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A basic itinerary for touring via Appia on a bicycle

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.

Italy Appia Benevento theater

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.

Day 5--Mintu

4 thoughts on “A basic itinerary for touring via Appia on a bicycle

  1. ALEX DEWART

    Hi
    I've been interested in riding the Appian Way for a few years now .I've just done spent 2 weeks doing a 1000km trip from Copenhagen to Berlin ( mostly along the Ostsee Radweg - the Baltic Sea cycle route). I noticed your proposed trip takes 2 weeks - is this because of the steep terrain? ( I thought the length was only about 350km- have I got this horribly wrong?)How much is off road and how rough does it get? The OstSee Radweg occasionally is cobbles , old DDR tank roads and various forest,field and sand dune trails.My Thorne Sherpa was fine for this and I would use it for the Appian Way if suitable. I read Charles Listers book a few years ago and some places seemed pretty remote with accomodation not necessarily easy to come by - have things changed?

  2. Jacob

    Hi Alex,

    The route as I normally do it is about 700km, but I'm allowing 14 days for several reasons. First, we'll be making some detours off the regular route to avoid heavy traffic and in some cases to reach lodging. My plan for next year's trip is to go slowly, no more than about 60-80 km per day, to leave lots of time for sightseeing. There are a few places where I plan to stay for 2 nights in order to get a full 24 hours to appreciate the area. A 14-day itinerary also leaves time to take a train from Brindisi back to Rome.

    The first 15 k out of Rome the road is very rough because you ride on the original flagstones. There are a few other sections where you can ride directly on the Roman road bed but in most cases you can ride on a paved road if you prefer.

    There are only a few places where the terrain is steep. This is a ride for beginners, most of it won't be very strenuous. The real purpose is to see southern Italy and many archeological sites that haven't been overrun by tourists. There are some optional off-road side trips to see old Roman bridges but they're not a critical part of the ride.

    Accommodation is still difficult to come by, but I've found some good options for most of the route. It's probably easier than it was when Charles Lister walked the Appian Way 30 years ago. Also, since he was on foot he could move as quickly to find accommodation. We'll have an easier time. Let me know if you'd like to come along. It sounds like you're a strong rider, so this will be very easy for you.

  3. Karen

    Hi, what time of the year is this ride planned for. I like the idea if it being beginners ride.It sounds like fun.
    Karen

  4. Jacob

    Hi Karen,

    I'm aiming for early May, 2010. Probably going to the big concert at San Giovanni on May 1st, then leaving on May 2nd.

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