Monday 7 May 2007

So Why Go to the Amalfi Coast ?

It was all a bit of an adventure buzzing off to Southern Italy on my own, with my bike and doing a bike event in a small out of the way town.

Some people wonder why I did it at all. Afterall, I could have done like alot of my peers at this time of year - gone on a week long training camp with some sports tour company, or with a cycling club to the usual places - Mallorca, Lanzarote, Southern Spain, or North East Italy. This option may even have been less hassle as they would be used to welcoming foreign cyclists, and there wouldn't have been the language barrier.

But I chose to go to Southern Italy 'cos I wanted to try something different. I have been to Mallorca and Lanzarote a few times, and I agree that they are pleasant places to cycle round in the early season. But in recent times I find that I want more from a cycle trip than just doing the training camp. I like to get a feel for the place I'm in - meet the folks from there, ride the roads that the locals ride, eat the local food, and just learn abit about life in this new place. In short, I want more of a cycling experience than just a training camp with people that I can see quite easily when I'm at home. The Amalfi coast is a beautiful area, with dramtic coastlines, spectacular scenery, and well known sites of interest (Pompeii, Vesuvius, and the Island of Capri). It's not a big destination for British based cyclists, but while out there I noted that cycling is just as big in this region as it is in other parts of Italy.

Also doing a local cyclosportive gives the cycling trip a bit of a goal. These types of cyclosportive events take place all the time in Italy. You could do one every week if you wanted ! So why not get involved. The folks are generally really pleased to see someone from abroad doing their race, and you get a warm welcome. I was even photographed on the podium for the women's prizegiving. (I had no idea this picture was for the local paper, until I stumbled across it on the internet a couple of weeks later. That made my day !)

I was sad to say goodbye to my new found buddies at the end of my Sorrento trip, and thanked them heartily for the great event they had put on. On my return to England I felt really refreshed like I'd done something new - and not just the usual pilgrimage to a training camp.

A few travel facts :

I flew into Naples (with British Airways, who do not charge for bike carriage)

At the airport I took the Curreri bus to Sorrento - 7 euros one way (They carry bikes on the coach). It dropped me at Sorrento train station, 5 minutes from the main square.

I stayed at the Villa Elisa appartment, Piazza Sant'Antonino, in the centre of town (75 euros/night). The appartment was clean and pretty, with all the usual facilities - bathroom, kitchen facilities, dining area, TV, air conditioning. There's a nice courtyard where you can eat, and there are sun loungers on the roof. The landlady is very friendly.

The cyclosportive cost 23 euros to enter. It is possible to enter right up to the day before the event. If you are not sure of the details of the event, ask at one of the local bars and the bike hire shop around the main square (Piazza Tasso), or along Via degli Aranci, where the race goes.

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