Discovering Matera and its surroundings by bike

Cycle route from Matera to the Lucanian Dolomites StevanZZ/
Cycle route from Matera to the Lucanian Dolomites StevanZZ/
Thanks to its varied landscape, its characteristic dwellings carved into the rock and the uncontaminated landscapes that surround it, Matera is perfect for discovery by bicycle, pedaling unhurriedly in contemplation of the panorama.

From north to south, passing through the regions of the center, Italy offers endless opportunities for lovers of cycling tourism. Matera, for its part, is no exception, hosting one of the country’s most beloved cycle routes: the cycle route from Matera to the Lucanian Dolomites. Awarded a special mention on the occasion of the Italian Oscar for Cycling Tourism 2021 – one of the most coveted awards at the national level – the route winds for 114 km from the heart of the Sassi of Matera (UNESCO World Heritage Site) to nearby Apulia, skirting the unique territory of the Murgia Materana Park.

What makes this route particularly appreciated by expert and amateur cyclists, in addition to the panoramic points that dot it and the uncontaminated landscapes, is above all the low density of traffic, which makes it a route suitable for cyclists of all ages. Not to mention the historical and cultural heritage that is revealed to the eyes during the journey. Gentle climbs alternate with oak and beech forests, waterways, tunnels carved into the rock and rocky outcrops of various shapes.

Leaving from the heart of Matera and proceeding eastward, you’ll ride along the San Giuliano lake whose park, a WWF protected oasis, hosts an extraordinary variety of protected animal species, including herons, storks and other birds that find shelter and a favorable habitat in its lush vegetation. Continuing to pedal, along a gentle up and down on paved and semi-paved roads, passable both with trekking bikes and e-bikes, you reach the beautiful Regional Park Gallipoli Cognato of the Little Lucanian Dolomites, in the heart of Basilicata. The territory of the park touches the towns of Accettura, Calciano, Castelmezzano, Oliveto Lucano, Pietrapertosa.

From here, a fascinating circular itinerary – the cycle route number 8 – connects the village of Castelmezzano to the nearby Pietrapertosa in a route sometimes a bit steeper, among canyons, woods, and giant stalagmites. Although every village in the Lucanian Dolomites deserves a visit for its uniqueness if you’re short of time (or energy) necessarily plan a break in Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa. In the beautiful Pietrapertosa, once under Arab domination, perched between the rocky walls of the Lucanian Dolomites and the green countryside, the remains of fortifications dating back to the 4th century BC are still visible. The picturesque location of Castelmezzano, however, whose colorful houses are built on the edge of rocky spurs with sharp edges, makes it a destination not to be missed. A real gem: reaching the panoramic terrace will allow you to contemplate the surrounding nature from a privileged position.

Not to mention that the Lucanian cuisine is one of the most appreciated in Italy, thanks to the richness and variety of its flavors ranging from simple dishes handed down from the peasant culture to meats, cheeses and specialties based on the typical peperoni cruschi (cruschi peppers). Along your journey, there are plenty of agritourisms, inns, and restaurants where you can recharge your batteries with a tasty break.