Cycling Puglia & Matera
Matera, Italy to Lecce, Italy
In the deep south of Italy, nestled between the Adriatic and Ionian seas, lie the captivating regions of Puglia and Basilicata. This extensive itinerary explores the very best selection of all the cultural and natural treasures found here. Matera’s fascinating ‘Sassi’ houses and the UNESCO ‘Trulli’ houses of Alberobello set the scene for the journey to come. After passing through idyllic countryside and the stunning ‘white city’ of Ostuni, the route veers towards Gallipoli and the dramatic Ionian coastline. While riding across the famous Salento Peninsula, we immerse ourselves in the charming laid-back Italian way of living and explore a stunning landscape made of olive orchards, limestone cliffs, crystal waters and Baroque towns.
• Ride from the stunning UNESCO town of Matera • Enjoy gentle cycling through olive groves and past white-coned trulli • Sample fine seafood and wine from the famous Salento coast • Stay in charming accommodation bursting with character
• 6 nights comfortable hotels and 1 night 'masseria' (converted farmhouse)
• 8 days land only / flight inclusive
• 6 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)
• 99% tarmac and some short sections of gravel
• Quiet rural undulating roads
• Local bike hire included
• E-bike hire available on request
We use a mix of comfortable 3 and 4-star hotels and renovated traditional buildings. Most hotels are high quality and have been selected for their location, comfort and character, some representing the characteristic Apullian architecture. We also spend one night in a typical Masseria (a traditional converted farmhouse ) surrounded by olive groves. All rooms are en suite and some hotels have a swimming pool.
Level of support:
Related Services Available to Add:
DAY 1 - Start Matera.
The trip starts in the town of Matera, a real jewel of Southern Italy. The hotel is located within walking distance to the historic centre. There is usually time in the afternoon to wander through the narrow alleys of the town’s famous UNESCO cave-dwelling district and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this enchanting city.
DAY 2 - Ride past the historic 'Sassi' houses of Matera before heading to Alberobello.
On leaving Matera we pedal through the area that makes this town so special. For millenia, inhabitants of this region have carved dwelling directly into ravines and gullies made of tuff (or tufa), a characteristic honey-colored soft stone. These houses are called 'Sassi' and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Matera is the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9,000 years ago. Today's ride is mostly hilly with gentle ascents to be expected throughout, as we cycle on quiet rural roads amongst the picturesque Apulian countryside towards Alberobello. En route we pass the lovely towns of Noci and Gioia del Colle as well as some famous fairy-tale trulli houses that have also made the historic centre of Alberobello a recognised UNESCO world heritage site. Overnight in Alberobello. Cycle approx. 70km (ascent +659m; descent -648m).
DAY 3 - Cycle through the lush Valle d'Itria, past the picturesque fairytale trulli houses to the hilltop-town of Ostuni.
Today we cycle through the lush Valle d'Itria, one of the prettiest cultural and natural landscapes of Southern Italy, on to the picturesque hilltop village of Ostuni. The route is undulating throughout, but much shorter than yesterday's thus allowing to enjoy the views at a more leisurely pace with plenty of opportunities for rest stops. Along the way we pass the famous wine town of Locorotondo and Cisternino, both boasting charming historic centres filled with whitewashed houses, narrow quaint streets, churches and elegant piazzas. In the afternoon we reach the city of Ostuni, known as the 'white city' for the the dazzling effect of its white buildings. Overnight in Ostuni. Cycle approx. 45km (ascent +341m; descent -547m).
DAY 4 - Ride through quaint villages and country lanes to a typical Masseria - a renovated farmhouse - where we spend the night.
We continue pedalling through tranquil country lanes to the charming town of Francavilla Fontana and on to Oria, a popular destination among Apulians, famous for its 13th Century's Castle and delightful historic centre characterised by cobbled streets, whitewashed walls and beautiful architecture. We continue through the idyllic countryside to a Masseria, a typical Apulian converted farmhouse and our accommodation for the night. The masseria is still a working farm and most of the produce grown here, from vegetables to olives and wheat, is used daily for the preparation of local dishes. Before dinner we will have the opportunity to taste some organic olive oil produced by the family who runs the farm and accommodation. Overnight in Avetrana. Cycle approx. 56km (ascent +170m; descent -314m).
DAY 5 - Cycle to the coast and swim in the crystal clear sea before continuing towards Gallipoli with its old town situated on a rocky island.
From the Masseria we cycle towards the Ionian coast and the beautiful town of Gallipoli, known as the 'Ionian Pearl' with its old town situated on a rocky island and offering fantastic views both from the north and the south. The town itself has many churches, narrow alleys and was the largest exporter of lamp oil made from olives in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Weather permitting, today there are plenty of opportunities for swimming in the crystal-clear Ionian sea near the popular seaside resort of Porto Cesareo. Overnight in Gallipoli. Cycle approx. 65km (ascent +213m; descent -270m).
DAY 6 - Follow stunning stretch of coastline leading to the ancient town of Otranto.
Our route continues along the south of the peninsula and the impressive stretch of coastline leading to the ancient Messapian town of Otranto, the easternmost point in Italy. Before dinner there will be time at leisure to explore the town’s mediaeval centre and its interesting architecture, views, sea-front restaurants and white sandy beaches which make it one of Puglia's most picturesque towns. Cycle approx. Overnight in Otranto. 70km (ascent +506m; descent -495m).
DAY 7 - Continue along the shoreline to the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce.
Today we follow the shoreline through innumerable olive groves to Lecce, the Baroque masterpiece of southern Italy located in the heart of Puglia. Sometimes described as the 'Florence of the South', the city is a real architectonic gem boasting sumptuous palazzi and churches. Today's ride is relatively short and easy thus giving us time to stop en route for a last swim (seasonal) in Torre dell'Orso, a lovely bay surrounded by limestone cliffs with many ancient caves to discover, a real treat to end the week of cycling. In Lecce there will be some free time to explore the charming historic centre before an optional farewell dinner. Overnight in Lecce. Cycle approx. 50km (ascent +234; descent -188m).
DAY 8 - End Lecce.
The trip ends in the morning of day 8. We recommend spending an extra day in Lecce to soak up the atmosphere of this elegant Baroque city, home to outstanding architecture. Exodus can arrange post tour accommodation for you if needed; please contact our Sales or Operations team for a quote.
® Merit Travel trademark owned by, and use is granted by, Merit Travel Group Inc. Offers are based on availability and may be subject to change. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions may apply. For full terms and conditions visit, https://merittravel.com/terms-and-conditions/.