Cycling through the 'Cilento Antico' ('Via Silente' - 6 days / 5 nights)
The region of Campania has been known as a paradise on earth since ancient times. 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 through this 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 of amazing natural beauty, where crystal-clear water laps at uncontaminated rocky coasts, and wild untamed forests cover high mountain peaks.
The ‘Via Silente’ is a journey of 600 km. through this magical, authentic, sometimes harsh, sometimes stunningly beautiful area, developed by the Association “La Via Silente”. The route is named after the typical ‘sound’ of the places you will discover: Silence. Cycling along the Via Silente you’ll experience the real sound of silence, which will completely neutralize the day-to-day noise you are probably used to.
The original route describes a circle, touching both the shores and mountains of the Cilento National Park, and is divided in 13 stages, with two optional stages to climb the mountains Cervati (1899 m.) and Gelbison (1705 m.). At Genius Loci Travel we have developed two tours which roughly follow the ‘Silent Way’, but taking out the least interesting and too challenging parts, while putting in some extra’s, and making you stay in the best possible, most authentic, and most welcoming accomodations, to make you really go ‘under the skin’ of the real Cilento. We have called this route the ‘Via Cilento’.
This short tour covers the first part, the northwestern loop of the ‘Via Cilento’, uniting the initial and the beautiful final part, for a total of 190 Km subdivided in 5 stages.
The first part of the route is very picturesque. It passes through the quaint fishing villages of Pioppi and Acciaroli. From there, it continues for 40 Km following the beautiful coastal line. From Castellabate you start cycling inland and will discover some of the most authentic village of the area. You’ll stay overnight in Vatolla and Stio, both little gems, authentic representations of rural southern Italy. From Stio along a magnificent route, full of pleasant surprises you then return to the plain again, after having experienced a great week in the Cilento.
Your time on the Silent Way will be magical, but not without difficulty. In fact, The Silent Way goes sometimes through a very harsh land, wild, and for that reason authentic. We are sure that during this tour you will learn to know and love the Cilento area, discovering its many natural and cultural treasures. Even more so you will be pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of its people, who will make you feel like a welcomed guest.
Please note: this is a moderate tour which is suitable for all those who have some experience of bicycle touring and are in a good general physical condition. On some of the inland stretches you may encounter some steeper climbs (vehicle support possible). Two of the steepest climbs can be booked as an optional extra. Average cycling times: approx. 3-5 hours each day.
Day 1 Arrival – Casalvelino (Marina)
After your arrival at Casalvelino you will be picked up from the train station and brought to your first accommodation. Your bike will be waiting for you here. In case you are early want to try it out already you could go for a short ride to the Greek city of Velia or ride down to the beach for a quick dip before turning in and getting settled in at the hotel. In the late afternoon you will be welcomed by your local host and receive your ‘Silentina’ as well as the full information package. You will have a first great meal based on local specialties at the premises of your hotel or agriturismo.
Day 2 From Casalvelino to Pollica 1st Stage of The Silent Way
Your journey begins in the plain of the Alento River, a nice way to warm up a bit, before tackling the first, easy hills along the coastal route to Pioppi, a wonderful small village with an ancient castle that today hosts the Museum of the ‘Mediterranean Diet’. In alternative you can follow the ‘original Via Silente’ and tackle some more serious hills, heading for Acquavella and continuing in the direction of Stella Cilento, on the slopes of Mount Stella. From Stella Cilento, continuing on SP77 for 3 km, you will arrive in Omignano. There, in the main square of the village you can visit the “laboratory” of the artisan basket maker Giuseppe Giuliano. The Silent Way continues in the direction of Galdo. Take a rest at the Caffe’ Letterario (the literary cafe). In this place “thoughts shape themselves”, do not miss it. You then pass through the charming hamlets of Celso and Pollica, with great views over the sea. This first stage finishes in beautiful Canicchio, on the slopes of the Monte Stella. Its view on the Mediterranean Sea, just on above Acciaroli is priceless.
Distance: 37 km.
Day 3 From Pollica to Vatolla 2nd Stage of The Silent Way
Today you will reach the sea very soon. You will be able to reach it at dawn, when fishermen will be coming back from the catch of the night. The road is downhill, full of turns for 8 km, and passes through typical Olive plants. Once you are on RS267 you will have in the village of Pioppi behind you. If you want, it only takes 2 minutes to reach it so that you can stop and drink a coffee on the square before beginning your journey again towards Acciaroli, a quaint little fishing village, loved by Hemingway. More recently, it has becoming a beloved summer resort. From here, without leaving the coastline for a second, you will reach Agnone and Ogliastro Marina. You are now very close to Punta Licosa and its little island that carries the same name. Between Ogliastro Marina and the following village Pozzillo, in a piece of 8 km, you will cycle in the middle of a pine tree forest, a Pinus halepensis reserve, among the oldest and better preserved of the entire area of the Cilento National Park.
Immediately after the village of San Marco, you leave the coast once again to begin the exploration of Cilento’s heart. Here, you will face the first significant slope of The Silent Way. This slope, will allow you to reach the village of Castellabate. Visiting Castellabate is truly worth it, especially its ancient castle whose building begun on October 10th, 1123. After Castellabate, you will climb to Perdifumo, then Mercato Cilento and finally Vatolla. Make sure that you visit Palazzo De Vargas here. The place hosts the museum dedicated to Gianbattista Vico (an Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist). Still oday it is possible to sit in the shadow of the Vico’s olive tree, in the square of the Convento della Pieta’. It is exactly in this place, in the absolute surrounding peace, that Vico set in place his theory of the Science of History.
Distance: 47.5 km.
Day 4 From Vatolla along Cicerale to Stio 3rd & 4th Stage of The Silent Way
From Vatolla, the third stage proceeds to Mercato Cilento; from here, by a long dirt road that starts from the Convento del Carmine, you get to Rocca Cilento, dominated by the Angevin-Aragon fortress. Then you go down to Torchiara, beautiful center located on a scenic ridge. Continue on SS18 until, before reaching Ogliastro Cilento, a small road on the right will lead you to the village of Finocchito, then in Monte Cicerale, and finally Cicerale. Mercato Cilento in the Middle Ages was the point of convergence of the main roads have the territory of Monte Stella and became a place of trade following the construction of a church in the fifteenth century, probably built in 1472 by the Carmelites along with their convent, leaning against the side church.
The dirt road uphill to the side of the convent of Mount Carmel is the first part of an interesting path that follows the ridge, with views of both inward land and toward the sea. The road skirts the thick woods of the Forest of San Francesco and finally reaches in view of the spectacular castle of Rocca Cilento. The first information on this site can be found in a manuscript of the year 1110. There, the decision of William Sanseverino to move the seat of the Barony of Cilento from the fortress on the top of Mount Stella to Rocca Cilento, is described. The castle is one of the most characteristic monuments in the landscape of Cilento, set atop a hill at 635 m above sea level. Leaving Rocca Cilento on the road you will pass by the old Convent of San Francesco, founded in 1417 by St. Bernard of Siena with the help of some noble families of the place. Past Torchiara, the Silent Way continue for 3.5 km on SS18, until a panoramic road on the right takes you to the tiny village of Finocchito. Stop and rest on the square outside the church, where silence reigns.
After Finocchito, continue in the direction of Cicerale, named after the Latin expression Terra quae cicera alit, meaning “land that feeds the chickpeas.” Now you cycle above one of the largest reservoir of the entire territory of Cilento and Vallo di Diano: the Alento Lake. Around the dam, the ‘Oasis’ now is a ideal place for birdwatchers. After Cicerale, you will continue towards the village of Trentinara (606m.), clinged to a rocky mountain that looks down on the valley of the Sele river. From the panoramic square at the top of the village, you can clearly see the Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi coast) and Punta Licosa. From Trentinara to the village of Monteforte and then to Magliano, the road goes gently uphill. Your next stop will be the village of Stio, where you will be staying in a beautiful, welcoming B&B. Take some time to visit Stio and pay a visit to the lute maker’s Museum Trotta as well as the – completely unexpected – modern art museum.
Distance: 57.5 km.
Day 5 From Stio along Moio to to Castelnuovo Cilento 4th & 15th Stage of The Silent Way
Leaving Stio, you will ride a beautiful road to either Moio della Civitella or directly to Gioi (shortcut). This last stage is also known as the artists stage: from music to visual arts, nothing will be left out to greet your passage on the Cilento National Park. Moio della Civitella, a few kilometers from Cannalonga, is home of the event Mojoca. Every year, in early August, the town is transformed into a huge stage by calling through its narrow streets and small town squares, street artists from all over Italy. Immediately after Moio, you’ll reach the village of Pellare, which houses the Museum of Rural Life of Cilento and the laboratory of the great artist sculptor Emanuele Stifano. Go to visit him, he will be happy to show you and talk about his work. From Pellare the route continues towards Gioi Cilento where another great artist, the painter Mario Romano, will be awaiting you in his house and museum, if you are lucky, he will take you on a visit to the ancient churches of the village. After Gioi, you reach Piano Vetrale, well known for its many murals and for being the birthplace of the greatest artists of the Cilento, Paolo De Matteis, esteemed painter, active mainly in Naples during baroque époque riding the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. You leave the village through a nice downhill road to the valley below to Omignano Scalo. Crossing the village you will get to Vallo Scalo first and, at the last intersection, turning left to Castelnuovo Cilento. The castle tower that can be seen among the foliage of the forest is ready to give you the welcome back and end your extraordinary journey along the Silent Way!
Distance: 60 km.
Day 6 End of the tour
The tour ends after breakfast today. A private transfer can take you back to the train station, Naples or Salerno. A taxi transfer to other destinations can be arranged on request.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic hotels, B&B’s and agriturismo’s (generally 3-star). All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Dinners are included on some days. On other nights you are free to make your own dinner arrangements. On request all dinners can be included – at fine restaurants.
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.
UPGRADE/CHANGES IN ACCOMMODATION
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details and prices on request.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Easy to Moderate (2-3): Mostly moderate rides but with some longer climbs. All roads are well paved and mainly quiet, with limited traffic except for some periods during summer and holidays near the coast. Extensions are possible on some days.
Fitness: Some experience of 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, even in hot weather.
ON THIS INDIVIDUAL SELF-GUIDED CYCLING TOUR WE PROVIDE YOU WITH:
- Accommodation: 5 nights in good *** hotels, B&B’s or agriturismo’s – like below or similar:
- 2 nights Hotel*** or agriturismo Casalvelino HB
- 1 night Villa Canniclo – BB – Cannicchio (Pollica)
- 1 night B&B La Carosella – BB – Vatolla
- 1 night B&B Il Portigo – BB – Stio
- Meals: 5 breakfasts, 2 dinners
- Extensive route notes, with description of the route & tourist information
- Maps at 1 : 50.000 scale (or better) ; GPS waypoints and tracks (optional)
- 24/7 assistance
- Private transfers as specified
- Luggage transport
- Departure taxes & Visas
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Optional additional tours or activities
- Items of personal nature
- Luggage transport
- Bicycle rental (available on request: www.genius-loci.it/tour/rental-bikes )
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in CASALVELINO (MARINA), 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 from here Vallo della Lucania, the nearby train station, can easily be reached.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast in CASALVELINO (MARINA). A short transfer can bring you to the train station where Salerno and Naples are easily reachable.
N.B. Luggage transport is NOT included in the above price, but available on request at a cost of € 55 per person (minimum 2 persons). 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.
This tour is a short tour roughly following the ‘Via Silente’. A 14-day version which roughly follows the whole route, covering the most interesting parts of the Cilento National Park, can be booked as well.
For the tough cyclists – and for those with road bikes – it is possible to add two extra loops to the highest mountains of the Cilento: Monte Cervati and Monte Gelbison, staying one extra night in Sanza and Ceraso respectively, turning the tour in a 16-day tour.
It is possible to extend your tour with a few days in Paestum, Salerno, along the beautiful Amalfi Coast or in Naples. Details and prices on request. Extra cycling and/or sightseeing options can be provided!
It is possible to include extra nights in any of the accommodations en route. Descriptions for extra rides and sightseeing options will be provided!!! It is also possible to extend your tour with a few days in Salerno, or with a few days cycling along the beautiful Amalfi Coast. Details and prices on request.