What too see in Basilicata? Land enclosed among mountains, Lunar landscapes and a clear sea, Basilicata is a region often underrated by cycling that tends to favor places that are more well-known. The movie of 2009, Basilicata Coast to Coast, aroused a touch of curiosity more about this territory in southern Italy, but out of the few touristy routes Basilicata is an unknown region even if extremely fascinating to visit by bike. It’s not easy to recommend the 10 best places to see in Basilicata by bicycle, but I hope it could be a good starting point for your next trip...
Practicing bicycle touring in Basilicata isn’t difficult at all: secondary roads are located all over the territory and varied, landscapes always new and enchanting, people friendly and welcoming. The best places to visit cycling Basilicata are really a lot and this is right the reason why I suggest to visit Lucania on more occasions, alternating naturalistic places and archeological or cultural sites.
San Fele and Badia di Santa Maria di Pierno
San Fele is a small Nativity scene and reaching it with the blaze of sunset is really exciting. Nestled between Monte Castello and Monte Torretta, is at more than 800 meters of altitude. If you come from Rapone, before crossing the threshold of the village you’ll find yourself in front of the access to the waterfalls of San Fele. The village is very picturesque and still preserves many medieval buildings and ruins of the castle-fortress. After San Fele by bike you follow the road going up again gently to reach, after 10 km, the Badia di Santa Maria di Pierno (managed by Friar Alberto, someone you’d better know!), one of the most ancient and evocative sanctuaries of Basilicata. It’s said to date back to the XII century and surely has witnessed many things, first of all the emigration of its citizens who, year after year, are now only about thirty people.
Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa
These two small towns are connected by the cicleway of the Dolomiti Lucane besides being enclosed among rocks rounded by time which makes them appear as suspended in eternity. Castelmezzano is the first you reach by bike going up from Albano di Lucania. It appears suddenly, at the end of a short gallery and really leaves a mark. Its colored houses, the small square at the entrance of the village, panoramic spot where to take some pictures, the paths and alleys crossing it are all to be discovered. Pietrapertosa lies beyond a canyon (the route of the cycle way crosses it making cycling tourists dive in the nature of the Regional Park of Gallipoli Cognato Piccole Dolomiti Lucane): surmounted by what remains of the Norman-Swabian castle, it’s even more evocative if visited at sunset, maybe in autumn when tourists have already gone home. Reaching it from Castelmezzano you have to pass through the most ancient quartier of the village, the arabata, before arriving in the more modern center. This Lucanian village is dotted with chapels and corners worth a visit. The two places are also connected by the famous "volo dell'angelo" that is an outdoor activity consisting in slinging to a solid steel cable to cross the canyon dividing Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa... keep in mind, though, that later you’ll have to go back to take your bicycle!
Vaglio Basilicata is an inviting village and is at an altitude of 950 meters. Going up from Pietragalla you avoid the traffic of the main road going along a secondary road climbing the crest till behind Vaglio. If you’re fond of birdwatching prepare the telephoto lens because the area is populated by several birds of prey. From the path you have really pleasant views on the village of Cancellara, located below. In Vaglio we had one of the most beautiful meetings of our trip by bike in Italy, that with Mario of the bar osteria in the middle of the village, but we will tell you about it next... In Vaglio the inhabitants speak a weird dialect known as Gallic-Italic dialect, you will realize it soon.
It is a district in the municipality of Avigliano dominated by the imposing castle of Frederick II. Built around the XIII century it can be spotted also kilometers away. This villages has no particular attractions, while the castle deserves a more in-depth visit. To reach it you have to cross the village (let yourself be attracted by the pastry shop in town) and face the last tiring ramp before crossing the border of the castle. The castle has recently undergone modernization works that led to the creation of an innovative and multimedia visit route.
Craco is one of my best place in Basilicata. Reaching this desolate place by bike is indeed an exciting adventure. Protected by cats, shepherd dogs and badlands as far as the eye can see, Craco deserved a more glorious end and instead lies abandoned to a cruel fate, that of crumbling slowly through the bumps of time. It's been said several times to intervene with recovery works to give the village a new life, but so far nothing has been done. Already in a distance Craco appears proud even if so far, instead of men, only dogs, cats and sheep live here. Craco has been used as set for many movies, also foreign, and around its magic aura there are some legends like that of a beautiful woman who managed the osteria who, after conquering them, put her lovers into vinegar serving them as a delicacy.
The lunar landscape of the badlands
It extends as far as the eye can see, moving and distressing. The landscape of the Lucanian badlands leaves no one indifferent. Cycling in this land reminds an expedition to the Moon and its faces scattered with craters. The badlands of Aliano, in the Val d'Agri, are among the most characteristic and it’s right in this area that Carlo Levi set his masterpiece Christ Stopped at Eboli. Crossing this area by bike can be really fatiguing: as in our case a persistent wind was blowing in the opposite direction and the lack of villages where to get a supply of water and food didn’t facilitate the trip.
Pollino National Park
The Pollino National Park is divided between Basilicata and Calabria and is the suitable place where to dive into Nature. Dotted with villages, the park can be traveled both on foot and by bike tasting fully the places you’re crossing. Established in 1988, it’s the biggest nature area in our peninsula and surely one of the things to see in Basilicata.
Metaponto and its archaeological site
Date back to the VII century B.C. and are of Greek foundation. From Craco it’s not that demanding to reach the sea resort by bike to treat yourself to a few days of relaxation among temples and beaches. The great Pythagoras is believed to have lived in ancient Metaponto. The most interesting part of the site is that of the Tavole Palatine ("Palatine Tables").
It has been declared 2019 Culture Capital City and, notwithstanding is difficult to reach by public transport (for example the railway doesn’t exist), you immediately understand the reason why. Matera isn’t a particularly comfortable city to visit by bike but anyway it’s possible to reach the Sassi by bicycle and then opt for an exploration on foot. Matera is an incredible city at the same time amazing. Carlo Levi described it well saying that " Anyone who sees Matera cannot help but be awe-struck, so expressive and touching is its sorrowful beauty." The civita, the convent of Sant'Agostino, its churches and cave churches, the surroundings of the city attract travelers like magnets. An experience not to be missed is that of a dinner or, even a night in a Sasso.
Park of Murgia Materana
This naturale reserve extends around Matera and is enlisted in the UNESCO heritage sites. The symbol of the park is the lesser kestrel that can be spotted during an excursion. The Park of the Murgia Materana (italian website) is dotted with very ancient cave churches (they’re said to be more than 150) and inhabited by many animal and vegetal species. The comfiest place to access to it is without a doubt Matera.
Lucania is a land of unexpected beauty. You can spend whole weeks travelling along its roads by bike: the landscapes constantly change in a surge of archeological and cultural sites. Many are the typical products and different from area to area. Particular is the rafanata, a kind of omelette made with this root. To try the typical lucanica (deriving from Lucania) maybe home-made, caciocavallo and pecorino and, why not, a good glass of red wine from Basilicata. To try also bread, oil and honey from Matera. The best places to visit in Basilica are many but I hope I gave you some ideas for your next bicycle journey.
Correva l'anno 1983: anch'io vidi per la prima volta la luce del sole estivo e sorrisi.
Da sempre col pallino per l'avventura (nessun albero poteva resistermi!) ho avuto la fortuna di girare l'Europa e l'Italia con i miei genitori e poi, per la maturità, mi sono regalata un viaggio in 2 cavalli da Milano a Praga (un fiorino ha interrotto il nostro viaggio verso Mosca facendoci ribaltare, senza gravi conseguenze, su una strada slovacca).
Ho vissuto 6 anni in Trentino lavorando in tanti luoghi diversi, scoprendo la bellezza della Natura, delle sue montagne e, devo ammetterlo, della MTB! Al momento che ritenevo giusto, ho mollato il lavoro senza alcun rimpianto per volare in Nuova Zelanda dove ho viaggiato per cinque mesi in solitaria. Nel 2007 ho provato per la prima volta l'esperienza di un'avventura a due ruote e, da quel momento, non ne ho potuto più fare a meno... così, dopo alcune brevi esperienze in Europa, nel 2010 sono partita con Leo per un lungo viaggio in bicicletta nel Sud Est asiatico, la nostra prima vera grande avventura insieme! Da 3 anni scorrazziamo in MTB sui sentieri del Lago di Iseo, ma la prossima partenza per il #noplansjourney è alle porte...:)
Su lifeintravel.it trovi tutti i nostri grandi viaggi insieme (e non)!
Carpediem e buone pedalate!
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