Cycle from the UNESCO town of Matera through Italy's heel to Lecce on an 8 day biking journey
Southern Italy is large, diverse, and laid back with its beaches, sleepy medieval villages, and mixture of Mediterranean influences. Sunshine, wine, and food are the priorities in Southern Italy, where the regions of Campania, Calabria, Basilicata, and Apulia form the ankle, arch, heel, and toe of the ‘Boot of Italy’. Full of ancient Roman and Greek cities, Southern Italy has been subject to settlement from all the neighbouring civilizations since antiquity. Less industrial and with a history of being poor compared to the northern regions, the south has a slower pace to life, where taking an evening stroll takes priority over almost anything else.
One of the oldest European cities, Naples is the largest and most well known of the southern capitals. Often overlooked by tourism due to its over-developed coasts, gritty roots, and history of organised crime, but once you get off the beaten path Naples is a fantastic place to explore. Cycle from Naples down to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius and the Amalfi Coast on your way to Bari and the beautiful Salento Peninsula. The region of Apulia is one of the most underdeveloped, yet beautiful regions in all of Italy. Known as the ‘heel of the boot’, Apulia is made up entirely of a limestone karst topography which drops off steeply into the aquamarine waters of the Adriatic Sea. Home to hidden beaches, Greek ruins and laid back cycling, a trip through this historic region of Italy is a must.
Off the toe of the boot lies Sicily, the fabled island that considers itself separate from the mainland for good reason. The traditions, language, food, and well pretty much everything is different in Sicily. A trip up Mt. Etna is a must to see the expansive lava fields and to witness the raw power of nature. Mt. Etna is Europe's biggest and most active volcano, with large scale eruptions occurring as recently as 2002. There are multiple ways to experience Mt. Etna including tour bus, cable car, private car, and for the fit - guided hikes. The capital city of Sicily is Palermo, which is a little rough and dirty, and Sicily's second city Catania has a little more to offer in the way of sites, but the best of Sicily is found in the small seaside villages that dot the coastlines. The ancient Greek capital of Syracuse is another must see site in Sicily as it once rivaled Athens in size and has been called ‘the most beautiful Greek city of them all’. With its Mediterranean climate Southern Italy is pleasant to visit most of the year with cool wet winters and hot summers.