Puglia - Cycling Southern Italy
On the Adriatic Coast, Puglia occupies the "heel" of Italy's boot. Here, ancient Greek and Italian culture mingle in hillside vineyards, olive groves, and whitewashed villages nestled against the blue of the Mediterranean. Join us as we pedal through a landscape filled with unique conical shaped dwellings known as trulli, explore a fabulous limestone grotto, and visit three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Castel del Monte, Matera, and Alberobello. Along the way, we enjoy meals prepared with Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern influences and discover the warmth and hospitality of Southern Italy's friendliest people.
***Extend this bicycle trip 4 more days. Click here to review our Puglia - Cycling Southern Italy Plus! the Ionian Seaside tour details page.***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Tour begins in Trani, Southern Italy
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
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
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 with optional ride
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: Your choice on optional ride: 43 km (27 miles)Lodging: Hotel San Domenico
Day 5: Bicycle Puglia's Trulli Country
Highlights: Enjoy the unique scenery and landscape 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 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 trulli
Today 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 grotto 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 Franca
Our 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. Special farewell dinner together tonight. Distance: 52 km (32 miles) or more.Lodging: Park Hotel San Michele
Day 8: Farewell
We'll say good-bye after breakfast today. Spend a few days exploring this wonderful 16th century town or head on for further explorations. Whatever you decide, thanks for cycling Puglia with us. Buon viaggio!
HighlightsMixture of Greek & Italian cultures, Classic Puglian landscapes, Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Matera, Vast Olive GrovesKeep 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.
Includes8 days, 7 nights accommodation; 5 dinners with wine, 7 breakfasts; wine tasting; guided walk in Matera and the trulli plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Arrive/DepartBari Airport (BRI), Rome or Naples Airport (NAP)
Total Distance354 km (218 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage per day mileage 59 km (36 miles).
Rating201-301 Undulating terrain every day with short climbs, generally into villages, never longer than 5 miles. One option for a rest day.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes
* 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.
History of southern Italy and Sicily
Rick's essay includes a reading list to help prepare you for your bicycle trip to Southern Italy
Ragu Pasta Sauce
A hallmark of Italian pasta sauces, Ragu, is sure to transform your pasta
- Rick's report on Cycling Southern Italy and Puglia
- Rick's suggestions for cycling maps of Italy
- Shopping Tips
The Artist, the Philosopher & the Warrior
ExperiencePlus! traveler Bill Giovinazzo reviews the latest book from Paul Strathren.
The Shapes of Puglia
Making up the "heel" of Italy's famed boot, the lesser-known agricultural region of Puglia is an area full of mysterious and unique shapes, and it's definitely worth a visit. Read more here.
Three of the Many Faces of Italy
Bicycle Tours through Tuscany, the Po Valley and Puglia.
Understanding the Italian Landscape
Rick's essay on Hannibal's effect on the history of Emilia Romagna.
Cheese Making in Puglia
How is cheese made? Step into a cheesemaker's shop in Italy here.
Choosing Artisan Gelato
The Travel Belles have an article to help find the tastiest gelato in Italy
ExperiencePlus! has contracted with national fitness expert Joe Friel to create customized, day by day, training programs to ensure you are ready for your biking tour.
Traditional Italian Food Fallacies
An article from The Travel Belles blog covering interesting aspects of Italian culture and food traditions
- History of southern Italy and Sicily
Lookin' forward to next year's adventure!Russ B., Arcadia, CA
What was your favorite experience on this trip? The tour through Matera ...such a fabulous site. The backroad biking and meeting locals.Geraldine M., New York, NY
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
I am ecstatic about the tour. The leaders were the best...the rides were fabulous... the arrows were essential and allowed freedom and security.Sherry B., Newton, MA
I loved Puglia... frequently felt I was seeing things that the typical tourist would not get to experience in the same way. Everything was just right all around. Each day mixed just the right amount of riding , with just the right amount of cultural experience.... and so much food!! The guides were exceptional!Ginny R.
This was a wonderful tour. The leaders were the best I've had. We also enjoyed the area and the mileage we rode. It is a very interesting part of Italy. Staying two nights in the same hotel is also very nice. Loved the tour.Barbara W.
What more can I say, ExperiencePlus! organizes the best vacations you will ever have the pleasure of participating in! So much fun, so well organized, great locations, great routes, truly spectacular dining!, comfortable hotels - and most important of all, very caring and supportive staff.Catherine P.
Guides were very good. Maybe best we have ever had.Russ A.