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 three world heritage sites in Castel del Monte, Matera, Alberobello and Lecce. 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 12 days, check out our Puglia - Cycling Southern Italy tour, which features the first 8 days of this itinerary.
Day 1: Tour begins in Trani, Southern Italy
Highlights: Romanesque cathedral of Trani, introductions & bike fitting, welcome dinnerWe 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
Highlights: UNESCO World Heritage Site at Castel del Monte, wine tastingThe 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
Highlights: Ceramics & 13th century cathedral in Ruvo, hilltop towns of Gravina and MateraDuring 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
Highlights: Caves of Matera, guided walk through UNESCO World Heritage SiteMatera 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
Highlights: Enjoy the unique scenery of Puglia's countrysideHeading 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 tomorrow to learn more about these conical shaped buildings and the people who built these stone houses. Begin your own investigations tonight because we'll stay in trulli in the heart of Alberobello. Dinner together. Distance: 71 km (44 miles).
Lodging: Trulli e Puglia
Day 6: Optional ride to Castellana
Highlights: Limestone grottoes of Castellana, guided visit of the trulliToday is a rest day, but we have planned both a long and short loop ride, as well as a guided exploration of the trulli. We'll pedal past the limestone grottoes of Castellana which you might choose to visit. These are among the largest and most beautiful caves in Italy. Our ride there and back takes us through vineyards and olive groves punctuated with whitewashed trulli. If you'd prefer to take the day off, you are welcome to spend the afternoon exploring Alberobello. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 56 km (36 miles), optional.
Lodging: Trulli e Puglia
Day 7: Bicycle to Martina Franca
Highlights: Trulli, vineyards, olive groves, Baroque architecture of Martina FrancaOur ride today will take you first through the small town of Locorotondo. Continuing on through vineyards and olive groves we'll reach our destination for the evening, the hilltop town of Martina Franca. Rich in Baroque architecture, Martina Franca gained wealth during the Middle Ages when the Prince of Taranto gave tax-free status to anyone choosing to live there. We'll visit an olive-oil press in town that has been in the same family for four generations. Dinner together this evening. Distance: 52 km (32 miles) or more.
Lodging: Park Hotel San Michele
Day 8: Loop ride through Valle d'Itria
Highlights: Optional routes allow for easy or challenging bicyclingWe'll take a loop ride from our hotel today through the Valle d'Itria, where we'll visit the medieval town of Cisternino. From there you can opt for the longer loop ride to the whitewashed town of Ostuni. Distance: 25 - 52 km (16 - 32 miles), optional.
Lodging: Park Hotel San Michele
Day 9: Bicycle to Manduria
Highlights: Ceramics of Grottaglie, Ionian CoastIt'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: 74 km (47 miles).
Lodging: Masseria Bosco
Day 10: Bicycle to Gallipoli
Highlights: Scenic bicycling along the Ionian Coast, whitewashed villages, ancient GallipoliSmall 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 in the heart of old Gallipoli, so you can explore the city sights this afternoon. Distance: 59 km (37 miles).
Lodging: Palazzo del Corso
Day 11: Bicycle Gallipoli to Lecce
Highlights: Lecce, farewell dinnerCheck out Gallipoli's lively fish market this morning. Then, 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 Lecce
Day 12: Tour ends in Lecce, Southern Italy
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!
HighlightsMixture of Greek & Italian cultures, Classic Puglian landscapes, The beautiful scenery of the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, Hillside villages, Three World Heritage sites
Includes12 days, 11 nights accommodation; 7 dinners with wine, 11 breakfasts; wine tasting; guided walk in Matera and trulli in Alberobello
Arrive/DepartBari Airport (BRI), Rome or Naples Int'l Airport (NAP) / Brindisi Airport (BDS), Bari, Rome or Naples
Total Distance603 km (372 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage daily mileage 60 km (37 miles).
What to Expect3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Mediterranean climate and cuisine!
Undulating terrain every day with short climbs, generally into villages, the longest of which is about 5 miles. Two options for a rest day.
NotesIf this sounds great but you don't have time for the full 12 days, check out our Puglia - Cycling Southern Italy tour, which features the first 8 days of this itinerary.
Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.
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