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Abruzzo & Puglia 

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by Allan & Konrad 

 Day 7 - Tuesday 17th May

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Sepino to Lucera (122 kms)

We left Sepino early (for us) and went back down the main road to have a good look around Saepinum.  It was about 9am when we arrived there and we were the only ones in the place so we spent a good hour looking around the ruins which are very impressive.  We left the ruins and headed back on the main road toward Sepino.  The road was very quiet at this time in the morning, nothing like it had been the previous evening when we arrived.  We climbed for a while up to Cercemaggiore where we bought some very refreshing oranges from a van by the roadside.  We swooped down to Riccia where we sorted out our lunch and then headed off for Castelvetere via Sella Canala (a long climb of around 12km) and Decorata before a final descent into Castelvetere. 

From Castelvetere there was a huge drop into the valley where we started an equally huge hot climb up to San Bartolomeo.  As we approached the town, we could see a very steep hill going on up the hillside at the back of the town and joked that that couldn't possibly be our road.  After ice creams and a drink in San Bartolomeo, and a chat with the local cafe owner, we found to our dismay that that was indeed our road.

We rode back down the street, chased by the cafe owner with my wallet clutched in his hand.  Thank you, oh thank you for that!  Even before we turned the corner, we put the tandem in the lowest gear we had and braced ourselves.  This road had to be 30%.  We know steep climbs well, with Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass on our doorstep, and this certainly ranked with the steepest parts of those. The steep bit wasn't very long (300 metres?) but with a fully loaded tandem and a long climb in your legs already, it hurt like hell.  We reached the 'top' and saw that the road went on climbing (not as steeply) for a long way into the distance.  Eventually we reached the top (Mt Pagliarone - 1029m), and here I think we got a bit lost.  We swooped down (and probably missed a turning) and then climbed hard again.  The road deteriorated, still easily rideable, but very potholed and stony in places.  We did see the odd car, and were just beginning to worry that we were lost, when we reached the main road again, where we turned left, climbed a bit more and then descended for miles to Alberona which seems to be famous for wind turbines and environmentally friendly energy (solar powered streetlights for example).  There were loads of wind turbines up on the hilltop where we'd come from.  The huge descent continued through Alberona, C.Civetta, then a short rise to Tertiveri where we joined a long straight road heading into Lucera.  We had a good tailwind on this section and were flying along at 40kph with very little effort.

We arrived in Lucera at 6:30pm and booked in to the 3 star Hotel Balconetta (60 euros).  It had been a very tiring day.  Very hilly, very hot.  We had pizza for tea, then it was an early night where we slept the sleep of the dead in a very hot room.



Saepinum is worth a visit.

That climb after San Bartolomeo was hard.

First good tailwind of the trip after the longest descent yet down through Alberona.

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