Basilicata by bicycle: an amazing journey in the land of a thousand landscapes

Too much, too wonderful is nature here for me to feel the labors of its harshness,” wrote Luigi Vittorio Bertarelli in 1897, the founder of the Italian Touring Club Ciclistico Italiano, cycling up the mountains of the Pollino Park. And that’s right, Basilicata is a continuum of ascents and descents, of mountains and hills furrowed by the many rivers that flow through a region of a thousand landscapes.

Basilicata by Bike Domenico Pozzovivo
Basilicata by Bike – Domenico Pozzovivo

For those who like to travel at a slow pace, feel the pulse of nature, and connect with welcoming stories and communities, Basilicata is the ideal destination. A land where protected natural areas affect almost a third of the entire territory, preserving habitats where the gaze can open beyond all limits: from the peaks of the Pollino to the Agri Valleys and of the Sinni, from the peaks of Vulture to the Monticchio Lakes, from the Lucanian Dolomites to the Murgia Materana, itineraries for passionate and curious travelers, capable of evoking the secrets of a land rich in history.

21 routes in one app

In fact, among its 11 Nature Reserves, 2 National Parks and 3 Regional Parks numerous routes are feasible by bike, whether road, gravel, mountain bike or e-bike. Proposals range from medium-low difficulty to challenging trails, combining sporting passion with the exploratory curiosity that the area stimulates.

Basilicata - Pollino photo by F.Vigliotti
Basilicata – Pollino photo by F.Vigliotti

The “Basilicata Free to Move” app made by the Territorial Promotion Agency offers 21 routes complete with GPX track that cross the entire Lucanian territory providing useful tips, pointing out en plein air activities, cycle shops, specialized outlets, bike hotels and typical restaurants, camper areas and drinking water fountains.

Ring of Lucanian Parks by bicycle

TheLucanian Parks Cycling Ring consists of a 15-stage route that starts with a prologue from Maratea, a finalist city among the candidates for Italian Capital of Culture 2026. The city overlooks the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast and is dominated by an iconic “Christ.” We return to Maratea after traversing the Protected Areas of Basilicata for 725 km overcoming 13,360 m of elevation gain.

Basilicata Maratea photo by F. Vigliotti
Basilicata – Maratea photo by F. Vigliotti

From the Maratea station, which is connected by high-speed and Intercity trains equipped with bicycle carriages, you can reach the Lake Sirino (38.6 km with 1,200 m of elevation gain) from which a very scenic bicycle path starts, running on the route of the former Calabro-Lucana railway until it enters the Pollino National Park, in lower Castelluccio.

From here the route climbs, passing Rotonda and touching the highest peak at 1445 m on the slopes of Serra di Crispo, near Acquatremola. After passing the Sarmento Valley, the trail proceeds in the direction of the Ionian side, passes Valsinni, the village of the poetess Isabella Morra, crosses the Sinni Valley and reaches Colobraro, the town of “mysteries.”

From here it continues on through the Calanchi Park, a sublunar landscape of rare beauty with the fantastic ruins of old Craco, the “casedde di Pisticci” and the “rabatana” of Tursi, and then ascends to Matera, the World Heritage Site City of the Sassi.

Basilicata Pisticci photo by F.Vigliotti
Basilicata – Pisticci photo by F.Vigliotti

From the Murgia Park, past the green San Giuliano Nature Oasis, we descend back to the Basento Valley and from here climb up to the Gallipoli Cognato Piccole Dolomiti Lucane Regional Park, where the spires of the “Flight of the Angel” soar.

Leaving Pietrapertosa, the route goes toward the Bradano River where it crosses the track of Eurovelo 5, Via Romea Francigena, and lands in Venosa, the city of the Latin poet Horace.

After passing through Barile and Ginestra, both towns with Arbëreshë roots, you arrive in Melfi, an ancient city graced by the imposing Norman-Swabian castle. Located at the entrance to the Vulture Park, renowned for its Aglianico wine, Melfi is adorned by the picturesque Lakes of Monticchio and dotted with charming villages nestled between the Bradano and Ofanto rivers, creating a breathtaking landscape.

Basilicata - Melfi photo by F.Vigliotti
Basilicata – Melfi photo by F.Vigliotti

From here we proceed to Muro Lucano and then along the route of theancient Appian Way, marked by the Bosco Grande di Ruoti and the Li Foi Mountains, now close to Potenza.

After departing from the regional capital, where a riverside bike path runs alongside the ancient Roman bridge, the route ascends through the Arioso-Sellata forests, known for their historical ski facilities. It then descends into the enchanting beech forest of Marsico Nuovo, a venerable diocesan center nestled in the heart of the Lucanian Val d’Agri Lagonegrese Apennine National Park.

Basilicata - Matera photo by F.Vigliotti
Basilicata – Matera photo by F.Vigliotti

Upon reaching Paterno, we journey a few miles downstream, briefly visiting the must-see archaeological site of Grumentum on Lake Pertusillo. We then embark on the final challenging stretch of the route, ascending beyond the imposing Sirino Massif to reach Lagonegro, a Lucanian city nestled in the Noce Valley. From here we pick up the bicycle path at the old Rivello station and proceed to Lake Sirino, from where a dizzying descent, winding through villages and mountains overlooking the sea, brings us back to the beautiful coast of Maratea.

The Lucanian hospitality

What truly makes this journey to uncover the most authentic aspects of Basilicata special is not only its natural, historical, and cultural wonders or its expansive stretches of unspoiled landscape, but also the opportunity to meet its people. The communities extend warm and sincere hospitality to travelers, complemented by the delights of the Lucanian table. Renowned for its rich array of dishes and products of sublime quality, featuring an endless variety of legumes, vegetables, grains, and fruits.

Farmhouses, B&Bs, cozy hotels are present along the entire route allowing each person to arrange the trip according to his or her own time and desires.