Polignano al Mare
Welcome to magic Polignano al Mare, a beautiful seaside town on the Adriatic coast. You’ll see why so many Italians choose to take their holiday
here! From Bari Airport or Bari train station reach the first hotel in Polignano to meet the group at 12:30 in the hotel lobby for intros and a light lunch.
After lunch we will have time to change into cycling gear for a bike fitting and short safety talk before our warm-up spin along the stunning Adriatic
Coast and up to the Murgia. We conclude our evening with cocktails, dinner, and a leisurely walk around this lovely seaside town.
Polignano al Mare to Alberobello
We’ll ride on rolling, narrow roads lined with stone walls as we travel through a strange fantasyland of conical-shaped houses called trulli. We’ll stop for lunch in Locorotondo and then continue to Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to over 1,000 trulli. We’ll also visit the Cantina Albea for a wine tasting. This winery is located just a short walk from the center of Alberobello and hosts a wine museum that explains the winemaking traditions of the local farmers. Dinner is a great feast of typical, seasonal dishes.
Alberobello to Matera
Today’s ride is one of the flattest, but with several long stretches of very straight road. We continue to see more of the dry stacked stone walls, and they are also far more manicured than the tiny farms we passed in the Trulli land between Alberobello and Martina Franca. We stop in Mottola for views of the Ionian sea and a Ciclismo picnic at an Agriturismo where our friend Giaccomina runs her family’s farm and prepares for us a lunch made with ingredients produced on her farm. The afternoon ride presents vast, less inhabited lands where you can imagine some of the spaghetti westerns being filmed. Finally we arrive in Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a truly unique experience.
Rest Day or Loop to Montescaglioso
A good day to rest and explore Matera or take a short spin to Montescaglioso, a hilltop town with an important ancient abbey where we’ll take a quick visit to the Monastery. This ride provides a preview of the climbs to come during the next days of the tour. We’ll be back in Matera for lunch. In the afternoon we’ll meet with a local guide for a walking tour of this unique 8,000-year-old city.
Matera to Castelmezzano
Today is a spectacular roller coaster ride which rolls through the hilly basilicata landscape. We start with a descent to the Bradano River Valley to Lago di Giuliano. We’ll ride through this World Wildlife Foundation-protected forest of pine and eucalyptus trees. Here we enjoy breathtaking views of the Lago di Giuliano and several of the hilltop villages written about by Carlo Levi in his historic novel Christ Stopped at Eboli . We pass through one of the once important Roman outposts Tricarico, where we’ll have lunch. We then descend with great views of the Piccolo Dolomiti and finish the day climbing to the mountain of Castelmezzano. This is considered by many to be the most difficult climb of the trip. Pace yourself as it gets steeper towards the top.
Castelmezzano to Padula
Starting at approximately 3,200 feet we will actually continue climbing as we leave Castelmezzano. Most of today’s ride follows virtually un-trafficked roads. We encounter a spectacular descent to our lunch spot in Viggiano. Then again we continue to descend until we arrive at the base of our “Cima Coppi”, the most challenging climb of the tour, but oh what a climb and what a view. We will descend through a sweet-smelling pine forest to the town of Padula.
Padula to Palinuro
Today’s ride starts out rolling and without significant elevation gains in the Tangaro Valley. From Sanza we enter the Cilento Park and we start with a climb that begins gently but finishes a bit steeper as we arrive at the top of Passo Inferno “Hell Pass.” After Passo Inferno, we enjoy a long cruising descent to Rofrano followed by another climb passing through Chestnut forests to our lunch spot in Montano Antilia. From here we start to see, more olive trees again—from which comes the prestigious Cilentano olive oil—and the Tyrrhenian Sea! The end of today’s ride rewards us with an incredibly blissful 12-mile descent to the coast.
Rest Day or Palinuro Marina di Pisciotta Loop Ride
Optional rest or ride day! The hotel has a private beach and the crystal clear waters are certainly inviting. Lunch and dinner are on your own so you may choose to eat at the beach or there are several places in town to go to. Or you can get a small boat to pick you up at the beach and take you to the famous “grottos” of the area.
Rest Day Suggestions:
Take a boat ride in the crystal -clear water of the Tyrrhenian along the rocky coast and visit some beautiful Grotte
Enjoy a rejuvenating massage at the hotel’s “Centro Benessere”
Relax on the hotel’s beautiful private beach “La Spiagga di Boun Dorrmire,” “The beach of good sleep”
Palinuro to Maratea
Today’s ride is beautiful and scenic, as we travel along “the other Amalfi Coast,” the stretches of beach that Italians prefer to the more famous and touristy ones farther north. First we head towards Marina di Camarota and Sapri. Then in the afternoon we ride along the narrow cliffs of Cersuta, and just a couple of miles before Maratea we come to a narrow stretch of road known as “Passeggiata Apprezzamo L’asino.” Legend has it that the road used to be so narrow that two donkeys could not pass at the same time. The owners would have to decide which donkey was worth more and the less valuable one would be thrown off the cliff! The owner of this donkey would be paid. Once in Maratea, a charming place known as the “town with 44 churches,” we head to the center for a tasting of local products.
Maratea to Morano Calabro
Today’s route starts with some climbing from the sea. We have a second climb to Lauria, where the 1989 Giro d’Italia started. After Lauria, we continue to climb and eventually enter the Pollino National Park, in Calabria. You’ll notice the elevation change as the lush, green landscape turns stark and mountainous. In the evening we’ll be entertained by Bruzi. This Calabrese folk group travels the world to folk festivals and the full ensemble is composed of more than 100 people! Their performance for us will contain fewer people, but fun and cultural immersion are guaranteed. Bruzi is the ancient name of the Calabrese people. This evening we’ll also be treated to a mozzarella-making demonstration and tasting.
Morano Calabro to Cittadella del Capo
Today’s route is extremely curvy with some difficult climbs as we continue to travel on 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 pass through Firmo, Lungro, and Acquaformosa, all of which are examples of characteristic Albanian villages. In each of these towns, you will notice the monuments to the Viking-looking Albanian hero Georges Skenderberg who headed the resistance against the Turks. The ride finishes with a truly spectacular descent from Passo Scalone, at 2,500 ft all the way to the sea!
After breakfast around 9 am, we provide one group shuttle that will take you to Lamezia airport (2 hours from the hotel, airport code SUF). Expect to arrive at the airport around 11 am.