The Paestum & Cilento Bike Challenge - 6 days - BRCI6
Paestum and Cilento Bike Challenge
Riding through the amazing scenery of the Cilento National Park, one of the biggest and most diverse of Italy
6-day road cycling tour with different bases in charming hotels & agriturismo’s
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 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.
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. You’ll visit some of the nicest medieval villages of the area, where the traditional way of life is still evident. And you’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 you will move inland from the plain of Paestum, cycling through the Cilento’s foot hills offering wide views on its marvellous coast line. You’ll pass through Trentinara, spectacularly located on top of a sheer rock cliff, and halt at Felitto near the spectacular canyon of the Calore River, where you can admire several medieval bridges. The next couple of days you will explore the mountainous inland of the region, passing through the wild nature of the Cervati massif on your way to the village of Morigerati situated high above the Gulf of Policastro in the far south of the Cilento Region. From here you then make your way to the fishermen’s village of Pioppi underneath Mount Stella, enjoying wonderful views of the limestone cliffs of Mount Bulgheria and the marvellous coast line between Marina di Camerota and Pisciotta. On your last day you 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.
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). Paestum is then easily reached by train from either Naples or Salerno.
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 evening you can have a pre-dinner ‘aperitivo’ in one of the bars with view of the temples before eating dinner in the hotel.
Hotel in Paestum – HB
Day 2 Paestum to Bellosguardo
Before taking off for your first day’s cycling trip, you may take your time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Paestum and its famous Greek temples. After your visit you can hop on your bikes and start your cycling adventure. From the archaeological area of Paestum you head in direction of the foot hills of the Cilento area, passing first through Ogliastro Cilento and then towards Cicerale. From Cicerale you cycle through lush country side to the village of Trentinara, spectacularly located on top of a sheer rock face from where you enjoy a magnificent view on the Paestum plain. It then goes on to the villages of Monteforte Cilento and Magliano Vetere. Along your way you’ll have plenty of time for a refreshing stop in one of the villages to fill up your water bottles or why not, have a cup of coffee or a cappuccino. You can stop for lunch along the road, either at Magliano Vetere or shortly after. After lunch you enter the valley of the Calore River, passing by Felitto and Castel San Lorenzo. Along this stretch of your trip you can admire several medieval bridges crossing the river, all the while cycling through beautiful countryside on quiet, well paved roads. The last part of your day’s trip takes you to your lovely family run agriturismo near the panoramic village of Bellosguardo. Here you have the opportunity to relax on your terrace while sipping a glass of wine, taking in the wonderful view over the agriturismo’s vine yards before eating a well deserved dinner.
Distance : 83 km – Altitude gain : 1670 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5 hours
Agriturismo in Bellosguardo – HB
Day 3 From Bellosguardo to Morigerati
Today’s trip takes you from the Alburni Mountains to the little village of Morigerati high above the Gulf of Policastro in the south of the Cilento area. You leave Bellosguardo in the morning and after few km 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 you pass on the bridge high above the Sammaro Gorge and arrive at Sacco, located directly underneath several high limestone cliffs. From Sacco you start climbing up into the Monte Cervati mountain range, the very heart of the Cilento. You follow quiet roads through cultivated fields and wild forests, often for times on an end without meeting any traffic. From Piaggine you climb up to the Croce di Pruno plateau situated at 1200 m a.s.l. You then launch yourself into the exhilarating descent that takes you in direction of the isolated village of Rofrano. Shortly before arriving here, you will however turn east and after a short climb, head for the little town of Sanza, situated on a hill top in the Bussento River valley. From Sanza a winding road flanking the river, takes you first to the hamlet of Caselle in Pittari and then to delightful Casaletto Spartano. Up here in the mountains you will cycle along deep gorges and through wild nature, enjoying unexpected views of the Gulf of Policastro! From Casaletto you then continue to Torraca before arriving at your evenings’ base in the medieval village of Morigerati. Alternatively you could head from Caselle in Pittari directly to Morigerati, shortening you route several km. Tonight you’ll have a great dinner based on local specialties.
Distance : 78/109 km – Altitude gain : 1610 / 1950 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5/6 hours
Country inn at Morigerati – HB
Day 4 From Morigerati to Pioppi
Today’s stage takes you along a large part of the southern coast of the Cilento to the little fishermen’s village of Pioppi, situated underneath Mount Stella. You will cycle through the hilly country close to the coast, passing by olive groves and chestnut forests. You start by descending from Morigerati to Policastro Bussentino, and then climb steeply up to San Giovanni a Piro. Once you arrive in the village, lying directly underneath the steep cliffs of Mount Bulgheria, the hardest part of the day is already 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 laid back Palinuro and the medieval hill top village of Pisciotta, dominated by enormous trees in its olive groves. Alternatively you could climb up from Marina to Camerota and then head to Licusati from where you then have the opportunity to enjoy an exhilarating descent full of hair pin curves into the Mingardo River valley, before cycling to Palinuro. This option will add only a few km, but up to 400 m of altitude gain to your day’s trip! After passing through Pisciotta you will head inland again, climbing up to the hamlets of Rodio and Terradura, beautifully located in lush mountain scenery, and then descend to the coast again. After passing through Ascea you will arrive at Castellamare di Velia. Here you have the opportunity to visit 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’ (Pink Gate), one of the first examples of the use of the vault in Greek architecture. Alternatively you could continue from Pisciotta directly to Ascea, leaving you more time to visit Velia and relax in the afternoon. Anyway, after your visit to the site you continue on flat roads through the Alento River plain to your hotel at Casalvelino Marina or Pioppi for a hot shower and some relaxation. You can make a relaxed stroll along the sea shore in the evening before having a nice dinner.
Distance : 88/98 km – Altitude gain : 1325/1620 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 5/6 hours
Hotel in Casalvelino Marina / Pioppi – HB
Day 5 From Pioppi to Paestum by way of Mount Stella
Today you will explore the small back roads connecting the many hamlets on the slopes of Mount Stella. From your hotel in Pioppi you head inland and shortly after start climbing up to Acquavella. From there on you continuously climb and descend through the wooded hilly country, first to Stella Cilento and then to Omignano. Here you can halt for a short break to fill up your water bottles and you may take your time to drink cup of coffee at a local bar. You then have the opportunity of climbing up to the very top of Mount Stella, looking out over most of the Cilento region, which will however add another 13 km and 650 meters of altitude gain to your day’s trip! Possibly you may continue straight to the villages of Sessa Cilento and Mercato Cilento from where you start descending towards the city of Agropoli. A short detour now takes you uphill again in direction of Perdifumo, and then on to the little town of Castellabate, beautifully located on a hill high above the coast. Here you can visit the delightful medieval centre of the town, dominated by its castle, and have lunch admiring the marvellous view on the coast in front of you. From Castellabate you can then enjoy a swift descent towards San Pietro, after which you gently climb up again for few km before whizzing down to the port of Agropoli. Alternatively you could skip the climb uphill to Perdifumo and Castellabate 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 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 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. 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 : 61 / 88 km – Altitude gain : 950 /1260 m – Cycling time (no breaks included) : 4 / 5 hours
Hotel in Paestum – BB
Day 6 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 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.
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: The next night you stay in a country inn in the village centre of the charming Morigerati.
Night 4: Tonight you stay in a very nice hotel in the fishermen’s village of Pioppi (or in Casalvelino Marina). The little port and some nice beaches are only a short walk away.
Night 5: The last night is spent again in the hotel at Paestum.
ON THIS INDIVIDUAL SELF-GUIDED CYCLING TOUR WE PROVIDE YOU WITH:
• Accommodation: 2 nights Paestum, 1 night Bellosguardo, 1 night Morigerati,
1 night Pioppi (or Casalvelino Marina); all nights in good 3-star hotels,
agriturismo’s and country inns.
• Meals: 5 breakfasts, 4 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 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.
|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 bike challenge in the Cilento National Park, which offers infinite possibilities for some great bike challenges. It can be used as a framework to create a personalised tour, longer or shorter, or with fewer different accomodations, in order to lower the transport costs. Or with an extension to the beautiful Amalfi Coast. 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.