Basilicata coast-to-coast, Day 2

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From Chiaromonte (PZ) to Trecchina (PZ),  02 October 2020

My phone-alarm wake me up at about 8.00 am. A bit of stretching with a pretty good view and I’m immediately ready for breakfast based on: some baked focaccia, croissant, yogurt and fruit juice. The affiliated La Villetta rotisserie bar proves to have one of the most delicious focaccia I have ever tasted.

Belvedere from the La Villetta rotisserie, Chiaromonte (PZ), 03-10-2020, 09.00

At about 09.30 my direction is Fardella (PZ). On the way I find a large area suitable for camping (car, camper and / or tent) as well as a wall for outdoor climbing that stands nearby the road.

The panorama opens and makes room for Mount Raparo which, with its approximately 1760 m, is located in the center of the Appennino Lucano Val d’Agri Lagonegrese National Park. I cross upon roads surrounded by oaks and chestnuts.

On the left Mount Raparo seen from the road, on the right the oak and chestnut woods that characterize the route, Chiaromonte-Fardella (PZ), 03-10-2020, 10.30am

I cover the first uphill of the day: about 10km mostly with acceptable slopes except for the stretch that crosses the village of Fardella where there are some points characterized by slopes even higher than 14%. Here you will find the route traced on my Komoot profile : remember not to rely too much on the percentages of the slopes estimation by the app itslef which, very often, are underestimated.

After passing accros the town, the climb gently continues up to the Episcopia-Latronico junction. From here on I can rest my legs and immerse myself in the silence of the landscape, pulled by a long descent that in about 8 km leads me to Episcopia: a bit like Rocco in his youth, the gentleman I met the day before in Chiaromonte, he used to bike the same roads with the bike’s engine off.

On the left, the town seen from the top of the hairpin bends that precede it – On the right, a shot from the main square, Episcopia (PZ), 03-10-2020, 11.30am

Arrived at Episcopia I take a coffee (always barley) and, after a chat with the local gentlemen, I continue towards the bottom of the valley, where I switch to the other side of thr Sinni river, its southern side, in the direction of Agromonte Magnano (PZ).

The climb is particularly difficult due to the steep slope. Here the path with the gpx track that leads from Episcopia to Agromonte Magnano first, and then to Agromonte Mileo (PZ).

The path chosen to go up to Agromonte Magnano is a blind road where, before it ends, it is necessary to be careful to identify the corner where to turn to take a semi-asphalted road on the right: this is the road that, with very gentle and sustainable slopes, it leads up to the village.

Before taking the off road, having never traveled it, doubts arise in my mind about the actual practicability of the road. I go back to ask to a bricklayer, intent on repairing a previously crossed cottage (semi-abandoned), if the road actually leads to Agromonte Magnano and he says to me: “yes yes, always follow that road and you will arrive in Agromonte in about 3 / 4km … ah, just watch out for the shepherd dogs because there is a flock and a stable whose gates overlooking the street “. Well, it is kind of comfortable..

I admit it, for a moment I thought of going back and taking a less isolated route to go up to the village. However, no one could guarantee me that, on other ways, I would not find other dogs and plus, going back would have meant not only wasting time but “sacrificing” the altitude gained up to that point.

I gain courage and continue on the road, as scheduled. Luckily the animals had all gone out to pasture to an area below my route and with them the dogs too. In short, everything goes smoothly and in about 3 km I arrive at Agromonte Magnano where I stop to refill the water bottles.

Agromonte Magnano (PZ), 03-10-2020, 12.30

I go on and pass Agromonte Mileo too : from then on, the next 22.5 km, as already checked on the satellite during the planning days, seemed to be not only abandoned but almost completely isolated. It is a road whose slopes are particularly “gentle” compared to the other options which, in the neighboring area, are characterized by difficult climbs (such as Latronico, Cogliandrino), for the slopes, or paths of medium difficulty, but much longer (Agromonte Magnano, Castelluccio, Lauria).

I get the confirmation by a man I come accross in Agromente. The route is almost completely abandoned and very narrow for cars, but not for a bike. He is keen to alert me to the possible presence of animals, this time wild: << Be careful you might come accros some wild pigs>>. In short, another good wish.

I eat the last slice of focaccia in the square, with spinach and ricotta, taken at the La Villetta di Chiaromonte bar in the morning.

I jump on the bicycle again, when it was either one o’clock in the afternoon. Indeed the hamlets that I go through prove to be uninhabited with old and unkempt ruins, but not all of them and in any case the route does not reserve particular dangers. For those wishing to view the route I leave here the direct link to the komoot recording where you can view or download the gpx track .

I arrive in Borgo Seluci after almost an hour and about 13 km. In the meantime the sky is covered and a particularly strong wind rises: I notice that from here the path becomes even more wild, wooded, and I run out of water. I turn to a gentleman who drives a four-wheeled vehicle that seems to have been perfectly made to cross dirt roads and steep climbs and I ask him if the path I am about to do is all in all quiet (what does this mean? anyway..) His expression is not at all calm in imagining someone cycling the stretch I pointed to, not because there are particular dangers but simply because of the very steep climbs. <<I recommend opting for the Sinnica>> he said, pointing his finger to the valley to the main road that connects the Ionian side to the Tyrrhenian side.

His expression, the wind that rises strong and the clouds that get closer, almost convinced me but I did not want to give in taking the Sinnica, both for safety reasons (it is to be avoided absolutely for the high speed traffic and tunnels) and because, in the end, the beauty lies in crossing woods and villages, not in arriving soon (or easily) at your destination.

I go up for almost 10km and the route proves to be beautiful, although rich in berries (very tasty and ripe at the right point!) and with an unexpected fountain to refill the water bottles.

Towards Contrada Cavallo from Agromonte Mileo (PZ), 03-10-2020, 14.45

I reach Contrada Cavallo around 3.30 pm: from here on I take a break, stopping to check the path on koomot: for the next 21 km, basically almost 15 km are fully downhill. The morale goes up to the stars and, in harmony, the sky opens: I quikly find and book a room in ab&b in Trecchina to spend the night there.

Here I am in this photo below, immediately after passing Contrada Cavallo, the place where the Sinnica highway ends and crosses with many other roads as well as the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway.

Immediately after Contrada Cavallo (PZ), 03-10-2020, 15.45

After a little uphill stretch, I finally reach Nemoli (PZ) : photos in the square to prove it! 🙂

Nemoli (PZ), 03-10-2020, 16.00

I leave Nemoli behind, I cross the Noce river (also called Castrocuocco river) and start the uphill that will take me to Trecchina in about half an hour.

After the second day on the bike, with more than 100km behind me and almost 3,000 meters of altitude gained, the last kilometer to get to Trecchina (PZ) weighs like a boulder and several times, in the middle of the climb, I am forced to stop to take a breath and drink some water.

Panorama that can be seen from the last curves uphill towards Trecchina (PZ), 03-10-2020, 17.00

Here is the route recorded on komoot from Contrada Cavallo to Trecchina (PZ) .

At about 5.30 pm I arrive in the village: for today the kilometers covered are enough and Maratea is now really close!

The b&b I choose is called ” Zero stelle ” and is quite cozy. The photo is out of focus but I had no patience to try more than one self-timer. 😐

At the Zero Stelle b&b, Trecchina (PZ), 03-10-2020

In the evening I have dinner at La Lanterna Verde restaurant. It is a little too sophisticated for my tastes but certainly a great place to taste revisited typical dishes.

During dinner I make new friends: a delightful couple from Venetians with whom we exchange contacts and we will meet (by chance) the next morning to have breakfast together in a nearby coffee.

The day ends with the unexpected meeting of Nicoletta, a physiotherapist which practices her profession in Policoro and who (I just discovered) is originally from Trecchina.

Nicoletta after the initial amazement not only in having met me there but above all in knowing that I had arrived there by bicycle, kindly offers me a lift to go back in Policoro the next evening which I hesitate to accept because, in my head, I would like this journey would ever come to an end and I would be willing to ride the bicycle all the way back to Policoro!

Returning by bicycle having only Sunday (the next day) and Monday available, would have meant sacrificing a lot of time in visiting the Christ Statue and, probably, not being able to dive into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Hesitant and struggling about what to do, I decide it’s time to enjoy the evening and leave the decision up to the next day.

The second day of my first solo biking trip ends and the final destination is behind the corner.

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