Cycling across southern Italy - from Puglia to the Amalfi Coast
From Puglia, through the Basilicata and Cilento National Park to the Amalfi Coast & Sorrento
9 to 12-day road cycling tour with different bases in charming hotels & agriturismo’s
This tour offers some of the best biking through southern Italy’s less-travelled but breathtaking regions. This tour, full of pleasant surprises, zigzags along an intriguing route through Puglia, Basilicata & Campania, showing the real ‘Mezzogiorno’, and ending with a stunning ride along what is arguably the world’s most beautiful coastline, the Amalfi Coast !
Expect a rewarding ride every day – and along with the ride you’ll experience the ‘real Italy’, with intimate insights into southern Italian life every day. You’ll cycle through areas and villages which, not without reason, have been nominated ‘World Heritage’ by UNESCO: the wonderful towns of Alberobello and Matera, the Cilento National Park and the Amalfi Coast. This tour gives you the opportunity to discover both the famous, and sometimes busy & touristy Amalfi Coast and Puglia and the quiet, peaceful Cilento & Basilicata.
Leaving from Puglia, on the shores of the Adriatic, you first cycle inland towards Matera, passing partly through the magical Trulli region. There are many good reasons to visit Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot. Some come for the beauty of its olive groves carpeted with wildflowers, or the odd charm of its Trulli – houses topped by clusters of cone-shaped domes made of grey fieldstone. Others come for the region’s Greek and Roman ruins scattered about a rugged, unkempt wilderness, long lost in the rest of the Italian peninsula. Then you enter the mysterious land of Basilicata, where you will spend the next night in the capital, Matera, the city of stone. On the next cycling day in Basilicata, on your way to Castelmezzano, feast your eyes on the vast cultivated fields, natural preserves, lava formations, and tiny ancient towns.
From Castelmezzano you then cycle in a south-western direction. First you have to tackle some great mountain scenery, then you head towards the spectacular coastline of the Cilento National Park, an area of stunning natural beauty and without the throngs of tourists. It has miles and miles of dense forests, clear water, pleasant beaches and coves, friendly residents, typical local trattoria’s, and great fish restaurants. All around you there is an explosion of colour, olive trees and ancient farmhouses. Your accommodation here is at the mythical Cape Palinuro, on the shores of the blue Mediterranean.
On your second day in the Cilento you cycle up north, sampling dreamy coastal scenery, wild mountain valleys, deep gorges, and attractive countryside with vineyards and olive groves. You pass world-famous cultural sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage, such as Velia and Paestum, and visit some of the nicest medieval villages in the area, both along the coast and slightly inland, where the traditional way of life is still evident. All these attractions are connected by quiet roads, ideal for cycling. Of course there will also be plenty of time to enjoy the splendid beaches and wonderful food on offer.
During the last part of your trip along the ‘Costiera Amalfitana’, you follow the spectacular coastal road from Vietri sul Mare to Amalfi. You can admire the colourful tableware ceramics of Vietri, have a cup of coffee at the little bar on the beach of delightful Cetara and walk on the beautiful seaside boulevard of Minori. From your base at Amalfi you will be able to organise some final visits: we recommend the deeply eroded and amazing ‘Fjord’ of Furore, mundane Positano and the little villages of Ravello, Atrani, Praiano and Conca dei Marini. And perhaps Pompeii, Capri & Sorrento too!
On this amazing cycling adventure you will see for yourself that not only has the Amalfi Coast become, with good reason, Italy’s most famous coastline, and that Puglia’s rising star is well-earned, but also discover an entirely new and little-known, but equally beautiful part of Italy: Basilicata and the Cilento National Park. As cyclists to this undiscovered region of Italy, you’ll enjoy all the above and more – on some of the quietest roads that Italy has to offer.
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.
Genius Loci Travel Walking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Trekking Italy Tour holiday
Day 1 Arrival in Monopoli
Arrival in Bari and transfer to your beautiful hotel in the historical heart of Monopoli, a stunning whitewashed seaside village. After settling in our rooms we start to check our bicycles, do a briefing, and perhaps make a short ride (we recommend towards the beautiful village of Polignano). At night you can have dinner in one of the nice nearby restaurants (or eat at the fine restaurant on the premises of the hotel) and perhaps go for an evening stroll through the old town and along the old harbour.
Hotel in Monopoli- BB
Day 2 From Monopoli along the coast & up into the Valle d’Itria – past Ostuni to Alberobello
Today you’ll have a great cycling day, heading for beautiful Alberobello, a UNESCO world heritage site, in the heart of the Itria Valley, a karstic depression filled with thousands of olive trees and many so-called ‘trulli’, odd cone shaped white washed buildings. A first ‘warm-up ride’ brings you along the coast in southern direction to the archaeological site of Egnazia, and the charming village of Savelletri, a nice place for a first coffee stop. After another coastal stetch you then head inland andstart climbing up towards Ostuni, marvellously located on three small hills at 8 km from the Adriatic coast. Ostuni is known as the ‘white town’ as the town centre’s buildings are whitewashed. This is a great place for lunch and you should go for a short afternoon’s stroll in the historic centre and visit the cathedral and medieval town walls, or simply lose yourself in its maze of small alleyways.
You are now on the large rolling plateau of the Valle d’Itriai, where you will be cycling from village to village, through fields of fennel and ancient stands of olive trees. Now you are really entering in the heart of the ‘Land of Trulli’, the concentration of these curious buildings becomes higher and higher, culminating in Alberobello, the capital town of the Trulli, where there even is a church in this shape. You first cycle through pleasant countryside to Cisternino, one of the other whitewashed villages in the valley, passing several small hamlets characterised by the presence of one or more ‘trulli’. Then you continue to Locorotondo, home to the ‘Trullo di Marziolla’, the oldest in Puglia (1509 AD), and to the ‘Cantina Sociale’ (wine cellar) of the Locorotondo DOC wine. You can’t leave here without stopping in the famous vineyards to taste some of the local wine or to enjoy one of the best ice creams of the area, , before continuing to Alberobello, your home for tonight.
Distance : 75 km – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5 hours
Hotel in Alberobello – HB
Day 3 From Alberobello to Matera, the city of the ‘Sassi’
Today we are heading for one of the most fascinating cities of southern Italy, Matera. We’ll be cycling mostly through rolling hills, on the large plateau, known as the ‘Murge’. We pass several nice small villages along the road, where we can occasionally stop for a coffee or a rest. The last part of the route goes through open fields, partly along the Appia Antica, the ancient Roman Road – en route to the amazing city of Matera, one of the most extraordinary spots on Earth. Matera, on UNESCO’s official World Heritage List, is famous for its ‘Sassi’ (which literally means ‘stones’) style of housing. These dwellings were carved out of the stone sides of the cliffs and tell of a time when there were few options for the poor citizens of the region. After settling in at your hotel you have some free time to wander around or have an ‘aperitivo’ in one of the beautiful squares. You are free to choose from the wide selection of restaurants and pizzerias to for your evening meal tonight. And after that: a short evening walk through the Sassi is simply stunning!
Distance : 67 km. – optional extra loops possible
Accommodation: Hotel in Matera – HB (restaurant dinner)
Day 4 Through the Heart of the Basilicata: from Matera to Castelmezzano
Today will be your longest ride. You start with an easy downhill section through the fields, towards the Lake of St. Giuliano. Then you’ll follow the old road along the ridge, encountering a number of beautiful historical villages, like Tricarico, an old Byzantine capital and Grassano, before arriving in sight of the stunning ‘Dolomites of the South’. You make a great downhill ride, but then you will have to gather strength for the last few hairpin bends uphill to your hotel in beautiful Castelmezzano, clinged to the sandstone rocks in an awesome position. And perhaps you still have the energy for a stroll around the village. A walk up to the Norman steps is a must! In the evening you eat at the renowned restaurant belonging to the hotel.
Distance : 98 km.
Accommodation: Hotel in Castelmezzano – HB
Day 5 From Basilicata into Campania
Today, we are heading west into the Campania region. We’ll cross the National Park of the Basilicata Apennines, a sparsely populated wilderness area, enjoying some stunning mountain scenery, but as well some pleasant village where time seems to have stood still. Towards the end of the afternoon, after a last challenging climb, we’ll reach the top of the ridge between Basilicata and the Campania region. From here we will be cycling down into the Vallo di Diano, a fertile highplain with several beautiful medieval towns. We settle near Padula, a nice medieval town, but above all famous for its ‘Certosa’, the largest monastery in Italy. Those who wish can therefore pay a visit to the nearby Certosa – definitely worth it.
Distance : 95 km. – optional extra loops possible
Accommodation: Hotel in Padula – HB
Day 6 Through the Mountains of the Cilento National Park down to the coast at Palinuro
Today a great route will bring you, through the heart of the Cilento National Park, in the shadow of Mt. Cervati, the highest peak of the area, all the way down to the coast at Palinuro. First we follow a nice flattish route through the Vallo di Diano, then we head into the Cilento National Park, passing the nice village of Sanza. From here we continue along a beautiful quiet route to the small village of Rofrano. From here you slowly cycle down through a nice countryside of rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards. In front of you you’ll have the towering silhouette of Mt. Bulgheris. An optional detour can bring you around the steep cliffs of Monte Bulgheria, towards the beautifully located village of San Giovanni a Piro. Once you arrive in the village, lying directly underneath the steepest cliff, the hardest part of the day is behind you. Indeed, from here on you will enjoy an exhilarating descent towards the coast at Marina di Camerota – an ideal spot for a cup of coffee or a cappuccino in the delightful little village square – and then continue along the beautiful coastal road to Capo Palinuro. This promontory, named after one of the helmsmen of the mythical hero Aeneas, is one of the most famous spots in the Cilento National Park. Its unique topography made up of dazzlingly high rock cliffs full of sea grottos, amongst which is the wonderful ‘Grotta Azzurra’, makes for a wonderful sight. You cycle through the little village of Palinuro and then wind down to the tiny port, where you settle in your beautiful hotel right on the beach. If you feel like it can make a short boat tour of the cape, visiting the caves, or just go for a nice swim.
Distance : 77 km. – optional extra loops possible
Accommodation: Hotel in Palinuro – HB
Day 7 Along the beautiful coast of the Cilento National Park: from Palinuro to Castellabate
Today we ride a great coastal route! From Cape Palinuro you’ll cycle along the west coast of the Cilento towards the medieval hilltop village of Pisciotta. The road now passes through fragrant Mediterranean maquis and centuries-old olive groves, all the while offering fantastic views of the sea. At the end of the afternoon you reach Ascea, where you descend to the coast and to the archaeological site 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 one finds the celebrated ‘Porta Rosa’, one of the first examples of the use of the vault in Greek architecture. After a short visit (optional) you continue for a few km through the coastal plain of the Alento River. You cycle past the sea resort of Casalvelino Marina, from where your trip continues along the hilly road running the length of the spectacular coast to Agropoli and Paestum. This is definitely one of the finest coastal rides in Italy, alternating wonderful views with charming seaside villages. Slightly further along the coast you pass through the fishing village of Pioppi, another delightful little town. Here you can visit the small Sea Life Museum dedicated to the local marine fauna and flora. Pioppi is also famous as the second home of the American professor Ancel Keys, father of the so-called Mediterranean Diet. Then you could stop for a drink in Acciaroli, where, back in 1952, Ernest Hemingway 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 an interesting tale or two. By lunchtime you reach Ogliastro Marina, on the peninsula of Licosa, famous for its Aleppo Pines.. Tonight we’ll eat on the premises of the hotel.
Distance : 60 km. – optional extra loops possible
Accommodation: Hotel in Ogliastro Marina – HB
Day 8 Along Castellabate and Agropoli down to the plain of Paestum
From Ogliastro Marina you cycle in northern direction towards the little town of Castellabate, beautifully located on a hill high above the coast. After a short steep climb, with stunning views, here you can visit the delightful medieval centre of the town, dominated by its castle, and have a coffee admiring the marvellous view of the coast in front of you. From Castellabate you can then follow a stunning road to Perdifumo and Vatolla, from where you cycle down towards Agropoli. In alternative you can skip Perdifumo and enjoy a swift descent towards San Pietro, after which you gently climb up again for a few km before whizzing down to the port of Agropoli. Alternatively you could and head directly to Agropoli. The town’s historical centre, located on steep limestone crags above the port, is well worth a visit. From Agropoli a few flat km take you 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 your hotel you can freshen up and spend the afternoon relaxing in the hotel’s garden, or head for the beach. Those who feel like it can visit the museum of the archaeological site, exploring its collections of prehistoric utensils, Greek vases and Roman sculptures. Not to be missed is the so-called ‘Tomba del Tuffatore’ (Diver’s Tomb), a rare example of Greek funeral painting. You are free to make your own dinner arrangements tonight, taking your pick from the good choice of restaurants for your last great dinner, overlooking the Greek temples. stupendous Greek Temples of Paestum. Your hotel is just a few hundred metres from here, so you’ll have the time to visit the archaeological site, dating back to the 6th century BC (UNESCO World Heritage!), where you will admire not only the temples, but also several other monuments. Or you could opt to relax at the swimming pool. Also the sea is nearby (5 minutes by bike), so that we can enjoy a swim, after all the mountain scenery. Tonight we’ll eat on the premises of the hotel.
Distance : 57 km. – optional extra loops possible
Accommodation: Hotel in Paestum – HB
Day 9 From Salerno along Vietri and Cetara into the heart of the Amalfi Coast
Today starts with an early train ride through the plain to Salerno. Here you get on your bikes again and start riding one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline: the stunning Amalfi Coast, defined by some ‘the most scenic ride in the world’. After a short climb up to Vietri, you’ll follow the beautiful winding coastal road to the idyllic village of Cetara, named after the Roman ‘cetus’, tuna fish, which still produces some of the world’s finest. Take your time for a cup of coffee or a cappuccino at the little bar near the tiny port of the village, overlooking the colourful fishermen’s boats lying on the white sandy beach. Then it goes on to Capo d’Orso, the highest point of the road, and a wonderful outlook on the whole of the Amalfi Coast and Capri. After admiring the view it goes on, now downhill on a beautiful winding road through lemon groves, forests and dramatic cliffs, until you arrive at Maiori, the biggest town on the coast. A short stretch around the headland brings you to Minori, with its nice little centre and beautiful seaside boulevard. Then you continue with a short climb towards Castiglione, once part of the defence system of the Amalfi Republic. Here you have the choice of cycling up to marvellous Ravello by bicycle, which is quite a climb, or continuing to Amalfi where you can leave your bicycles at the hotel and then take a bus to Ravello. After passing Castiglione you will cycle through marvellous little Atrani with its whitewashed houses and arrive in Amalfi itself, your base for the night. In the evening you are then picked up by private boat and brought to a nice restaurant located in a beautiful little bay nearby. After dinner you travel back to your hotel, gliding by boat over the glorious Mediterranean..
Distance : 25 km. – optional extra loop to Ravello (10 km.) possible
Accommodation: Hotel in Amalfi – HB
Day 10 Along the Amalfi Coast, Positano and Termini to Sorrento
Today you will explore the second half of the dramatic ‘Strada Amalfitana’ from Amalfi to the town of Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi, located on the very ridge of the peninsula and offering wide views both on the Amalfitan and Sorrentine coasts. You start with the short ride from Amalfi, through Praiano, to Positano, easily the most scenic – and mundane – of the towns on the coast. Shortly after Amalfi you will pass by the scenic ‘Grotta Azzurra’ sea cave which is open to the public and the spectacular ‘fjord’ of Furore, a deep canyon opening up to the sea in which a small fishermen’s villages clings to the rocky cliffs. When arriving at Positano, make sure you cycle down into the town towards its beach from where you can explore its scenic and colourful alley ways by foot – quite obligatory as most of the small back streets you want to have a look at consist of stair ways! After Positano the coast becomes wilder and more rugged, and it is a good climb to arrive at the Colli di San Pietro, beautifully situated on the ridge that separates the Amalfi Coast from the rest of the Sorrentine Peninsula. A short flat stretch then brings you to your hotel at Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi from where you can admire not only the wonderful panorama over the Amalfi coast towards Capri, but also enjoy the view of the Bay of Naples dominated by Mount Vesuvius. You now cycle on the plateau high above the coast towards the very end of the peninsula, Punta Campanella. From the very last village (indeed: called ‘Termini’) you have a great view on Capri. For those who feel like it there is the possibility to descend towards the delightful beach of Marina del Cantone and up again. You then return along the northern coast, with wonderful views of the Bay of Naples and again Mount Vesuvius, through the charming village of Massa Lubrense. A last stretch then brings you down to the seaside resort of Sorrento, perched on high vertical limestone cliffs above the sea. After settling in your hotel, do go far a stroll and visit its city walls, the old town centre with its wonderful gardens and villas, and of course the stunning panoramic terraces, reason why Sorrento was elected the favourite resort town in Victorian times. You are free to choose from the wide selection of restaurants and pizzerias to for your evening meal tonight.
Distance : 55 km. – optional extra loops possible
Accommodation: Hotel in Sorrento – BB
Day 9 End of the tour
The tour ends in Sorrento after breakfast today. A short walk takes you to the local train station from where Naples is 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 except for the last one at 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 will be passing through.
ON THIS INDIVIDUAL SELF-GUIDED CYCLING TOUR WE PROVIDE YOU WITH:
• Accommodation (8 nights).
• Meals: 8 breakfasts, 6 dinners
• 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 (high quality road racing bikes. 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 MONOPOLI which can easily be reached by train from either Bari or Brindisi, both cities with an international airport. From Rome (and many other cities) Bari, and thus Monopoli, can easily be reached.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast on day 9 in SORRENTO. A short transfer can bring you to the local train station from where Salerno and Naples are easily reachable.
|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.
Genius Loci Travel Walking Hiking Kayaking Cycling Trekking Italy Tour holiday
This tour is only an example of a possible ‘Coast-to-Coast’ bike route from Puglia to Amalfi. It is possible to make a longer loop through the Basilicata, spend more time in the Cilento National Park, which offers infinite possibilities for some great bike challenges, and of course you can book extra nights in beautiful places, such as Matera. This tourt can be used as a framework to create a personalised tour, longer or shorter, or with fewer different accomodations. Details and prices on request.
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.