La Bella Puglia
The Ideal Introduction to a Region of Italy Unlike Any You’ve Ever Dreamed of… With a Final Spin to Matera.
Featured in bicycling.
Explore this fascinating southern region of Italy as you cycle through farmlands rich with Greek, Norman, and Arab history on a bike tour of Puglia, recently named one of the “20 Places to See Now” in 2014 by National Geographic Traveler.
Begin your bicycling adventure at the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Baroque capital of the Salento area in Lecce. From here we’ll travel south and discover the famous wine region of the “Salice Salentino.” Enjoy quiet roads dotted with fig trees and blooming cacti as we pedal toward the sea and encounter the coastal town of Savelletri. In Alberobello, you’ll be captivated by the unique clusters of fantastic conical dwellings called trulli, as you ride through a landscape surrounded by giant gnarled olive trees. Sample local favorites like homemade orecchiette and grilled calamari pulled fresh from the sea.
This mystical bike tour continues as we twist inland to the Basilicata region where we will spend the next two nights in Matera, “The City of Stone.” We stay in the magical Sassi – an entire area carved into the rock and located in one of the most panoramic and charming areas of this ancient town. Matera’s 155 fascinating cave churches range from primitive to exquisite. Medieval monks literally “dug in,” excavating individual cells, tiny chapels, and even some spacious churches in the hills, valleys and ravines around Matera. This gently undulating bicycle trip is an ideal introduction to the irresistible Basilicata and Puglia regions.
Check out our 6-Day La Bella Puglia Mini
- Two night stay and a walking tour of Matera, “the city of stone”
- Captivating clusters of conical trulli structures
- Discover the white-washed town of Ostuni and the beaches of Savelletri
- Spectacular fields of ancient olive trees and crispy white wine
- Mozzarella-making demonstration and tasting
- Savory cuisine: grilled vegetables, handmade pasta and dense bread
- Earthy reds of Salento and elegant Locorotondo whites
- Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Lecce, Alberobello & Matera
- Enjoy dinner in the unique atmosphere of a "trulli" complex
Day by Day
Day 1 — Lecce and the Salento area
Meet at the first hotel at 1pm for a light lunch, bike fitting and a warm-up ride, followed by a stroll to the fortified village of Acaja. Lecce is the capital of the south of Puglia called Salento. Because of its rich Baroque architectural monuments, this town is commonly nicknamed"The Florence of the South." On this bike tour our guides will help you uncover all the charm and beauty that this town and region has to offer, you can just relax, have fun and they will take care of all the rest.
Day 2 — Mesagne
This region in Puglia is flat with some hills and is an ideal place for cycling. Its fertile land allows for a greater production of wine than in any other region of Italy, and it is among Italy's main olive oil producer. Before we reach our hotel in Mesagne there will be a great opportunity to visit a local producer of Salice Salentino and ride among Negramaro vineyards for miles!
Day 3 — Savelletri and Selva di Fasano
Ride to the Savelletri coast through Ostuni, an area that has been inhabited since the stone age. Bike to one of the loveliest towns along the Mediterranean where white houses, piled like sugar cubes against an azure sky, remind you of the Greek Islands. The brightness of its whitewashed houses, set against the pink-tinged brown of its principal monument, makes the town stand out in the green of the surrounding area. Stay overnight at a restored fortified agricultural estate in Selva di Fasano and enjoy the countryside immersed in this natural environment right before our dinner in a "trulli" complex.
Day — Alberobello
Pass through ancient olive groves, and pedal along the coast to the Greek ruins of Egnazia, the ancient Messapian town of prehistoric origins. Then we go inland towards Castellana and finally we arrive in Alberobello, the town of the cone-shaped, whitewashed “trulli” houses. Alberobello takes its name from the forests that once upon a time covered the area. Nowadays this is where more than 1,000 “trulli” can be found and is truly a must-see place in the region, surely one of the symbols of Puglia.
Day 5 — Locorotondo Loop
Today we ride through a strange fantasyland called Trulli. Via tiny roads, cycle through Valle D’Itria to arrive in Locorotondo, a whitewashed, circular town known for its white wine. From the top of the Serra, there is a fascinating panorama of the valley of the Itria. The wine of the area, which is light, is considerably different from the other Apulian wines, which often have high alcohol levels and assertive flavors. In the afternoon we visit the Frantoio Intini, an olive oil press which embraced the Slow Food movement under the multi-generational management of Pietro Intini.
Day 6 — San Basilio
We leave Alberobello passing through a beautiful landscape with farmhouses and riding through stunning country roads. We stop for lunch in Mottola, another charming Pugliese town. Mottola is located on a hill above sea level, where the views range from the plains and the gulf of Taranto to the green mountains of the high Sila. For this reason the town is also called “the balcony of southern Apulia.” In the evening, enjoy a charming mozzarella-making demo and an exquisite dinner at the hotel which sets the mood for tomorrow’s exciting arrival to Matera.
Day 7 — Spin to Matera
We spin along the Murgia plain through a bucolic terrain of manicured farmlands and shady oak groves to Matera, the city of caves and one of the most extraordinary spots on Earth. It was the backdrop for Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ. UNESCO lists Matera as one of its 365 Official World Heritage sites, for its Sassi cave dwellings. A unique, charming route wanders through the villages in the immediate surroundings of Matera. Along the route, the mystic past is palpable as you visit these rock churches, especially in the crypts of San Nicola and Santa Margherita. In the afternoon we will explore Matera on a guided walking tour of this unique town.
Day 8 — Matera loop
In the morning we will have some free time to explore Matera on our own, then we'll hop on our bikes for a ride into the countryside, where we'll stop at an organic farm. Here, our friends Cinzia and Fulvio will prepare a vegetarian lunch. In the afternoon, opt to enjoy a long climb to Matera (optional shuttle back). And finally, join us for a final celebration dinner of typical Lucanian food: the ancient name of Basilicata was “Lucania.”
Day 9 — Arrivederci!
After breakfast, we offer a 1.5-hours group shuttle in the morning, around 9am, to the Bari airport.
- Bike rental equipped with odometer, map case, handlebar and seat bags and bike pump.
- Ciclismo jersey and water bottle
- Group Shuttle at end of the tour
On The Tour
- Unforgettable event featuring local music
- Guided Walking Tour of Matera and Alberobello
- Visits to Olive Oil Press and Mozzarella Making Demo
- Visit and wine tasting to Salice Salentino’s winery
Accommodations & Meals
- All accommodations and breakfasts
- 6 dinners
- 2 lunches
- 1 picnic lunch
Here’s a sampling of some of the amazing places you’ll stay on your journey.
For a full listing, request a detailed itinerary!
Hotel Santa Chiara
The Santa Chiara Suite Hotel is Lecce’s newest addition in luxury hotels, located in the heart of the historical center near Piazza S. Oronzo and the Roman amphitheatre. The 21 elegant suites are luxuriously furnished offering the very best in modern italian design and comforts. An elegant roof garden offers an awesome view soaking up the atmosphere of the bustling streets below.
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Each room is carefully planned and equipped for comfort. Here, you can appreciate the beauty of Apulia and its rich history. You can also enjoy the swimming pool and exclusive solarium.
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This hotel is a very huge estate that comprises 6 Masserie (ancient fortified farmhouses) and a village of Trulli. The Village is suggestive and the restaurant “Il Ciliegeto'' is inside an agglomerate of 3 trulli, a unique setting for a dining room!
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