This is a beautiful self-guided cycling trip through the region of Puglia, Italy, which lies in the heel of the boot, along the sun-drenched Adriatic Sea. Puglia offers access to the freshest seafood, crowd-free open spaces, irresistible desserts and pastries, distinct wines, and the 50 million olive trees that make Puglia the world’s leading producer of olive oil. Our exceptional cycling routes pass through fishing villages, country lanes, ancient olive groves and vineyards, hidden coves and golden beaches. A real highlight is a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello with its ancient trulli houses.
2017 Price: €1200 Euros per person, double occupancy
Single Supplement: €300 Euros
International flights, restaurant lunches, airport transfers, beverages, bike rentals (you may choose to bring your own bike or rent a hybrid bike rental/ €120 euros.)
This tour is rated easy to moderate difficulty over rolling terrain. There are a couple days that have longer options and we will provide transfers so that you can expect 35 – 65 km of riding each day.
This self-guided tour is a fully organized vacation for the independent traveler who wants the freedom to cycle at his or her own pace. You’ll have complete support behind the scenes. Our Italy representative will meet you at the beginning of your tour for an orientation. You will receive a packet with detailed route instructions, maps, suggestions for sites to visit along the route and emergency support phone numbers. You can take a spontaneous detour and always feel secure that your hotel room will be waiting for you. You may choose to bring your own bike or rent a bike. If you choose to rent a bike, our representative will bring the bikes to you on the first day. You will be able to travel at your own pace without a guide or support vehicle to hurry you along or to slow you down. Your luggage will be transported each day to the next accommodation, which will be reserved and prepaid. You don’t need to worry, as emergency support is just a phone call away.
We will meet you at the Polignano a Mare train station at a predetermined time. If you choose, we can provide optional shuttles from and to the Bari or Brindisi airport or train station for an additional fee. We will transfer you to your first accommodation and you will have a briefing and we will custom fit you to your bikes. We will provide you with exceptional maps and route notes to help you navigate your way along the countryside and find special hidden gems to stop, explore, and dine. Your lodging is in the beautiful cliff top town of Poligano a Mare. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening, but we recommend you take a stroll around town to sample the famous ice-cream and granite of Polignano!
For your first ride, you will embark on a charming route along stunning the Adriatic coastline from Polignano a Mare to the picturesque village of San Vito, with its multi-coloured boats moored up in the tiny port, You will continue through the olive groves to the sleepy, beautiful town of Conversano, set in the hills with its rambling alleyways and sun-baked piazza dominated by the Norman castle and Romanesque cathedral. Our journey then takes us up to Turi, the cherry capital of Southern Italy – if you are here in May you can enjoy an abundance of fresh ruby cherries to help you on your ride. To finish there is a gorgeous descent looking out across the Adriatic Sea and back into vibrant PolignanoWow, what a day!
Today, you will leave Polignano and climb to the stunning cave complex of Castellana Grotte. Tours in English are held at 11am and are well worth the time to see the intricate stalactites and stalacmites. From Castellana you pedal through rolling countryside savouring the sweet aroma of mint that grows by the roadside and stop to enjoy the little towns of Putignano and Noci, with their characteristic whitewashed houses and narrow alleyways. Our destination is Alberobello with its plethora of unique trulli houses, the most famous architectural symbol for which this region is known. Here your lodging for the night is in your very own trullo so you can enjoy the magical experience of sleeping under the iconic cones.
Before leaving Alberobello, take some time to taste a few local products or maybe visit the museo del territorio to discover the history of this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our cycling today takes us deep into the Itria Valley to visit stunning Locorotondo – nicknamed “città del vino” for its excellent dry white spumante (sparkling) wine made from local Verdeca grapes. Here in Locorotondo, meander the atmospheric alleyways bedecked with geraniums and citrus plants. Continue on to Martina Franca – a must-see town for its marvellously intact historic centre, beautiful Baroque architecture, and stunning palazzi; a jewel splendidly positioned on the hillside with wonderful panoramic views across the Itria Valley. From here we head to Ceglie Messapica, your home for the next two nights. This town is famed for its gastronomy and has a charming historical center that you are bound to in love with! Dinner included.
Today you embark on a circular bike ride to Carovigno and the famous “White City” of Ostuni. This ride will take you along rolling country roads lined with ancient stone walls within the fertile Itria Valley. Along the ride, we recommend you stop at the sanctuary of St. Maria del Belvedere, a beautiful historic landmark that must be viewed. When you arrive in Ostuni you can explore the beautiful white cobbles of the old town and enjoy a delicious lunch in one of the town’s many excellent restaurants. Don’t leave without visiting the elegant 14th century Cathedral! From Ostuni we ride back to Ceglie Messapica, where your rich day will surely be rewarded with a final night’s rest at the Masseria.
As you progress to Cisternino, one of the most lovely and chic hilltop towns in Puglia, you will soak in sweeping views of the Itria Valley below and see firsthand why this town is starting to gain some serious international repute. After progressing over some rolling hills to the edge of the plateau, you will enjoy panoramic views of the Adriatic coastline and the lower fertile plains. From here we head through the tiny towns until we reach the outskirts of Monopoli and your accommodation for the night, the family owned Tenuta Chianchizza. A further optional loop takes you back to the coast and to the fascinating Bronze Age and Roman Ruins of Egnazia.
After breakfast, you will depart for your flight home or next destination.
You can expect a spirited mix of singles and couples in their 20′s to 80′s from all corners of the US and a few international locations as well. Many have accompanied us on numerous tours in the past. Most folks are recreational riders and all seem to share the common bond of an active lifestyle, an appreciation for the outdoors and a love for fun. We will gladly supply references and the make-up of any trip that you are interested in joining.
This trip begins in Matera and ends in Lecce. Bari is the closest airport to the start of the tour and Brindisi is the closest airport to the end of the tour. Ryan Air and Alitalia have economical flights from Rome to Bari and from Brindisi back to Rome throughout the day. Both Bari and Brindisi are easily accessible by trains. Getting from Matera to Bari at the beginning of the tour: There is a direct bus that departs the Bari Airport several times a day to Matera. The bus departs the airport at 9:15, 14:40, 15:45 and 19:15 and takes a little more than an hour. We suggest purchasing tickets online: Puglia bus. There is also a local train that departs Bari for Matera throughout the day. There are local trains from Lecce to Brindisi or Bari and there is a van shuttle from Lecce to the Brindisi Airport for about 20 euros – http://www.airshuttle.it/tariffe_eng.asp
Check out European Train Schedules. If you are bringing a bike on the train, you will need to ask at the train station which trains have space for your bike box. You do not need to make advance train reservations.
This region of Italy offers excellent cuisine and wines. You’ll enjoy meals prepared with the freshest ingredients of spices, olive oil, meats, fish and vegetables. You will be staying in hotels and inns that serve gourmet meals with enough variety to please everyone. As per the itinerary, breakfasts and dinners and picnic lunches are included. Vegetarian and other dietary restrictions can usually be accommodated with advanced notice.
Weather can be changeable, so be prepared for riding in both sun and showers. Daytime temperatures are 60º to 75º F. and nights are 45º to 55º F. There is always the chance of rain, so to ensure your personal comfort please make sure you have a good quality rain jacket with a hood and rain pants, too. For the sunny days, we recommend using SPF 30 sunscreen and lip screen. If you are really sun sensitive, we suggest sun-blocking clothing.
We rent good quality hybrid bikes with a handlebar bag, a water bottle cage and flat pedals. If you ride clipless pedals, bring your own pedals that match your cleats in your shoes. If you are attached to your own saddle, you should consider bringing it without the seatpost. Road bike rentals are also available.
Whether you shoot a digital or film camera, bring more media storage cards or film than you think you need! A portable hard drive may be the answer for digital storage. Other useful items are plenty of extra batteries, lens cleaner, lens tissue, lens brush, a mini tabletop tripod and a clean toothbrush to remove grit from your camera.
You do not need to be able to speak Italian, but it can be lots of fun, and our bilingual guide can always help you with the finer points of the language. A small dictionary and some creative sign language are helpful, and many people at airports and hotels speak English.
The currency of Italy is the Euro. You will need Euros for beverages, shopping, snacks, and tips for the Italian guide. We suggest starting with a minimum of $250US (more if you like to shop and sample the local wine and ice cream).
On the tour: we suggest $125 per guest to cover our local guide and various service people at the lodges during the tour. On your own: most restaurants include a service charge, but an additional 5-10% for exceptional service is always appreciated. We suggest a small amount for baggage and taxi service.
US CASH: bring only NEW bills with NO tears. You can exchange money at the airport and in major towns. CREDIT CARDS: bring 2 or more Visa or Master Cards in case you have trouble with one. There are ATMs in most of the towns on the tour. To use your Credit Card to get Euros at an ATM, each Credit Card will need a PIN#. Be sure to activate the PIN# and check that it works BEFORE you begin your travels. We also suggest contacting your credit card company prior to your trip to inform them of the countries where you will be traveling and the dates. We do not recommend bringing Travelers Checks because some places do not accept them, exchange rates vary widely and they require a bank to exchange them.
U.S. citizens must have a current Passport to enter Italy. Make sure your PASSPORT DOES NOT EXPIRE WITHIN 6 MONTHS OF THE COMPLETION OF YOUR TOUR. These requirements do vary from country to country, but just to be safe, we recommend going by the 6 month standard, because it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to international travel!
Make copies of your passport! We recommend making 2 photocopies of your passport’s photo page and any other valuable documents you might carry with you on the tour. Travel with one copy stored separately from your passport. Leave the other copy at home with a relative or friend (ideally the same person you gave as your emergency contact). In the event that any of your documents are lost or stolen, this will greatly assist the process of replacement.
Let us know if you would like us to make additional hotel reservations for you.
Nichols Expeditions is not responsible for any costs you may incur due to delays with transportation (airline or other), weather, road conditions, government intervention, sickness or other contingencies we are unable to control. For international flights, arrive at least 2-3 hours prior to departure (check with your air carrier for their requirements) and allow ample time between connecting flights. If you miss your flight and you need a special shuttle to meet up with the group, you will be responsible for the cost.
To protect yourself against life’s uncertainties, we highly recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy!
Apulia (Italian: Puglia) is a region of Italy in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its southernmost portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises 19,345 square kilometers (7,469 sq mi), and its population is about 4.1 million. It is bordered by the other Italian regions of Molise to the north, Campania to the west, and Basilicata to the southwest. It neighbors Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, and Montenegro, across the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The region extends as far north as Monte Gargano. Its capital city is Bari. ~ Wikipedia