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Via Silente winter tour

Never change my desire to travel. All seasons are beautiful for different reasons. Since we'd have travelled in January, we have chosen a shortened tour which is known as The Minor Silent Ways. Avoiding the highest peaks and riding between 60 and 80 kilometres per day. La Via Silente is a circular route of about 600 km that traces coastal stretches and penetrates the mountains of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park.

Cit. Silence is not absence of sound but quality of hearing.

Never change my desire to travel. All seasons are beautiful for different reasons. However, a bit ok luck is always welcome when cycling around with a light bikepacking, when the inconvenience of rain can become a tough challenge because in winter the temperature always drops a lot when the sun doesn’t shine.

La Via Silente is a circular route of about 600 km that traces coastal stretches and penetrates the mountains of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park. La Via Silente is a project of the namesake association that has designed the route and worked for years to develop one of the best cycle routes in Italy. An amazing territory that can be explored unsupported following the routes designed and the signs along the way or in a tour booking it directly with the association.

Since we’d have travelled in January, we have chosen a shortened tour which is known as The Minor Silent Ways. Avoiding the highest peaks and riding between 60 and 80 kilometres per day. We wanted to enjoy the ride, arrive before dark and have time to stop for quick visits along the route, from village to village, from on panoramic view to another.

This time I should thank Guido (PO_1974) who carefully studied our tour and booked our accommodations in advance, which hasn’t been an easy task because, in the low season, most of the places are closed. He is a very experienced traveller, and he managed all beautifully.

Day 1: 2nd of January: Velina – Castellabate (69,7 km + 1240 m)

We arrived in Velina the day before, travelling south from Bologna, a long way but a reasonable journey. We stayed in the new dormitory of Hostel Silente km 9, as soon as we arrived we met Antonio at the info-point who welcomed us and gave us the credential of Via Silente, a passport to collect all stamps along the way and to complete our degree as ‘friends of Via Silente”. We woke up full of energy and expectation after an amazing dinner that nearly killed us for the quantity of typical food cocked for the occasion by a local restaurant recommended by Antonio.

The day started uphill towards Stella Cilento and Pollica, from the top of the hills we could admire the sea on one side and the mountains on the other side. You can call it “love at first sight”. We always want more, but there in less than 30km, we had everything. In Stella Cilento, we stopped for the first stamp, the Municipal was open and we asked for it, proud to be tourists in such a beautiful region. Usually, stamps are collected from the facilities partners of La Via Silente, but since our tour was planned for fewer days, we thought it was a good idea to collect our stamps from the villages, so we could have a memory of our passage.

Soon we descended to the sea in Acciaroli, the sun was warming our route with a day that had all the colour and the fragrances of spring. From there to Punta Licosa we followed the coastal road, but the last stage was instead a natural-private reserve, an appreciated gravel detour that lead us to Porto San Marco before facing the last climb of the day towards Castellabate. Whilst we rode the last switchbacks the sun started to settle, I didn’t want my first day to finish too quickly, I slowed down and when we arrived at the panoramic top the emotion was more than expected, looking at the sea reflecting all colours of the sunset.

The film “Welcome to the South” with Claudio Bisio and Alessandro Siani was shot in Castellabate a little more than 10 years ago. It parodies the typically slow pace of the south, but also its extremely friendly atmosphere. Thanks to that movie Catellabate became very popular and today a lot of tourists visit the town just to take pictures of the square where the Post Office was located (if you want to know more, I recommend you to watch the movie).

Day 2: 3rd of January: Castellabate – Stia (74,3 km + 1540 m)

Our alarm clock has been set at 7.00 with the idea of having an early departure, however, when we went for breakfast at Sabrina’s mum’s place we decided to enjoy the banquette and that took some time. We had every kind of sweet, biscuits, traditional cakes and more.

When we managed to stand up from the table we got our bicycles ready and our route took us to a quick descent before climbing again towards Mercato Cilento, from there we went for a short detour in Vatolla, the city where Gianbattista Vico lived and work as a tutor of Don Domenico Rocca’s sons. Vico known for his philosophical studies and his main work “Scienza Nuova seconda The New Science“. Vico’s vast collection of books and texts and the rich furnishings of the palace made for a memorable visit. tour without even asking us to pay for admission. Vico’s vast collection of books and texts and the rich furnishings of the palace made for a memorable visit.

Our tour proceeded towards the hinterland where with a bit of luck we had a second free visit at the Longobard castle of Rocca Cilento, in fact when we arrived the gate was open, we cycled inside and we could walk around and above the crenellated walls where we could admire the landscape and the infinity pool, before the castle keeper yelled at us: “Get out! Get out! It’s closed! It’s private”.

After Rocca Cilento we passed through Cicerale, a town known above all for chickpeas, another typical product of the Mediterranean diet, and with Pollica, Vatolla and Alburni, we complete that triangle of towns, the cradle of Mediterranean diet (although this is breathed throughout Cilento). From Cicerale a slight slope and then a climb takes us to Trentinara, perhaps the most beautiful panoramic point in all of Cilento, located in a unique position at the height of Mount Sottano. The day presents itself with a bit of haze but this does not prevent us from seeing the Gulf of Salerno, the plain of Agropoli and in the distance the excavations of Paestum. In Trentinara panoramic terrace there is the start of a Zipline, a statue dedicated to lovers and sign says “Please Kiss”.

From Trentinara, 20 km of a slight slope and a nice final climb lead us to Stio where we stayed at B&B Chiusa di Bianco. The host welcomed us with an aperitif and long chats about the splendid land and how they love to host travellers. The evening ended with a nice night walk in the village that seems like a dive into the past and an hearty dinner at the local restaurant.

Day 3: 4th of January: Stia – Bellosguardo (57,8 km + 1020 m)

We departed from Stia with another gigantic breakfast from which we also got enough snacks to allow us to ride all day without stopping for food. The descent from Stio is long and very cold, 18 km before arriving in Felitto across the valley of the Calore river with splendid views of the local vineyards.

Along the road, before Castel San Lorenzo we passed a sign that mentioned: “road closed”, but a kind big man at the construction site opened our way, helped us carry bikes and parcels over the excavation and proceeded to our destination, even offering us a coffee which we politely declined, not wanting to be too much trouble. We could spot from far away our next stop, Roccadaspide Filomarino Feudal Castel. We arrived at the gate and whist we were photographing the high mighty walls and towers, a gentleman from a distance called us “you..wait, wait!”. He hurried to reach us and told us that if we wanted to see the castle he was happy to let us visit “home”. Incredible, we enter the castle, the garden is coloured with lemons and tangerines, and we got up to the royal rooms where the family kept books and relics of their history. Mr Giuliani is the youngest son of the family who lived in the castle even though he is probably almost 70 years old. He doesn’t ask us for money for the visit, but he wants us to send him a postcard when we get back home. Cilento is a land full of magic, the people who live there make it unique.

From Roccadaspide to Bellosguardo we rode splendid ups and downs facing the Alburni mountains. The view on top of Bellosguardo and at the Villa Vea (the farmhouse that hosted us for the night) let us appreciate a colourful sunset. At Villa Vea even if the kitchen was closed our host, Angela, made up for us a quick pasta and chicken with vegetables, so we stay cosy and warm and had dinner in front of the fireplace without going back to the town centre.

Day 4: 5th of January: Bellosguardo Sanza (76,3 km + 1250 m)

Good morning Cilento. Fourth stage on the splendid Via Silente and already after a few kilometres in Roscigno we descended for the old Roscigno village which, following landslides, was definitively and forcibly abandoned in 1908. Time has stopped, but memories of the lives that used to inhabit the village are still breathable. After a few kilometres the impressive Sammaro gorges, from which a splendid climb begins towards the Corticato saddle at 1020 m, the highest point of our tour in Cilento, our “Cima Coppi”. It is just beautiful, us, the trees and even a cow in the middle of the road.

The descent towards the beautiful village of Teggiano is fast and spectacular, even if it’s pretty cold. Teggiano is a splendid village, even if we climbed up to the village along the old road, which is very stiff, but anyway it worth the fatigue, we got our next stamp from the Municipality and the from the panoramic terrace we had the chance to admire once again the Saddle of Corticato from which we were just arrived.

We stopped quickly at the amazing San Lorenzo Charterhouse, one of Italy’s oldest Carthusian monasteries, and also the largest in south of Italy. We went back on our bicycle to complete the climb to reach Sanza where we arrive at our Champagne B&B and met Antonella who offered us a delicious welcome savory pie. Talking to Antonella made us regret regretted the fact that we couldn’t go up to Cervati mountain. Winter is winter and high mountains are unapproachable in the cold.

After our usual evening tour of the historic center, the evening could not have ended in a better way, in fact we went at Saro Restaurant the best nice and welcoming place in Sanza. If you pass by you cannot miss it. Saro is a journy not just a dinner place.

Day 5: 6th of January: Sanza – San Giovanni a Piro (62,2 km + 1400 m)

We left Sanza with the promise that we will return to climb Cervati, the highest mountain in Campania. After a few nice ups and downs, we passed by Caselle in Pittari, a beautiful village with a medieval tower, we crossed the local market and we could spot fresh fruits, vegetables and live animals like rabbits and birds.

After a stretch with beautiful views of the mountains range between Campania from Lucania we arrive at Casaletto Spartano where we stopped for our usual middle-morning coffee in the main square where we could also get one of our stamps from the barista who smiled at us like the rest of the men who with curiosity approached us to know where we were going and from where we came from. Shortly after that we stopped at the UNESCO heritage Oasis of Venus Hair in Bussentino. The small waterfall of “hair of Venus” deserved to be photographed.

We pass by the beautiful village of Tortorella and after that, we started a gentle and long climb from which we had a glimpse of the sea before descending towards S. Marina and gulf of Policastro. We followed the seashore for a while and we stopped to admire the crystalline colours of the water.

The last climb of the day towards San Giovanni a Piro offered us more beautiful views of the Gulf of Policastro. San Giovanni a Piro our destination for the day is an old town with tiny streets that are like a maze among the stone houses. We stayed at La Pergola Hotel where we had a safe packing for our bicycles and a large dinner at restaurant.

Day 6: 7th of January: San Giovanni a Piro – Velina (84,9 km + 1470 m)

Last day of our beautiful tour, we left S.Giovanni a Piro with a bit of sadness. Domenico, a member of the family that owns La Pergola and a cyclist, guided us to the Ciolandrea plateau, a special spot known only by locals. From there, we could appreciate a unique view of the Gulf of Policastro and the coast of the Masseta. We departed from S.Giovanni a Piro and followed the road to Lentiscosa cycling up and down.

A solitary and sunny stretch of the sea along Marina di Camerota is truly priceless. The deserted Aronte beach and a brief detour to get to the lighthouse of Capo di Palinuro from which we could spot the tower of Cala Fetente with its small arch below, like a breath-taking postcard. It is a succession of emotions all along the coast road, even when you pass through Pisciotta and Ascea.

As soon as we reached Velina, our tour came to an end, but not before visiting Castelnuovo Cilento, the real km zero of Via Silente. Antonio from the association offered to accompany us and off we were. Our tour continued uphill for one of the most tiring climbs, but the beauty of the village compensated all our fatigue. Walking through the tiny streets and to the fortress, we waited for one last colourful “silent” sunset.

Simona came to deliver to us the certificate of the travellers of the silent road, a beautiful journey among people, flavours and colours that we will not forget.

Time to say goodbye after our last night at Km 9 Hostel and a bit of shopping of local products to take with us, including buffalo mozzarella.



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