Cycling Puglia's White Villages Plus! the Salento

Cycling Puglia's White Villages Plus! the Salento

Beautifully situated on the Adriatic Coast between the spur and heel of Italy's "boot" lies Puglia. Nestle against the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean ancient Greek and Italian cultures mingle among hillside vineyards, olive groves, and whitewashed villages. Join us as we begin our bicycling journey in Matera, a world renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, where dwellings carved into limestone caves create an enchanted and ancient stone city. We’ll pedal east toward Alberobello, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, through a landscape filled with unique conical shaped dwellings known as trulli. Continue to the striking “Città Bianca” or “White City” of Ostuni before heading south to Grottaglie, famed for its ceramics, and the important coastal towns of Gallipoli and Otranto where you'll revel in impromptu stops at some of the beautiful beaches that attract visitors from all over Italy. Our final stop brings us back inland to Lecce, the baroque Florence of Southern Italy where palatial streets welcome us. Along the way you'll 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 prefer a shorter ride check out the 7-day Cycling Puglia's White Villages.

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
Apr 28-May 8, 2019
USD$5050
USD$650
 
May 19-29, 2019
USD$5050
USD$650
Sold Out
Sep 15-25, 2019
USD$5050
USD$650
Guaranteed to Go!

* 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 private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 11 Days
  • Total Distance / 417 - 437 km (257 - 269 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 49 km (29 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 2.0
  • Countries / Italy
  • Begin/End / Matera / Lecce
  • Price / From USD$5050
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  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Sassi of Matera and trulli of Alberobello, White city of Ostuni, Cheese tasting, Locorotondo, Ancient olive mill visit, Via Traiana, Otranto, Lecce - the baroque Florence of Southern Italy, The tip of the heel of Italy's boot, Grottaglie and its ceramics

    Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

    There is a van shuttle on Day 3 and 7.
  • Includes
    Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 11 days, 10 nights' accommodation; van support; 2 or 3 bilingual tour leaders; 6 dinners with wine, 2 lunches, 10 breakfasts; guided visit of Matera; guided visit of Alberobello; 1 cheese tasting; and olive mill visit; and the usual (see below).

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and pre/post tour hotels.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality 27-30 speed bike.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events like wine tastings, cultural visits and chocolatiers.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options.
    • Detailed route map and free use of our traveling resource library.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Bari (BRI), Naples (NAP) or Brindisi Airport (BDS)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    34km / 502m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 2.5
    3
    51km / 433m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.5
    4
    60km / 565m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    5
    50km / 504m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.5
    6
    45km / 438m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    Today's ride is an optional loop ride
    7
    38km / 374m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 1.5
    8
    74km / 493m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.0
    9
    55km / 555m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.0
    10
    54km / 312m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.5
    11
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: 201 gentle hills that will require that you use your gears to reach the top. Pavement may be rough or uneven in places.

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Welcome to Matera

Highlights: Welcome drink, bike fitting, dinner in the “Sassi” of Matera

Arrive in Matera, 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 calcarenite or semi-sandstone cliffs at one time housed as many as 25,000 people. Today, the churches and caves are preserved as a World Heritage Site as being the “most outstanding, intact example of a cave-dwelling settlement in the Mediterranean.” Settle into our hotel, carved out of limestone rock thousands of years ago, and enjoy our welcome dinner after fitting bikes.

DAY 2: Matera

Highlights: Guided walk of the Matera's “sassi”, lunch at rural agriturismo

We'll start the morning with a fascinating guided walk through town, including a visit to an enormous man-made water cistern dug under the town. Though the cistern is obsolete, it is a fascinating view into ancient workmanship. After our walk, we'll hop on the bikes and ride to a rural working farm restaurant for a refreshing (and yummy!) lunch. From here, you can choose whether to head back to Matera, or do a loop ride up to nearby Montescaglioso, a small hill town that was home to one of the oldest and richest Benedictine communities.

  • Distance: 34 km (21 mi)
  • Gain: 502 m (1647 ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 3: Locorotondo

Highlights: Cheese tasting, trulli, vineyards

Our ride today starts with a shuttle and features olive groves and vineyards as we head toward the “Valle d’Itria” which is the heart of Puglia's trulli region. 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. We’ll arrive near the small but vibrant town of Locorotondo where we’ll sample fresh mozzarella, burrata and straciatella and learn more about how they are produced. Settle into our hotel and enjoy dinner together tonight.

  • Distance: 51 km (32 mi)
  • Gain: 433 m (1420 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 4: Loop ride to Alberobello

Highlights: Guided tour of Alberobello and learn more about trulli

We’ll pedal to the iconic "trulli" town of Alberobello where we'll have a guided tour to learn more about these conical shaped buildings and the people who built them. Take time to explore this unique town and have lunch on your own before getting back on the bike and heading back to Locorotondo. This afternoon get lost in the whitewashed maze of lanes and historic buildings towering over them.

  • Distance: 60 km (38 mi)
  • Gain: 565 m (1853 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 5: Bicycle to Ostuni

Highlights: Ostuni - La cittá bianca

Our ride today will take you first through vineyards and olive groves to the whitewashed town of Ostuni. Our hotel is located in the center of this amazing village which spans three hilltops and is crowned by a Gothic cathedral. Destroyed by Hannibal during the Punic Wars in 1st and 2nd Centuries BC, Ostuni was rebuilt by the Greeks and takes its name from them as “Astu néon or "new town". Rebuilt by the Normans in the 10th Century, Ostuni then flourished during the Italian Renaissance under Duchess Isabella of Bari. This is an imposing and beautiful city from afar and within.

  • Distance: 50 km (31 mi)
  • Gain: 504 m (1653 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 6: Loop ride through the Valle d'Itria

Highlights: Ancient olive mill, the beach, Carovigno

We'll take a loop ride from our hotel today through the Valle d'Itria. The first stop will be to visit an underground olive press dating to pre-Roman times and used until the 19th C. Our ride continues on the Via Appia Traiana just before reaching the Adriatic Coast. Built by order of the Roman Emperor Traiano in the 2nd century A.D., the Via Traiana connected Rome to Brindisi, one of the most important ports for commerce with the Middle East. We’ll parallel the coast today with a possible dip at a local beach before continuing to the medieval town of Carovigno and back to our hotel.

  • Distance: 45 km (28 mi)
  • Gain: 438 m (1437 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Gallipoli

Highlights: Ceramics of Grottaglie, Ionian Coast, ancient Gallipoli

It's a pleasant ride this morning to Grottaglie, Puglia's most famous pottery town. Visit the local studios, and learn about painting and firing techniques. The use of the abundant clay in the area, has long been an economic driver for the town. In fact, during the 18th century, employing over 5,000 people. Once your pottery curiosity has been satisfied, we’ll shuttle to the coastal town of Gallipoli. Our hotel is located near the heart of old Gallipoli, a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge.

  • Distance: 38 km (24 mi)
  • Gain: 374 m (1227 ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: Day Level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Masseria Ruri Pulcra

Highlights: Scenic beaches, overnight in a working farm or “Masseria”

We’ll leave the small island city of Gallipoli to pedal along the Gulf of Taranto, the largest gulf in the Ionian Sea. We are in the Salento, home to a wide variety of beautiful beaches including the “Salento Maldives” which resembles the tropical islands so much they’ve been named after them. Our lodging tonight is not on the beach but rather in a renovated luxury working farm or, locally known as a “masseria”. We’ll enjoy the fruits of their harvest with a home cooked meal this evening.

  • Distance: 74 km (46 mi)
  • Gain: 493 m (1617 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 9: Otranto

Highlights: Riding along the Adriatic Coast, and between ancient fortresses and guard towers, Otranto

Upon leaving our masseria we'll reach the small town of Leuca which is very near the tip of the heel of the boot. From here you can continue south to land's end and the sanctuary Santa Maria di Leuca, or start your journey north. Our route to Otranto is along the jagged coast, dotted with karstic caves and ancient defense towers or castles. Arrive in Otranto, historically one of the most important trading cities in Puglia. Enjoy the seafront promenade and the city perched on the waterfront.

  • Distance: 55 km (34 mi)
  • Gain: 555 m (1820 ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: Day Level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 10: Lecce

Highlights: Lecce, nature reserve

Continue pedaling north along the coast in between defense towers and scenic cliffs. Our route also includes a car-free section through a nature reserve before turning inland to reach our final destination, arguably 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 exploration. This evening, we'll celebrate the end of our journey with a farewell dinner.

DAY 11: Lecce

Highlights: Buon viaggio!

We'll say good-bye after breakfast today. Spend an extra day exploring Lecce, or just enjoy some R&R back on the coast. Whatever you decide, thanks for cycling Puglia with us.

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Welcome to Matera

Lodging: Locanda di San Martino

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1, meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the Day 1 Hotel specified on the itinerary.

Note:

As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We suggest flying into the Bari’s Karol Wojtyla Airport, also called Bari Palese (BRI).

  1. Bus from Bari airport to piazza della Visitazione in Matera (view schedules here) (1 hour 15 min/EUR 3-6)
  2. *Taxi or from Matera Bus Station to Day 1 Hotel (10 min/EUR 10-15)
  • or private transfer (1 hour 15 min/EUR 70-100)

*Note: It is possible that there might not always be taxis available when you arrive at the Matera Bus Station. If you have a reliable arrival time, we’ll be glad to help pre-arrange a taxi through the hotel.

Day 11: Departure Information

Lecce

Your trip ends on the final day after breakfast.

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio

Flying out of the Brindisi-Salento Airport (BDS):

  • Taxi from the ending hotel to the Brindisi Airport (40 min/EUR 55); hotel can help arrange this.

Or public transportation

  1. Taxi to the bus terminal (10 min/EUR 10)
  2. Airport Bus to the Brindisi-Salento Airport (45 min/EUR 7.50)

Flying out of the Bari Airport (BRI):

  • Taxi from the ending hotel to the Bari Airport (2 hours/EUR 160/2 persons); hotel can help arrange this.

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Keep in Mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

There is a van shuttle on Day 3 and 7.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-training/
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two) and a water bottle (or two) and in some cases a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com. Tracks are available upon request approximately three to four weeks prior to the departure.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • Outstanding.

    Douglas B., Wellesley, MA - September 2018
  • Great! Highly recommended. Plenty of really interesting sites and beautiful country. Routes were almost all not on trafficked roads.

    Keneva K., Kopavogur, Iceland - April 2018
  • Beautiful scenery, delicious food, interesting history and culture.

    Linda Z., Sherborn, MA - September 2018
  • Amazing. I absolutely love cycling holidays with you.

    Valerie M., Paris, France - September 2018
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