Paestum & Cilento Bike Challenges
Genius Loci Travel Biking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Italy Tour Holiday
Paestum and Cilento Bike Challenges
The Cilento National Park is a stunning area with some of the best cycle routes in Italy. Without the crowds you’ll find in more famous cycling destinations!
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’. 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 and most diverse National Parks, with World Heritage listing.
This is an area offering endless possibilities to the road biking 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.
One of the most memorable aspects of cycling in Cilento are the high mountains situated close to the sea. There’s something special about riding along cliff tops above the beach and then zigzagging up to 1,700m within sight of the sea before enjoying stunning views of the cliffs and beaches from above. Views of the island of Capri and the Amalfi coast stretched out across the bay behind the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea or small picturesque ports filled with fishing boats or small yachts never fail to impress from above.
Here are some of our favourite routes. They are suggestions which can be mixed and matched, made shorter, easier, longer or steeper depending on the group’s abilities.
We offer several different tours, ranging from short breaks to longer tours, with a variety of rides which can be adapted to your skills & fitness level, availalibilty of time, willingness to concentrate on the riding or to take in some of the culture as well.
Interested? Want to find out more? Please contact us. We are here to prepare the perfect tour for you!
EXAMPLE OF A TOUR:
The great Cilento Bike Challenge
9-day road cycling tour with different bases in charming hotels & agriturismo’s
This 9-day bike challenge will make you discover the whole Cilento National Park. 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 sites of Greek Paestum and Velia, and the ruins of Roscigno Vecchia. All linked together by great well paved and quiet roads, ideal for road cycling.
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, and halt at Felitto near the Calore River, where we can admire several medieval bridges. The next couple of days we will explore the mountainous inland of the region, circling the Alburni mountains and maybe even climbing up its high plateau, visiting the marvellous limestone caves of Castelcività. We will then pass through the wild nature of the Cervati massif on our way to Marina di Camerota on the Cilento’s South Coast. From Marina we then discover the pristine mountainous area above the Gulf of Policastro, dotted with little hidden hamlets such as Morigerati and Sicilì, and pass underneath the towering limestone cliffs of Mount Bulgheria. The next day we continue through the rolling hills of the coastal area to Casalvelino. On our way we will have plenty of opportunities to admire the wide views that open up to us along the way. On our last day we tackle Mount Stella, passing through several of the villages dotting its slopes, before turning back along the coastal road to Agropoli and Paestum.
Please note: this is a moderate to hard tour for which experience with road cycling and a good general physical condition are necessary to make your travel experience enjoyable. Average cycling times: approx. 5-7 hours each day. Please note that for complete groups this tour is also available as a 6 day tour.
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
After your arrival at Paestum 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 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 *** Paestum – HB
Day 2 Paestum to Bellosguardo
Before taking off for our first day’s cycling trip, we take our time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Paestum and its famous Greek temples. After our visit we are ready to hop on our bikes and start our cycling adventure. From the archaeological area of Paestum we head in direction of the foot hills of the Cilento area, passing first through Ogliastro Cilento and then towards Cicerale. From Cicerale we cycle through lush country side to the village of Trentinara, spectacularly located on top of a sheer rock face from where we enjoy a magnificent view on the Paestum plain. It then goes on to the villages of Monteforte Cilento and Magliano Vetere. Along our way we have plenty of time for a refreshing stop in one of the villages to fill up our water bottles or why not, have a cup of coffee or a cappuccino. We will stop for lunch along the road, either at Magliano Vetere or shortly after. After lunch we enter the valley of the Calore River, passing by Fellitto and Castel San Lorenzo. Along this stretch of our trip we can admire several medieval bridges crossing the river, all the while cycling through beautiful countryside on quiet, well paved roads. The last part of our day’s trip takes us to our lovely family run agriturismo near the panoramic village of Bellosguardo. Here we have the opportunity to relax on our terrace while sipping a glass of wine, taking in the wonderful view over the agriturismo’s vine yards before eating a well deserved dinner.
Agriturismo in Bellosguardo – HB
Distance : 83 km – Altitude gain : 1670 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5 hours
Day 3 Round-trip of the Alburni Mountains
Today we will make a round trip of the Alburni Mountains, taking us from the Cilento area into the Diano Valley and back again. After breakfast we leave Bellosguardo and head in direction of Corleto Monforte. We climb up to the ‘Passo della Sentinella’, after which we enjoy a swift descent to the villages of San Rufo and San Pietro al Tanagro. In front of us we see the Diano Valley and behind it the first mountains of the Basilicata region. When arriving at the valley floor we turn north and start following the Tanagro River towards Polla. We now start cycling underneath the high limestone cliff faces of the Alburni Mountains, first slowly climbing up to the village of Petina and then down again through thick chestnut groves to Sicignano degli Alburni. Here we will stop for lunch and a short visit to this small town with its imposing castle. Shortly after Sicignano we start heading south again. We now pass directly underneath the sheer cliffs until we reach Controne. At the next village, Castelcività, we halt to visit the marvellous limestone caves which are over 5000 metres long, 1700 m of which are accessible to the public. After our visit to the caves we continue on winding country roads to Ottati and Sant’Angelo a Fasanella where we can go see the local church of Saint Michel, built inside a cave. Alternatively from Petina we could climb up to the Alburni’s high plateau with its beautiful beech forests, and experience the exhilarating descent towards Sant’Angelo a Fasanella. This will shorten our trip significantly, but the climb up is a really though one, arriving at nearly 1300 m! From Sant’Angelo, a short stretch of road brings us to Corleto Monforte again, from where we return to our agriturismo at Bellosguardo. Tonight’s dinner will be based on local specialties, accompanied by the agriturismo’s own wine.
Agriturismo in Bellosguardo – HB
Distance : 80/105 km – Altitude gain : 1570 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5/6 hours
Day 4 From Bellosguardo to Marina di Camerota
Today’s trip takes us from the inland of the Cilento to the coast again. We leave Bellosguardo in the morning and after few km we reach the village of Roscigno of which the old centre – Roscigno Vecchia, the ‘Pompeii of the 19th century’ – has been abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century and since has been preserved unchanged. After visiting the abandoned village and its tiny crafts museum we pass on the bridge high above the Sammaro Gorge and arrive at Sacco, located directly underneath several high limestone cliffs. From Sacco we start climbing up into the Monte Cervati mountain range, the very heart of the Cilento. We follow quiet roads through cultivated fields and wild forests, often for times on an end without meeting any traffic. From Piaggine we climb up to the Croce di Pruno plateau situated at 1200 m a.s.l. We then launch ourselves into the exhilarating descent that takes us first to the isolated village of Rofrano and then to the medieval hamlet of Laurito. From here we will follow the old ‘strada statale’ running from north to south through the whole of the Cilento, in direction of Montano Antilia and Futani. This well paved road is now almost completely free of traffic, ideal for cycling. After arriving at Futani we can enjoy a long and winding descent towards the coast, passing through several small villages until we arrive at San Severino. Alternatively we can head from Montano Antilia directly to San Severino, passing through the Mingardo River valley. From San Severino we pass by another, this time smaller, abandoned hamlet standing in a marvellous scenic location above a deep canyon. For a short stretch of road we now follow the Mingardo River through its gorge, until turning away from it and climbing up the long winding road to the villages of Licusati and Camerota. From this road we can admire stupendous views on the Mingardo Valley. From Camerota we then enjoy an exhilarating descent into the fishermen’s village of Marina di Camerota, our base for the next two days.
Hotel Marina di Camerota – HB
Distance : 88/101 km – Altitude gain : 1730 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5/6 hours
Day 5 Round-trip of Mount Bulgheria and the Gulf of Policastro
After an early breakfast, we start our next day with a wonderful stretch uphill along the southern coast of the Cilento. During this first scenic climb we enjoy an unparalleled view of one of the most unspoilt stretches of coastline in southern Italy. After passing through the hamlet of Lentiscosa, we have a short rest in the charming village of San Giovanni a Piro, beautifully located with spectacular views on the Gulf of Policastro. We then head for the coast again, whizzing down to the fishermen’s village of Scario with its little port and then on to the town of Policastro Bussentino. From Policastro we have the choice between climbing directly up to Morigerati, or continuing to follow the coastal road to Sapri, situated on the border between the Cilento and the Basilicata regions. After a short pause on the beach we start climbing up the mountains behind the city towards Torraca and Casaletto Spartano, during which we are rewarded with wonderful views of the Gulf of Policastro. This is one of the wildest and best preserved areas of the Cilento, crossed by deep gorges and covered by ample forests, amongst which some of the Cilento’s last preserved cork oak groves. We then cycle on to Morigerati and Sicilì, after which we descend into the valley of the impressive Bussento River. From the valley floor we climb up a long and winding road to the village of Torre Orsaia and then to Roccagloriosa where we halt for a stroll through the nicely preserved medieval centre and a cold drink at the bar in the village square. From here we start descending slowly towards the coast again, passing underneath the northern slopes of Mount Bulgheria through the villages of Celle di Bulgheria and Poderia. Shortly after passing this last village we arrive again at the gorge of the Mingardo River. This time round we don’t climb up again to Licusati, but continue along the river to Palinuro and then along the spectacular coast to Marina di Camerota. After freshening up in the hotel we can go for an evening’s stroll and a pre-dinner ‘aperitivo’ or why not, an after dinner ‘gelato’ in the delightful village square.
Hotel in Marina di Camerota – HB
Distance : 86 /118 km – Altitude gain : 1350 / 1940 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5 / 7 hour
Day 6 From Marina di Camerota to Casalvelino
Today’s relatively easy stage takes us from Marina di Camerota to Casalvelino, cycling through the hilly country close to the coast, through olive groves and chestnut forests. We may start by climbing up to Camerota and then pass by Licusati to enjoy the thrill of the fast descent full of hair pin curves to San Severino, before cycling to Palinuro, or we can take off the easy way on the beautiful road along the coast hemmed in between the sea and steep rock cliffs in direction of the headland of Capo Palinuro. From here it then goes to the medieval hill top village of Pisciotta, dominated by the enormous trees in its olive groves. This village is well worth a short visit. After leaving Pisciotta we turn inland again and start climbing up first to the hamlets of Rodio and Mandia, immersed in the lush mountain country side. We then start descending towards Santa Barbara and Ceraso. The latter village with its marvellously preserved medieval centre makes for an ideal spot to eat our lunch. From Ceraso we head up hill again in direction of Vallo della Lucania, the largest town in this part of the Cilento. We may make a short detour to visit the splendid hamlet of Novi Velia, located immediately underneath the imposing mass of Mount Gelbison. On top of this mountain there is a Maria Sanctuary that can be reached by a long winding road – only for real athletes though, as it is a long and hard 13 km and no less than 1000 m in altitude gain to get up there! After Vallo della Lucania we continue to Pattano with its little early 10th century abbey, and to Castelnuovo Cilento. From here it is all downhill to Castellamare di Velia where we have the opportunity to visit the Greek city of Velia, home to the Greek philosophers Zeno and Parmenides, and cradle of one of Europe’s most ancient schools of medicine. Amongst its remains are the celebrated ‘Porta Rosa’ (Pink Gate), one of the first examples of the use of the vault in Greek architecture. After our visit we continue on flat roads through the Alento River plain to our agriturismo at Casalvelino for a hot shower and some relaxation in the evening.
Agriturismo in Casalvelino – HB
Distance : 75/92 km – Altitude gain : 1070/1570 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 4/5 hours
Day 7 Round-trip of Mount Stella
Today we explore the small back roads connecting the many hamlets on the slopes of Mount Stella. From our agriturismo in Casalvelino we head inland and shortly after start climbing up to Acquavella. From there on we continuously climb and descend through the wooded hilly country, first to Stella Cilento and then to Omignano. Here we’ll halt for a short break to fill up our water bottles and we’ll take our time to drink cup of coffee at a local bar. We then have the opportunity of climbing up to the very top of Mount Stella, looking out over most of the Cilento region, which will add another 13 km and 650 meters of altitude gain to our day’s trip! Or we can continue straight to the village of Sessa Cilento, from where we start descending into the valley of the Alento River, on the inland side of Mount Stella. Following the river valley we arrive at the hamlets of Lustra and Rocca Cilento. We then turn west towards the coast and start heading for the little town of Castellabate, passing by Mercato Cilento and Matonti. From here we can enjoy an enchanting panorama on the Cilento Coast with the promontories of Punta Tresino and Punta Licosa in front of us. Alternatively we may head directly from Sessa Cilento to Mercato Cilento and Matonti. We will arrive at Castellabate, beautifully located on a hill high above the coast, in time for lunch. After having visited the delightful medieval centre of the town, dominated by its castle, we then continue along the south western slopes of Mount Stella. We first climb up slightly to Perdifumo and then continue up and down to Serramezzana and San Mauro Cilento. The last stretch of road in the foot hills of Mount Stella takes us through the splendid medieval hamlets of Galdo and Celso to Pollica, from where we enjoy an exhilarating descent towards the fishermen’s village of Pioppi, known as the second home town of the American professor Ancel Keys, father of the so-called Mediterranean Diet. From Pioppi we then follow the coastal road back again to Marina di Casalvelino and our agriturismo.
Agriturismo in Casalvelino – HB
Distance : 74/98 km – Altitude gain : 1550/2300 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5/6 hours
Day 8 From Casalvelino to Paestum
Our last day’s trip takes us along the coast from Casalvelino to Paestum. This will be a relatively short and easy ride, giving us the opportunity to relax and enjoy our last day on the Cilento roads. We first pass through the seaside village of Pioppi again, and then arrive at Acciaroli. Here back in 1952 Ernest Hemmingway spent some holidays and – some say – was inspired to write ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Some of the village’s elders still remember having met the great author and may be willing to tell us a strong tale or two. In any case we’ll have a short break for a quick cup of coffee or cappuccino. After Acciaroli we will pass through Agnone, after which we climb up the modest ramp of the ‘Ripe Rosse’ or Red Rocks. From here it is downhill to Case del Conte and Ogliastro Marina. We now pass underneath the village of Castellabate and continue in the direction of Agropoli. Following small country roads we arrive at the town’s port. The historical centre, located on steep limestone crags above the port, is well worth a visit. From Agropoli few flat km take us to Paestum again. Perhaps it is a good idea to stop at a buffalo farm along the way to have lunch on its premises, tasting genuine fresh buffalo mozzarella. After arriving at our hotel, we can freshen up and spend the afternoon relaxing in the hotel’s garden, or head for the beach. Those who want can visit the museum of the archaeological site, exploring its collections of prehistoric utensils, Greek vases and Roman sculpture. Not to miss the so-called ‘Tomba del Tuffatore’ (Diver’s Tomb), rare example of Greek funeral painting. In the evening we all have dinner together in the hotel.
Hotel *** Paestum – HB
Distance : 55 km – Altitude gain : 600 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 3 hours
Hotel in Paestum – HB
Day 9 End of the tour
The tour ends in Paestum after breakfast today. A short private transfer takes you to the local train station from where Salerno and Naples are easily reached. A taxi transfer to other destinations can be arranged on request.
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.
Nights 2 & 3: These nights are 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.
Nights 4 & 5: The next two nights you stay in a nice 3-star hotel in the fishermen’s village of Marina di Camerota, right next to the old village centre. The hotel lays within easy walking distance of some nice beaches.
Nights 6 & 7: These nights are spent in a very nice agriturismo in Casalvelino, offering a taste of peaceful country life.
Night 8: The last night is spent again in the hotel at Paestum.
On our GUIDED TOURS we include almost everything:
• Private English speaking tour leader for 9 days
• Professional guiding service for each activity
• Accommodation: 2 nights Paestum, 2 nights Bellosguardo, 2 nights Marina di Camerota,
2 nights Casalvelino in good *** hotels and agriturismo’
• Meals: 8 breakfasts, 8 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
• Departure taxes
• Travel Insurance
• Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
• Optional additional tours or activities
• 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
Moderate to hard (3/4): Moderate to hard rides (to road cycling standards) with inevitably several climbs, some of which can be quite long and strenuous. 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: Experience with road cycling and a 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 9 in PAESTUM. A short transfer can bring you to the local train station from where Salerno and Naples are easily reachable.
This tour can be booked with a minimum of 4 people on any date during the following season (prices change according to season):
|Places available. You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|Guaranteed Departure. Still some places available.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
|Fully 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.
Genius Loci Travel Walking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Trekking Italy Tour holiday
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!
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details and prices on request.