Italy: Puglia & Basilicata Bike Tour
Nine days, eight nights of southern Italian bicycle touring on easy terrain with variable distance choices, beginning in the cave town of Matera and descending through the Itria Valley to the Adriatic coast.
“I just wanted to thank you for the absolutely wonderful trip… You have me hooked; I would really love to do one of your trips again maybe even with the kids…” – Anna P.
WHY THIS TRIP?
- UNESCO site – Sassi, century-old caves carved from rock cliffs.
- Easy, bicycle-friendly terrain.
- The first city you visit, Matera, is seen in the recent James Bond film “No Time to Die” with Daniel Craig
- Traditional, Southern Italian lifestyle.
- Itria valley’s olive groves and trulli, ancient circular stone houses.
- Coastal route overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
- Exquisite local cuisine.
- Ride through San Foca to Otranto on the Adriatic coast, whose castle was the setting for a book by Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto.
- The cultural capital of Puglia, whose baroque architecture and warm sandstone buildings appear golden in the afternoon sun.
- Matera has been the filming location for a number of well-known films, including James Bond and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
- DAY 1: Introductions
- DAY 2: ~70 km
- DAY 3: Up to ~85 km
- DAY 4: Up to ~90 km
- DAY 5: Up to ~90 km
- DAY 6: ~70 km
- DAY 7: ~50 km
- DAY 8: Farewells
Start: Bari, B&B dei Meravigli, 15:00, day one.
Finish: Lecce, 13:00, or Brindisi/Salento Airport, 14:00, day nine.
Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.
You will be collected in Bari and transferred about 60 minutes to Matera where you’ll spend the following two nights in the UNESCO recognized Sassi district; one of the oldest inhabited human settlements in the world. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfasts)
Locanda di San Martino, Matera
Matera Caves Excursion & Cooking Class
Today starts with a unique tour of the Sassi district and surrounding caves of Matera. You’ll spend 3-4 hours walking the maze-like collection of stairs cases, zigzagging alleyways, cave dwellings and tiny courtyards. Following lunch, you’ll be transferred to an agriturismo on nearby Lago di San Giuliano where you can enjoy the pool as you prepare for a cooking class during which you prepare your own dinner. Return to Matera early in the evening. BLD
Matera to Locrotondo; 45km
A transfer brings you away from the busy and congested roads surrounding Matera into the fertile Valley of Itria. This area is famous for its Trulli, the ancient circular stone houses and barns with conical rooftops built of stacked limestone. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, most have been adapted to beautiful homes, shops, and restaurants. Continue along quiet roads to Locorotondo, a small town recognized as one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, and your resting place for the next two nights. BLD
Leonardo Trulli Resort, Locorotondo
Loop Ride 48km or 94km
A day filled with delights! Your first destination is the sunny seaside town of Polignano a Mare, where you will immediately understand why it has been inhabited since early Greek fishermen pulled their boats ashore in tiny coves between the limestone cliffs. The tiny old town, reached through the Porta Vecchia, combines charming, white-washed streets with beautiful old churches such as the Chiesa Matrice. You may become lost in the winding streets, but won’t mind at all. Before long, you will reach one of three panoramic terraces offering clear views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea and coastline. Transfer or cycle back to your lodging on quiet roads, try keeping count of the trulli you pass! BD
Lecce and the Grecia Salentina Loop 55km
Start with a 90-minute transfer south toward Lecce, the cultural capital of Puglia. From here you will cycle the Grecia Salentina, an area of eleven communities where the influence of ancient Greece is evident by the Griko dialect still spoken today. Enjoy pleasant cycling along winding sideroads through olive groves lined with ancient stone walls, Mediterranean Oak, traditional farm buildings and quaint villages with many architectural and artistic gems. Finish in Lecce, whose baroque architecture and warm sandstone buildings appear golden in the afternoon sun. BL
Masseria Giampaolo, or Palazzo de Noha, Lecce
Lecce to Otranto 56km
Ride through San Foca to Otranto on the Adriatic coast, whose castle was the setting for a book by Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto. It is considered the first gothic novel, and inspired Shelley’s more famous Frankenstein. Your route today follows the Adriatic Coast south with the dramatic sea-sculpted white cliffs and transparent waters leading you through small seaside towns, past beaches and bays, including the turquoise waters at Gotta della Poesia. Optional late afternoon walking tour of Otranto is included on guided tours. BL
Hote Corte di Nettuno, Otranto
Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca 50km or 94km
Ride the fantastic coast between Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. This remote promontory is where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet – the true heel of Italy’s boot, where serpentine clifftop roads lead to pretty seaports and astounding views. Your destination is an archaeological treasure and Italy’s most important lighthouse at Marina di Leuca. This coastal route is so beautiful, you may opt to return by bike toward Otranto, but transfers are provided for those who wish to linger. BLD
Massaria Panareo Hotel, Santa Cesarea Terme
Santa Cesarea Terme to Gallipoli 64km
Leaving the Adriatic coast this morning you will bike inland following quiet roads and laneways alongside ancient olive groves bordered with craggy stone walls. The picturesque countryside leads you to the clear waters of the Ionian Sea at Punta della Suina Ionian. Finish with a short ride north along the coast to the charming old town of Gallipoli. Arrive with time to explore the town and enjoy its seaside ambiance before an evening of dining highlighted by local delicacies of the sea. BD
Palazzo Presta, or Al Pescatore, Gallipoli
Gallipoli to Sant’Isidoro 25km; then transfer to Lecce
Depart Gallipoli early by bike riding north along the coast. Take a short break to wander the pine forest to the beach at Porto Selvaggio then finish mid-morning at Sant’Isidoro. Your tour of Salento concludes with a transfer to the train station at Lecce arriving by 13:00 or further onto the airport at Brindisi by 14:00. BL
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
- May 6-14
- Sep 30-Oct 8
- May 4-12
- Sep 28-Oct 6
Self-Guided available any dates, except for those listed above. New dates are also welcomed for guided or private departures.
Guided: C 5495 (per person, double occupancy)
Includes 9 days, 8 nights, 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners, cooking class on day two, guide and van support, maps, route instructions, luggage handling, taxes
Small groups or private tours, fully supported with drivers/guides and vehicles, all lodging and most meals included. Choose from existing dates or request new departures. Read more on our “What to Expect” page.
Self-Guided: C 4995 (per person, double occupancy)
Includes 9 days, 8 nights, 8 breakfasts, cooking class and dinner on day two, welcome briefing, inn to inn luggage transfers and essential transfers, maps, route instructions, taxes
Semi-supported, independent tours including welcome briefing, lodging, luggage transfers and necessary vehicle transfers. Choose from existing dates or request new departures. Read more on our “What to Expect” page.
Single Occupancy: 1495
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
Please see above for accurate pricing and inclusions, unless we have proposed a customized trip for you and those details are provided in your custom proposal.
1. Choose an advertised date to join a small group, or see our Join a Group page to see where groups are already forming.
2. Pick your own dates. We will confirm quickly, and are happy to talk with you as you make your choice. If you would like a private guided date, this usually comes at a surcharge depending on the details, please get in touch for more information. If you prefer self-guided, we usually only require two participants to initiate a new date at the advertised price, and can sometimes reduce prices for you if you have four or more.
The best time to enjoy this tour is May to October.
Spring, April and May, averages high temperatures range from 10 to 19 °C (50 to 66.2 °F).
Summer, June to August, can be quite hot, typically peaking around 25 °C (77 °F) but sometimes reaching over 30 °C (86 °F). Beaches and towns are very crowded during tourist season.
Autumn, is still quite mild, with September temperatures averaging 20 °C (68 °F).
GET TO THE START
It’s most convenient to fly into Bari International Airport (BRI), or arrive to Bari by train from Naples or Rome. Visit www.trenitalia.com for scheduling and details. Brindisi International Airport (BDS) is regional airport 1 ½ hours south of Bari which often has low-cost flights from destinations throughout Italy and Europe.
At mid-day on day nine you will be transferred to Lecce by 13:00 or the Brindisi Airport by 14:00. Alternate arrangements, such as private transfer to Bari or other destinations can be arranged by request.
BEFORE AND AFTER
If you have one day:
Spend some time in Bari. The labyrinthine ‘old town’ provides a wonderful display of historical architecture, sculptures, and mosaics, while Murat or ‘new town’ hosts a number of museums and shops.
At the end, we recommend extra time in Lecce. You’ll get a taste of this city for one night during your tour, and will appreciate an extra night or two afterwards to get a true feel for this historic city.
If you have several days:
Spend a week before or after you tour exploring other parts of Italy, with a Freewheeling tour of Tuscany (hilly), Innsbruck to Venice (easier) or if you need a break from the bike, spend a week walking Amalfi.
The cuisine of Puglia and Basilicata may inspire you to join a cooking class or two; Stile Mediterraneo in Lecce is exceptionally well reviewed.
In Bari, we recommend staying at the B&B dei Meravigli. Past participants have also suggested:
In Naples, we recommend:
Please let us know if you would like assistance with pre or post-tour reservations, and we will be happy to help.
This quiet and peaceful region remains seemingly untouched by mass tourism, and is an insight into ways of life that have been maintained in Southern Italy for centuries. The terrain is bicycle-friendly, and the climate is perfect for spring and autumn visits. The inns are welcoming, and the dining divine! The adventure takes you first to Matera where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Sassi – century old caves, carved from rock cliffs and lived in up until the 1950’s. From there you will ride into the lush Val d’Itria to stay among olive groves at a converted farm, then to Otranto, whose castle inspired the first Gothic novel. The last ride is along a gorgeous coast road overlooking the Adriatic Sea. As you ride your bike through this calm and mysterious region, and sample its exquisite cuisine, you will often feel as if you are traveling back in time, experiencing an Italy that is very different from the well developed and busier tourist routes found in the northern parts of the country.