival in Naples (or Salerno) in case you arrive a day earlier.
Naples has an international airport. From Rome (and many other cities) Naples and Salerno can easily be reached. There are regular AV (High-Speed), Eurostar and Intercity trains: travel time by High-Speed train: about one hour; cost around € 40,00, by IC-train: about two hours; cost around € 20,00; by normal, regional trains the cost is about 11 euro, and it takes almost 3 hours. Several hotels can be booked in Naples and Salerno, according to your wish (either ‘downtown’ centrally located, or near the harbour or train station, ranging from 3 to 5-star).

N.B. If you arrive one day earlier you have the possibility to pay a visit to the world famous archaeological museum in Naples, where all the artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum are exposed, and/or the equally wonderful Capodimonte museum. Also is it possible to make a day trip to Pompeii.

Day 1 Arrival – Paestum (Capaccio)
After your arrival at Capaccio you head for the hotel and get settled in. In case you did not bring your own bicycle, you will go pick up your rental bike. The short trip back to your hotel takes you along the temples and city walls of Greek Paestum. Alternatively you can go for a short ride in the countryside or head down to the beach for a quick dip.  In the afternoon we will meet with our tour guide and the rest of the group. Together we have an ‘aperitivo’, and we’ll attend a short briefing on the tour. In the evening we join all together for our first dinner.

Hotel in Paestum – HB

Day 2 From Paestum to Bellosguardo – Climbing up the Alburni mountains
Before taking off for our first day’s cycling trip, we take our time for a short visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Paestum and its famous Greek temples. After our visit we are ready to saddle up and start our cycling adventure. From the archaeological area of Paestum located in the plain of the Sele River, we head in direction of the foot hills of the Cilento area, passing first through Capaccio and then up to the village of Trentinara. This small village is spectacularly located on top of a sheer rock face at 550 m a.s.l. from where we enjoy a magnificent view on the Paestum plain. It then goes on to the village of Monteforte Cilento  where we halt to fill up our water bottles or why not, have a cup of coffee or a cappuccino,  before tackling the climb of the saddle, located at 900 m a.s.l. between Mount Chianello and Mount Vesole. A quick descent then takes us to Roccadaspide and past the valley of the Calore River to Controne, our gate to the Alburni Mountains. We now start slowly climbing up again under the mountain’s sheer cliffs, in direction of the Diano Valley, first to Sicignano degli Alburni with its imposing castle, and then through thick chestnut groves to Petina located at 690 m a.s.l. Here we have a break before launching ourselves into the hardest climb of this day, leading over a small steep road full of hairpin curves snaking up to the Alburni plateau. It is a 7 km and 600 m climb in the midst of thick chestnut and beech forest up to the Aresta astronomical observatory located at almost 1200 m a.s.l.! During the climb we can admire the whole of the Diano Valley underneath. From the Aresta observatory a long exhilarating descent brings us first to the little town of Sant’Angelo a Fasanella and then to our evenings’ base at our lovely family run agriturismo near the panoramic village of Bellosguardo. After our shower up we can relax on our terrace while sipping an aperitif, taking in the wonderful view over the agriturismo’s vine yards, before eating a well-deserved dinner.

Distance : 107 km – Altitude gain : 2500 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 6 hours
Agriturismo in Bellosguardo – HB

Day 3 From Bellosguardo to Bosco – Down to the Diano Valley and up the Cervati Mountains
Today’s trip will takes us down into the Diano Valley and then up again on the slopes of the Cervati mountains before arriving in our hotel in the small village of Bosco high above the southern coast of the Cilento. After breakfast we leave Bellosguardo and head in direction of Corleto Monforte. From Corleto, situated at 600 m a.s.l. we climb up to the ‘Passo della Sentinella’ at 900 m a.s.l., after which we enjoy a swift descent to the villages of San Rufo and San Pietro al Tanagro in the Diano Valley. In front of us we can now the first mountains of the Basilicata region. We now head over the largely flat valley floor to the fortified city of Teggiano, squatting down high on its hill top and then start climbing up the first tough climb of our day. A 13 km climb takes us up from the valley floor near Teggiano (450 m a.s.l.) to the ‘Sella di Corticato’ pass located at 1023 m a.s.l.! From the pass we then swiftly descend towards the village of Sacco, located directly underneath several high limestone cliffs. Here we halt and have a look at the old town centre, before moving on along the slopes of the Cervati Mountains, the very heart of the Cilento. We pay a short visit to the abandoned village of Roscigno Vecchia, the ‘Pompeii of the 19th century’, after which our route takes us to the village of Piaggine. It then goes on up again for the second hard climb of the day which in 13 km takes us from 600 m a.s.l. to 1200 m a.s.l., all the while riding over small quiet roads through cultivated fields and wild forests, often for times on an end without meeting any traffic. Unnecessary to say that after the strenuous climb, we are fully entitled to an exhilarating descent, taking us to the village of Rofrano first, and along Alfano and Torre Orsaia over a highly panoramic road to the hamlet of Roccagloriosa, clinging to a rocky hill in the midst of the valley floor. At the end of the day a gentle climb takes us to the little village of Bosco, situated underneath the high rocky cliffs of Mount Bulgheria, where we are expected at our typical, family run hotel.

Distance : 126 km – Altitude gain : 2500 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 7 hours
Hotel in Bosco – HB

Day 4 From Bosco to Ceraso – Around Mount Bulgheria and up to Mount Gelbison
Today’s trip takes us from our hotel at Bosco to one of the Cilento’s giants, Mount Gelbison, and then to the charming village of Ceraso, our base for the night. After leaving in the morning we first climb up gently to the village of San Giovanni a Piro, located high above the Gulf of Policastro, and then whiz down along the highly panoramic road full of hairpin curves to Marina di Camerota. After a short pause on the village square where we can enjoy a cup of coffee or a cappuccino, we start climbing up to the village of Camerota, built on a rocky hill on top of steep vertical limestone cliffs. After visiting the well preserved historical centre, we head to the hamlet of Licusati and then launch ourselves in a fast descent on a highly scenic road leading down to the Mingardo Valley. After passing through the rivers’ gorge, dominated by the medieval castle and abandoned village of San Severino, we turn inland towards Vallo della Lucania, passing by Futani and Cucaro Vetere. A long and steady climb takes us into the foot hills of Mount Gelbison to the scenic village of Novi Velia. Here we halt for a short break before tackling the hardest climb of our whole tour, from the village of Novi Velia to the Maria Sanctuary situated on the very top of the mountain. The well paved road leading up measures 13 km long, and climbs up from the village’s 600 m a.s.l. to the sanctuary’s 1700 m a.s.l.! After gaining the summit we halt for a well-deserved rest and enjoy the 360° view of the surroundings. We can easily see the Cervati and Alburni Mountains, Mount Bulgheria and closer to the sea Mount Stella, our goal for tomorrow. After a refreshing drink we head back to Novi Velia, enjoying the exhilarating descent of the mountain, and then continue to Ceraso. After a short stop to visit to the splendid historical centre of the little town, we arrive at our agriturismo. A hot shower followed by an ‘aperitivo’ on the terrace with a view, and a hearty dinner based on the farm’s own produce, is what we need to regain our strengths.

Distance : 105 km – Altitude gain : 2625 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 6,5 hours
Agriturismo in Ceraso – HB

Day 5 From Ceraso to Paestum – Up and around Mount Stella
After an early breakfast, we start our last cycling day with a wonderful stretch running slightly downhill towards Marina di Ascea. Here we have the opportunity to shortly visit the Greek city of Velia, home to the philosophers Zeno and Parmenides, and cradle of one of Europe’s most ancient schools of medicine. Amongst its remains one finds the celebrated ‘Porta Rosa’ (Pink Gate), one of the first examples of the use of the vault in Greek architecture. From Velia we start climbing up the foot hills of Mount Stella, first to Acquavella and then on to Stella Cilento and Omignano, where we prepare for the last hard climb of our challenge. Here from an altitude of 550 m a.s.l. starts the 6 km long winding road that will take us up to the summit of Monte Stella situated at 1130 m a.s.l. On top a wonderful view of the whole of the Cilento Coast is our reward. After whizzing down the same road again, we continue through the foot hills of the mountain, passing through several of the small quiet villages dotting its slopes. While circling Mount Stella in anti-clockwise direction we pass through Sessa Cilento, Serramezzana and San Mauro Cilento, cycling up and down and down and up again through the rolling hill country. Surely we will halt for a coffee or cappuccino and admire some of the villages’ well preserved medieval centres. From San Mauro we then descend towards the coast again and turn north along the panoramic coast road in direction of Agropoli and Paestum. Before making our way into the Sele plain, however, we will once more climb up towards Perdifumo at 450 m a.s.l. From here we then reach the fortified village of Castellabate where we halt underneath the local ‘castello’ to admire the view of the Tresino and Licosa peninsulas in front of us. Only a few km now divide us from Agropoli, where we may pause to have a look at the medieval ‘acropolis’ from which the city takes its name. After a last refreshing drink, an easy road then takes us to our hotel in Paestum again. After arriving and freshening up, we may stroll by the Greek temples in the evening, going out for a pre-dinner aperitif, or an after dinner ‘gelato’.

Distance : 121 km –Altitude gain : 2400 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 7 hours
Hotel in Paestum – HB

Day 6 End of the tour
The tour ends in Paestum after breakfast today. A private transfer can take you to the local train station form where Salerno and Naples are easily reached. A taxi transfer to other destinations can be arranged on request.

Tour details

Genius Loci Travel Walking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Trekking Italy Tour holiday

ACCOMMODATION & MEALS

All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic hotels or agriturismo’s (generally 3-star). All rooms have en-suite facilities.

Dinners are included on all nights.

No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation holders, or materials for picnics can be purchased in the villages where we will be passing through.

Night 1: The first night is spent in a beautifully located 3-star hotel, just outside the archaeological area of Paestum. The hotel lays its own park and is within walking distances of the Greek temples.

N.B. For those who bring their own bikes, travelling by car, it is possible to leave your car on the premises of the first hotel in Paestum for the duration of the whole tour.

Night 2: This night is spent in a wonderfully located agriturismo situated near the village of Bellosguardo in the Alburni foot hills. Breakfast and dinner are based on local specialties.

Night 3: Tonight we stay in a nice 3-star hotel in the little village of Bosco, beautifully located under the rocky cliffs of Mount Bulgheria.

Night 4: This night is spent in a peaceful agriturismo in Ceraso, offering a taste of peaceful country life.

Night 5: The last night is spent again in the hotel at Paestum.

INCLUSIONS

On our GUIDED TOURS we include almost everything:

•    Private English speaking tour leader for 6 days
•    Professional guiding service for each activity
•    Accommodation: 2 nights Paestum, 1 night Bellosguardo,  1 nights Bosco,
1 nights Ceraso in good *** hotels and agriturismo’s
•    Meals: 5 breakfasts, 5 dinners
•    All private & public transfers as indicated throughout the entire itinerary
•    Support van & mechanical assistance for the duration of the tour
•    Entrance fees of all sites along the itinerary
•    Special activities as outlined in the day by day itinerary
•    24/24 h local assistance
•    Luggage transport

Not Included

•    Departure taxes
•    Visas
•    Travel Insurance
•    Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
•    Optional additional tours or activities
•    Tips
•    Items of personal nature
•    Bicycle rental (high quality road racing bikes. Click here for more details.
You may want to bring your own saddle and pedals)

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY

Hard (4/5): Hard rides with several climbs, some of which can be quite long and strenuous, even to road cycling standards. All roads are well paved and mostly quiet with little traffic except for some stretches near Paestum. Extensions or shortcuts are possible on most days.

Fitness: Extensive experience with road bicycling and a very good general physical condition are necessary to make your travel experience enjoyable. You should be able to cycle for several hours a day and long distances also in hot dry weather conditions.

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE

Arrival: The tour starts in PAESTUM which can easily be reached by train from either Naples or Salerno. Naples has an international airport. From Rome (and many other cities) Naples and Salerno, and thus Paestum, can easily be reached.

Departure: The tour ends after breakfast on day 6 in PAESTUM. A short transfer can bring you to the local train station from where Salerno and Naples are easily reachable.

Dates & Prices

Please contact us for the latest prices

AVAILABILITY & CONDITIONS
AvailablePlaces available. You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.
GuaranteedGuaranteed Departure. Still some places available.
LimitedThere are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.
On RequestAvailability and prices on request.
Fully bookedFully booked. Departure closed.
  • Prices are per person and based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation.
  • Single rooms (mostly double rooms - single use) are available on all trips. The supplements listed apply.
  • Prices are expressed in Euro's. There will never be a currency surcharge.
  • Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
  • A 5 % early booking discount applies for several trips.

Tour variations

Genius Loci Travel Walking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Trekking Italy Tour holiday

EXTRA NIGHTS
It is possible to extend your tour with a few days at Salerno, along the beautiful Costiera Amalfitana or at Naples. Details and prices on request. Extra cycling and/or sightseeing options can be provided!

UPGRADE
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details and prices on request.

Also Available

  1. The Paestum & Cilento Bike Challenge - 6 days (Independent Cycling Tour)
  2. The Paestum & Cilento Bike Challenge - 9 days (Independent Cycling Tour)
  3. The Paestum & Cilento Bike Challenge - 6 days (Group Cycling Tour)
 

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