Italy - The Italian Coast

Blog Italy – The Italian Coast. Written on: 4-10-2023

Overview day 302 - 331

31 August - 29 September 2023


Km’s Cycled







route langs de Italiaanse kust
Rofelle - Bari - Lecce - Regggio Calabria

Adriatic coast

We leave Rofelle behind us and cycle towards the Adriatic coast. It doesn’t take long for our first highlight: the Furlo Pass. A beautiful gorge that also ensures that we have to make a lot less altimeters. We find the Adriatic coast a lot less beautiful. It is a bit the Italian version of the Costa del sol. Not really our thing. Of course there are also beautiful parts. For example between Pescara and Vasto where a beautiful cycling / walking path along the sea has been made. No hotels, occasionally a café / restaurant. A piece of cycling heaven. Unfortunately, the cycling network does not extend all the way south and we always end up on a regional road.

Functional mileage

That means we keep cycling on. There is no reason for us to stop and we hope the south is better. We rename that cycling on boring parts to “making functional mileage”. On to our next highlight: Gargano NP.

Paso Furlo
Paso Furlo
Perfect cyclepath


Gargano is a mountainous peninsula also known as the boot track (apparently). A beautiful forest area with a lot of viewpoints. Our goal is mainly to view the sea caves and that is really only possible from the sea itself. We inquire about boat tours, but being crammed on a boat with 120 people, we prefer not to spend money on that. Fortunately, we see that we can also rent canoes. On our own we can paddle along the beautiful sea caves. The steep rocks are beautiful from the water and some caves we can even paddle through by canoe. After a few hours of paddling along the coast, the sea becomes more and more boisterous and we return to the beach.

Gargano grotten
Gargano Kano
Gargano uitzicht

New oil for the next 10

Just before Bari we reach a beautiful symbolic milestone: 10,000 kilometers on the meter! Time for a very small party with cake and a mini champagne. But then we just as easily start the next 10,000 again. We cycle steadily on.

In Bari we have the oil of our Rohloff hubs changed. So we’re good to go for another 5000Km. And as expected, the further south we get, the more beautiful it becomes. We buy two diving goggles and dive more and more into the sea. The water is wonderfully cooling, crystal clear and we see a few beautiful fish swimming. We already knew that Isabelle loves to swim. But even Rob can now be found in the sea for more than a minute.


There are few campsites between Bari and Lecce and we decide to just ask someone if we can pitch our tent. We see someone at work at a garden and walk towards him. Initially we are allowed to pitch our tent on the lawn outside the garden. Perfect! We are very happy. Then he shows where he has taps where we can rinse off. There is also a beautiful area where we can rest and sit down. Then he shows us the bathroom that we can use, we can pick grapes that we are allowed to have, we are offered cactus fruits, we can also set up our tent within the fences of the garden and we are offered beer. We did not expect so much hospitality and trust. What a “may we perhaps pitch our tent somewhere here” can lead to. The garden is fenced and our host lives further down the village. We get the key, an explanation of how to lock the garden and his mobile number in case there is anything. The next day we leave everything tidy, close the garden and throw the keys over the fence as agreed.

At the tip of the boot we quickly visit Lecce. The city gets the nickname: Florence of the south and that is well deserved as far as we are concerned because it is a very beautiful city.

tienduizend kilometer fietsen
gratis slaapplek

Ionic coast

From Lecce we turn left towards the Ionian coast. As long as we cycle in the heel, it remains beautiful and we can often jump into the sea from where we pitch our tent. However, that changes as soon as we enter Taranto. We see a lot of collapsed buildings, abandoned houses, migrant workers, bad roads, rubbish on the street and street dogs. It seems as if there has recently been an earthquake and three-quarters of the population has left in a hurry. It turns out to be different.

The owners of the Taranto steel plant received long prison sentences in 2021. Fortunately, we do not know exactly what they did, but the prosperity that the factory brought mainly disappeared into their pockets and in the meantime a number of officials at the environmental service were bribed. The end result: an environmental disaster for Taranto, many cases of illness among the inhabitants and eventually a bankrupt steel company. As far as we are concerned, Taranto can be placed somewhere at the bottom of your bucket list or, better yet, removed from it.

Taking the train

The continuation of the Ionian coast is a bit better, but there are few quiet roads to be found. It also sometimes turns out to be difficult to navigate because one of the roads has recently been upgraded to a highway. Google maps and Komoot don’t know about this yet, so they keep sending us towards the highway. One day we cycle 75Km to finally finish 23Km away from our sleeping place. The highway again blocks our way. We have two options: 40Km into the mountains to eventually get 10Km further, or taking the train. We choose the second option with pain in Rob’s heart. Isabelle gets over this a little easier.


We didn’t really have much other choice, because we once again found a warm-showers address. Gennaro invites us to his parents place. They live in a big house in the mountains. He is still traveling by bike, but his parents like to receive cyclists. We are allowed to sleep in his room and we get delicious food. Communicating is a bit more difficult, since they don’t speak English and we don’t speak Italian. Nevertheless, we have a great evening full of delicious food, drinks and google translate. The hospitality is endless and the weather is very bad that night, so we are extra happy that we could sleep inside.

The plan was to keep cycling through the mountains towards Sicily, but the weather forecasts are not too good. We have already been surprised by bad weather in the mountains in Morocco, we prefer not to let that happen a second time. So we adjust our plans (again) last-minute and cycle to the coast. There it is also rainy but in any case a lot warmer than high in the mountains.

fietsen in de trein

Into the mountains

After a day of sitting out the rain, it clears up again. What shall we do? We find the idea of going back into the mountains very attractive. But is it worth all those altimeters  and sweat? Yes, why not!

We make it a 3-day mini-adventure. We stock up on enough food and wild camping becomes the standard. There are no campsites anyway. The first evening we speak to someone who is standing along the road on a piece of land. With hands and feet we ask if we can set up our tent here or nearby. He makes it clear that he knows a much better place. We can follow him in his Ape. Fifteen minutes later, he stands with his arms wide in front of the pastor’s garden. “Tadaa! This is a much better place, isn’t it?” Behind him we see a sign: In this garden you are not allowed to play football, not to eat, no dogs, dogs are not allowed to defecate, no music, and 10 other rules which state what you are not allowed to do. We are a bit skeptical, but our friend already sees the pastor walking and calls him our way. Fortunately, the pastor thinks it is fine if we camp there for a night. Not quite wild camping but still it’s a nice place. The next day we find a nice spot in the forest. A curious resident comes around sunset to “look for mushrooms” but after a chat we are even invited for dinner and something to drink. We decline the invitation, since we were already cooking and we prefer not to leave our tent and belongings behind in the forest. The fact that we camp here does not seem to be a problem for people in any case.

Rainy day

The route through the mountains is quiet and mainly goes over the small quiet roads. We cycle through beautiful forests and small villages. Very different from along the coast. Some rain was predicted and on day two we will have to deal with that as well. A thunderstorm passes over us. It doesn’t rain, it pours. We also no longer see water droplets but a constant stream of water that falls from the sky. The floodgates have opened it seems. But now the rain- coats and -pants come out of the bag again. The thunderstorm has also scared some cows because a bit further on there are a number of them lost on the road. Fortunately, it is all short-lived and a few hours later we just set up our tent in the evening sun.

The fairytale forest

The last day is actually the most beautiful. The forests of Calabria have been the source of inspiration for the fairytale forest and the dream flight in Efteling. It must be. Purple flowers bloom that cover the forest floor like a carpet and it’s mushroom season. The locals walk around like forest elves, equipped with basket and wooden stick, looking for the precious fungi. The Fiat Panda (from the year 2000) clearly as a favorite means of transport.

Bos Calabrië
Paarse bloemen


On day 3 of our mini-adventure we also see Sicily looming. Our almost-last stop in Italy. We still have a few weeks and as always we have a rough idea about what we want to see and do but nothing is set in stone yet. However, we have to be in Napoli on October 25. Then our next adventure begins, more on that later…..

We still have a great time, we still enjoy cycling and everything we see and experience. Not every day is beautiful, but due to a heavy rain shower or a bad road, we enjoy the beautiful days and the beautiful cycle paths that we also encounter even more.

You made it!

For the reader who stayed until the end, chapeau! This blog is about a lot of kilometers and is therefore a bit longer than we would like. Even now we can’t describe everything in detail, but don’t worry, the photos hopefully complement our story well.

griekse tempel
fietser paralympische spelen
slaapplek met diner

Dikke kus, doei!


Dit bericht heeft 2 reacties

  1. Thomas & Rosa

    Dear friends, we are glad you are well and are enjoying Italy (“in guten und in schlechten Tagen”).
    All the best from us, abig hug!

    1. Rob en Isabelle

      Thank you so much! So nice to see that you both are still reading along. Big hugs to you too and the cats!

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