Known as the 'heel' of Italy by foreigners and a cozy town in Apulia by Italians, Salento is a magnificent place that divides the Adriatic from the Ionian sea. It also dates back to thousands of years ago where it was populated by different people and therefore combines a high concentration of many cultures. That is why Salento is worth exploring - and not just exploring - but getting to see it seated on a bicycle.
The truth is, Salento is an open-air museum because of its magnificent sights. Rupestian crypts, fortified castles and Baroque churches are all part of the fun you will see with your bicycle and friends. The more luxurious part of this tour is reserved for your hotel stays and restaurant visits where you will be able to also taste this part of Italy and relax while exploring the Apulian culture.
Day 01: Bari Arrival - Lecce | Welcome to Apulia! Upon arrival at Bari airport please proceed to collect your luggage inside the customs area. Meet your driver and transfer to Lecce. Rest of the Day at Leisure. Overnight in Lecce.
Day 02: Lecce | Breakfast at the Hotel. Meet guide in the lobby for a Private Walking Guided Tour of Lecce, Salento most important city, so reach in masterpieces of art. The local sandstone, tinged a warm pink, is so easy to work with that it fostered the rise of a local style (barocco leccese) as ornate and intricate as any the world has seen. More than the architects, it was the local stone masons who left their mark on this city, crowding its buildings with fanciful cherubs, monsters, flowers, fruits, beauties and beasts. Lunch and afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Lecce.
Day 03: Lecce - Otranto | Breakfast at the Hotel. This morning you will start your bicycle tour of Salento. Meet your Bicycle Tour Guide who will accompany you for the entire Tour. All equipment and transportation of Luggage will be provided. Start the Tour with a flat route, with many interesting cultural and naturalistic sights. First we visit Acaya – a fortified city with a huge castle -and then we plunge down to “Le Cesine” – a WWF protected area, crossing point for many species of migratory birds. Seafood Tasting in San Foca . From there we head to the coast, along the ruins of Roca Vecchia – an ancient Bronze age city – and ‘Alimini’ Lakes. Some more kilometers and we are in Otranto, where narrow streets reveal wonders at every corner: the San Peter church Byzantine frescoes, a walk along the ramparts overlooking the sea and finally the cathedral with his paved mosaic, a sort of figurative Middle Age encyclopedia. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Otranto.
Day 04: Otranto's surroundings | Breakfast at the Hotel. Exploring Otranto's surroundings. Ride along the little river “Idro” (“water”), which gave its name to the city, you arrive in Casamassela, where ancient looms are still being used nowadays at “le Costantine” foundation. After a guided tour you move towards Giurdignano, crossing a Bronze age megalithic containing huge stones (“dolmen” and “menhir”), and you arrive at “La Cutura” botanic garden. Here ‘Toto’ will lead you through his incredible plants collection, unique in Europe for its cactus species. As an option you can have lunch in the house restaurant. In the afternoon, you can visit a characteristic stone-made oven before enjoying a wine and cheese tasting in a wine cellar. Then you go back to Otranto and optional horse ride along the cliffs at sunset, suitable for beginners and you are free to enjoy your dinner in the historical center. Overnight in Otranto.
Day 05: Otranto-Leuca coast | Breakfast at the Hotel. Today you cycle along the wildest Salento coastal stretch, on route to your Hotel in Santa Maria di Leuca. You visit ‘Palacìa’ lighthouse (far east point of Italy) and a little red lake surfaced in a disused bauxite quarry. After a little stop in a fresh cheese farm, for a sampling, you carry on riding along the coast: nestled among the cliffs above the sea, this road is a huge balcony that looks onto Otranto Strait. With a little bit of luck you will able to see the mountains of Albania and Greece. You visit ‘Zinzulusa’ cave, going down nearly 200 feet into the earth bowels. On the way we admire some terraces and dry walls, the ingenious devices of peasants to get arable land in barren and impervious areas. After crossing the bridge over the “ciolo” (a small and rich in rare flora canyon carved by the waters,) you reach Santa Maria di Leuca where you visit the sanctuary, following the ancient pilgrims footsteps. Short trekking along a cliff path is available. Overnight in an amazing Hotel facing Leuca seafront with seafood dinner included. Overnight in Santa Maria di Leuca.
Day 06: Cape Leuca's treasure | Breakfast at the Hotel. Little cycle route discovering Leuca Cape, the southern part of Apulia. After an astonishing defense tower - situated in the centre of a small village - it is time to visit an ancient mill, dug into the rock, and then an enigmatic funerary monument made by big stones (its name “centopietre”, means “hundred stones”), coming from Vereto, an ancient pre-romanic town situated nearby. Finally we visit Leuca piccola ('little Leuca'), an important pilgrimage station which still maintains a vast undergound area. At the end of the morning sailing boat excursion, discovering the most beautiful corners and caves of the coast, with lunch served onboard. Return to the port in late afternoon and free evening in Leuca. Overnight in Santa Maria di Leuca.
Day 07: Ionic coast and Gallipoli | Breakfast at the Hotel. You start riding up the west coast of Salento, where rock give way to wide beaches with cristal clear water. After some km you go through the countryside, in a area called “fani”, for an energetic tasting of tipical products in “Agriturismo Sarruni”, a organic farm. Here the countryside is peppered with secular olive trees and dry stone constructions – some of them of arabic inspiration. You arrive to Gallipoli: located on an island, this small fisherman village is striking by its light, its alleys and its fish market. After a delicious ice cream, you ride again toward the San Mauro church: one of the hidden treasure of this country, hosting an ancient Byzantine frescoes cycle. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Gallipoli.
Day 08: Gallipoli' s surroundings | Breakfast at the Hotel. This is a day dedicated to Gallipoli's surroundings. Your first stop is in Sannicola to discover its underground oil mill, then Tuglie with its amazing “rural culture museum”. Then you ride through Neviano, to visit the ruins of Macugno abbey, and then Cutrofiano, where you can step in the “fossil park. There, an option can be to have lunch at “Piccapane” organic farm house, where Giuseppe will cook the vegetables you will have picked yourself! In the afternoon you reach Galatina where you can contemplate the church of Santa Caterina, totally painted with frescoes, in Giottesco style, and then visit the beautiful historical town centre. Later, you stop in the vinery “Santi Dimitri”, to discover the secrets of oil and wine making…followed by a wine and cheese tasting, of course! Before dinner, cookery class to learn how to make homemade pasta. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Gallipoli.
Day 09: Gallipoli - Lecce | Breakfast at the Hotel. On the last day of our trip, we will admire many XIX century fortified farmhouse and villas that we will meet on the way back to Lecce. We will stop in Nardò to visit its decadent baroque style historical center. Next stop will be in Copertino to discover its impressive Norman castle and listen to stories about Saint Joseph of Cupertino, “the saint of flights”. Some km before Lecce, last stop at a handcraft traditional pottery, at the Martina brothers’, skillful keepers of this ancient art. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Lecce.
- 3 nights Lecce
- 2 nights Otranto
- 2 night Santa Maria
- 2 nights Gallipoli
- Private excursions by
car and English speaking driver as per program
- Equipment provided
- Details up on request
Prices in Euro
4* Boutique Hotels
€5985 per person