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Cycling tourism
Cycling from the Murgia plateau to the sea

Basilicata by bike: an itinerary on two wheels from Matera to Rocca Imperiale

cycling route
2 days
Number of Stages

Hop on your bike for an exciting two-day ride through Basilicata, all the way to the border with Calabria to discover the wild beauty of this region.  You will be enchanted by the murge and inebriated by the fruit fields of Metapontino, before reaching the sea. It is a route suitable for everyone and almost entirely flat, giving you time to enjoy the breathtaking panorama.

Day 1

Palatine Tables, exploring the Doric temple

Palatine Tables, exploring the Doric temple

The starting point of this two-wheel tour will quickly leave you breathless. Not for the climb, which is short and easy, but for the beauty of the Benedictine Abbey of Montescaglioso, the largest Benedictine complex in the area, with splendid frescoes and two cloisters.

The Montescaglioso village, founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC and is surrounded by caves from ancient times to store wine. King Charles III stayed here in 1735 to celebrate his birthday on his way to Sicily. The monastery was the only place with flats luxurious enough to accommodate a ruler.

After visiting the monastery, a 5-kilometre descent takes you to Parco dei Monaci, where the monks of the abbey owned a grange to take care of their farmland. You are within the Parco delle Chiese Rupestri, an area of 8000 hectares between Montescaglioso and Matera.

You will arrive in Matera from the south. Take a break to lose yourself in the narrow streets and admire the view of the Sassi, the ancient quarters of the city carved out of calcarenite, so crumbly and easy to work that it allowed the local people to excavate houses, cisterns for collecting water, cellars for storing wine and places of worship such as the frescoed rupestrian churches. Don't forget to taste the traditional Matera bread. In the past, it was made into dough in the houses and taken to the public oven to be baked, so each family used a wooden stamp to recognise it after baking.

Back on your bike, take the provincial road downhill from Montescaglioso and lose yourself in the landscape. In about 40 kilometres you will arrive behind the Palatine Tables. These are the remains of a Doric temple dedicated to Hera, an imposing vestige of Magna Graecia.

You are at the end of the first stage, having covered about 60 kilometres. Enjoy a well-deserved rest in an agritourism farm where you can taste traditional dishes and recover your strength for the next day.

Day 2

Rocca Imperiale, cycling to the sea

Rocca Imperiale, cycling to the sea

The second stage begins by crossing the Basento river to reach the village of San Basilio. Here you ride through the orchards. You are in the Metapontino plain, a marshy area reclaimed between the 1930s and 1950s and today so fertile and generous that it produces fruit that is exported to markets all over Italy and Europe. Between Scanzano and Policoro, strawberries and kiwis are mainly produced. In Rotondella you will ride through immense expanses of apricots while in Tursi you will breathe in an intoxicating scent of peaches.

In Policoro, the most important centre on this stretch of the coast, make a stop at the Siritide Archaeological Park to discover the area's most ancient history. Then head back up to Pane e Vino, immersing yourself in the countryside. After crossing the Sinni river, steer towards the sea at Nova Siri, but first stop to admire the Vasche di S. Alessio.

Make use of the slip roads leading to the historic SS106 Jonica. The border with Calabria at the height of Rocca Imperiale, final destination of the second stage, which completes the 121.7 kilometres of the entire route.

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