Here is the latest tour of Salento Bici Tour to discover the hidden beauties of Southern Italy by bike.
It starts from Matera, a unique city whose buildings are carved into rocks and European Capital of Culture in 2019.
Among rolling hills and olive growing countryside you arrive in the Itria Valley: land of the ‘trulli’, unique stone buildings with conical roofs, reminiscent of goblins’ homes. As you continue further south, towards Salento, the land flattens out and becomes increasingly more arid, and you will ride through vineyards bordered by dry stone walls. You will be able to visit the most beautiful beaches in the region, in the province of Taranto. Along the way you stop off several times to taste the best cheeses, wines and bakery products of this area.
Finally, you arrive in Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’, that enchant visitors with its baroque architecture and the hospitality of its inhabitants.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN MATERA
We meet in Matera for the trip briefing and to supply your bikes and GPS navigators, while tasting local wine.
DAY 2: FROM MATERA TO GIOIA DEL COLLE (35 KM)
In the morning, there is still time for a walk in the historical center of Matera, since the today’s lap is short.
The landscape is characterized by soft hills, cultivated with wheat or land for pastures.
The destination is Gioia del Colle, known for its mozzarella and its burrata and you will have time to taste it and to visit the city’s Castle of the XII sec. Alternatively, you can have a wine tasting directly from the producers in a vineyard in the countryside of the city.
DAY 3: FROM GIOIA DEL COLLE TO ALBEROBELLO (35 KM)
Moving on from Gioia del Colle, you enter the “Itria Valley” area, characterized by the unique architecture of the trulli, the peculiar stone buildings with conical roofs.
Next stop is Noci, where – through the narrow streets of the old town – you can bask in the light of the sun reflected by the lime-white roofs.
In the main square, often populated, you can buy almond or sundried figs, that you might need during your journey. In the afternoon, you arrive in Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, thanks to its 1,500 trulli.
DAY 4: THE SURROUNDINGS OF ALBEROBELLO (45 KM)
A day spent discovering the Valle d’Itria area.
Leaving Alberobello, the first stop is Martina Franca. Less touristy than Alberobello, it has retained its own particular decadent charm, with its baroque building worn out by time and its maze of little streets will lead you to the main square, where you can visit the Ducal Palace. The town is well-known for its famous Capocollo, a Slow Food Presidium.
Leaving behind Martina Franca. you find yourself back in the gently undulating countryside, heading towards the ‘Pomona’ botanical conservatory: a real biodiversity sanctuary where they have hundreds of fruit trees from all over the Mediterranean (including an amazing collection of more than 400 varieties of figs).
Next stop is Locorotondo, which has been nominated one of the 'most beautiful villages in Italy', charming for its architecture and famous for its wine, white and slightly sparkling. Walking through the picturesque old town you can admire the architecture of the ‘cummerse’: the rectangular buildings with sloping roofs made of “chiancarelle” (typical limestones of the area).
Moving from Locorotondo, crossing vineyards dotted with trulli, you get back to Alberobello.
DAY 5: FROM ALBEROBELLO TO MANDURIA (70 KM)
The longest section of your bike trip take you up to Manduria, crossing the border between the Valle d’Itria and Salento: you will notice the change in the landscape around you during the day.
Passing by Martina Franca, you ride along a short section of the ‘Aqueduct Cycleway’, a path along the aqueduct of Puglia (which brings water from Campania all the way down to Salento).
Then you go on to Ceglie Messapica, a city known for its bread, that you can try in one of the oldest bakeries in the city, located in the old town.
In Francavilla Fontana you can visit the Basilica Minore of the Holy Rosary and Argentina Palace.
Next stop is Oria, “city of witches” and home to one of the important Hebrews’ hood of the region. Arrival in Manduria, where you stay in a B&B in the charismatic old part of the city.
DAY 6: THE SURROUNDINGS OF MANDURIA (45 KM)
The journey to discover the surroundings of Manduria takes you to the seaside: here you have some of the most beautiful beaches of Apulia and a natural reserve – La Salina dei Monaci – where it is possible to spot pink flamingos! Cycling along the coast heading north, you reach San Pietro in Bevagna, where a crystalline sandy beach – totally deserted in the spring and autumn – will allow you to sunbathe and swim in the emerald waters of the Ionian Sea.
On the way back to Manduria, you can visit an archeological site of the Messapian’s times and the Museum of Primitive Wine (Primitivo is a high-alcohol local red wine).
DAY 7: FROM MANDURIA TO LECCE (52 KM)
On this final day, you head towards the so called ‘Florence of the South’: the city of Lecce. Along the way, you pass through the fascinating ghost town of Monteruga, founded in the 1920s and completely abandoned in the 1980s. This is the area of ‘Salice Salentino’, whose vineyards produce a DOCG wine very popular around the world.
You go through few small villages where, all year around, you find the squares filled with elderly residents with hats pulled down against the sun, discussing politics and agriculture, and it seems that time has stood still.
Later in the afternoon, you reach your destination: Lecce.
DAY 8: DEPARTURE DAY