Self-guided cycling tour

If you are not sure where Apulia is, suffice to say that Italians amicably call it ‘the heel of the boot’. Located in the far south-east of Italy, this region is a landmark for charm, folklore and culture. Its roots are to be found in ancient history: this land saw the passage of Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Aragoneses, Bourbons and many others, with each domination bringing in their habits and traditions, and their castles and fortifications, too. The result is the historic and artistic varied heritage you can now discover in this area. Cycling along the Apulia region also means getting to know a land nurturing a deep bond with its people. Agriculture and breeding are still a primary activity: olive groves, vineyards, tomato fields are largely spread on the territory and sublime typical products such as ‘burrata’ cheese are sought after all over the world. All along the trip, you'll have multiple occasions to taste the simple yet mouth-watering food specialties of this region, combining together the full flavor of sun and nature. In the second half of the tour, you will reach the sea. Be warned: it is hard not to fall head over heels for this stunning coastal area. Some of the most beautiful Italian beaches and seaside spots are to be found here and you will cross them at the slow pace of your pedaling. All along, you'll cross also villages with typical white stone houses, the ‘trulli’, and castles overhanging the sea, all contrasting with the deep blue shades of the sky and the sea. Impossible not to mention the ‘Sassi’ of Matera, ancient cave dwellings constituting the old town centre of the city. It is in this suggestive scenery that Mel Gibson decided to film “The Passion of Jesus Christ”. Moreover, Matera was appointed European Capital of Culture for 2019 and the program of activities ahead is extremely rich. So, do not hesitate to stroll with your bike from north to south along  this region so rich in history , nature, food and colors.
Total distance  340 km / 212.5 mi Day 1: Matera Individual arrival in Matera (possibility to book a private transfer from Bari or Brindisi airport). Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Sassi di Matera do not identify with a monument, but, instead, with a way of life and a model of development lasted for millennia.  The Sassi represent a unique urban settlement;  the village  rises on a limestone plateau, showing a magnificent abnormality: a central fissure, as a real 70-80 meters high canyon, crossed by the Gravina torrent.  The area of Matera was continuously inhabited since the Paleolithic era. The specific districts of the Sassi were built in the late 5th century and the alternation of populations over time has left an intricate urban system, where the buildings overlap the natural cavities. The uniqueness of this scenery led Mel Gibson to choose to film his movie “The Passion of Jesus Christ” here, as the old town seems frozen in time. However, Matera is also a lively city, and was also awarded the title of European Capital of Culture for 2019. Day 2: Matera – Alberobello   79 km/ 49.4 mi,   +/-160 m After breakfast, presentation of the itinerary and delivery of rental bikes. The first stage is a gentle cycling across the countryside between Basilicata and Puglia. Our destination is Alberobello, universally-known as the capital of the Trulli:  "trulli" are  houses of different shape and size,  made of dry stone, with a cone roof covered with stone tiles platforms. There are about 1500 trulli scattered in Monti and Aia Piccola districts, both listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. They are the hallmark of this unique urban center in the world. Night in Alberobello in a  typical « trullo » converted in  hotel. Day 3: Alberobello – Locorotondo – Ostuni     35 km/22 mi,  +220/-430 m Today you cross the Itria Valley, in a bright landscape of vineyards, olive groves and vast gentle slopes. We recommend you a stop in Locorotondo where you can enjoy the white wine produced in this region. Your cycling day ends in Ostuni which appears as a mirage, standing splendidly on a hillside rising from a green plateau that is covered with olive trees and that eventually dives into the blue of the Adriatic Sea. Take a stroll down the narrow streets and admire the beautiful courtyards and piazzas crowned with small white houses, artisans' workshops and restaurants. Day 4: Ostuni – Lecce by train /  Lecce – Gallipoli by bike  60 km/37 mi,  +270/-300 m This morning you join Lecce by train (appr. 50 minutes). If you want, you can take a walk in the city before starting to cycle (you have time to make a second visit to the city at the end of the tour). Today’s destination is Gallipoli and its blue sea! You are in the land of the Baroque Puglia, and this will be especially clear to you in Galatina and in Galatone. The stage ends in Gallipoli (the "beautiful city" in Greek), old fishing port, now a very charming and lively holiday destination. Day 5: Gallipoli – Ugento – Santa Maria di Leuca   55 km/34 mi,   +/-300 m Today’s stage runs along the coast of Salento;  you will have the chance to stop in some of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Italy, near Ugento. Today’s destination is Santa Maria di Leuca where the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea meet; this is the southernmost tip of Puglia, whose lighthouse and sanctuary welcome you at the end of the day. Day 6: Santa Maria di Leuca – Castro – Santa Cesarea Terme – Otranto  58 km/36 mi, +/-600 m Today you leave Santa Maria di Leuca and the extreme heel of Italy and Salento; you  drive your bike  northward along the beautiful coastline of the Adriatic Sea up to Castro, well-known for its cliffs falling into a clear blue sea. Here you can admire the medieval village and cave Zinzulusa , one of the largest in the world, inhabited by Neanderthals about 60,000 years ago. After the visit, do not miss a short stop to taste good and expressly fried fish, sitting in front of a breathtaking panorama. Continuing your journey, you will follow the rocky coast through Santa Cesarea Terme in a blaze of light and color. The stage ends at Otranto, lying on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, a city that was for centuries the meeting point of different cultures and the crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Orient. You can visit the Aragonese Castle and the beautiful cathedral, enriched by its magnificent rose window. Day 7: Otranto – Torre dell’Orso – Acaya  – Lecce   53 km/33mi, +/-200 m The final step will take you up to Torre dell'Orso, which offers visitors a crystal clear sea and a golden sand beach. Halfway you will meet Acaya, a charming town characterized by massive and impressive walls, towers and walls built in the first half of the 500 in order to protect the coast and the hinterland against the incursions of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, Lecce awaits you, a beautiful city dominated by the Baroque art that manifests itself not only in the complex of Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral and bell tower), but all around the center where the balconies and terraces of private homes are decorated with beautiful ornaments. Day 8: Lecce End of services after breakfast.
Terrain: flat to hilly terrain with some gentle climbs and descents. Average length of stages from 45 to 69 km per day. Roads: 90% asphalted, few white country roads Bike: city bikes Number of participants: minimum 2 Luggage transport: yes Suitable for children: from 13 years

Duration: 8 days/7 nights (6 cycling days)

Departures: 2018 every day from 08/01 up to 20/12

Prices  per person € CAT.B CAT.A
Price per person LS 645 1020
Supplement MS 125 110
Supplement HS 355 470
Supplement single room 250 345
Bike rental 100
E-bike rental 210
Cat. B: 6 nights in B&B + 1 night in Trullo Cat. A: 6 nights in hotel, Relais and manor houses 4* + 1 night in Trullo  Low season: 08/01- 31/05 ;  23/09-20/12 Medium season: 01/06 - 14/07;   24/08 – 22/09 High season: 15/07-23/08 + Bank Holidays ( for departures including 31/03+1+2/04 – dal 21/04 al 01/05 – 01+02+03/06) Included: 7 nights with breakfast in en-suite double room according with the chosen category; luggage transfer; tour description, road book and maps, GPS; heath-luggage insurance 24/24 EuropAssistance. Not included: trip to and from Italy, meals, drinks, bike rental, train transfer from Ostuni to Lecce (5,50€), tourist taxes (around 10€), entries and tickets and everything not listed in “Included”. Transfers to and from airports are possible  (to be booked and paid in advance, ask for prices).
Airplane: nearest airports to Matera are Bari  (70 km) and Brindisi (140 km).  From there train to Matera. Car: check the itinerary on  www.google.it/maps. Train: Matera train station. For info and prices Trenitalia and  Ferrovie Apullo Lucane.
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