An accidental century

108 km, 5h 45 min

The extra rest day left Becky feeling better and we were ready to get on the train and on our bikes for the 50km to Matera. Our plan was to take the 9:25 am train from Cariati to Metaponto; however, when we arrived at the train station in Cariati, we were informed that said train only ran on weekends. Since today is Friday, our next option for a train that took bicycles was 17:05. Rather than hanging around Cariati for another day, we decided to hop on our bikes and ride to Sibari. There were more trains between Sibari and Metaponto, so we would have more options.

One of the many completely dry river beds.
One of the many completely dry river beds.

We arrived in Sibari after riding about 65 km at 12:40 pm. We discovered that there was a train departing at 12:45. Scott bought tickets and we watched the train leave! It was a few tracks over, so there was no way we could to figure out how to get ourselves and our bikes over to the appropriate track in the little time we had. The next train that allows bicycles was not until 17:58 (this would be the same train that was to leave Cariati at 17:05).

Since it was lunch time, we decided to find ourselves a nice meal. By the time we left the train station, it was 1 pm, so all the stores in town were closing. We watched as the grocery store closed, so there was no chance of picking up something for lunch there. We rode around town in search of a place to get a reasonable meal. There were several “Bars”, but they typically only have fast food. Eventually, Scott led us to a pizzeria/restaurant. At the time we arrived, we were the only patrons. They don’t serve pizza at lunch time, the ovens need to warm up, so pizza is not available until after 8 pm. We had a wonderful mixed salad, bowl of penne with pomodoro sauce, and a piece of chicken. The entire meal cost us 20 Euro, which seemed a bit pricy, but we both left feeling quite full and satisfied.

Rather than hanging around Sibari – which did not look particularly interesting, we hopped back on our bikes and rode further along. At 4:15 pm, we decided to stop at Roseto Capo Spulico. The train allowing bicycles didn’t arrive here until 18:21, but sunset was coming soon. Looking at our odometer, we had ridden over 100km today – our first century in over a month.

A castle restaurant - too bad it was closed.
A castle restaurant - too bad it was closed.

Since we were here early, and could see a castle not far away, we decided to check it out. We discovered that the castle was a restaurant – a closed restaurant at that. It was neat to see that not all castles are museums, but disappointing that it was not open, so we could not go in and see it.

We also stopped for Gelato as a post-ride snack. Unfortunately there was no home-made Gelato, just pre-packaged bars, but it still hit the spot. Two people stopped to talk with us, and were fascinated with our bikes. Scott was quite impressed that we were able to carry on a 30 minute conversation about our bikes, our travel plans and our experiences so far, all in Italian. Lots of rephrasing, miming and referring to the 100-word dictionary in our guidebook was necessary, but having an actual conversation was a welcome change.

At 18:21 the single car train arrived; however, it did not have the bicycle symbol. In an instant, Scott decided we were going anyways, so we lifted Becky’s bike up onto the train through the back set of doors. There was not enough room for both bikes, so Scott put his bike in the front set of doors. We had bought tickets in Sibari, but did not validate them, since the train left before we got organized. We could not find a ticket validation machine anywhere in the station at Roseto Capo Spulico. So, we were on a train with bikes that did not specify bikes without validated tickets. Fortunately, no one seemed to care. Our train ride was less than an hour and by 19:07 we were safely off the train in Metoponto.

Our next task was to find the campground. We are now in the land of our Lonely Planet guide, so we had directions on where to find a campground that had a chance of being open. It was only about 2 km from the train station, and we quickly discovered there was a bike path adjacent to the road from the train station into Metoponto Lido (beach), where the campsite was located. We were able to follow the signs and successfully find the campsite. It appeared to be open but there was no one at reception. A gentleman did come by, but he did not appear to be an employee. He did say we could set up our tent, so we went in search of the tent sites. Camping villages in Italy have several sites for RVs and tents, but also have a lot of rental bungalows. This place is mostly bungalows with about 15 sites. We discovered a Swiss RV and set up our tent in a nicely shelter corner across from the RV.

The restaurant at the campsite was closed. Fortunately, we had enough left over ingredients from last night’s dinner that Becky was able to hack together a nice pasta supper (fresh pasta, ricotta cheese, yellow pepper, and pesto). We even had half a box of cheap wine (1.39 Euro per Litre). After supper, while Scott was doing the dishes, a person from the campground approached him and gave him beach pass. If we wish, we can now access the beach from the campsite. We are not certain yet how much the campsite will cost (guessing between 10 and 15 Euro) or when or how we will pay. We will figure that out in the morning.

So, at 10 pm, after a cold shower (the shower with hot water was locked), we were both ready for bed!

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