From Matera to Lecce: among trulli, wine and olive trees
Here is the latest Salento Bici Tour itinerary to discover the hidden beauties of Southern Italy by bike.
It starts from Matera, a unique city whose buildings are carved into the rocks themselves, and which has been designated as ‘European Capital of Culture’ for 2019. Among rolling hills and olive growing countryside you arrive in the Valle d'Itria: 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 will stop off several times to taste the best cheeses, wines and bakery products of this area. Finally, you’ll arrive in Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’, that will enchant you with its baroque architecture and the hospitality of its inhabitants.
Day 1: Arrival in Matera
We’ll meet in Matera for the trip briefing and to supply your bikes and GPS navigators.
Day 2: From Matera to Gioia del colle (35km)
Pedaling towards Alberobello, the first town you come across is Gioia del Colle, known for its mozzarella and its burrata: definitely worth a stop to sample these, as well as to visit its twelfth-century castle.
Day 3: From Gioia del colle to Alberobello (35 km)
Moving on from Gioia del Colle, you enter the Valle d’Itria, 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 off its lime-white roofs. In the afternoon, you’ll 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. Leaving Alberobello the first stop is Martina Franca. Less touristy than Alberobello, it has retained its own particular charm. The old town is surrounded by stone walls with baroque gateways, leading to the main square. You can visit the Ducal Palace or taste the famous capocollo of Martina Franca, a Slow Food Presidium.
Leaving behind Martina Franca you will 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. Moving from Locorotondo, crossing vineyards dotted with trulli, you will find yourself back in Alberobello.
Day 5: From Alberobello to Avetrana (80 km)
The longest section of the trip will take you up to Avetrana, 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’ll travel 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’ll 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’. Leaving Oria, and passing by Erchie, you’ll have your overnight stay at a farm in the countryside of Avetrana (or in a B&B).
Day 6: The surroundings of Avetrana (35 km)
The journey to discover the surroundings of Avetrana will take you towards the sea, the long seaside bordered by the dunes of Torre Colimena, where you will have the chance to visit the Salina dei Monaci and also, if you like, do some birdwatching. Cycling along the coast heading north, you will 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. From San Pietro in Bevagna you’ll head to Manduria where you can visit an ancient archaeological site of the Messapica era and the Primitivo Museum (primitivo is a high-alcohol red wine). You’ll return to Avetrana in the afternoon.
Day 7: From Avetrana to Lecce (52 km)
On this, the final day, you’ll head towards the ‘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’ll go through a few small villages where, all year round, you’ll find the squares filled with elderly residents, hats pulled down against the sun, discussing politics and agriculture, and it seems that time has stood still. Later in the afternoon you’ll reach your destination, the City of Lecce.
Day 8: Departure from Lecce
Cost per person: 600€
Rental bike (trekking 21 gears): 70€
Optional e-bike rental: 160€
Single supplement: 140€
Upgrade 4**** hotel: 140€
Extra night in Lecce or Matera: 45€
- 7 overnights stays in farmhouse, 3/4*** hotels or B&B;
- 7 breakfast;
- 2 tastings with wine, cheese and local products;
- Baggage transportation
- GPS guide with tracks included;
- Road book with cultural information and tips about the route;
- Assistance h24 based on local company with english speaker.
Departure every Sundays: From 24/03/2019 to 23/06/2019 and from 04/09/2019 to 03/11/2019
Any other days on request.