It’s a beautiful Sunday morning in Matera; no rain, despite the forecast. Throughout town, the church bells ring out in a seemingly choreographed symphony.
When I woke up in the morning, I quickly remembered how hard it was to get up and get ready to bike the first day of a trip. Still tired from the overnight flight, we decided to take our time today. We have about a 4 hour ride today, Matera to Gioia del Colle or City of Joy. As we start to walk our bikes through the historic district, pulling them up steep cobblestone steps, I understand why most organized bike trips to this area stay in hotels outside of the city: walking a bike with 20 pounds of gear up stairs through the old town is exhausting!
Despite having to start the day this way, I wouldn’t have passed up the opportunity to stay in the car free historic district of Matera. Viewing the sassi from our B&B at night was even more memorable than the day time.
Since there are no bike paths in this part of Italy, we opted to bike on old agricultural roads that run through the countryside. We find our way through the center of the new town which is bustling with families out enjoying the beautiful almost spring day. We quickly remember that the hardest part of the day is often finding the right way out of town to connect to your desired bike route, and today was no exception. Finally we are on our route, and within several kilometers we are surrounded by agricultural land.
Bicycling to our next destination, we were surrounded on all sides by wheat fields, olive trees and almond trees bursting into spring time blossoms. We didn’t pass one town, village, gas station or market all day. Our desire for just one more morning expressino was just that…a desire. The road was peaceful and beautiful, but what we would have given for just one small market or small restaurant for just a simple lunch. Luckily we had purchased water the night before. And we had bananas, a chocolate bar and a chocolate chip cookie left from our overseas flight, so that was our lunch. We quickly remembered the number one rule of bike riding in new territory: always take enough water and emergency food because it may be all you have for the day.
Not finding a place for lunch actually was a good thing. Every bike trip we dedicate one day to spending less than 100 euros. We started doing this a few years ago, and it’s become something we do every trip now. Today was our day to spend less than 100 euros, and here we were at almost sunset and we had not spend one penny! Our hotel for the night, Il Grifone in Gioia was 50 euros, so we still had 50 euros for dinner, so it would definitely be a great night!