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Experience Plus - Bicycle Tours since 1972
Cycling Puglia in Southern Italy Plus! the Ionian Seaside
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Bicycle Tours in Italy: Cycling Puglia in Southern Italy Plus! the Ionian Seaside

Situated on the Adriatic Coast between the spur and heel of Italy's "boot" lies Puglia. Here, ancient Greek and Italian culture mingle among hillside vineyards and olive groves, and whitewashed villages nestle against the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean. Join us as we pedal through a landscape filled with unique conical shaped dwellings known as trulli, explore fabulous limestone grottoes, and visit Lecce, the baroque Florence of Southern Italy, and three world heritage sites in Castel del Monte, Matera, and Alberobello. Along the way, you will enjoy meals prepared with Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern influences and discover the warmth and hospitality of Southern Italy's friendliest people.

If this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 11 days, check out our Puglia - Cycling Southern Italy tour, which features the first 7 days of this itinerary.

Day 1: Tour begins in Trani, Southern Italy

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: Romanesque cathedral of Trani, introductions & bike fitting, welcome dinner

We gather today on the Adriatic Coast in Trani, at one time the principal commercial port in southern Italy. Trani's Romanesque cathedral, dating to the late 12th century, is not only one of the finest early Romanesque churches in Puglia, but its position at the edge of the sea makes it especially unique. We'll fit bicycles this afternoon and then enjoy dinner together this evening.

Lodging: Hotel S. Paolo al Convento

Day 2: Bicycle Trani to Ruvo

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: UNESCO World Heritage Site at Castel del Monte, wine tasting

The classic Apulian landscape unfolds before us today as we cross the Appian Way and pedal past centuries-old olive groves and hillside vineyards. We'll suggest a lunch stop at Castel del Monte, built by the Emperor Federico II. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle is unique in Europe for its simple octagonal shape and for the eight octagonal towers that ring it. Arriving in Ruvo mid-afternoon, we'll enjoy a wine tasting before dinner together. Distance: 60 km (37 miles).

Lodging: Pineta Ruvo

Day 3: Bicycle Ruvo to Matera

Photo provided by customer JuliAnn Sands

Highlights: Ceramics & 13th century cathedral in Ruvo, hilltop towns of Gravina and Matera

During the 3rd and 4th Centuries, Ruvo was the principal supplier for classical Greek pottery. You can visit the National Ceramics Museum and the town's spectacular 13th century cathedral this morning. Then, we'll enjoy a ride through fields of wheat and hay as we cross the high Murgia plains to the hilltop towns of Gravina and Matera. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 76 km (47 miles)

Lodging: Hotel San Domenico

Day 4: Rest day in Matera

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: Caves of Matera, guided walk through UNESCO World Heritage Site

Matera is unique in all of Italy for the cave dwellings that ring the central city. Inhabited by refugee clerics and monks from Greece and the Balkans during the 8th and 9th centuries, the cave churches and domestic dwellings carved into the town's sandstone cliffs at one time housed as many as 25,000 people. Today, the churches and caves are preserved as a World Heritage Site. We'll take a walking tour of the area together, then you're free to spend the rest of the day exploring on your own, to take a loop ride, or to do both! Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 43 km (27 miles)

Lodging: Hotel San Domenico

Day 5: Bicycle Puglia's Trulli Country to Alberobello

Photo provided by customer JuliAnn Sands

Highlights: Enjoy the unique scenery of Puglia's countryside

Heading out across the Murgia plains again today you'll enjoy a gentle downhill ride to Gioia del Colle and into the heart of the trulli area. Trulli are conical shaped rural dwellings unique to this part of Italy. Originally used as storage sheds for farmers, they quickly became popular as temporary shelters. Today the landscape in central Puglia is dotted with these unique structures, now used as weekend retreats and permanent homes. We'll have a guided tour today to learn more about these conical shaped buildings and the people who built these stone houses. With your newfound knowledge, you'll enjoy tonight's accommodation inside one of these unique trulli in the heart of Alberobello. Dinner together. Distance: 71 km (44 miles).

Lodging: Trulli e Puglia

Day 6: Bicycle to Ostuni

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: Trulli, vineyards, olive groves, la cittá bianca

Our ride today will take you first through vineyards and olive groves to the whitewashed town of Ostuni. Our hotel is in the center of this amazing village which spans three hilltops and is crowned by a gothic cathedral. Distance: 52 km (32 miles) or more.

Lodging: Hotel La Terra

Day 7: Loop ride through Valle d'Itria

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: Ride to the beach and Cisternino

We'll take a loop ride from our hotel today through the Valle d'Itria. The loop will take us to the Adriatic Coast and then continue to the medieval town of Cisternino and back to our hotel. Distance: 50 km (31 miles), optional.

Lodging: Hotel La Terra

Day 8: Bicycle to Manduria

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: Ceramics of Grottaglie, Ionian Coast

It's a pleasant ride this morning to Grottaglie, Puglia's most famous pottery town. Visit the local studios there, and learn about pottery, painting and firing. Our accommodation tonight is a Masseria, another example of typical Apulian architecture. Once a wall-fortified working farm with barns, stables, and houses for the peasants and for the landlord, now it's a great hotel with lovely swimming pool. Dinner together tonight. Distance: 60 km (37.5 miles).

Lodging: Masseria Bosco

Day 9: Bicycle to Gallipoli

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: Scenic bicycling along the Ionian Coast, whitewashed villages, ancient Gallipoli

Small fishing villages dot the landscape today as we pedal along the coast past sand dunes and forests of Mediterranean pine. Our destination is Gallipoli, derived from the Greek word kalépolis meaning "beautiful city." Our hotel is located near the heart of old Gallipoli, so you can explore the city sights this afternoon. Distance: 59 km (37 miles).

Lodging: Palazzo del Corso

Day 10: Bicycle Gallipoli to Lecce

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights: Lecce, farewell dinner

We'll pedal inland to our final destination, Puglia's most beautiful city - Lecce. Also known as the baroque Florence of Southern Italy, Lecce's pink sandstone buildings and pedestrian city center make for an inviting afternoon of exploring. This evening, we'll celebrate the end of our journey with a farewell dinner tonight. Distance: 66 km (41 miles).

Lodging: Hotel Santa Chiara

Day 11: Tour ends in Lecce, Southern Italy

Photo provided by customer Burt Peters

Highlights:

We'll say good-bye after breakfast today. Spend an extra day exploring Lecce, head south to Otranto, or just enjoy some R&R back on the coast. Whatever you decide, thanks for cycling Puglia with us. Buon viaggio!
  • Highlights
    Mixture of Greek & Italian cultures, Classic Puglian landscapes, The beautiful scenery of the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, Hillside villages, Three World Heritage sites
  • Includes
    "The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 11 days, 10 nights accommodation; 7 dinners with wine, 10 breakfasts; wine tasting; guided walk in Matera and trulli in Alberobello
  • Countries
    Italy
  • Begin/End
    Trani/Lecce
  • Arrive/Depart
    Bari Airport (BRI), Rome (FCO) or Naples Int'l Airport (NAP) / Brindisi Airport (BDS)
  • Total Distance
    540km (334 miles)
  • Daily Distance
    Average daily mileage 60km (37 miles).
  • What to Expect
    3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Mediterranean climate and cuisine!
  • Rating
  • Notes
    If this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 11 days, check out our Puglia - Cycling Southern Italy tour, which features the first 8 days of this itinerary.
  • Terms
Dates Price Single
Supplement*
Notes Next
Step
Oct 11 - 21, 2014 $4395 $650 Wait List. Book It
May 02 - 12, 2015 $4450 $650 Book by November 15th and Save $200, per person. Book It
Oct 10 - 20, 2015 $4450 $650 Book by November 15th and Save $200, per person. Book It
*We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.
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Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.

Map Key

Green pinStart
Yellow pinCity (on route)
Red pinEnd
Other city dotCity (not part of route, provided for reference)
This tour was great blend of cycling, mingling with locals in all the towns we visited, and a phenomenal food experience. The best food I''ve had in Italy! We also learned a lot about the culture from our guides. I liked the daily lessons on the day sheets. I plan to travel with ExperiencePlus! again in the future.
Mary Ann D., Pleasanton, CA
I have described this as the best vacation I have had. The best way to see and understand Italy is by bicycling. The tour guides were fabulous as they made sure everyone enjoyed the trip. You ride at your pace instead of feeling rushed or pushed. I took over 900 pictures, with the memories and pictures this will remain one of my best vacations.
Cindy R., New Albany, OH
What was your favorite experience on this trip? The tour of the sassi in Matera. The first sight of the sassi from the overlook took my breath away. The wine tasting in Ruvo was so much fun. Dino was very animated and enthusiastic in explaining the different wines. The antipasti at every meal were delicious, unique, and enough to fill me up!
Sari R., Glastonbury, CT
Puglia was a unique area of Italy, so very different from Tuscany, Umbria and Rome. My favorite thing was riding along the Ionian Sea. Traffic was nonexistant and the scenery was wonderful. Drinking the Puglian wine (primitivo and negramano) was the second most favorite experience.
David G., Denver, CO
I loved seeing thousands of Trulli and then staying in one
David F., Columbia, MD
My favorite experience on this trip?: Impossible to say...leaders, food/wine, countryside, historical and cultural visits, the route...
Deena B., Incline Village, NV
The chalk arrows are outstanding. My wife and I ride at differnt levels and the arrows allowed us to each ride at our own pace without the anxiety of getting lost. I think it makes the whole tour flow much better. I work a lot on bikes; your bikes ran well and were set up very well. I appreciated the cleaning after a rainy day ride.
Bill M., Ridgecrest, CA
The arrows...we love them. There is no substitute! We cannot imagine biking the routes we took and and roads we were on with any kind of written directions. It would take dozens of pages, we would have spent all our time looking at the maps and not the beautiful scenery... and we would never be sure we were on the right road = stress...just what we wanted to avoid. Bikes...the equipment was excellent. The quality of the bikes and the condition of the bikes are very important to us. This is a bike trip after all. One last thought: Some (many) bike companies have decided to market to people who are more interested in their hotel rooms and the restaurants than the biking itself. Don't "dummy down" your trips. You have a very nice balance of nice hotels, very good restaurants....and, importantly, outstanding routes and wonderful biking.
Jim B., Incline Village, NV
[What was my favorite part?] How could there be a favorite when Castel de Monte was so amazing, the Sassi miraculous, Arobello so quaint and the Ionian Sea so beautiful?
Janice B.
Salem, SC
The route was rich with amazing historical sites and the leaders were wonderful. Massimo, aside from knowing all the restaurateurs, also ordered special desserts for us! Marco was meticulous in tweaking our bicycles for good performance, and intelligent, humorous and patient with stragglers. You picked the best leaders!
Eunice C
Roosevelt Island, NY
[Favorite experience?] Hard to pick just one. We loved staying in the Trullo, the riding, seeing all the beautiful wildflowers, swimming in the Ionian sea, the olive oil tasting, the dinners...
Frank C.
Melrose, MA
The cultural experiences were great! We enjoyed seeing all the UNESCO World Heritage sites and all the fascinating old cities and churches. The olive oil and wine tastings were great fun, and the tour of the Grotte di Castellana was well worth taking.
Frank C.
Melrose, MA
Your system of chalk arrows is by far the very best method that we have ever seen for the route ... It would have been totally unnerving to try to read directions and be aware of traffic.
Anne C.
Bristol, TN
The scenery was wonderful, the meals great, the guides knowledgeable.
Anne C.
Bristol, TN
This trip took us through Puglia and along the Ionian coast. The scenery was wonderful, the food incredible, and the towns and historic sites fascinating. After some spotty weather the first couple of days ... the weather was perfect. This tour is rated a 301, but it was no more difficult than what we experienced in Burgundy, and maybe a little easier. There were fewer steep, long climbs than in Burgundy at any rate, and there are a few optional riding days as well. There is a shortened version of this tour that leaves out the Ionian Seaside part (5 of the people on our trip were doing the shorter version), but I recommend doing the whole thing if at all possible. We highly recommend this tour - it's a fascinating region, and one that I had not really heard of before we started looking for trips that fit our schedule.
Jessica L & Frank C.
Melrose, MA
[My favorite experiences were ] visiting with tour guides about Italy riding through the small towns on the cobble stone street.
Leah Rae H.
Fort Collins, CO
[My favorite part was] The cycling! I absolutely loved the time spent on the bike ... Tour guides were terrific!
Dwight J.
Honolulu, HI
Impossible to have only 1 favorite! Visiting the ancient cities and buildings was awesome, sampling all the wonderful foods of the region (is there such a thing as "too much of a good thing"?) I think we all cried uncle more than once at dinnertime! Getting to know our tour leaders (their personalities and background) was very enlightening and enjoyable ... As always, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, experiencing a new country or region and are always impressed by the caliber and personalities of the tour leaders. You certainly know how to pick them!
Annette M.
Saratoga, CA
[My favorite parts were the ] wine tasting in Ruvo and bicycling through the trulli.
Marilyn G.
Cupertino, CA
Your staff are great and made it a memorable trip.
Tim M.
Kaneohe, HI
I have become a devotee to ExperiencePlus!, can't wait to do more trips and have even signed up for on in April, Sicily, so reading books about that area. Thanks for everyones' good work to make our trips the best.
Barbara H.
Lexington, MA
I looooved the tour leaders, nothing bothered them which made the trip relaxing. They were kind, considerate and well informed. They were all good at keeping us informed. They were part of the group not outside the group as tour leaders.
Barbara H.
Lexington, MA
Your new Puglia tour is a triumph. Has it all from great biking and food to the most excellent guides. We loved every minute.
Becca S. and Rich G.