Monday, November 16, 2015

Basilicata by bicycle is the best way to take in a sunset.
(Photo:
ferulaviaggi.it)
By Stephanie JackenthalAs the train doors opened in Trani, a
bustling Italian seaport on the Adriatic Sea known as "the pearl of Puglia,"
fresh salty sea air filled my lungs.
Michele Cappiello, owner of"Bike
Basilicata, greeted me with a warm smile.
I followed him to a small shop
nearby, where I changed into Pearl Izumi cycling togs, picked up a provided
Scott road bike and maps and began a three-day cycling trip across Puglia and
Basilicata in south Italy, a.k.a the heel of "the boot."I had spent the prior
week in Sicily, exploring its wineries, restaurants and ancient archaeological
sites.
It was early May, prime cycling time in southern Italy and as a
long-time cyclist, I couldn"t leave the region without exploring it on two
wheels.
I"m not alone.
According to a 2014 Adventure Cycling Association
survey, the popularity of bike tourism in both the U.S.
and globally is
surging — prompting touring companies to increase their destination
offerings and trip length options.Related: 7 Reasons to Visit Mexico City"s
Hippest HoodBut back to Puglia.
Under cobalt skies with puffy clouds I started
my 60-mile ride to the historic town of Venosa.
Since I only had three days,
Michele customized my trip, combing two typical 30-mile days into one day"s
ride.
His driver Paco Francesco Cosentino transported my luggage daily.I
rolled over bumpy cobblestone streets paralleling the glistening sapphire sea
and zipped past stylish, sun glass-clad tourists chatting at cafés and
strolling sidewalks.
Trani seemed like Miami with a European twist.With the
wind at my back on the outskirts of town, my legs settled into familiar
rhythmic circular pedaling.
For the first time that day, I felt calm and
recharged.
Liveliness melded into quietness as I pedaled past round stone
structures resembling rocky igloos, flourishing farms and quaint homes along
the fertile landscape.Related: This Caribbean Cruise Was Our Best Family
Vacation EverUpon reaching Adria, a bustling market town celebrated for its
wine, almonds and olive oil, I took a brief detour to see Castel del
Monte.
The towering octagonal fortress with 16 trapezoid-shaped halls was
built in 1240 by Emperor Frederick II — and designated a UNESCO site in
1996.Later, I arrived in the hilltop village of Minervino Murge, often called
the "balcony over Puglia," for its stunning panoramic views.
The town"s stone
castles and cathedrals — notably Cattedrale dell"Assunta and Palazzo
Vescovile — date back the Norman period, and along with its Bell Tower
are must sees.After a long day"s journey, I reached the entrance to Venosa,
birthplace of classical poet Horace (65-8 B.C.).
The Castle of Venosa, an
Aragonese castle, built in 1470 by Pirro del Balzo Orsini, stood high above
other buildings.
Home to architectural remnants dating back to Roman and
Paleolithic times, the town attracts history buffs — and thrills
fun-seekers who love the Water Park of Venosa.Slogging up the final hill, I
was relived to reach Hotel Orazio, a charming family-owned Victorian
bed-and-breakfast.
I craved a much-needed shower and glass of Aglianico, the
local wine, not necessarily in that order.
At supper in the mahogany dining
room, I gobbled creamy fava bean puree with sautéed wild mushrooms and
sipped a spicy cherry and black currant-driven Aglianico Del Vulture.The next
morning, a stiff breeze rustled treetops and the sun lurked behind hazy skies,
as I set off for another 60-mile day.
Outside town, I met a local cyclist
riding a gorgeous Italian-made bicycle.
A broad man in his mid-50s, "Gino"
didn"t speak much English and I don"t speak much Italian.We rode together
through the bucolic rolling countryside, chatting in "Italish" and exchanging
nods.
In Genzano di Lucania, we said, "Ciao!" He headed home.
I bought bananas
and petite pears at the farm stand then rolled through the sleepy town, past
quaint cafés dispensing inky black espresso and serving flaky pastry.The
landscape shape-shifted into sprawling cornfields, farms and a few vineyards
as the bright afternoon sun warmed the nape of my neck.
Spools of hay
scattered fields.
Wafts of manure lingered in the air and an occasional flying
insect bounced off my helmet.
It was peaceful and remote.
Only a handful of
cars and two tractors passed me during the 13 mile stretch.Turning onto a
narrow steep road, I spotted Agriturismo Bufalara, a 544-acre eco-lodge and
working farm.
Sweaty and famished upon arrival, co-owner Hilde Leone welcomed
me with a trio of furry dogs.
"You must be hungry," she said, showing me to a
charming duplex cottage — one of four available for rent.Related: 6
Must-See Destinations for the Watch-ObsessedI sunk into the wooden chaise
lounge outside my bungalow, savoring the dreamy 180-degree mountains and
valley view.
Twenty minutes later, Hilde, a tall 30-something brunette,
returned carrying a steaming bowl of wild mushroom and tomato risotto and
water pitcher of Alglianico-Primitivo wine — made by her husband.
Both
were heavenly.Later, I met Hilde and her mother Edda in the spacious kitchen
for a cooking class.
The blue tile counter was covered with a colorful bounty
of vibrant wild asparagus, purple eggplant, glistening green zucchini and
delightfully sweet tiny cherry tomatoes that popped with a flavor explosion.I
learned to make fava bean puree, "only" use the soft yellow part of an
artichoke and "after grilling zucchini," then drizzle with olive oil and
salt.The following morning, 18 mile into my 60 mile ride, I met a friendly
local professional mountain biker "Paolo." We peddled together while swapping
cycling stories quickly became Facebook friends.The country quietness melded
into suburbia as I neared Matera, a UNESCO site known for its labyrinth of
ancient cave dwellings and endless stairs.Outside town, I stopped at Tenuta
Parco dei Monaci to meet owners Rosa and Matteo for a tour of their
contemporary winery and a tasting.The bright, crisp 100 percent Grillo was
refreshing, the Primitivo Rose" packed savory, spicy wild strawberry notes,
while, the satiny Aglianico fewtured expressive berry flavors.In Matera, I
stayed at Hotel Belvedere, which is built into a cave like many of the area"s
hotels, homes and restaurants, and overlooks the Sassi di Matera (stones of
Matera).
Taking a stroll, I descended steep stone staircases into the old town
— a spectacular web of muted grey stone buildings stacked on top of
each other.
Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in
history dating back to the Palaeolithic period with Neolithic caves that
housed folks over 7,000 years ago.Weaving through tight, walled cobblestone
streets, I arrived at Osteria L"Arco for dinner.With tables tucked into etched
cove alcoves, it feels like dining in a wine cave.
Michele joined me for a
glass of wine to toast my two-wheeled jourLet World traveling club Travel
inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on"Facebook,"Twitter, Instagram,
and"Pinterest."Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad."
Basilicata by bicycle is the best way to take in a sunset.
Michele
Cappiello, owner of Bike Basilicata, greeted me with a warm smile.
I followed
him to a small shop nearby, where I changed into Pearl Izumi cycling togs,
picked up a provided Scott road bike and maps and began a three-day cycling
trip across Puglia and Basilicata in south Italy, a.k.a the heel of "the
boot." I had spent the prior week in Sicily, exploring its wineries,
restaurants and ancient archaeological sites.
According to a 2014 Adventure
Cycling Association survey, the popularity of bike tourism in both the
U.S.
and globally is surging — prompting touring companies to increase their
destination offerings and trip length options..The next morning, a stiff
breeze rustled treetops and the sun lurked behind hazy skies, as I set off for
another 60-mile day.
Outside town, I met a local cyclist riding a gorgeous
Italian-made bicycle.
A broad man in his mid-50s, "Gino" didn"t speak much
English and I don"t speak much Italian.We rode together through the bucolic
rolling countryside, chatting in "Italish" and exchanging nods.
In Genzano di
Lucania, we said, "Ciao!" He headed home.
I bought bananas and petite pears at
the farm stand then rolled through the sleepy town, past quaint cafés
dispensing inky black espresso and serving flaky pastry.The landscape
shape-shifted into sprawling cornfields, farms and a few vineyards as the
bright afternoon sun warmed the nape of my neck.
Spools of hay scattered
fields.
Wafts of manure lingered in the air and an occasional flying insect
bounced off my helmet.
It was peaceful and remote.
Only a handful of cars and
two tractors passed me during the 13 mile stretch.Turning onto a narrow steep
road, I spotted Agriturismo Bufalara, a 544-acre eco-lodge and working
farm.
Sweaty and famished upon arrival, co-owner Hilde Leone welcomed me with
a trio of furry dogs.
"You must be hungry," she said, showing me to a charming
duplex cottage — one of four available for rent.Related: 6 Must-See
Destinations for the Watch-ObsessedI sunk into the wooden chaise lounge
outside my bungalow, savoring the dreamy 180-degree mountains and valley
view.
Twenty minutes later, Hilde, a tall 30-something brunette, returned
carrying a steaming bowl of wild mushroom and tomato risotto and water pitcher
of Alglianico-Primitivo wine — made by her husband.
Both were
heavenly.Later, I met Hilde and her mother Edda in the spacious kitchen for a
cooking class.
The blue tile counter was covered with a colorful bounty of
vibrant wild asparagus, purple eggplant, glistening green zucchini and
delightfully sweet tiny cherry tomatoes that popped with a flavor explosion.I
learned to make fava bean puree, "only" use the soft yellow part of an
artichoke and "after grilling zucchini," then drizzle with olive oil and
salt.The following morning, 18 mile into my 60 mile ride, I met a friendly
local professional mountain biker "Paolo." We peddled together while swapping
cycling stories quickly became Facebook friends.The country quietness melded
into suburbia as I neared Matera, a UNESCO site known for its labyrinth of
ancient cave dwellings and endless stairs.Outside town, I stopped at Tenuta
Parco dei Monaci to meet owners Rosa and Matteo for a tour of their
contemporary winery and a tasting.The bright, crisp 100 percent Grillo was
refreshing, the Primitivo Rose" packed savory, spicy wild strawberry notes,
while, the satiny Aglianico fewtured expressive berry flavors.In Matera, I
stayed at Hotel Belvedere, which is built into a cave like many of the area"s
hotels, homes and restaurants, and overlooks the Sassi di Matera (stones of
Matera).
Taking a stroll, I descended steep stone staircases into the old town
— a spectacular web of muted grey stone buildings stacked on top of
each other.
Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in
history dating back to the Palaeolithic period with Neolithic caves that
housed folks over 7,000 years ago.Weaving through tight, walled cobblestone
streets, I arrived at Osteria L"Arco for dinner.With tables tucked into etched
cove alcoves, it feels like dining in a wine cave.
Michele joined me for a
glass of wine to toast my two-wheeled jourLet World traveling club Travel
inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on"Facebook,"Twitter, Instagram,
and"Pinterest."Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad."
Basilicata by bicycle is the best way to take in a sunset.
Michele
Cappiello, owner of Bike Basilicata, greeted me with a warm smile.
I followed
him to a small shop nearby, where I changed into Pearl Izumi cycling togs,
picked up a provided Scott road bike and maps and began a three-day cycling
trip across Puglia and Basilicata in south Italy, a.k.a the heel of "the
boot." I had spent the prior week in Sicily, exploring its wineries,
restaurants and ancient archaeological sites.
According to a 2014 Adventure
Cycling Association survey, the popularity of bike tourism in both the
U.S.
and globally is surging — prompting touring companies to increase their
destination offerings and trip length options.

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