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Salento Classic

Itinerary
A bike tour on mostly flat roads, suitable also for the less trained, to discover the hidden treasures of southern Apulia. 
The tour passes through four natural parks and several small villages.
You  cycle on secondary roads with little traffic, for 50 to 60 km a day, through stony countryside and beaches with a crystal clear sea.
The city of Otranto, the easternmost city in Italy, Santa Maria di Leuca, finibus terrae, and Gallipoli, a wonderful fisherman village, are among the highlights of the cycling tour.
Lesser-known villages such as Nardò and Galatina are also worth discovering. The point of arrival and departure is the city of Lecce, the Florence of the south.
Accommodation is in small hotels, B&Bs and farmhouses. Also available: 4**** and electric bikes.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN LECCE
Meeting in Lecce with our staff, bicycle and GPS device delivery and briefing about the route, while tasting some local wine.

 
DAY 2: FROM LECCE TO OTRANTO (58 KM)
Totally flat route for the first day of your bike trip with many interesting cultural and naturalistic sights.
First, you visit Acaya – a fortified city with a XVI castle and then you plunge down to “Le Cesine” – a WWF protected area, crossing point for many species of migratory birds.
From there you reach the sea and, first, you skirt the remains of Roca Vecchia, an ancient city of the Bronze Age, nearby the wonderful “Poetry’s cave”, then you reach ‘Alimini’ lakes.
Some more kilometers and you are in Otranto, where narrow streets reveal wonders at every corner: The Saint Peter church with its byzantine frescoes, a walk along the ramparts overlooking the sea and finally the cathedral with its paved mosaic a unique piece in the world, a sort of figurative middle age encyclopedia.

 
DAY 3: OTRANTO’S SURROUNDINGS (29 KM)
Day dedicated to the discovery of Otranto's surroundings.
Going up along the banks of the small river Idro, that gives its name to the city, you visit an ancient Byzantine crypt from the 13th century and then you arrive at Casamassella where you see ancient looms put back into production by the 'Le Costantine' Foundation.
In Giurdignano, you cross the megalithic garden, closely observing its dolmens and menhirs, ancient prehistoric monuments.
For lunch, a visit and a tasting in one of the most characteristic bakery of the region, where a farming family decided to transform ancients wholegrain into baked products, recalling ancient flavor
Further, you go back to Otranto and you are free to enjoy the afternoon in the shopping area, swimming in a little beach close to the town or making a horse ride along the cliffs at sunset (suitable also for beginners). 

 
DAY 4: “PARK ROAD: FROM OTRANTO TO SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA (54 KM)
With Otranto behind, you cycle along the wildest coastal stretch of Salento: the lighthouse of Punta Palascìa, in the extreme East of Italy, and a unique lake emerged in a disused bauxite quarry are among the greatest beauties you see just outside the city.
Nestled among the cliffs above the sea, this road is a huge balcony that looks onto Otranto’s strait. with a little bit of luck, you might be  able to see the mountains of Albania and Greece.
You could visit ‘Zinzulusa’ cave, going down nearly 200 feet into the earth bowels.
On the way, you can admire some terraces and dry walls, the ingenious devices of peasants to get arable land in barren and impervious areas.
    After crossing the bridge over the “Ciolo” - a small and rich in rare flora canyon carved by the waters -  you reach Santa Maria di Leuca where you visit the sanctuary, following the ancient pilgrims’ footsteps.

 
DAY 5: FROM SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA TO GALLIPOLI (DISTANCE 61 KM)
A day dedicated to the discovery of the area known as “Capo di Leuca”, the southern part of Apulia, one of the less know area, but the most suggestive of Italy.
Within few kilometers you pass by small hamlets, each one with its little treasure: in Salignano,  an astonishing defense tower situated in the center of a small village, in Castrignano you visit an ancient olive oil mill, carved into the rock, and then an enigmatic funerary monument made by big stones, in Patú, (its name “Centopietre”, means “hundred stones”), with byzantine frescos inside; then, you cross Giuliano with its ruined castle and finally, you visit Barbarano - or Leuca Piccola - ('little Leuca'), an important pilgrimage station which still maintains a vast underground area. If you do really have a passion on history, in Ugento, you can visit its archaeological museum that host Greek and Messapian vestige.
In the afternoon, you reach the ionic coast and cycling inside the "Saint Andrew Island and Punta Pizzo" natural Reserve.
At your arrival, in Gallipoli you could enjoy an aperitif on one of the ramparts of the ancient walls overlooking the sea. Located on an island, this small fishermen’s village is striking by its light, its alleys and its fish market.


DAY 6: GALLIPOLI’S SURROUNDINGS (60 KM)
This a day dedicated to discovering Gallipoli’s inland.
The  first stop is Galatone, where you can see examples of Leccese baroque architecture.
Next stop is in the town of Galatina, where we suggest to dedicate some times to visit the ‘Santa Caterina d’Alessandria Basilica’, which is a splendid example of the Romanic style in Puglia with Gothic influence.
On the way back,  you pass by the cheese farm of our friends Mariangela and Antonio.
You will pass through  Alezio, where you can visit the Messapian Civilization Museum, and learn more about the people living here before the Greek and Roman conquests.

 
DAY 7: WAY BACK TO LECCE (52 KM)
Last day of your bike trip
The first kilometers of the coast allow you to visit the “Natural Reserve of Porto Selvaggio”, as many think and we do to - is the most beautiful place where to swim in Apulia.
Riding the way up to Lecce, you go through cultivated countryside and you can admire many 19th century fortified farmhouse and villas that characterized the landscape of this area until you, then, reach Nardò to visit its remarkable baroque style historical center. Next stop is in Copertino to discover its impressive Norman castle and listen to stories about Saint Joseph, ‘the holy of flights'.
Late afternoon arrival in Lecce and bikes drop off.
 


DAY 8: ONWARD TRAVEL
 


Our Bikes

I Ciclopi Srl
Via Buonarroti, 30

73100 Lecce
P.IVA 04622810754
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