To Gravina in Puglia - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

April 20, 2022

To Gravina in Puglia

Today promised to be an excellent cycling day – along small roads of the Murgia Plateau with lots of sunshine, moderate temperatures, and low winds. I had planned an indirect route to Gravina in Puglia, heading north then west through Altamura. I made my way off the hill of Matera and, after a few hiccups, found myself on a dirt track in an open expanse of old ruins and small farms.The dirt track didn’t last long, but the expansive vistas persisted as I made my way north on low-traffic roads. The going was slow - more like a stroll on a bike - due in part to the road surface but mainly to the frequent photo stops. 

Goodbye Matera - hope to see you again
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Along the way
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It's only me and some horses
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The road got a little dicier before I found pavement
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Scott AndersonThe wind turbine makes a nice contrast in this timeless scene.
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonThanks Scott - I agree
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3 months ago
Looking back toward Matera
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Vivien George insisted on her photo op
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The road was so isolated, this truck stopped by to see if I was okay
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After ten miles, I bid a fond farewell to Basilicata and crossed back into Apulia. I was in need of some nourishment – not due to strenuous cycling but rather to the meager breakfast offerings. The landscape was pretty bereft of shade, but I found a nice semi-shaded spot under a dead tree for a bite of cheese and some almonds.

I continued north, climbing past the former railroad town of Casal Sabini and onto a higher region of the Murgia Plateau. It was there I met two pellegrinis, Alessandra and Sylvie, on their way to Altamura along the Camino Materano. We had a most enjoyable conversation using Google Translate and they encouraged me to have lunch at the nearby Masseria Scalera, about a kilometer off my route. Since I had the time, I followed their suggestion, which led me down and up a steep and rocky track to an enclave of buildings where I was welcomed by assortment of dogs – none too threatening. There was a small building that appeared to be the restaurant, but when I poked my head in there was no one home. I lingered a few minutes and was about to cycle off when the owner appeared, a friendly woman who spoke excellent English and offered me beer, wine, cheese….not exactly the lunch menu I’d expected. She told me a bit about the farm and the Camino Materano and then I headed off to Altamura.

Rest stop for a bit of nourishment
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The old depot in Casal Sabini
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It just keeps getting better
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Susan, Alessandra and Sylvia - travelers on the Murgia Plateau
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Outdoor dining at Masseria Scalera, complete with dairy cattle and dogs
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Looking east, toward the Camino Materano
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I had half a mind to detour along the Camino Materno route west to Altamura, saving me a few miles from my original route. But after a brief exploration of the Camino, I chose to stay on course. I was second-guessing myself as I continued north, but then I turned west onto a wonderfully sealed road that rolled to the outskirts of Altamura. I climbed up to the Cathedral where I stopped for a coke, espresso and more of my cheese and nuts. The final stretch to Gravina in Puglia were the least enjoyable of the day – along the smaller of the two state roads that ran between the two towns, but still busy with a steady stream of cars and large trucks. I was delighted to reach my B&B and find that I’d been upgraded to a very large and luxurious suite.

On the road to Altamura
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Ornate door of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta
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Lyle McLeodI zoomed-in on this door and was immediately reminded of your comment from your Lecce day that the ornamentation in these cathedrals is as much, or more, about story telling to the (probably illiterate) masses, as it is about religion. Really enjoying your trip … vicariously reliving some of our best touring days!
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3 months ago
Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta - construction in the surrounding area made it difficult to get an expansive view
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Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, from down the street
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In Altamura
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Home for the night in Gravina in Puglia
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After chores and a bit of rest, I set out to explore the town. There was a lot to see, so I’ll share in a separate post.

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Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 374 miles (602 km)

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