I'm fleshing out the details for next year's bike tour of via Appia. A lot of people have been emailing me about where, exactly to ride, so here's the basic gist of it. If you're not coming with us next year, you can connect the dots and have a good basis for your own southern Italy bike tour:
Day 1--Rome to Ariccia. This is a slow, easy route that gives you time to enjoy the Appian Way Regional Park. It's worth spending most of your day siteseeing, even if you only ride 15 miles.
Day 2--Ariccia to Terracina. Another short but scenic route. We're going to veer off the Appia and go through the Circeo National Park. More trees, fewer cars, and we'll still get to Terracino in time to check out the Temple of Jupiter in Anxur
Day 3--Ride in the mountains with the Terracina Cycling Club. I can't promise this will happen, but I made friends with several local bikers in Terracina on my last bike tour. I'm hoping we can stash our panniers for a day and ride around in the mountains near Itri and Fondi with the locals. The weather should be perfect, and we'll be greeted with bright silver-green olive trees and wildflowers in every color imaginable.
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Day 4--Terracina to Minturno. This is a scenic ride through the mountains, passing another park where a section of the Appian way has been restored. As we come down the mountains towards Formia we'll pass the so-called "Tomb of Cicero," although Cicero is almost certainly not buried there. I'll tell you the story when we get to it. Minturno is a fascinating town with a lot of interesting archeological sites.
Day 5--Siteseeing in Minturno. We'll give our legs a rest as we camp out on the beach and spend most of the day checking out the remains of the ancient Rpman city of Minturnae and the 3 bridges that cross the river into Campagna. If you've got the energy, you can ride up to the medieval hill town of Minturno proper for breathtaking views of land and sea, or hike the swampy backcountry to the legendary Ponte Degli Aurunci.
Day 6--Minturno to Santa Maria Capua Vetere. This won't be a very interesting ride, but we'll pass through the city of Capua, home of the nicest people in the world, and on to the site of the original Capua. This was where gladiators were trained, and was the beginning of Spartacus' famous rebellion. Lost of Amphitheaters and old Roman ruins. Can't get enough of 'em!
Day 7--Detour to Benevento. We're going to circle around north of the traditional via Appia route to avoid a boring drudge of slow heavy traffic and industrial wasteland. Instead we'll ride through some mountains, and visit the beautiful town of Sant'Agatha dei Goti. We'll probably spend the night in an agriturismo spot outside Benevento.
Day 8, 9, 10--Over the Apennines. There are a lot of possible routes over the Apennine mountains, and the scholars are all in disagreement on where the via Appia actually ran. I'm still looking into lodging opportunities. This will to be one of the most memorable parts of the trip, so I want to get it just right! We'll end up around Venosa or Gravina--both places we're going to spend some time.
Day 11--The Sasse. Throughout the rocky plains of Basilicata and Puglia, people turned to the many caves for shelter, cover, and religion. You'll see some breathtaking frescoes on the living rock in Gravina and Matera. We'll probably even get to spend the night in furnished caves (with the addition of beds, electricity, and running water).
Day 12--Taranto. Back on the coast of the ionian sea, we'll get to relax, eat, and maybe even check out some more Roman ruins if you're not tired of them.
Day 13--Taranto to Brindisi. This last, easy ride includes a stop halfway for some hand-made gelato in the fortress town of Oria. We'll have time for some photo-ops at the pillar that marks the end of the via Appia, and we'll top off the day sharing some well-earned food and wine with fellow travelers at a hostel nearby.
Day 14--Brindisi to Rome. Yep, it's weird backtracking all the way. I'm going to try to bike at least part of the way back on the via Appia-Traiana if you want to come with me.