Firstly, a big thank you to #iloveadventures for organizing this amazing trip and to my cycle buddy Nitesh from who I borrowed the contents since I could barely remember the places and the history behind it, with all that gruelling cycling 🙂
This cycling trip took us through the best routes and contrasts of the region, from the unknown and unspoilt nature of Cilento to the popular lively Amalfi Coast.
We left Dubai early am on the 26th of April and arrived Naples airport (via Istanbul) late in the evening. We met our other fellow cyclist at Naples airport and drove to our hotel in Palinuro, a lively picturesque village on the southern coast of Cilento (approx 3 hrs from Naples). Overnight at Park Hotel Cilento.
We enjoyed a super ride starting in the lovely town of Marina di Camerota, passing through towns and villages, scaling mountains and riding through the Italian countryside. Went past towns of Celle de bulghera, Acquavena, Pornia, San Giovanni a Piro, Lentiscosa, Marina Camerota, Casaburi, and more!!! Wonderful to see the tranquil costal line and the quaint little churches and villages… Lunched in the typical Italian way of pasta, pizza and the cold meats ending with my favorite hot chocolate. Group completed 56km passing through 1400m elevation! What a way to celebrate Easter Sunday! Overnight at Park Hotel Cilento.
We enjoyed another breathtaking day riding along the southern coast of the Cilento National Park, the most unspoilt stretch of coastline in Southern Italy, going past the uphill and the downhills of the ride, offering spectacular view of the Gulf of Policastro. Invigorating and self testing!!! The day had a boat ride, a walk and a 48km cycle ride with elevation of 1148m. Nothing more enchanting and surreal than the quite countryside along the coastline. Passed through Casa Valeno, Ascea, Pisciotta. The boat ride of a round trip of an hour and a half , looking at the coast and also the caves was reminiscent of the “touristy thing”, but worth the Stalactite & Sulphur smell in the caves. The ethereal incoming sun rays reflected pristine azure water!
Enjoyed the delicious lunch of authentic and local town Italian food!
Day 3 – Capo Palinuro, Pisciotta and Casalvelino
Yet another entertaining day. With climbs and drops, 1306 m in elevation gained and 60km of distance, 56km thru towns and 4km thru the city along with two village walks. The day started with visiting a village that is famous for centenary people ! 100+ club ! The American missionary set up a clinic and the village has an American and Italian influence ! We visited the Ave Maris Stella church – beautiful frescos and artifacts. Interestingly the railing outside the church had locks that lovebirds make for each other ! Passing through Agnone, Bajadi pini, Marina di casa velino, the day ended with us cycling into the hotel in the city of Paestum. Tomorrow would be a walk to see the ancient roman ruins and then a 20km ride! Overnight at an eco friendly hotel.
We stopped by a beach side town where we ate lunch. The lunch at Acciaroli was a good rest to the 5 course meals we have been eating ! We made our own sandwiches (Italian ham, salami and local bakery bread) with items picked up from the stores in the village. Italian riveria to say the least! With the beach, it felt so leisurely and surreal!
The most beautiful Coastline descend of the trip! The day started with a walk to a Roman ruin, a train journey and then the bike ride. Cycled around 20km for the day which comprised of a 2 km of city ride and 18km of uphill and downhill. The elevation gained was 1464m and with max elevation of 160m. This had one of the best challenges in terms of bends and elevation, though a short ride this did take the steam off at the climb. Interestingly saw a few cyclists in full gear zooming and zipping, easily their cup of tea! An Italian wine was a befitting treat to the ascend and the descend at Almafi town – Mineri. The mix of interspersing historical relevance to the sporty holiday is a very good mix! Just helps one going. Saw the ruins of Pasteum , Campania – at the ancient temple of Psueodian (Roman architecture is so systematic and well laid out, geometry and precision). The bikes were transported in the vehicle while we boarded and given to us at Salenero to ride up and do the 20km coast ride. We also went to St Mathews church at Salenero, where the brilliant frescos ordained the walls and ceilings. The church has the St. Mathew shrine where the saints body is preserved and kept. Pious and Beautiful the church is grandeur and yet another church ! Day 5 starts tomorrow and the toughest rides! Overnight at Hotel Villa Rita.
We cycled to the extreme south west part of Italy, along the Amalfi coast line. This was indeed the toughest day of cycling and just a befitting end of the cycling trip. 78km of riding and at an gained evaluation of nearly 6500m (equivalent to climbing a mountain)! We started at Minori and went past the breath of the Italian terrain to Sorento, passing through Amalfi, Praiano, Lorito, Positano, Coli di Fonetinelli, Agnello. Each of the towns had their own challenges to the ride, the hairpin bends on the descends, the steep uphill , the gradual ascends , the gradients made it so challenging physically and tactfully on your gear mechanism. Switching from the high to low and low to high on both sides of the handle bar and then still maintaining a momentum wasn’t easy. Funny of all expecting challenges in this grueling contest meant one was really on an high adrenaline push! What made it truly exhilarating were the sceneries – the Italian coastline is stunning to say the least. Amafi was a citadel of maritime activity and served as a key territory in that Roman Empire). There is something magical in the towns and the character of the Mediterranean sea and Positano is a place for the fashionista with local designers and art galleries! Apparently Sting has a house here. We were briefed by Paolo that this is now a sought after place to stay for Hollywood celebrities. Before our lunch descend we stopped to admire the panoramic view of the city below, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background and city of Pompeii. What stuns me is the architecture of this area, that has the Byzantine, Moor, Arabic influence,the blend makes it so distinctly artistic, in its own right and in its entirety. The beautiful church steeples keep reminding one of the character and influence pervading here. Today we did 75km and 6800m cumulative elevation!!! Enjoyed every minute of this incredible challenge! Overnight at Hotel Santa Lucia Minori.
Day 6 (sightseeing) – Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius
Art in Pompeii was another insight into the way life and society as such was represented in the BC era of Pompeii, Cupids, Apollo, Python, Zeus, and many more mythological characters are represented in the Frescos of houses in Pompeii. Like any other city, Pompeii, was well colonized and had the rich and poor strata’s, this was seen in the structure of the houses and the art inside the same. The “House of Faun”, has a rich mosaic depicting the battle between Alexander the Great and Darius the Persian King. The figure in the courtyard represents Faun’s statue in a grand posture, he has a tail as well. The life & characters ones sees here, are of a mix of Hellenistic, Greek, Samnite & Roman era. By records around 80BC, Pompeii, was given the status of a Roman colony under Colonia Cornelia Pompeianorum and run as a Roman colony. The “Forum Baths” were another interesting site to see, one can’t help but marvel at this development, that too in the BC era, with sections for cold – Frigidarium, Lukewarm Baths – Tepidarium, Hot Baths – Calidarium. The structure and the lighting is perfect for a real Royal bath! There was Terracotta frames on the wall with various Motifs. The “Theatres”, the “Amphitheaters”, we saw, were classic! Outstanding to see the modern world mimic such an old civilization, impromptu, we had some school kids run down the center of the amphitheater and start their Opera Jig! that was thee 2 mins of stardom !!!! True history lesson at Pompeii, ending with the molten bodies of the victims that were frozen, due to the volcanic eruption of the Vesuvius.
Vesuvius, 79AD, erupted to destroy the city of Pompeii, the Volcano had 4 eruptions. We walked up the Vesuvius and saw the Crater. Majestic as it looks from the Bay of Naples, the Vesuvius, just brings back all history lessons!
A massive thank you to our awesome threesome tour manager, intern and the bike/van owner (Paolo, Alex, Raphael) who encouraged us, never gave up on us and kept pushing us to do our best and enjoy the ride!
Seeing this group again brings back a lot of great memories. This trip and the memories that were made will remain a part of me forever. I discovered that bike touring is a true passion for most of them. I loved photographing the unique, picturesque sceneries and the beautiful skies that each time reminded me of how small I am, but how much greatness I can achieve. I loved that feeling of complete fulfillment after overcoming the daily challenges.
Lastly, I realized that the end is never really the end, until it truly is. So while I am sad that I am no longer partaking in this lifestyle at this point in time, I feel so fortunate to have had a chance to witness the end of what will be a new beginning of something else for myself and for my cycle buddies. I am so proud of each one of them and I am lucky to have shared in this journey with them.
As they say put the fun in between your legs, so that is what I will be doing now on 😉