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. Materas 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
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 towns famous UNESCO cave-dwelling district and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this enchanting city.
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).
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).
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).
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).
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 pointin Italy. Before dinner there will be time at leisure to explore the towns 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).
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, areal 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).
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.
About the operator
It's all about adventure That is what Exodus was founded upon over 45 years ago, and what the company is still all about. Discovering countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles; exploring this amazing planet we all live on. At Exodus, we know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, we always remember that we are only guests. So we travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise our impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.