Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia, Italy

Day 58 – Monday 21/06
Spropolo to Marina di Caulonia – 88kms Total 2815kms

After a good nights sleep we got on the road at  09:30. The road was pretty good, very fast, straight and we had a good tailwind. It had rained last night with some strong winds but this morning was clear and not too hot.
The coastline is very nice with some great looking beaches, not the cleanest but not the nightmare of Sicily either. It seems the further we cycle along the Calabrian coast the cleaner it gets, maybe it was just a Sicilian thing 🙂
Anyway a great day to cycle and at the end after 73kms it still seemed a short day.
Camping here is very good and cheep at 12 euros but we only got two coins for the shower and decided to use them after reception had closed and when Monique went to use her coin she only got a couple of minutes worth of water and got caught out full of suds :-), so she used both coins leaving me with only a couple of wet-ties to wash with. Still a very good camping for the money.

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Brancaleone Marina.

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Clear day and a tailwind makes for some nice riding.

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Nice long stretches of beach around here.

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After Sicily this was great riding.

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With some nice views once in a while.

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Our goal for this section is Taranto.

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Gabella as seen from Locri.

Day 59 – Tuesday 22/06
Marina di Caulonia to Capo Rizzuto – 128kms Total 2943kms

Got up and were on the road by 09:30 and the SS106 or E90 was very busy. Our goal this day was to do about 50/60kms and find a camping but no such luck. The camping we looked for was not there and again after about 90kms the second camping wasn’t there either, so we ended up going all the way to Isola di capo Rizzuto.
Today was the longest of this tour but in the end we did find the camping we looked for from ANWB. We ended up getting there after the sun set and in the rain. After looking a bit closer at the camping sign we noticed it was a naturist camp 🙂
Well anyway we went in and found the person in charge (dressed) and asked if we could pitch our tent there for the night as it was all ready dark and raining, and this was not really our scene and she said ok as long as we left early. Anyway we had a very good laugh at our fortune.
It was also funny when we went to take a shower and found there weren’t any doors lol it took a couple of minutes for the coin to drop when we finally realized that it was a nudist colony and they really didn’t need doors.
Camping was ok for those who are into that sort of thing.

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Early morning on the SS106 with the camping, (middle right). Click to view larger.

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Some sections had a nice shoulder to ride on.

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The great views continued even when the shoulder disappeared. Click to view larger.

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Lunch break in Soverato.

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Looking North from Soverato. The next picture is from the cruise ship on top of the volley ball net.

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The cruise ship from the previous picture.

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And a close up.

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A little later we came across this pub, but it was still a bit early for us 🙂

Day 60 – Wednesday 23/06
Capo Rizzuto to Porto di Sibari – 62kms Total 3005kms

We left camp at around 09:30 and headed for the camping at Capo Colonna about 20kms away, we thought a short day was in order after yesterday. But again when we got there the camping was not open yet, we could have stayed as there was running water and electricity but decided to cycle on to Crotone and catch the train to Rosano were we thought was a camping but no luck, there was one but not open yet so we cycled along the coast to Porto Sibari were we found our first true villagio camping complete with karaoke night until midnight oh what fun.
The camping was first class and fairly priced, everything was spotless, cheap beer and huge market only a couple kilometers away. So we decided to stay 2 days.

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On the SP50 heading to Capo Colonna.

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Capo Colonna. Click to view larger.

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Another milestone we’ve cycled 3000 kilometers so far.

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Heading to Village Camping Millepini…..

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Our camping spot only a few meters from the beach.

Day 61 – Thursday 24/06
Rest day – Porto di Sibari

We slept in until it got too warm to stay in the tent. We updated the webpage, did some chores, watch football and drink beer.
We also made some new plans, we decided that riding along the SS106 or E90 was not much fun and it would be better to take the train to Taranto and cycle around Apulia, or the heel of Italy and if we ran out of time we could take the train to Bari.
Riding around Apulia (the heel of Italy) was not in our plans but we feel good about this decision. We were told that the busy SS106 will only get worst the closer we got to Taranto.

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Our camping spot viewed from the beach. It was nice having the place to ourselves.

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Looking Northeast towards Tatanto.

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Looking Southwest. Click to view larger.

Day 62 – Friday 25/06
Porto di Sibari to Saturo – 34kms Total 3039kms

We got to the reception at 08:00 sharp but found out that it opened at 0900 so we left. We felt bad doing so because this camping was clean and cheap but we had a train to catch.
We waited at the station for about an hour than got on the train to Taranto, as usual it was cheap and fast.
At Taranto we looked for the tourist office but found out it closed at 12:30 and opened at 16:30, (go figure) so we continued cycling south to the nearest camping. Its a small local camping but cheap and clean so great for just one night. According to Microsoft Map Point Europe we have about 350kms to cycle around Apulia to Brindizi before we have to catch another train to Bari. And this train is needed because according to our map, there is no easy way to cycle between these two cities, it’s all restricted motorway.

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Back on the SS106 heading for the train station at Villapiana Scalo.

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Statue of a mermaid in Taranto.

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Somebody took time to carve out a woman sunbathing on a rock.

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Shipyards of Taranto.

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Monique checking out the harbor of Taranto.

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Taranto waterfront. Click to view larger.

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Just liked the design of this building.

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Our camping spot between all the local campers.

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Another great sunset.

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The setting sun made us look like ripe tomatoes.

Day 63 – Saturday 26/06
Saturo to Gallipoli – 89kms Total 3148kms

We didn’t get much sleep last night because the karaoke started with some assholes singing all the songs from Red Hot Chili Peppers and butchering all of them. We actually thought it would stop after that but then the disco started until 04:00 with some real tacky disco music over cheap loudspeakers. We feared our ears would start to bleed.
The ride today was very nice. We rode along a quiet coastal road with minimal traffic, it was a real joy to once again not having to deal with so many cars and trucks passing us with speed.
Camping here is very good but expensive. We’re actually about 15m from the waves on a very nice and clean beach. It was an all around good day and we recommend taking this detour (by skipping the ride into Taranto), to anyone visiting this area.

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Great riding along the quiet SP122.

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We rode past many little bays like this.

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On the SP122 at Dune di Torre Colimena, or whats left of the Torre. Click to view larger.

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One of the many beaches we passed today.

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We stopped for an ice cream at Porto Cesareo. Click to view larger.

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Just before Gallipoli we passed this area full of villa’s, and this was one of our favorite. A lot of money around here.

Day 64 – Sunday 27/06
Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca – 59kms Total 3207kms

Again very little sleep last night, there was an extremely loud discotheque a hundred meters down the beach which didn’t let up until 04:00 (with fireworks at the end) and to add insult to injury at 07:00 this tractor came by to clean and comb the beach.
Today’s ride was pretty much the same as yesterday very nice, easy going, along peaceful coastal villages with very little traffic. Just before we reached the camping this storm blew in but likely we found shelter in this farmers shed in a field next to the road. It didn’t last long and we were on our way again in about 45min.
We walked up to the camping reception with a wide grin and asked if they had a discotheque near by and they said regretfully no, it’s too early in the season and the discotheque doesn’t open for another 2 weeks so we said great we’ll stay 🙂 we had just about enough of all the noise at night and just want some sleep.
Needless to say we slept good that night.

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On the SP108 with Gallipoli in the distance. Click to view larger.

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View from the SP91.

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Many of these structures around here.

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Getting near to Santa Maria di Leuca.

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Made it.

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This marks the tip of the heel of Italy.

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Storm clouds moving in. Click to view larger.

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One last look at Marina di Leuca.

Day 65 – Monday 28/06
Santa Maria di Leuca to Smile park, Otranto – 59kms Total 3266kms

We got on the road by 08:00 and headed north through olive groves for about 20kms before we turned east and headed for the coast. Once there we enjoyed a very scenic ride with a few climbs but it was well worth the effort.
The day was very nice, warm and with clear skies.
We went to the ANWB camping in Otranto but they wanted 27 euros and wifi 4 euros an hour, we said forget that and got back on the road were we had earlyer seen a sign of another camping about 3kms down the road (to smile park) were we got a very nice camping at 20 euros with free wifi

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More of these structures, we believe they are for storing olives.

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More great cycling along rural roads heading for the coast.

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On the SP358.

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Waiting on Monique again.

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Beautiful building in Santa Cesarea Terme.

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More great cycling on the way to Torre Minervino.

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Apulia is really a great place to cycle with enough camping’s dotted along the way.

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Views from the SP87 before Otranto.

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We just love long quiet roads and sunny weather.

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A lot of Greek influence around here. Some signs were even written in Greek.

Day 66 – Tuesday 29/06
Smile Park to (near) Casalabate – 56kms Total 3322kms

Another good day cycling and pretty much uneventful. The roads were very good and little traffic with one really nice section of about 12kms Riserva Naturale le Cesine Park. This was a normal road which was closed and by the looks of the overgrown trees and bushes it had been closed for a few years.
The camping here is 4 star it has everything but don’t even think of coming here in high season as they don’t accept anyone staying less than a week. Oh and I should mention they didn’t tell us about the discotheque till 05:00 which started after the children show which was from 10:00 to midnight.

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Early morning on the Sp366.

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We couldn’t guess what these houses were going for. Click to view larger.

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Another pizza lunch.

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After this area was declared a national park they just closed off the road.

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It was a pleasure to ride along this road without any traffic.

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Nature had already begun to take over.

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But after a while we were back on the SP366

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And for some proper photography.

Day 67 – Wednesday 30/06
Sasalabate to Bari – 20kms Total 3342kms

A day best described as a day of waiting. We got up early despite the lack of sleep from the discothèque last night and made our way to Squinzano were we waited for the train to Bari. Once in Bari we made our way to the port and got our tickets sorted out and than had a very long four and a half hour wait to get onboard.
And once there we found out that the cabin was very small with bunk beds, man that really sucked, paid all that money and end up with bunk beds  but no choice. I was told that all the cabins were like this.
Anyway we went and got ourselves a large plate of pasta with meat sauce and got to bed about 20:30 and woke up again 08:30 😉

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Church in Bari.

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Old city wall in Bari.

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We rode around the city center for a while.

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Love all these rooftop antenna’s.

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Back to the old city wall to wait for our ride to Greece.

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Hats off to these truck drivers, they were parking these rigs with only centimeters to spare.

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Sunset over the port of Bari.

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Monique happy to finally be getting out of Italy.

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Same with me, we have a love hate relationship with Italy. Some places we just love to cycle through while others we cannot wait to get out off.

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Sun setting over Italy, tomorrow we will be in Greece.

Calabria, Basilicata and Apulia were really nice to cycle in. Most camping’s were we stayed had this annoying music playing late into the night but we think with a little more planning those camping’s could be avoided. We cycled through many nice places but feel we only scratched the surface. We would like to explore Southern Italy more and we would definitely be coming back this way in the future.

Continue on to Greece.