What did we do in December again? Southern Italy

It’s time to catch up, so here are some facts to cover our trip from Bari to Rome…
– If you ride 80km NW from Bari, then get persuaded to go Matera (if an Italian host tells you you must visit somewhere back the way you came, you ride back the next day the way you came) you will pass a lot of signs for Bari with distressingly low distances. (25km?!)

 

Trani, up the coast from Bari, before we rode back down to Matera…
 
– Dogs are not so chilled here as Albania. It is scary when there are a pack of about 8 growling and chasing. One was possibly crossed with a polar bear.

– Old men sit around playing cards and drinking beer (am) or stand in the street chatting (pm).

– In Matera in December there is the World’s biggest Nativity. I am not sure how this is qualified, but this was actors and scenery spread out over a long and very scenic walk with many candles. 

– Matera has cave houses and an amazing gorge. It was used for the filming of ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ This does not translate well back from Italian so people mainly said ‘The Passion of Mel Gibson.’ I think this would be a very different film.

 

Matera. Nice place. Worth the detour.
 
– The motorway across the south of Italy is quite a work of engineering with huge bridges and tunnels. This is so cars can easily cross the mountain range. Bicycles are not allowed on this road, so go up and down the many hills. 

– Road signs here are very unreliable. We saw them in this order: POTENZA 85; POTENZA 95; POTENZA 87; POTENZA 49; POTENZA 63. This is quite disheartening when you are trying to ride a bike to Potenza. Up and down the aforementioned hills.

– Towns are built on the top of hills, and look like they might fall off at any time. This looks impressive, but may well have been designed to wear out cyclists. (Ok maybe for defensive purposes too, but this was probably secondary).

 

Hill top towns. nice for photos, not nice for the legs.
 
– If you camp at 700m+ in December there will be frost on your tent.

 

Packing up after camping in the frost. #not helpful
 
– The Amalfi Coast is exactly like it should be. Lovely. Great on a bike.

  
– December 8th is a public holiday in Italy. There will be fireworks.

 

Fireworks and christmas lights on the Amalfi coast…. you’re spoiling us
 
– The Napoli area is not pleasant for cycling, but like many aspects of this trip would make a good computer game; dodge the car doors/reversing cars/motorbikes/wing mirrors, ask the right local for directions, avoid the small streets that end in stairs, unlucky – your tyre went in a tram line, lose a continue and go back to Sorrento.

– Pompeii and Ercolano are very extensive. Walking around them is not a rest day. The details are the best bits, bar signs, shelves in the shops still there.

 

The ruined city of Ercolano
  
You had to beware of dogs in the South of Italy 2000 years ago as well… (Pompeii)
 – People in Pozzuoli are very friendly and the amphitheatre is well worth a visit. Some of the areas along the coast north of here were a little unsettling. We knew we had crossed a divide for the better when road cyclists started to outnumber by-the-hour hotels again.

– There are many Italian road cycling clubs in the area between Formia and Rome. It was great cycling along the coast with their encouragement and one day a great draft! We also enjoyed meeting the biciroma.it team in the centre of Rome, and still have the stickers to prove it!

 

Hanging out with some real cyclists for a change, south of Rome
 
Thanks to: Daniela and Nico; Princess Merida of Matera; Enzo and his dog; Lucio, Katia, Nico and friends; Alessandro, Elisa and the best Sengalese chef we have met; the many road cyclists of Rome who made our last weekend cycling so much fun!

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