TR incorrect exploring southern Italy

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides' started by Ken Roberts, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. Ken Roberts

    Ken Roberts Guest

    Sharon and I tried a November trip to Rome and southern Italy. I put some
    photos up at
    http://roberts-1.com/t/b05/itn/k
    Trip Report: We found some pretty rides, and lots of fun non-riding stuff
    like walking around ancient + modern cities, hiking to mountain villages,
    and finding rather good food without looking for it. We toured in our usual
    "incorrect" way, using a rental car to carry our tandem bicycle to the best
    cycling roads on the best weather days -- and doing other things on wet or
    windy days (which are to be expected in November). We often used ideas from
    the book Cycling Italy, by Ethan Gelber et al (Lonely Planet, 2003), which
    had earlier given us some good recommendations for northwestern Italy.

    Bicycling highlights:
    * Amalfi coast: prettiest bicycling road in the world?
    * riding Rome city streets slightly downhill was exhilarating.
    * riding around crater lakes north of Rome was pretty.
    * Gargano has a good "sea + hills" ride.
    * farm country of "the Murge" near Bari looks promising.

    Details below.

    Ken
    __________________________________
    details

    - - Amalfi coast road - -

    Such a great ride through such spectacular terrain calls for a separate post
    of its own. The road cut into the steep hills and cliffs for such a
    sustained distance, with the sea directly below. Dramatic rocks beside and
    above. Pretty villages set into the hills, with narrow passages to explore
    on foot. Big views across the bay to mountains beyond.

    The Amalfi coast is the southwest of Naples (Napoli) and west of Salerno,
    and faces south toward the water of the Gulf of Salerno. We rode from the
    city of Sorrento east to the city of Salerno, going thru the villages of
    Massa Lubrense, Termini, Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Maiori, etc. Definitely
    hilly, but mostly not steep. We rode it in a day, because that was the
    window of good weather. Next time we'd hope to spend two or three days,
    spend more time exploring the villages, do a hike up into the hills.

    The problem with bicycling the Amalfi coast is that we have not yet heard of
    a good way to make it part of a loop route. So we did it as a one-way ride
    and used trains to shuttle between Salerno and Sorrento.

    - - Rome city and two Appian Ways to the Colli Albani hills - -

    We started at our hotel in the Aurelia section on the west side of Rome,
    rode across the city of Rome and out east on the Via Appia Antica -- the
    old "Appian Way" road from two thousand years ago -- and climbed up into
    the Albani hills to Castel Gandolfo, the traditional summer residence of the
    Pope. Then we rode back down to Rome on the Via Appia Nuovo -- the new
    "Appian Way" road (SS 7) -- and across the city again to finish at our
    hotel.

    I remembered learning of the "Appian Way" from textbooks in high school. The
    idea of riding it came from the Lonely Planet Cycling Italy guidebook.
    There's still some of the big original pavement-stones in some sections, and
    the guidebook rightly warned about the difficulty of riding on them. But
    most of the other sections of the old Way were covered with the modern
    cobblestones, which are smaller -- but which are not fast and not fun for
    riding -- and we did not find any guidebook warning about them. So we were
    glad when the old Via Appia ended and we got our wheels onto the
    mostly-smooth asphalt surface of modern Italian roads outside cities.

    The guidebook suggested taking the train back to Rome after climbing into
    the Colli Albani hills and seeing the lake and villages. But we figured we
    surely had _earned_ the fun of some downhill riding. So after lunch in
    Castel Gandolfo, we aimed west back to Rome, and had lots of fun spinning
    our pedals on the smooth surface of the SS7 highway (where we saw other
    cyclists). Later we found that apart from a few moderate climbs, we were on
    a gentle downhill all the way to the Tiber River (Fiume Tevere) which runs
    thru the middle of Rome. So in that direction we could ride on the main city
    streets almost as fast as the cars (though not as fast as the
    motorscooters). We had lots of fun sprinting the start from a traffic light,
    out and in around a double-parked car, on the lookout for assertive
    pedestrians -- but always being predictable so that we didn't get mowed down
    by a motorscooter trying to squeeze past the cars.

    Sharon says it was exciting and fun in the afternoon, but on the back of the
    tandem it was scary the first time thru the city in the morning. I think
    next time maybe we'll just ride arounde the villages and lakes in the Colli
    Albani area and minimize taking our tandem on the city streets (though I'd
    be glad to try more of the Rome streets riding a single bike, or on skates:
    www.pincio.com/mercoledi.htm).

    - - Lago di Bracciano - -
    Pretty and pleasant short (36 km) ride around the lake nearest to Rome
    (about 35 km northwest from the city). Less hilly than Bolsena -- actually I
    did it on skates, and saw several cyclists along the way.

    - - Lago di Bolsena - -
    Lots of big views around a "crater" lake (with three islands) between
    Viterbo and Orvieto (pretty far north from Rome). Includes a +300m (+1000
    vertical ft) climb up to the town of Montefiascone, and to avoid a few km of
    rough pavement we took a hillier variation around the west side, which
    required another two substantial climbs, rewarded by views on both sides of
    the ridge. Saw at least two other cyclists on a cloudy-rainy midweek day,
    which strikes me as a favorable indication of the quality of the ride. (Lago
    di Vico did not strike me as good for riding as Bolsena or Bracciano)

    - - Gargano peninsula - -

    Gargano is on the east coast of Italy in northern Puglia. I rode east and
    north along the Adriatic seacoast, the west and south through the interior
    hills. Good variety of great sea views with white limestone, olive trees,
    then interior woods and cow pastures. Rather hilly, though nothing was
    really steep, there's some long long moderate climbs, and not much flat --
    took
    longer than I thought.

    I went from Monte Sant'Angelo to Mattatani to only a ways past Vieste to
    around Spiaggia Scialmarino, didn't make it to Peschici, then returned
    inland thru Villagio Foresta Umbra to MtStA -- so about 126 km total loop.
    * lots of pretty sea views.
    * long descent east from Monte Sant'Angelo to Mattatani was pretty and
    mostly not very steep. I wouldn't have done this descent if I'd started in
    Manfredonia, so perhaps for best views next time I'd want to start in Monte
    Sant'Angelo -- or better yet near Mattantani, to do that pretty descent with
    the sun behind me in the afternoon.
    * side trip to Pugnochiuso was worth it -- more nice sea views, and actually
    does not add that much climbing work.
    * long climb from Spiaggia Scialmarino up to Villagio Foresta Umbra was not
    interesting enough for its length. It started nice in the farms and
    vineyards, continues nice into the woods -- just too much of it. It seemed
    to follow a creek intead of a ridge, so no views out to the side. Next time
    I'd hope to find some more interesting climb into the interior.
    * Next time I'd want to continue along the sea further north to try the
    climb up from west of Peschici -- Lonely Planet guidebook says that climb
    stays more on the ridge.
    * I got three flat tires (all punctures, not snake-bites) along the coast
    road. Perhaps it was from little shards on limestone. Consider brushing off
    tires frequently.

    - - the Murge, near Bari - -
    On a rainy day I drove my car to explore this farming region with gentle
    hills south of Bari in southern Puglia (toward the "heel" of the "boot" of
    Italy). Looked promising for visiting sometime with our tandem bicycle.
    Around the town of Alberobello are many old-style conical stone houses
    called "trulli" -- which are kinda nice -- but actually the region looked
    nice enough for riding even without them. The Lonely Planet cycling
    guidebook has a multi-day route thru this area.
    _____________________________________________
     
    Tags:


  2. rhnb

    rhnb Guest

    I did a tour of Abruzzo and Puglia in May this year by tandem.
    I wasn't too enamoured with Puglia. Perhaps it was because it came after a
    great week in Abruzzo and the Gran Sasso region, but I found it a bit
    boringly flat.
    Some lovely old towns, just the bits in between didn't do much for me.

    The Gargano Peninsula was pretty. Looks like we did a similar ride to you
    through the Foresta Umbra.

    For me though, the highlight was definitely the Campo Imperatore in Abruzzo,
    and the areas around Barrea and Scanno.

    If anyone's interested, there's a write up and pics of the tour here...

    http://www.bikeit.eclipse.co.uk/

    Cheeers... Allan.
    ~~~
    http://www.bikeit.eclipse.co.uk/index.htm
    Italian Cycle tour reports and the home of...
    Cycling Before Lycra

    Ken Roberts wrote:
    > Sharon and I tried a November trip to Rome and southern Italy. I put
    > some photos up at
    > http://roberts-1.com/t/b05/itn/k
    > Trip Report: We found some pretty rides, and lots of fun non-riding
    > stuff like walking around ancient + modern cities, hiking to mountain
    > villages, and finding rather good food without looking for it. We
    > toured in our usual "incorrect" way, using a rental car to carry our
    > tandem bicycle to the best cycling roads on the best weather days --
    > and doing other things on wet or windy days (which are to be expected
    > in November). We often used ideas from the book Cycling Italy, by
    > Ethan Gelber et al (Lonely Planet, 2003), which had earlier given us
    > some good recommendations for northwestern Italy.
    > Bicycling highlights:
    > * Amalfi coast: prettiest bicycling road in the world?
    > * riding Rome city streets slightly downhill was exhilarating.
    > * riding around crater lakes north of Rome was pretty.
    > * Gargano has a good "sea + hills" ride.
    > * farm country of "the Murge" near Bari looks promising.
    >
    > Details below.
    >
    > Ken
    > __________________________________
    > details
    >
    > - - Amalfi coast road - -
    >
    > Such a great ride through such spectacular terrain calls for a
    > separate post of its own. The road cut into the steep hills and
    > cliffs for such a sustained distance, with the sea directly below.
    > Dramatic rocks beside and above. Pretty villages set into the hills,
    > with narrow passages to explore on foot. Big views across the bay to
    > mountains beyond.
    > The Amalfi coast is the southwest of Naples (Napoli) and west of
    > Salerno, and faces south toward the water of the Gulf of Salerno. We
    > rode from the city of Sorrento east to the city of Salerno, going
    > thru the villages of Massa Lubrense, Termini, Positano, Praiano,
    > Amalfi, Maiori, etc. Definitely hilly, but mostly not steep. We rode
    > it in a day, because that was the window of good weather. Next time
    > we'd hope to spend two or three days, spend more time exploring the
    > villages, do a hike up into the hills.
    > The problem with bicycling the Amalfi coast is that we have not yet
    > heard of a good way to make it part of a loop route. So we did it as
    > a one-way ride and used trains to shuttle between Salerno and
    > Sorrento.
    > - - Rome city and two Appian Ways to the Colli Albani hills - -
    >
    > We started at our hotel in the Aurelia section on the west side of
    > Rome, rode across the city of Rome and out east on the Via Appia
    > Antica -- the old "Appian Way" road from two thousand years ago --
    > and climbed up into the Albani hills to Castel Gandolfo, the
    > traditional summer residence of the Pope. Then we rode back down to
    > Rome on the Via Appia Nuovo -- the new "Appian Way" road (SS 7) --
    > and across the city again to finish at our hotel.
    >
    > I remembered learning of the "Appian Way" from textbooks in high
    > school. The idea of riding it came from the Lonely Planet Cycling
    > Italy guidebook. There's still some of the big original
    > pavement-stones in some sections, and the guidebook rightly warned
    > about the difficulty of riding on them. But most of the other
    > sections of the old Way were covered with the modern cobblestones,
    > which are smaller -- but which are not fast and not fun for riding --
    > and we did not find any guidebook warning about them. So we were glad
    > when the old Via Appia ended and we got our wheels onto the
    > mostly-smooth asphalt surface of modern Italian roads outside cities.
    > The guidebook suggested taking the train back to Rome after climbing
    > into the Colli Albani hills and seeing the lake and villages. But we
    > figured we surely had _earned_ the fun of some downhill riding. So
    > after lunch in Castel Gandolfo, we aimed west back to Rome, and had
    > lots of fun spinning our pedals on the smooth surface of the SS7
    > highway (where we saw other cyclists). Later we found that apart from
    > a few moderate climbs, we were on a gentle downhill all the way to
    > the Tiber River (Fiume Tevere) which runs thru the middle of Rome. So
    > in that direction we could ride on the main city streets almost as
    > fast as the cars (though not as fast as the motorscooters). We had
    > lots of fun sprinting the start from a traffic light, out and in
    > around a double-parked car, on the lookout for assertive pedestrians
    > -- but always being predictable so that we didn't get mowed down by a
    > motorscooter trying to squeeze past the cars.
    > Sharon says it was exciting and fun in the afternoon, but on the back
    > of the tandem it was scary the first time thru the city in the
    > morning. I think next time maybe we'll just ride arounde the villages
    > and lakes in the Colli Albani area and minimize taking our tandem on
    > the city streets (though I'd be glad to try more of the Rome streets
    > riding a single bike, or on skates: www.pincio.com/mercoledi.htm).
    >
    > - - Lago di Bracciano - -
    > Pretty and pleasant short (36 km) ride around the lake nearest to Rome
    > (about 35 km northwest from the city). Less hilly than Bolsena --
    > actually I did it on skates, and saw several cyclists along the way.
    >
    > - - Lago di Bolsena - -
    > Lots of big views around a "crater" lake (with three islands) between
    > Viterbo and Orvieto (pretty far north from Rome). Includes a +300m
    > (+1000 vertical ft) climb up to the town of Montefiascone, and to
    > avoid a few km of rough pavement we took a hillier variation around
    > the west side, which required another two substantial climbs,
    > rewarded by views on both sides of the ridge. Saw at least two other
    > cyclists on a cloudy-rainy midweek day, which strikes me as a
    > favorable indication of the quality of the ride. (Lago di Vico did
    > not strike me as good for riding as Bolsena or Bracciano)
    > - - Gargano peninsula - -
    >
    > Gargano is on the east coast of Italy in northern Puglia. I rode east
    > and north along the Adriatic seacoast, the west and south through the
    > interior hills. Good variety of great sea views with white limestone,
    > olive trees, then interior woods and cow pastures. Rather hilly,
    > though nothing was really steep, there's some long long moderate
    > climbs, and not much flat -- took
    > longer than I thought.
    >
    > I went from Monte Sant'Angelo to Mattatani to only a ways past Vieste
    > to around Spiaggia Scialmarino, didn't make it to Peschici, then
    > returned inland thru Villagio Foresta Umbra to MtStA -- so about 126
    > km total loop. * lots of pretty sea views.
    > * long descent east from Monte Sant'Angelo to Mattatani was pretty and
    > mostly not very steep. I wouldn't have done this descent if I'd
    > started in Manfredonia, so perhaps for best views next time I'd want
    > to start in Monte Sant'Angelo -- or better yet near Mattantani, to do
    > that pretty descent with the sun behind me in the afternoon.
    > * side trip to Pugnochiuso was worth it -- more nice sea views, and
    > actually does not add that much climbing work.
    > * long climb from Spiaggia Scialmarino up to Villagio Foresta Umbra
    > was not interesting enough for its length. It started nice in the
    > farms and vineyards, continues nice into the woods -- just too much
    > of it. It seemed to follow a creek intead of a ridge, so no views out
    > to the side. Next time I'd hope to find some more interesting climb
    > into the interior. * Next time I'd want to continue along the sea
    > further north to try the climb up from west of Peschici -- Lonely
    > Planet guidebook says that climb stays more on the ridge.
    > * I got three flat tires (all punctures, not snake-bites) along the
    > coast road. Perhaps it was from little shards on limestone. Consider
    > brushing off tires frequently.
    >
    > - - the Murge, near Bari - -
    > On a rainy day I drove my car to explore this farming region with
    > gentle hills south of Bari in southern Puglia (toward the "heel" of
    > the "boot" of Italy). Looked promising for visiting sometime with our
    > tandem bicycle. Around the town of Alberobello are many old-style
    > conical stone houses called "trulli" -- which are kinda nice -- but
    > actually the region looked nice enough for riding even without them.
    > The Lonely Planet cycling guidebook has a multi-day route thru this
    > area. _____________________________________________
     
  3. Ken Roberts

    Ken Roberts Guest

    Allan wrote
    > I wasn't too enamoured with Puglia ... Some lovely old towns, just the
    > bits in between didn't do much for me.


    I can imagine it working out that way. With my "incorrect" approach, I just
    skipped over most of the "in between" sections by putting my bicycle onto my
    car are going 130+ km/hr on the autostrada. So in a couple of hours I was
    transported from the Gargano peninsula to the pleasant farmland south of
    Bari. After a few hours of exploring some narrow country lanes, I drove to a
    major city and had an exciting time skating on its streets at night. A
    different way of experiencing Puglia.

    I can see that if I instead of had taken 3 days riding to get to the same
    place it would have been a bit much of those gentle farms. On the other
    hand, I missed my chance to properly experience the full magnitude of Italy.
    Like some people think that riding all the way across South Dakota is
    important to properly experience the "vastness" of the North American
    prairie country.

    > the highlight was definitely the Campo Imperatore in Abruzzo.


    I had been thinking of riding up there, but it was rainy that day, so I
    drove my car up to the top of the Campo Imperatore road, but the craggy
    peaks I'd expected from the website photos were mostly hidden in the clouds.
    So all I got on the west side of the Gran Sasso ridge was some desolate
    treeless hills (Not my usual preference, Not what I was expecting in Italy,
    but could be viewed as adding welcome diversity to the overall trip). The
    east side of the ridge seemed more interesting.

    From the photos, looks like Allan was up there while there was still snow
    remaining unmelted from the winter, and the mix of white snow with grassy
    and rocky sections makes it visually more interesting than my visit there
    long after all the snow had disappeared.

    > and the areas around Barrea and Scanno.


    Looks promising on the map, and from Allan's photos of the villages and the
    lakes, and still a little snow on the peaks.

    Reminds me to try to schedule trips through the mountains for earlier in the
    season.

    Ken
     
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