Bike Across Southern Italy
Kick Into Gear as You Bike Across the Heel and Toe of the Italian Boot.
Fueled by the success of our most popular tour – Bike Across Italy – which crosses central Italy from Fano to Porto Ercole, director Lauren Hefferon designed the perfect Southern Italian sequel: Bike Across Southern Italy. This 12-day bike tour will follow an intriguing southern route moving east to west, covering four enchanting regions: Puglia, Basilicata, Campania and Calabria.
This Ciclismo exclusive begins in Puglia, passing through the magical trulli region to the Basilicata region and Matera, the famous city of stone. In Castelmezzano, feast your eyes on the vast cultivated fields, natural preserves, lava formations, and tiny ancient towns.
From Castelmezzano to Padula, we pedal southwest towards the spectacular coastline of Campania’s Cilento peninsula that has all the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast but without the throngs of tourists and overpriced boutiques. It has miles and miles of dense forests, clear water, pleasant beaches and coves, friendly residents, typical local trattorie, and great fish restaurants. Our four-star accommodations are perched high above the sea in Palinuro and Maratea, two of Italy’s most beautiful coastal towns. The grand finale on this sentimental cycling vacation is a ride to the hometown of our very own Calabrese native, Mauro Rugiero, (Director of Italian Operations and Lauren’s husband): “ecco la bella vita” (here is the beautiful life) which you’ll directly experience and absorb into your heart and soul.
- Enjoy the captivating clusters of conical "trulli" structures, the region’s typical architecture
- The constant perfume of orange and eucalyptus
- Amazing guided visits of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites
- Experience “Old World” hospitality from Italian natives
- Overnight at the King’s Hotel in Palinuro with a beautiful private beach
- Breathtaking rides along the cliffs of the Cilento Coast
- Sampling organic pecorino and fresh peperoncini
Day by Day
Day 1 — Polignano, Hotel Grotta Palazzese
Welcome to Polignano! Today you can either catch our 12pm shuttle from Bari Airport or reach Hotel Grotta Palazzese on your own to meet the group at 1:30pm for lunch, after which we will conduct a bike fitting before our quick spin in the area. Tonight we conclude our evening with cocktails and a leisurely walk around this lovely seaside town.
Day 2 — Alberobello
On your ride today, enjoy rolling, but narrow roads lined with stacked stonewalls and fertile farmlands. Cycling through the land of the unique looking conical shaped houses called "trulli" is a real treat. As the roads meander through the various farming plots, your mind can only wonder what it must have been like to have grown up in this strange fantasy land. The Pugliese country folk are very superstitious and this can be in the interesting and archaic looking figures and designs painted on the roofs of some "trulli".
Day 3 — Matera
Today’s bike ride is one of the flatter ones, with several long stretches on a very straight road. Riding along, we continue to see more of the dry stacked stonewalls dividing farming plots (miles and miles of them), the farms become much larger as we cycle further. They are also far more manicured than the tiny farms we passed in the "trulli" landscape between Alberobello and Martina Franca. Our afternoon ride brings us into a vast stretch of inhabitated lands.
Day 4 — Loop to Montescaglioso
Start your morning riding a couple of busy miles on your way out of town before you transition into a steep and fun descent for about 3 miles. Then, we climb up to Montescaglioso, a hilltop town with an important ancient abbey. This ride provides a preview for our following climbs in the next days to come on tour.
Day 5 — Castelmezzano
Today starts as a spectacular roller coaster ride that skirts Monte Ingino and the Brandano River valley. While cycling through this World Wildlife Foundation protected forest of pine trees and eucalyptus, we’ll encounter breathtaking views of the Lago di Giuliano and tiny hilltop villages. We follow the rolling landscape of the river valley for about 30 kms. At this point, we pedal across the valley and start climbing. This might be the most difficult day of the tour. This local area is sparsely populated. We pass through the once important Roman outposts Tricarico, where we’ll have lunch. On the longer loop, you’ll pass through Grassano, also a former important Roman outpost. We then begin our descent with great views of the "piccolo dolomiti" and finish the day climbing to the mountain borgo of Castelmezzano.
Day 6 — Traversing Basilicata
Starting at approximately 3,200 feet we will continue climbing as we leave Castelmezzano. We encounter a spectacular descent to our lunch spot in Viggiano. We then continue on flat, virtually untraveled roads arriving at the base of our “Cima Coppi”, the most challenging climb of the tour (but oh what a climb and what a view)! We'll descend through a sweet smelling pine forest to the town of Padula. Because this area is very remote and the mileage is abundant, make sure to take plenty of snacks!
Day 7 — The Cilento Park
Today’s ride is a bit difficult, but all the climbing is rewarded at the end with an incredibly blissful 12-mile descent to the coast. We start on mostly flat terrain with elevation gains in the Tangaro Valley. From Sanza we enter the Cilento Park and we start with a climb that begins gently but finishes steep once atop Passo L’ Inferno. After our challenging ascent, we enjoy a long cruising descent to Rofrano followed by a climb to our lunch spot in Montano Antilia. After lunch we descend further to the coast encountering mostly rolling roads. Today is really either up or down once we get into the National Park, but it is beautiful the whole way with excellent views of the Mar Tirreno in the afternoon. The road winds through dense forests of pine, beech-wood, and the occasional eucalyptus grove.
Day 8 — Cilento Coast Loop
Today we head north along the beautiful coast of Cilento, one of Europe’s most picturesque countrysides. Surrounded by lush mountains and gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea we bike to Ascea overlooking the coastal areas of ancient Velia.
Day 9 — Maratea
Today is a beautiful scenic ride along “the other Amalfi Coast,” the stretches of beaches the Italians prefer to the more famous and touristy ones farther north. The scenery is truly breathtaking as we hug some of the cliffs dropping 1000 feet into the crystal clear Mediterranean. First we cycle towards Marina di Camarota and Sapri. In the afternoon we ride along the narrow cliffs of Cersuta. Just a couple of miles before we reach Maratea, we are reminded of a local anecdote as we come across a narrow stretch of road called “Torre Apprezzami l’Asino,” which means, “Tower of the Pricing of a Donkey.” The pass is so narrow that only one donkey can pass at a time so that one of the beasts would be hurled off the cliff after its value was estimated. Pay attention so as not to meet the same fate as the donkey...
Day 10 — Pollino National Park
Today’s route starts with some seriously tough climbing from the sea. We have a second climb to Lauria, where the 1989 Giro d’Italia started. Don’t worry, we will not be climbing the next 2000m they did in that stage race. After Lauria, we continue to climb and eventually enter the Pollino National Park, entering Calabria. Our elevation change is noticed from the lush green environments to stark mountainous landscapes.
Day 11 — Calabria and Cittadella del Capo
Today’s route is extremely curvy with some difficult climbs as we continue to skirt the periphery of the Pollino National Park. The riding is great fun though! We will pass through some of the small towns settled by Albanians who fled from the Turks over 500 years ago. Many of these communities maintain their own language and traditional dress. We’ll pedal through Lungro, which is an example of a characteristic Albanian village. In each of these towns, you will notice the monuments to the Viking-looking Albanian hero Skenderberg who headed the resistance against the Turks.
Day 12 — Arrivederci!
After breakfast, we will shuttle you around 9 am to the Lamezia Airport where you may make connections to Rome or Milan. The shuttle will take almost 2 hours.
- Bike rental equipped with odometer, map case, handlebar and seat bags and bike pump.
- Ciclismo jersey and water bottle
- Shuttles to the beginning and end of tour
On The Tour
- Guided Walking Tours of the Trulli of Alberobello, the Sassi of Matera and the “Certosa” monastery in Padula
- Wine Tasting and visit to Cantina
- Full Van Support
- Cycling Clinics and Coaching
Accommodations & Meals
- All accommodations
- All breakfasts
- 9 dinners
- 2 picnic lunches
- 1 light lunch
Here’s a sampling of some of the amazing places you’ll stay on your journey.
For a full listing, request a detailed itinerary!
Hotel Palazzo del Capo
This 5-star hotel has been a summer residence of the same family for more than two centuries, and opened to the public in 1991 after careful restoration work. Eleven charming rooms feature great views of the crystal clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
View their website
The King's hotel is ideally located on eight acres of property overlooking the Baia del Buondormire on top of Capo Palinuro. It is only five minutes from the town center and ten minutes from the Spiaggia del Mingardo and Arco Naturale, with access to the beach.
View their website
Villa San Domenico
The hotel is situated in the heart of the historic center of Morano Calbro and boasts broad terrace with views of the Pollino mountains.
View their website