Italy has been such a beautiful place to visit so far. The western European culture here is so familiar and comfortable that I've taken over most of the trip planning again, even though my Italian is non-existent. This allows Neda to just enjoy the ride, since she did so much work while we were traveling through Latin America. So basically, this will be a nostalgia tour because we're going to visit every place that I've read about or seen in TV shows from when I was a kid!
We scored a pretty nice place for cheap in Capitello through AirBnB, on the western shore of the boot of Italy, right where the ankle meets the foot. Our place had a great view of the Gulf of Policastro and in the morning, we woke up early to catch the first rays of sunlight rise above the mountain range in the east. These mountains separate the Campagna region where we came from, and the Basilicata region, which we are headed through later in the day.
Nice thing about catching sunrises in the mountains is that you don't have to wake up too early.
This is about 45 minutes after the official sunrise for Capitello
View of the Gulf of Policastro from our place! Spectacular!
Neda looking out into the bay
Early morning fisherman against the many-layered mountains of Basilicata
The Basilicata region is the most mountainous region in Italy, almost half of its area is covered by mountains. These peaks fall and end abruptly at the shoreline, and we skirt the edge of the cliff-side road peering over the edge at more of the fantastic scenery that we had experienced the day before at Amalfi.
In some ways, the road further south of Amalfi was a better drive
because there was much less traffic and it offered the same view of the coastline
And we still got to ride through quaint little villages along the way. Not as crowded too!
We decided to stop at Maratea for lunch, since it was the only coastal town in the Basilicata region. As we got closer, we saw a small statue of Jesus high atop a cliff, which looked kind of cool. But the closer we got, the bigger Jesus grew - the statue was huge! It was so big, we had to investigate, so we rode up this very cool winding road that they had specially built to get to the top of the mountain.
That was fun!
Neda, the CIO (Chief Instagram Officer), gives the shareholders some updates
Cristo Redentore di Maratea stands over 21m high on the top of Monte San Biagio and is the 5th tallest statue of Christ in the entire world. The head itself is over 3m (10 feet) tall! It's made out of pure Carrara marble. Impressive! We spent a bit of time walking around the summit of the mountain, taking in the marvelous views of the town of Maratea as well as the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Just drinking in the scenery!
The Basilica of St. Blaise, also on top of Monte San Biagio opposite the statue
The road that they built to get up to the statue was a ton of fun, and we weren't the only ones enjoying it as we passed cyclists and other motorcyclists. The mountain is so steep that they had to build a supported road with switchbacks away from the side of the slope. There were much better views going down, so here's a short video of our descent!
At about 0:09s you can see the statue as we are leaving it
Standing outside one of the numerous churches in Maratea
Maratea is a very picturesque village, but packed with lots of tourists. We had made plans to find a cheap restaurant to have lunch here, but all the places we stopped into had expensive menus and high copertos, so we carried our complaining stomachs further from the centre of town until we stumbled upon a small-hole-in-the-wall diner that was more kitchen than diner. There was no set menu, the Italian nonna who owned the place just continually made different pasta dishes throughout the day and sold whatever she had at the time. So glad that lasagna was what she happened to be cooking at the time. Both Neda and I agreed it was THE BEST lasagna we had ever eaten! :)
Neda is trying to trick this cat into thinking that there's food to be had!
More pretty Maratea
Back on the bikes after lunch and we're on our way further south. The coastal road takes us through deserted beach towns that probably would have been teeming with tourists from all over the country and Europe just a month ago. I can see and feel the sun and temperature warming up the path ahead of us, and what was an initial wet entry into Italy is turning out to be quite a nice tour! Yay!
Found a campsite right on the beach, as well as a cheap bottle of red wine from the "cellar" of the campground cafeteria :)
2014 was a good vintage year, wasn't it? Especially the month of September...
Sun sets, wine finished, back to the tent. Stumble, giggle, stumble. Pee a couple of times in the middle of the night...
The next morning, we ride down to the very tip of the boot to catch a ferry!
Saying goodbye to mainland Italy. We're heading to Sicily!
Funny thing is that we had not really planned to ride down this far. We were going to turn inland after the Amalfi Coast but after some research, I found that the ferry ticket was not that expensive and I was intrigued with Sicily even though I don't know much about it. So after some convincing to get Neda on-board, here we are!