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Roads quality in South Italy

Old 03-29-16, 03:58 PM
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Roads quality in South Italy

Hi,

I am planning to cover parts of EuroVelo 7 in Italy. Was going to start in Sicily, ride to Napole, catch a train to Florence and ride to the Austrian border. Got 3 weeks in May to do all that.

The more I read about the South Italy part of the route the more I question if that's a good idea. There's not that much information to start with and whatever is there suggesting that the road quality is pretty poor (from cycling point of view). This is my first proper cycling trip, it's difficult to judge how bad is bad. Is that going to be day after day dodging trucks on the narrow roads mixed with mountain bike trails or it's just minor roads with little traffic and occasional unpaved parts?

And I wasn't going to take camping gear with me, was planning to stay at hostels/hotels. Is that realistic?

Would appreciate more information from someone who's done cycling in that part of the world.
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Old 03-29-16, 04:09 PM
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I never got south of Rome.

As far as camping, technically one is supposed to stay in designated camping areas, but I did dusk to dawn traceless wild camping without problems. There are a lot fewer fences in Italy than in the USA.

I don't remember any problems with vehicles on the roads, but I've been riding on roads for my whole life. Rome was a bit hectic. Often trucks would be driving slow enough that I could just barely catch a draft on some of them.

I suppose it has been 30 years since I've been there, but there were quite a few cobbles, especially in the cities and towns. I just rode my road bike with sewups and was just fine. I did pick up some glass in Rome though. I think the cracks between the cobbles tends to trap the glass and makes it bad.

Better tires now should make a difference.

Most moderate sized cities should have hotels (Albergo/Alberghi). There is also a good youth hostile network, often on the outskirts of town, but a bike should help with access. Expect Italian to be spoken in any non-tourist destinations, and a lot of English to be spoken in the large cities and tourist destinations.
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Old 03-29-16, 07:02 PM
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I leave for a tour of Southern Italy (Naples to Palermo) in early April. I've been checking out routes and places to stay.

Italy numbers its roads like all countries. The roads marked SS (Strade Statali), which tend are the non-expressway long haul roads in the south, are major thoroughfares that will carry the most traffic, have guard rails and maybe a bit of shoulder. The less direct, but still long haul roads are marked SP (Strade Provinciale). To my Googling eye, these are narrower, less direct, often hillier, with fewer cars than the SS roads. There are also local roads them might take you to a destination, as well.

I have been able to create routes consisting mostly of SP roads. In some areas, I've chosen as SS road either because it is the only way to get where I want to go or I have written a local and been told the road is a good one for bicycling.

You don't say where you are from or what kinds of road you are accustomed to, but last year I rode in Northern Italy and found the roads there is be as good or better than the ones I ride on in San Francisco. They were certainly much better than the ones I've experienced in the UK!

In Northern Italy, the car drivers were very courteous and would wait until it was safe to pass me. No one honked at me, either. I was told that Southern Italy is very different than Northern Italy, so maybe my experience won't be the same.

Since this is your first bike tour, you might want to spend time at Crazyguyonabike.com and read some of the tour journals there. This one for example: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=12221 . In addition, check out the roads using google's street view on most any route planning website to see what the roads look like.

As for accommodation, I don't like to camp and will not be taking camping gear with me in April. This not only saves weight (10 pounds given the gear I have) but makes it easier to carry the gear I am taking. I am using a combination of hotels/B&Bs and hosted (couchsurfing.org and warmshowers.org) accommodations. I have found some very inexpensive ($30-$40) places to stay (again, in April), though some are as pricey as $80 a night. So, I would say your desire to not carry camping gear is very realistic!

I have a tour planning page on my website where I have been putting the information I have collected on my tour. You can see the planning I've done for this tour, if you are interested.
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Old 03-29-16, 07:31 PM
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It was years ago that I biked from Bari across the interior of southern Italy to the Amalfi Coast, then to Pompeii and Naples. The roads were fine then. The thing I remember most was that in numerous villages in the interior, someone would come up to us (there were 4 of us) and warn us that everyone else in their village was a thief and that we should watch our belongings carefully. Nobody ever attempted to steal anything from us.
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Old 03-29-16, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
The thing I remember most was that in numerous villages in the interior, someone would come up to us (there were 4 of us) and warn us that everyone else in their village was a thief and that we should watch our belongings carefully. Nobody ever attempted to steal anything from us.
The Northerners look down on the southerners a bit too. I did make it down to a little town called Uggiano la Chiesa down in the "boot heel" (by train). Everyone was very nice there.

At least in the 80's, the trains headed south before Christmas, and headed North after Christmas did get a bit crowded
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Old 04-01-16, 04:20 PM
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Thanks for all the answers! Change of plans for me after a door opened in front of (or rather into) my bike on my way to work. At least 6 weeks on crutches and definitely no Italy in may. Maybe South of Italy would have been less dangerous than home (Melbourne, Australia) after all.
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Old 04-01-16, 04:33 PM
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Oh, sorry to hear that. Hopefully you'll be back on the bike in no time.

So far I've never been "doored" in Italy or the USA. Knock on wood. And obviously that tends to be an urban type of accident not a rural accident. So, touring might be safer in that aspect.
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Old 04-02-16, 05:34 PM
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Thanks! It's going well so far, and I've seen a couple cyclist while in the hospital with a lot worse injuries. Makes you thinking about sharing the road with cars...
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