Paestum & the amazing landscapes of the Cilento National Park - BCIL
Paestum & the Amazing Landscapes of the Cilento National Park
From the Greek temples of Paestum into the amazing landscapes of the Cilento, both along the coast and Monte Stella, into the heartland: Piaggine & Val Calore, Castelcività & Alburni Mountains
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 tour brings you into the real ‘Heart of the Cilento’, from ancient Paestum up to Mount Stella and along the pristine Cilentano coast onto the impressive Alburni mountains. Inland the Cilento is largely undisturbed by the 21st century and you will encounter few other tourists along your way. You will cycle along world famous cultural sites, through pristine natural areas and along dreamy coastal scenery. Your trip will take you on small country roads passing through rough mountain scenery as well as through attractive countryside, with vineyards and olive groves.
The first days you will keep close to the coast, only occasionally reaching some small hamlets on the foothills further inland. You will pass through the archaeological site of Paestum on your way to a genuine mozzarella farm, and climb up to some nice view points on the coastal plain. Further on you will cycle around Mount Stella dotted by several typical medieval hamlets and continue along the coast along the tiny fisherman’s villages of Acciaroli and Pioppi to the Greek site of Velia.
You then turn inland and discover the rolling foot hills around lovely Ceraso before climbing up along the Calore river to the hamlet of Piaggine, located in the very heart of the Cilento National Park. Here you’ll visit some of the nicest mediaeval villages of the area, where the traditional way of life is still evident. And you’ll enjoy visiting some of the Cilento’s greatest (but unknown) cultural treasures, like the St. Michael’s cave church in Sant’Angelo a Fasanella, the ruins of Roscigno Vecchia and the castle of Laurino. All linked together by great well paved and quiet roads, ideal for cycling.
Your way back to Paestum takes you along great panoramic roads along the slopes of the Alburni Mountains.
Please note: this is a moderate tour which is suitable for all those who have some experience with bicycle touring and are in a good general physical condition. On some of the inland stretches you may encounter some steeper climbs. Average cycling times: approx 5-6 hours each day.
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 by train. 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 will go pick up your rental bike. The short trip to your hotel takes you along the temples and city walls of Greek Paestum. In case you have arrived early you can already visit the site, leaving more time for a longer trip tomorrow or you may take your bikes down to the beach for a quick dip before turning in and getting settled in the hotel immediately near the site. Your luggage will be transported for you to the hotel.
Distance : 6,5 km – Cycling time : 0,5 hours
Hotel in Paestum – HB
Day 2 Over the plain and through the foot hills of Paestum
Your first trip takes you on a ride through the ancient territory of the Greek town of Paestum. You may opt for a relaxed ride through the plain, or a longer and harder one taking you to some nice medieval hamlets in the foot hills and offering some amazing views. Before taking off you can visit the temples and the museum of the Unesco World Heritage site of Paestum and its world famous Doric temples. Here you will admire not only the three temples, but also other monuments including the amphitheatre, the ‘Heroon’ tomb, several Greek and Roman houses and one of the towns’ impressive gates. In the local museum you can see the exemplary collection of prehistoric utensils, Greek vases and Roman sculpture. Absolutely not to miss is the so-called ‘Tomba del Tuffatore’ (Diver’s Tomb), rare example of Greek funeral painting. Lunch can be taken at a local buffalo farm where you can taste delicious genuine fresh mozzarella. Your cycling trip will take you through the plain to the Sele river and along the ‘Capo di Fiume’ carsic springs to the villages of Giugnano and Cicerale (optional) and back down again to your hotel. Dinner is on the premises of our hotel tonight. After dinner we can opt to make another short stroll along the temples and perhaps grab a gelato.
Distance : 33/65,5 km – Cycling time : 2,5/5,5 hours
Hotel in Paestum – HB
Day 3 From Paestum to San Marco di Castellabate
Today you will leave the Paestum plain for a first taste of the real Cilento. Your trip takes you on quiet roads through fragrant Mediterranean maquis and shady olive groves up into the coastal hills above the town of Agropoli along some dreamy medieval hamlets and down again to the coastal village of San Marco di Castellabate. From your hotel you head for the villages of Prignano and Torchiara, beautifully situated on the lush green slopes overlooking the Cilentan coast. Here you can take your time for a stroll or pause to fill up your water bottles and observe the peaceful village life. From Torchiara you then continue to the villages of Laureana and Vatolla where a visit of the 16th century Palazzo Vargas is a must. The road now starts dipping down, taking you to the seaside resort of Santa Maria di Castellabate. Along this stretch you will enjoy some wonderful views of the Tresino peninsula to your right and Castellabate to your left. A short stretch of road along the coast brings you to San Marco di Castellabate, renowned for its tiny port where able craftsmen continue a century old tradition of hand building wooden boats. After arriving at your hotel and settling in, you can either cycle or walk the short way along the coast to the wonderful tiny islet of Leucosia, situated in the marine reserve of Punta Licosa, or take a stroll through the centre of town for a pre-dinner aperitif at one of the local bars.
Distance : 40,5 km – Cycling time : 4 hours
Agriturismo in San Marco di Castellabate – BB
Day 4 Around Mount Stella: round trip from San Marco di Castellabate
Today’s trip starts with a long and winding climb up to the beautifully located town of Castellabate, once a fortified stronghold offering refuge to the local peasants. Here you can take your time to rest and visit the medieval castle from which you enjoy a splendid view of the coastal hamlets of San Marco and Santa Maria. You then climb further up to Perdifumo and Mercato Cilento after which starts your circumnavigation of Mount Stella. Along your route your eyes reach as far as the Amalfi Coast and Capri, while on clear days it may be even possible to see all the way to Sicily! During this part of your trip you will pass through the exquisite medieval hamlets of Celso, Galdo, Stella Cilento, San Mauro and Rocca Cilento. Each of them merits a stop over to sample their honest simplicity and quiet peace, best savoured seated at the local bar sipping an Italian coffee. The easy roads here pass through chestnut forests, opening up now and then to wonderful views of the inland Cilento, reaching as far as the Alburni and Cervati mountain ranges. At the end of the day you have the choice of turning back again to San Marco by Castellabate, or opt for a slightly longer route that takes you down to the fishermen’s village of Agnone and then along the coast to San Marco. After arriving at your hotel again, it is only a short walk down to the beach for a well deserved relaxing swim. After dinner there is nothing better than a gelato at the port or in the town’s centre to end the day.
Distance : 65 km – Cycling time : 5,5 hours
Agriturismo in San Marco di Castellabate – BB
Day 5 From San Marco di Castellabate to Ceraso
After leaving San Marco you will head south on the coastal road towards the Alento river plain. A short climb takes you up through Mediterranean maquis and pine woods to the ‘Ripe Rosse’ or Red Rocks. You then whizz down to the coastal hamlet of Acciaroli, where 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 you a strong tale or two. In any case Acciaroli fully merits a stop and a quiet stroll along its little port and town centre. Slightly further along the coast you pass through the fishermen’s village of Pioppi, another delightful little town. Here you will find a small Sea Life Museum dedicated to the local marine fauna and flora.
Pioppi is also famous as the second home town of the American professor Ancel Keys, father of the so-called Mediterranean Diet. After visiting the museum you certainly have the time for a quick coffee at the sea front before cycling on. The remainder of the coastal road takes you to the plain of the Alento river. At Casalvelino Marina you have the choice of turning inland, or continue to Marina di Ascea for a visit to the Greek and Roman site of Velia, home to the philosophers Zenon and Parmenides, and cradle of one of Europe’s most ancient schools of medicine. Alternatively you can visit the site during tomorrow’s trip and opt for a swim before leaving the coast and heading inland. From Casalvelino Marina you will follow the Alento river towards Pattano and its small medieval abbey, opting for one of several – shorter or longer – options. This last stretch of the road first leads through ancient olive groves and newly planted vineyards and then takes you through majestic oak forests to your agriturismo at La Petrosa.
Distance : 57,5 km – Cycling time : 5 hours
Agriturismo in Ceraso – HB
Day 6 Round trip from La Petrosa : Ceraso, Pisciotta and Ascea
During today’s round trip you will discover the largely unspoilt and often rough landscape between Ceraso, Pisciotta and Ascea. Here few tourists ever set foot, even during the busy summer season, and you are certain to have the quiet roads and peaceful villages all for yourself. From your agriturismo you set out for the medieval hamlet of Ceraso with its characteristic ‘palazzi’ a little further inland. After visiting Ceraso – maybe you can take the time for a cappuccino at the local bar – you continue through shady oak and chestnut forests to the tiny wonderfully located villages of Santa Barbara, Mandia and Rodio high above the Cilentan coast. From Rodio you start descending towards the coast, passing through groves of enormous local olive trees. A short detour brings you to the hill top village of Pisciotta where you can park your bicycles on the central square and freely explore the well preserved medieval centre. Lunch may be had in one of the towns’ few restaurants, tasting local specialties seated at a table with views reaching from Mount Stella to the north and Capo Palinuro to the south.
From Pisciotta you continue in northern direction, first to Ascea and then down in the direction of Velia. In case you did not visit the archaeological site the day before now is the time to explore it. 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. Other monuments worth exploring are the port, the Greek and Roman baths and the agora. The city’s acropolis in medieval times has been reused as a local stronghold and preserves a magnificent medieval bastion. From Velia you will head up again on small roads to the agriturismo.
Distance : 45,5 km – Cycling time : 4 hours
Agriturismo in Ceraso – HB
Day 7 From La Petrosa through the rough inland of the Cilento to Piaggine
Today you will head inland towards the real and largely unknown heart of the Cilento, between the mountain ranges of the Gelbison and Cervati mountains. From your agriturismo you first pass Ceraso again, and then head for the villages of Massascusa, San Biase and Massa. As most of your trip is uphill, any of these tiny hamlets are a good place to get off and pause to fill up your water bottles or have a coffee. After passing Vallo della Lucania, which is one of the largest towns of the Cilento area, you continue to Moio della Civitella. Here you can visit the remains of a small fortified site of Lucanian, i.e. pre-Greek origin. From a small church on top of the hill you can admire a wonderful view of the Cilento. Further up the road you will come to Gioi, rightly famous for its so-called ‘sopressata’, a wonderfully tasty locally produced salami, calling for a stop at the butcher’s shop. While continuing towards Stio and Magliano Nuova, the Mediterranean woods and olive groves make place for chestnut and oak trees.
You will now cycle through long stretches of uncultivated land until arriving at the Calore River, one of few Italian water courses where the European otter still can be seen. Shortly after you come to Laurino which is situated under a deep gorge eroded by the Calore river. An easy walk through its narrow alleys takes you to the local castle dominating the town. From Laurino it is then only a short stretch of road to your agriturismo at Piaggine.
Distance : 54 km – Cycling time : 4,5 hours
Agriturismo in Piaggine – HB
Day 8 From Piaggine to Paestum : Sacco, Roscigno Vecchia, Castelcività
Your last day’s trip takes you from ‘rugged’ Piaggine to ‘cultured’ Paestum again. During this last day you will pass by several natural and cultural highlights, all worth a short visit. After climbing up shortly from the agriturismo, the road starts leading down all the way to the scenic hamlet of Sacco, directly underneath several high limestone cliffs. At Sacco you have the opportunity to visit the Sammaro gorge, situated a short walk from the village. Alternatively you can admire the gorge from the road, the bridge passes right over it! After Sacco you arrive at 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, you will continue along the slopes of the valley of the Calore river to Corleto and then to Sant’ Angelo a Fasanella. In this last village the local church of Saint Michel, built inside a cave, is worth a visit. From Sant’Angelo or from nearby Ottati you can opt for an additional few kilometres up on the spectacular high plateau of the Alburni mountains – only for the fitter cyclists though! Your next stop will then be at Castelcività. Here the carsic erosion of the lime stone core of the mountains has created a complex of caves over 5000 metres long, of which 1700 metres are accessible to visitors. After visiting the caves, your route takes you to the hamlet of Controne and then further down underneath the town of Roccadaspide to the plain of Paestum. You now head again towards the temples arriving at your hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight. You are free to choose from the good choice of restaurants, to have a great last dinner, overlooking the Greek temples at night.
Distance : 71 km – Cycling time : 6 hours
Hotel in Paestum – BB
Day 9 End of the tour
The tour ends in Paestum after breakfast today. A private transfer can take you back to Naples or Salerno. A taxi transfer to other destinations can be arranged on request.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic hotels or agriturismo’s (generally 3-star). All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Dinners are not included on day 3, 4 and 8, when you are free to organize your own dinner in one of the restaurants at San Marco di Castellabate and Paestum.
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 you stay.
Nights 1 & 2: The first two nights are spent in a perfectly located 3-star hotel, just outside the archaeological area of Paestum, at walking distance of the Greek temples. The hotel has its own park – with swimming pool.
Nights 3 & 4: These nights are spent in a great agriturismo, just outside the quiet fishermen’s village of San Marco di Castellabate.
Nights 5 & 6: The next two nights you stay in an agriturismo located in the heart of the Cilento, offering a taste of peaceful country life. After your day’s cycling you can relax next to the agriturismo’s private swimming pool.
Night 7: Tonight you stay in yet another typical agriturismo, situated right underneath some of the Cilento’s highest mountain peaks. Breakfast and dinner are based on local specialties.
Night 8 : The last night you will stay again in the 3-star hotel near the temples of Paestum.
ON THIS INDIVIDUAL SELF-GUIDED CYCLING TOUR WE PROVIDE YOU WITH:
• Accommodation: 3 nights Paestum, 2 nights San Marco di Castellabate, 2 nights Ceraso, 1 night Piaggine; all nights in good *** hotels and agriturismo
• Meals: 8 breakfasts, 5 dinners (good restaurants!)
• Extensive route notes, with description of the route & tourist information
• Maps at 1 : 50.000 scale (or better) ; GPS waypoints and tracks (optional)
• 24/24 h local assistance
• Luggage transport
• Private transfers as specified
• Departure taxes & Visas
• Travel Insurance
• Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
• Optional additional tours or activities
• Items of personal nature
• Bicycle rental (available on request)
Please note that bike rental is not included in our tour prices, offering you the possibility to bring your own bicycles. For those who wish to rent a bike we offer good quality bicycles at the best prices for the duration of the tour. You can have a look at them here.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderate (3): Mostly moderate rides but with inevitably several climbs, only few of which are really strenuous. All roads are well paved and mostly quiet with little traffic except for some stretches near Paestum during the first two and the last day. Extensions or shortcuts are possible on some days.
Fitness: Some experience with bicycle touring and a good general physical condition will certainly make your travel experience more enjoyable. You should be able to cycle for several hours a day 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.
|15 March - 31 May 2017||€ 775||€ 110||€ 245||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 June - 30 June 2017||€ 795||€ 110||€ 245||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 July - 31 July 2017||€ 820||€ 110||€ 245||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 August - 31 August 2017||€ 930||€ 110||€ 245||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 September - 30 September 2017||€ 795||€ 110||€ 245||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
|01 October - 31 October 2017||€ 775||€ 110||€ 245||RESERVE YOUR PLACE|
A DISCOUNT of € 100 applies for those carrying their own luggage. Please contact us for terms & conditions.
|You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
- Prices are per person and based on the season within which the first night of the tour falls.
- Prices are based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation. Single rooms (double rooms – single) are available on most trips however the supplements listed apply.
- If you are travelling alone then on some trips (which include taxi transfers) a ‘Solo Traveller Supplement’ will be applied instead of the normal single supplement.
- 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.
It is possible to include extra nights in any of the accommodations ‘en route’. Extra cycling and/or sightseeing options can be provided ! As well is it possible to extend your tour with a few days in the Cilento or at Salerno, along the beautiful Costiera Amalfitana or at Naples. Details & prices on request.
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details & prices on request.