Calabria is a region in southern Italy famous for its amazing coast and the wonderful sea. But there’s more. Inside there is a green and pulsating heart, made of immense natural parks and protected areas just waiting to be explored.

The best way to do this is to cycle along the Calabria Parks Cycle Network (Ciclovia dei Parchi della Calabria), an Apennine itinerary of 550km that cuts through the entire region, from the border with Basilicata to Reggio Calabria, crossing its 4 incredible Natural Parks: Pollino, Sila, Serre and Aspromonte. It’s a route with quite a bit of climbing, but which will reward you with amazing days immersed in wild nature. And then there are beautiful villages, museums and places of cultural interest, delicious food and the warmth of the people.

The entire route is very well signposted with appropriate signs, but you can download the GPX tracks and find lots of other information on the official website. There the journey is proposed in 12 stages, but everyone can clearly organize it according to its own needs and level of training. For example, I rode it in 10 days, but making some detours… one to go swimming to the sea. Below is the description of my solo cycling journey (made in autumn), with travel tips, tracks and photos; a journey that was way more beautiful and rich than I expected. Have fun!


Getting to Calabria is not that difficult, you can do it by plane or by train. I chose the second solution: from Milan Centrale I took an Intercity night train which took me to Scalea after a comfortable night in a single cabin (€99). Bikes are allowed on board but they have to be disassembled and packed… it’s enough to remove the wheels and put the bike in a cheap bike bag. The choice of the single cabin was dictated by the fact of being able to have more space for my bike.


Once I arrived in Scalea, early morning, I took a bus to Mormanno, where I reassembled the bike and started riding along the Calabria Parks Cycle Network, immediately through the first park: Pollino Park. The bus, line 365, stops in front of Scalea station at 9.30 and takes about an hour and a half to get to Mormanno. Alternatively you can start cycling straight away from Scalea… but it’s a long climb on a busy road. Officially the cycle route starts from Laino Borgo, 13 km north of Mormanno, but I started directly from there so as not to go back and forth.

My first stage was short, to recover after the journey, and because there are immediately many things to see: Catasta Pollino, cultural centre, café, kitchen and shop, bookshop, bike-point, exhibition area and much more, and the beautiful Morano, a town that seems like a “crib” and it’s all to be discovered, starting from its castle. A very good and nice place to sleep in Morano is Il Nibbio.


You’ll stay all day in Pollino Park, riding among perched villages and at times incredibly wild nature. Start riding up to Castrovillari along the nice cycle path that runs on a former Railway. Don’t miss the stop to visit the beautiful church in the Italian-Albanian town of Acquaformosa. If you have the energy, it’s worth climbing up to the fortified village of San Donato di Ninea… I, however, continued straight ahead and found hospitality at Tenute Pacelli, where I was able to sleep in my tent (but there are also rooms) and have dinner with the owners.

DAY 3 MOTTAFOLLONE/ACRI:53 km / 1.150m D+

A kind of transfer stage, not the most beautiful of the route… that will bring you to Acri, the northern gate of Greek Sila. If you are interested in contemporary art there are several things to visit: MACA – Museum of Contemporary Art, several installations around the city and Siluna Fest, an interesting art festival once a year. Night in the welcoming and bike-friendly B&B La Rosa dei Venti.

DAY 4 ACRI/LORICA: 71km/ 1.350m D+

You leave Acri with a long climb, but then you soon enter the Sila Park: for me it was love at first sight! Endless stretches of Calabrian black pines, small pretty lakes, the scent of the forest, the cool breeze on the descent (because you reach up to 1,565 meters, the highest point of the Parks Cycle Route), a fox crossing the road , tagliatelle with mushrooms… I absolutely recommend making the detour to visit the Giants of Sila, where you can feel all the power of nature! On Lake Arvo there is a very well-equipped campsite, as an alternative I recommend Casa della Montagna B&B (where B&B stands for bed and bike!). For dinner go to Alfredo’s lakeside Brillo Parlante.


More pine trees and lakes, so beautiful! Today, however, I made the first of my detours to go and visit MABOS, an open air Art Museum in woods. A very interesting place near Parco Hotel Granaro, where I slept and had dinner (it’s also possible to pitch the tent). An innovative museum that connects contemporary art and nature with a path that winds through sculptures positioned in the woods. Definitely a detour worth taking!

DAY 6 MABOS/TIRIOLO: 66km/1.165m D+

Before diving down the small town of Taverna, with the Ionian sea on the horizon, give yourself some time for a stop at Villaggio Mancuso, a charming tourist village made up of wooden houses and chalets where you’ll feel to be arrived in northern Europe, not in the heart of Calabria. The rest of the day continues with ups and downs between cultivated hills and splendid valleys covered by a thick blanket of olive trees, up to Tiriolo, the town of the two seas. I slept and had a lovely dinner at Hotel Due Mari, which is located in the beautiful historic center in a super panoramic position, from which you can truly see the two seas.

DAY 7 TIRIOLO/ SOVERATO: 74km/1.250m D+

Today is the day of my second detour! After continuing along Calabria Parks Cycle Network to Girifalco (don’t miss the baroque fountain and the suggestive Borg@rte) I decided to head down towards the sea. After passing the nice castle of Squillace I rode towards Soverato, nicknamed the pearl of the Ionian Sea. Night at the B&B Villa Fata (not very central but very welcoming) and fish dinner on the beach at Da Saverio.

PS: I took the wrong road exiting Tiriolo, so pay attention to my GPX track or you will finish on top of a steep hill and then you’ll have to go back.


I paid a lot in terms of fatigue my descent towards the sea, because the climb to go back to Calabria Parks Cycle Network was very tough: up to Gagliato it was about 5km with 450 meters ascent, with gradients often in double figures. The climb then continued, but much more softer, up to Serra San Bruno, in the heart of the third park: Serre Park. Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful Certosa!

Free camping night in the small park in front of the Certosa. It’s worth trying pitta china cullu pipi di maju, a focaccia stuffed with elderflowers, a typical food specialty of Serra.


Before leaving Serre Park, the smallest of the Calabrian parks, stop in Mongiana to visit the interesting Museum of the Royal Bourbon Railways (visit on appointment). Then be ready ti enter another world: Aspromonte Park!Aspromonte is being immersed in nature, it’s a forest so dense that when you enter it seems like night even if it’s day, it’s finding mushrooms while cycling, it’s huge boulders that you don’t know how they ended up there. It’s peace, silence, wonder.Along the way, stop in Limina to have a chat with Friar Damiano. Night and dinner in Villaggio Zervò, a former sanatorium that now is a hostel (call to book!). You can also camp there.


The last stage of this beautiful journey, mostly still in Aspromonte, where I left a piece of my heart. You cycle through magnificent pines and beech trees  forests in total solitude up to Gambarie, a renowned ski resort overlooking Reggio Calabria. During the route you will see Pietra Salva, one of the cyclopean boulders that characterize the Aspromonte Geosite, which is worth a break to climb to the top.

Before leaving by plane, I stopped for a day in Reggio Calabria to relax on the beach and visit the Archaeological Museum, house of the amazing Riace Bronzes. Night at nice and friendly B&B Kalavria. Reggio offers endless possibilities for lunch and dinner, but you can’t miss the famous Cesare’s ice cream. I recommend the bergamot flavour… if you want to discover more about this incredible fruit, you can then also visit the museum. To find a box for your bike go to Cicli Jiriti, for €15 Isabella will also pack it for you. To ship the bike I used Ship to Cycle service.