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Puglia Bike Tour, cycling the beautiful Italy southern coast

Puglia biketour MapThe Heel of the Boot

Biking and Walking tour of Puglia

Difficulty: 2Puglia tour difficulty rating

 Blessed by a solar climate Puglia is our easiest tour: its coasts and undulated plains are perfect for relaxed rides. The landscape is a great riding companion: century-old olive trees, amazing coastal routes, the vast fields in the inland and that peculiar brightness of the air. Land of conquest: over the centuries, from the Greeks to the Normans, from the Arabs to the Spaniards, this region has been a busy crossroad of history. Admirable works of art still witness the variety of its guests: from Romanesque to Baroque the well preserved old towns display architectural jewels. Strictly homemade and inventive is the cuisine. Puglia is Italy’s first producer of vegetables, olive oil and wine. Fresh ingredients and a legendary cooking ability combine to give you a new story to tell for each meal. The local wines are too many to name them all, we just mention the superb red Primitivo di Manduria. After the ride you will often find an inviting beach so don't leave home without your bathing suit.


 Basilicata-Puglia tourOn arrival day our van we pick you up at Bari airport or train station. In less than one hour you are in your hotel in Matera in the ‘I Sassi’ district of town (Unesco Heritage site). A vast assembly of dwellings mostly carved in the rock, ‘I Sassi’ have been inhabited continuously since the Paleolithic (@15000 BC). The result is today extraordinary setting that displays millenia of human history.
‘I Sassi’ felt in disgrace in the 1900’s, eventually living conditions became so bad and unhealthy that the Italian government built new housing to permit dwellers to move out. The renaissance started in the 90’s  when people became moving back, restoring the stone homes. ‘I Sassi’ have gained international popularity thanks also to several movies filmed here: Pasolini’s ‘Gospel according Matteo’, Mel Gibson ‘Passion of Christ’ and Bruce Beresdorf’s ‘King David’. Now luxury walking tour in Materahotels sprout in the same quarters where people lived in uttermost poverty only a few decades ago.
Welcome dinner is in one of the fine restaurants by ‘I Sassi’.

On the second day we take you on a walking tour with a licensed guide of the two ‘Sassi’ (Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano) and up to the Duomo (also carved in the rock like the homes ) that sits on the highest point of town. The tour lasts @2.30 hrs and, be warned, you’ll be climbing up a lot of stairs!

biking le murgeNothing better that spinning your legs on an easy ride to recover from Matera’s stairs. That’s our plan for the third day. We head towards the Adriatic coast crossing the Murge hills that here are just an undulated plain, a luminous landscape of wheat fields and meadows in full blossom. The countryside is only interrupted by two towns, Gioia del Colle and Noci, where we can take a break and go for gelato and refreshments. Our accommodation for the next 3 nights is a Masseria outside the town of Fasano and 2 km from the beaches. Typical of Puglia, the Masserie are old farmers mansions transformed into prestigious lodgings. Before dinner choose between the Masseria pool or the Adriatic sea for a restoring swim.

The next ride ride is entirely set in the Valle d'Itria. After an early climb to the Selva di Fasano we get to Alberobello. Along the way you have already seen the Trulli, the conebiking to Alberobello shaped stone dwellings that give a fairy tale look to the valley. The old town of Alberobello is still made of perfectly preserved Trulli. We take a walk in this fantastic setting populated of little artisans shops. On a narrow rolling  backroad lined by dry stone walls we reach Martina Franca. The town is a remarkable example of well preserved Baroque architecture. We take a little time sitting at a café savoring local delicacies and the charming surroundings. From here the ride is all downhill. We get back with plenty of time for a swim before dinner.

biking puglia to OstuniOn the fifth day the ride moves along the Adriatic Coast that we hit at the impressive Roman ruins of Egnatia. Our flat, coastal route touches the spa town of Torre Canne and the beach resort of Rosa Marina. Here we turn on a bikepath that follows the course of the old Roman ‘via Traiana’. In a short while the road gently rises and, after a few switchbacks, we are looking at the dazzling whitewashed walls of Ostuni. Rightly named ‘la Città Bianca’, Ostuni presents a wonderful mix of architectures left behind by its many rulers. We stroll in the maze of alleys up to Piazza Grande and have lunch in the shadow of the Cathedral.
cycling in Lecce
Today we leave Fasano and head South. We start climbing in the shade of pine trees to the walled village of Cisternino. The rest of the stage is pretty easy: winding backroads among olive trees, across historical towns like Ceglie Messapica, Francavilla Fontana and Oria with its remarkable Norman castle and the plains of Puglia’s best wine country. We end the bike ride with a wine taste in Cellino S.Marco. We drive to Lecce, magnificent and solar exhibition of Baroque marvels. We take our time for an eye-filling stroll downtown. The mouthwatering local specialties displayed here are hard to resist and, if you like, this is a great place for shopping. We resume our drive and soon get to our next Masseria just outside of Otranto. We end a long day with a well deserved dive in the Masseria pool and a sumptuous dinner.

riding-to-Lands-EndThe Salento, as the Southern part of Puglia is called, is a peninsula extending between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Our final ride is entirely set on Salento’s rolling Adriatic coast. Leaving Otranto the coast soon becomes rugged, the road clings to the rock allowing breathtaking views of the emerald sea. This wild scenario is dotted by stone watchtowers and an handful of charming beach resorts: the spa town of S.Cesarea Terme, Castro Marina and Tricase Porto. We reach S.Maria di Leuca dotted by extravagant old villas and climb up to the Sanctuary of Finibus Terrae (Land’s End) where our ride appropriately ends. From the top of the Cape the look stretches over the two seas joining together. Driving back we stop for a closer look to Otranto. This ancient portal town, superb with his castle, churches, towered walls and stone paved alleys, has Greek origins and is always been a bridge between East and West. The old town is an open book on Middle Age troubled times. Back to our Masseria for an unforgettable farewell dinner.

On departure day after breakfast we take you back to Bari (journey time @ 2.30 hrs)