It was a long time i didn’t have a bicycle trip. I chose south of Italy because of the mild climate and stunning views.
About the second i was right.
During the autumn of 2019 i noticed a new way to travel: the night train.
While browsing the official Italian railway website, i noticed this cheap and smart solution: it’s possible to take the train after work, travel on friday night and start to work hard from the next morning.
After many attempts i concluded that the best way had to be from Foggia to Naples by bike.
2) What to visit
4) How to get here
6) Photo Gallery
• What to visit
A bike trip is not something you can plan into details. It’s better to have a general road footprint and then improvise along the way. Even with a very detailed topography it would be a very harsh job to detect all the climbs, the viewpoints, etc.
Much better is to buy train tickets and get going.
The start is From Porta Nuova station in Turin at 2030 of a cold new year’s eve. The wagon is empty and the bike stays very comfortable. In other case a bike bag would have been needed.
After the usual complaint of the train manager finally i start towards Foggia.
I have a quite comfortable bunk in a night train. The perfect and cheap solution travelling south of Italy from the north. At 0530 i’m arrived and i start to bicycle across Foggia, a quite big town of Apulia. I spend some time with the local people having a breakfast at Caffe dell’Alba, a tasty bar opened 24 hours. I’m the most awake and i start to cross the central street of Foggia, testing the new photographic equipment just bought. Actually it’s only a selfie stick with bluetooth, but i need to understand it.
A low profile Xiaomi is not comparable to a good reflex tuned for video (my dream is a Sony Alpha 7M3), but it’s much lighter and more handy.
The temperature is quite good and i can cycle without the heavy ski gloves i brought with me. Cycling SW the road starts to climb and at 0930 i’m entering Campania.
The first stop is Savignano Irpino, built at the top of a hill. The new road just opened is very steep and i notice i don’t have a 4T engine in my legs, but only legs.
The big cross that attracted me from the road below is part of the property of De Guevara Castle, from the name of the last family who owned it. It was a norman castle built in a strategic position, monitoring all the valley.
A preciosity is the manner of the local people: in the only opened bar of 1.1 each people entering into it shakes my hand and say “hello and good year”. I’m touched.
I had my lunch in Ariano Irpino, a quite big village built on several hills, but always in a raised position.
American coffe and quick visit to local Norman castel, headquarted of a museum of that period. Normans conquered this area since XII c. They founded the Kingdom of Sicily, who survived until sicilian vesper of 1282. A rare example of interreligious coexistence. I’m near Grand Hotel Biffy, a really noticeable place in this hidden part of Italy. I suggest it and also the prices are competitive.
Since the sun goes down at 17, usually the day ends very early. At 15 i was just in the bed, recovering from the hilly 67km. The second part of the afternoon is spent in a fantastic pastry shop, Incontro Service. Baba’ and sicilian cannoly are my favourites.
The breakfast of the following day, eaten into the Biffy hotel, it’s something indescribable: plentiful and varied. I think i are 6 briosche and local pastries. After all the bicycle requires a lot of calories to run long distances. I calculated 1 km of running is around 5km of bicycle, in flat and steady conditions. So 14 kCal/km, a baba’ every 20-25 km.
The roads approching the big cities of Benevento and Avellino start to get worse. And i’ve lost my beautiful ski gloves, i bought in Cervinia in 3.18 after losing another pair. They were expensive. F**k.
Only 47′ to Benevento, and i visit Santa Maria de Episcopio cathedral, Santa Sofia church and Trajan arch. The last 2 are especially interesting. The Santa Sofia church is the first church in the world with octagonal plant, emblem of Longobardic power (after Pavia, Benevento was the second city for importance. During XI c. it has been one of the most beautiful and rich cities in the world).
Trajan arch has been built to celebrate the power of Trajan emperor, in the point in which Via Appia enters the city. You can consider the end of construction works of this work as the pinnacle of roman empire (117 AD).
The current roads are in wors conditions than in Via Appia, and with a bicycle without dampers you can feel it very well.
Avellino is quite similar to Benevento as size, but in my opinion is slighly older as concept. The only relevant thing is the Clock Tower: a baroque tower in dark tones built in the XVII c. on a previous clock tower. A Mobius strip.
Entering the road to Salerno is like changing season: starting from Montoro the road goes down quickly, and the temperature, just like the moisture, becomes pleasant.
Finally i can pull back the gloves and enjoy the sun. In Salerno i stay in B&B Enselude, a basic apartment in a very central position. I slept with the bike. Interesting are the local chinese restaurant (it’s always a pleasure to practise 中文) and the main cupcake shop of the city. Some calories for the >100 km of the day.
Salerno is still adorned with christmas lights and the atmosphere is quite relaxed.
The house owner tell me something i didn’t want to hear: the road for Amalfi il closed due to a landslide. That means a long deviation north, passing through Nocera and the next Chiunzi pass. ~450 m drop are not so easy to perform, especially considering the km i just put in my legs.
In any case the problem it will not the climb, but the cold instead: Nocera is one of the coldest point i touched and i did all the way over 20 km/h.
Chiunzi pass is the entrance of a mountain area called “Monti Lattari”, that dominates all the Sorrento peninsula. It takes 2.5h from B&B to here (started at 07:30, sunrise).
Descending to Ravello i discovered stunning views because the descent is much more steep than the climb. In just 10′ i’m again on the costline road and Amalfi, with it’s fantastic cathedral of Sant’Andrea, is waiting for me. Suddendly the bike becomes the best way to travel this area with tiny roads and expensive, distant parkings.
A magnet here is mandatory.
At Bar del Sole i have a huge lunch with my parents, they were travelling oncoming by car and we met in the first place we found with parking availability. San Gennaro churc is in front of us, just like Gallo Lungo island
I have bad memories of Positano: I set the walking path on gMaps and i finished to climb steps for 30′ with the bicycle on my shoulders. Despite of this the city is beautiful.
After a small and gentle climb i reach Sorrent at 1700 where i take my american coffe waiting for the train for Castellamare di Stabia. The train network is not linked to the national one, and it belongs to “Circumvesuviana” network, serving many towns facing the Naples gulf.
Castellamare is a big and crowded city, the B&B, La Tavernetta, is not such cozy as described, but considering the price and the politeness of the Ciro, the owner, I’m quite satisfied. I remember some cold inside this house. Here end’s my bike trip, because the day after is train-based.
I should have gone to an Amazon locker in order to get a key to disassemble the bike and the bike transportation bag but i discovered the place was marked wrong in the map (there are 2x “st.Peter streets” in Naples…).
I found a good bike shop and i bought there the bag (Thank you Carlo!). He also accepted to keep the bike in his shop for all the day.
In total i lost 3 hours and i reached Pompei at 1100. Here Fabio and his girlfriend 春xxx were waiting for me and we spent all the rest of the morning and the first part of afternoon together.
A (slow) lunch at the local grill near the Jupiter temple and i met another time my parents doing, another time, the same road. 6h standing. Not good after 300km on the road.
In any case Pompei it’s a quite magic place, where you can lose yourself in the ancient lifestyle. One thing that shocked my is the fact there were no sewer so all the sewages were thrown on the road. Bad smell i think.
At 1830 i visited the center of Naples, with a bad reputation, and crowded. Except the station part, Piazza del Plebiscito and the 4 surroung buildings, Castel Nuovo and Castel dell’Ovo attracted my attention. A strange curiosity i found in Piazza del Plebiscito is the large amount of people crossing it blindefolded (i ask my self… why?). I put the bicycle in the exact center of the square and they were all trying to run over it. There must be a legend linked to the 2 equestrian statues of Canova in the middle of it.
In any case i tasted a deadly combination of calories: Sicilian cannolo and broken down Baba’. Actually i ate the second on the train but i want to point out HOW TASTY IT WAS. Practically you make the Baba’ and then you cut it, drowing it into chantilly cream and chocolate. Much better thant the breakfast offered by Trenitalia.
In Via Toledo, in Quartieri Spagnoli, it’s possible to find many pastry shops and bag-snatchers. Pay attention!
• What to eat
In this are is possible to taste several snaks such as
- Sicilian Cannoli
• Hot to get here
Since i’m under 30, Trenitalia gave me a lot of benefits about my trip, like a 50% discount for the night train.
The InterCityNotte 757 leaves Turin at 20:20 and reaches Foggia at 05:28 (~9 h travel). The return from Naples “InterCityNotte 796” starts at 21:46 and arrives at 08:02 (10:15 h travel).
You will have wagon and bed reserved and stated in the ticket.
Especially in Irpinia are, the ground is very hilly. With a bicycle you could be called for many climbs, if you want to visit interesting places (for example Ariano and Savignano Irpino)
Even though your’re in south of Italy, the climate in the hinterland is quite mountainous. At the end is like cycling in the north of Italy.
In those area the hospitality of people is laudable: If you are in difficulty, it’s probable you will find many persons available to gives you halp. Try to recognise their efforts.
Crime rate is quite high, maybe to balance the huge number of willing people. Pay attention.
A small footage i made to kill time in south of Italy: