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Puglia by bike: between trulli, olive groves and delightful villages

Apulia by bike: nature is everywhere, with delightful villages, typical flavours and historic sites. Five itineraries to explore the entire Region

08 September 2022

4 minutes

From Gargano to Salento to Val d'Itria and cities of art. Apulia by bike: nature, delightful villages, typical flavours and historic sites. Passing by trulli, dry stone walls and thousand-year-old olive trees: five cycling itineraries of different levels of difficulty for in-depth exploration. A generous land which will also welcome stages of the Giro d'Italia.

1. A bike ride painted blue

A slow ride along the coast from Bari to Brindisi, between trulli, country vegetable gardens and bays lapped by crystal clear water, breathing the scent of the sea and centuries-old olive trees. We begin by visiting the marvels of the capital of Apulia. Then, following the Mola di Bari seafront, we come across enchanting places one after another, such as Polignano a Mare, with its historic centre on the promontory overlooking the sea, Monopoli with its promenade marked off by ancient walls, and Ostuni with its cluster of white houses. The destination is Brindisi, the so-called gateway to the East, a stop-over for Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. This itinerary is 136 km long, very easy-going and consequently suitable even for inexperienced cyclists.

2. Salento: sun, sea and wind

An itinerary from the hinterland down to the sea passing by Salento’s villages, Mediterranean scrub and rows of olive trees, a slow pedal as far as the heel of Italy and back again. Starting from Maglie, near Lecce, we set off along the Adriatic coast: don't miss a visit to Otranto, dawn at Punta Palascia where the sun rises spectacularly before anywhere else and swim in the crystal clear waters of Porto Badisco. On arriving at Santa Maria di Leuca, the extreme tip of the "heel" separating two seas, we along the Ionian shores to discover other pearls of Salento, such as Gallipoli and its historic centre on an island, Nardò and Galatina with their wealth of art, and then Castrignano with its Mediaeval heart. This 186 km long, easy-going itinerary is suitable for everyone.

3. From the sea into the countryside

The route unwinds for 100 km or so between some absolutely not-to-be-missed sites in Apulia, passing through rural landscapes with nature in full bloom and the scents of cherry and almond trees. Bari boasts a picturesque old town and its white promenade, the spectacular, evocative Castellana Caves, the Mediaeval vestiges of Conversano and the Norman tower of Rutigliano. We climb into the Murgia area as far as the hills of Putignano, the city famed for its Carnival, to end the trip between the characteristic trulli and alleys of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This medium-difficulty route is recommended for fit and well-trained cyclists.

4. The stone of the eternal cities

A cycle route of 130 km to discover the splendid Valle d'Itria, in the hinterland of Apulia, characterized by typical dry stone walls between olive trees built without mortar or cement, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The itinerary takes in delightful villages such as Alberobello, Locorotondo, Martina Franca and Cisternino - all included among the finest villages of Italy. Gourmet stop-offs include Altamura for its semolina bread, Terre del Primitivo for Primitivo di Manduria wine and Noci - known as the City of Wine & Gastronomy for its cuisine based on local produce. The trip comes to an end at the Cathedral of Ostuni, with a panoramic view of the sea and olive groves. The route is recommended for expert cyclists.

5. Sweet and sour nature

An itinerary of 233 km in the midst of the wild nature of Gargano with its National Park, between forests, cliffs and rock stacks. We pass through some of the most famous coastal towns, such as Manfredonia, Mattinata, Vieste, Peschici and Rodi Garganico characterized by the ancient "trabucchi" fishing installations, as far as Lake Varano. There are also several sites of Christian faith, such as the Church of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, the Convent of San Matteo in San Marco in Lamis, and the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Monte Sant'Angelo. A detour into the Umbra Forest is highly recommended - an authentic green and fresh air location whose Old Beechwoods are another UNESCO World Heritage Site - as well as a trip to the Tremiti Islands. The route is challenging and therefore best suited to experienced cyclists.

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