Here is Matera, one of the oldest cities in the world. It has about 10000 years of history and many things to tell: tomorrow you'll start your journey by road bike, today take the time to discover Matera. Overnight in the UNESCO Heritage City.
Matera to Alberobello - distance 75km
Take the essentials for the day with you and get on the saddle: you'll find your luggage directly in Alberobello. From Matera's cave dwellings, the descent quickly catapults you into the agricultural scenery that frames it. And watch out for the lesser kestrel: it is not uncommon to see it observing the immense cultivated fields and then gliding over its prey.
From the border with Puglia, the landscape becomes greener and greener, and after a while you enter Gioia del Colle, famous for its mozzarella, a little less for its excellent Primitivo, and for being the birthplace of Sylvester Stallone's grandparents! A few busy roads alternating with quiet secondary roads lead to the surroundings of Putignano, whose Carnival has more than 600 editions, and which you can visit ... facing the climb. From here the typical ups and downs of the Land of the Trulli will entertain you before your entry into the fairytale Alberobello. Tasting and overnight stay among the trulli.
Cycling to Manduria - distance 75km
The morning starts great pedaling in the enchanting Itria Valley, full of beautiful itineraries for racing bikes. The ancient trulli will give you an idea of the history of these places and, when you no longer see them, you'll understand that you are close to the white Ostuni, whose height marks the end of the southern Murge and opens onto the flat Salento plateau. Today the final destination is Manduria, known as the City of the "Messapi", one of the first populations of Salento. You'll get there pedaling among olive groves and vineyards of Primitivo. And invigorated by a nice glass of wine, you can go around to discover the testimonies of its ancient past, visiting the Archaeological Park or taking a walk in its old town looking for, among Renaissance and Baroque palaces and churches, the small synagogue of Giudecca of the past. Overnight in the Primitivo Wine City.
The Ionian coast of Puglia by bike - distance 70km
Today start your tour of Salento by road bike and the sea will be your inseparable travel companion. From Manduria pedal south towards the Ionian coast and the most beautiful sandy beaches of Puglia. Take a small detour to the Saltworks of Torre Colimena to see, with a little luck, the pink flamingos at rest during their migration. Quadrangular coastal towers make the landscape postcard-perfect, and often have small towns around them, such as the tourist Porto Cesareo.
You'll lose sight of the sea along Porto Selvaggio and the Palude del Capitano, a portion of coast about 8km long that preserves unique landscapes and archaeological discoveries, protected from building speculation thanks in particular to the commitment of the politician Renata Fonte, paid for with her own life. Take a dip in the splendid Santa Maria al Bagno and look for your restaurant for a well-deserved "spaghetti with mussels with sea view". Overnight in Gallipoli.
One day in Gallipoli
Enjoy this relaxing day in the "pearl of the Ionian Sea". Gallipoli offers many opportunities for entertainment: in the new part of the town you can indulge in shopping, but if you prefer a more authentic atmosphere, stay in the old town. The imposing Angevin-Aragonese Castle welcomes you after passing the bridge of the '600 and its twelve arches. Inside, a maze of narrow streets reveals a surprising Baroque on the ancient palaces, in the squares and on the facades of the many churches.
Consecrated churches and churches suppressed by bishop's decree describe the religious history of the town, animated by the confraternities that, still today, involve the faithful and the curious especially during the great recurrences such as Holy Week. Find the Antica Farmacia Provenzano to take a small step into the past. And then, of course, there are the beaches of Gallipoli, which can be reached by bike, such as the pristine Punta Pizzo, or even on foot, such as the convenient Purità Beach on the edge of the old town, under the church of the same name with its colorful majolica panels.
Gallipoli to Santa Cesarea Terme via Leuca - distance 90km
Today there is a few more kilometers for you and your racing bikes, but you'll ride the most beautiful coastline in southern Puglia ... it will be pure joy! The route begins flat after Gallipoli, so you will "fly" in a short time towards the finis terrae of this corner of the world, the Cape of Leuca, land of legends and blessings. You will pass from Punta Ristola to Punta Meliso, born from the compassion of the Goddess Minerva towards two young lovers swallowed by the waves because of a jealous siren, and from the Sanctuary, called by Christians the Door to Heaven.
If you want to explore the coast and the sea caves of Leuca more closely, a short boat trip is ideal, if the sea permits. From here, the last and exciting stretch of the Otranto-Leuca coastline will inebriate you with wonder at every up and down, skimming over breathtaking bays and enchanting villages, such as Castro, recounted by Virgil as the port where Aeneas landed during his escape from Troy. As evidence of this, there is the recent discovery of the trunk of an ancient sculpture dedicated to the goddess Minerva. Overnight and dinner in Santa Cesarea Terme.
Santa Cesarea to Lecce via Otranto - distance 70km
After breakfast start with a slight and inexorable climb ... and then off from curve to curve. Your road bike takes you in a short time to the legendary Porto Badisco with the even more legendary Bar da Carlo, which has something for everyone: get energy from a nice coffee on ice with almond milk or, if the fishing stop allows it, from freshly caught sea urchins offered by local fishermen.
Pass the spectacular promontory of Sant’Emiliano and photograph Punta Palascìa and the easternmost lighthouse in Italy. From there you will soon be in Otranto and a stop here is a must: attacked by Turkish pirates in 1480, it jealously preserves its history in every corner, from the granite balls on the sides of the streets to the relics of the SS. 800 Martyrs. They are kept in the imposing cathedral, where you can't miss to admire the beautiful floor mosaic full of symbols and history.
Get back in the saddle, there is still a lot to see: the Alimini lakes, the stacks of Sant’Andrea, Roca Vecchia and the suggestive Grotta della Poesia.
Pass through the humid oasis of Le Cesine and the silent fortified village of Acaya before arriving in enchanting Lecce, the final destination of this beautiful road bike tour from Matera to the Heel of Italy.
Departure - Lecce
Departure day…..Time to say goodbye, a good flight back home or a pleasant stay in Italy. Transfers upon request