From: $1,490 USD
Fascinating Puglia and Basilicata are located in southeastern Italy in the heel of the country’s boot and offer extraordinary variety and beauty. The region is relatively unspoiled, breathtakingly beautiful, and rich with archaeological sites that harken back to the region’s strategic importance to the ancient Romans and Greeks. White washed villages are nestled against the hillside vineyards, and olive groves and wheat fields decorate the valleys. Puglia is Italy’s largest producer of vegetables, olive oil, and wine. Fresh ingredients and legendary cooking skills combine to provide visitors with a first class culinary experience. Your tour will begin with the Sassi of Matera in Basilicata, old dwellings and rock churches carved centuries ago out of the steep cliffs. Today Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site. From Matera, you’ll bike through the Itria Valley, also called the Valley of the Trulli, where you’ll find thousands of “trulli,” limestone dwellings that are the architectural icon of Puglia. You’ll cycle on to unique Alberobello in Puglia, capital of the trulli and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. From here you’ll pedal to Martina Franca, a real Baroque gem. All around is an explosion of color, olive trees, and ancient farmhouses. Next you’ll visit Castellaneta and its beautiful beaches on the Ionian Sea, then circle back to the mysterious land of Basilicata, through the rolling hills of the Bradano Valley and past the Lake of San Giuliano, then back to Matera. You’ll certainly enjoy your stay in this fascinating and picturesque region, well known for the hospitality of its friendly people. Puglia’s warm, dry Mediterranean climate is ideal for walking and biking in spring and fall.
Your tour begins in Bari Airport with a transfer to Matera, where you can settle into your first hotel. In the afternoon you’ll explore the ancient district of Matera to view the sassi, one gigantic sculpture carved out of the rock along the side of the ravine. It’s a labyrinth of winding streets, neighborhoods, squares, caves, and rock churches literally carved from the stone cliffs. The town has a unique legacy of 100 rock-hewn churches, whose magnificent Greek and Byzantine frescoes were inspired by the mysticism of solitary monks. Additional interesting sites are all conveniently located in the medieval and Renaissance parts of Matera, between the two sections making up the rock town. There’s the unfinished 15th century castle, the D’Errico Gallery of Neapolitan Art in Palazzo Lanfranchi, the three churches of Purgatory, St. Francis of Assisi, S. Lucia and Materdomini, and the cathedral, one of the last buildings erected in the Apulian-Romanesque style and overlooking the two valleys of the Sassi. On your guided tour you’ll see a typically furnished old cave-dwelling that shows how the population lived here only 50 years ago, and explore various crypts and underground churches. At night, Matera becomes particularly fascinating – which is why your first hotel is located in the historic center.
This morning you’ll start with your bicycle fitting and then depart for Alberobello. You’ll pass through the small villages of Gioia del Colle and Noci and view their characteristic white washed houses and narrow alleyways. Then you’ll pedal on to Alberobello, the capital town of trulli and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Your accommodation tonight is in the historical centre in a trullo dating from 1600, giving you a chance to visit the city.
Today you will choose between two different cycling loops:
Cycle Option no. 1: Approx. 28 miles (45 km)
The Itria Valley loop, which will bring you to Locorotondo and Cisternino, two of the whitewashed villages in the valley. You’ll return back to Alberobello for an overnight stay in your trullo.
Cycle Option no. 2: Approx. 25 miles (40 km)
This loop will take you on a trip to the underground world of the Castellana Caves.
Today you’ll leave Alberobello and head south to the Ionian Sea in Puglia’s Taranto province, cycling along deserted roads among olive trees and vineyards. You’ll pass through the “Land of the Ravines” and by the small villages of Mottola and Palagianello. The ravines are deep precipices, often more than 100 meters deep, similar to canyons. This is a unique area with the olive tree as a symbol of a land “poor but generous” that is “kissed by the sun and washed by the sea.” You’ll stay overnight in a farm along the Bradano River.
Today you’ll bike through some of the most fertile land in the Bradano River Valley among vineyards and orange trees. On your way you will climb up to Montescaglioso, initially developed around the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo (1079). You’ll take time to visit the abbey, rich in beautiful frescoes, and stroll in the small streets. After your visit you will glide down into the valley and overnight at a holiday farm specializing in vegetable production. On the farm of over 500 acres along the banks of the Bradano River, the owners grow organic wheat, maize, tomato, eggplant, artichoke, olives, and various fruit. Here you can relax in the swimming pool before dinner and take in the peaceful surroundings before your delectable meal. Or, today you might prefer to visit the sea. It’s 14 kilometers to the Ionian Sea from Ginosa and you could avoid the climb up the Montescaglioso hill, making it a really easy day of biking.
Today you’ll have more time to enjoy the swimming pool and read that book that you brought along, or you can choose from two optional circular bike rides:
Cycle Option no. 1: The Ancient Via Appia – 22 miles (35 km)
Riding along the ancient “Via Appia” (an old Roman road), you will pass through the charming village of Miglionico, with a nice view over the valley. Here you can visit the massive “Castle of the Bad Council”, built in the 9th century and enlarged in the 15th century to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore where you’ll find a painting by Tintoretto.
Cycle Option no. 2: San Giuliano Lake and the Matera hills – 25 miles (40 km)
This route will take you along the wonderful deserted road around the San Giuliano Lake, a peaceful nature sanctuary and the destination of many migratory birds from Africa. You can take some time to enjoy bird watching, spotting grey herons, cormorants, storks, and fish hawks. You could also choose to stop at the Crypt of Original Sin (with the oldest frescoes in the area).
Today you’ll bike back to Matera along the edge of the “Park of Rock Churches.” Here you’ll find crude and barren rocks with low-lying vegetation and scrub, deep and winding ravines, and over 150 rock cliff churches that give testimony to the diffusion of religion in the countryside. You’ll leave your bike to reach the Gravina Canyon by foot and picnic here in the caves of Cristo La Selva, an outstanding and intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region that was perfectly adapted to its environment. Later you’ll cycle on to your hotel in Matera. Your afternoon will be free for sightseeing and some final shopping before your farewell dinner together.
Your tour ends after breakfast with transport back to the airport in Bari.
Green = Open | Yellow = Limited | Red = Full
Prices are per person in US Dollars – inclusive bike rental
This tour can be guided upon request
Choose your own starting date
The accommodations listed below are examples of those usually used on the tour. Depending on availability, you may be booked in a different accommodation of equal quality.
27-speed Veloville hybrid bikes are included in the price of the tour. Bicycles come equipped with grip shifters, helmets, panniers, cage and water bottle, and a bike computer.
We have a few bike upgrades available on this tour. Here are the supplemental prices (per tour):
Electric bike: $110
Road bikes: $110
BH Gravel, Merida, Scott
Carbon road bikes: $160
BH Quartz 105, BH Fusion Dis