Puglia by bike from Lecce
Here is a cultural and gastronomic bike trip to the south of Italy. Explore Puglia by bike and let yourself be swept away by its picturesque beauty. Large olive groves, grain fields and vineyards dot this sunny route.
You are on the heel of the Italian boot, between the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea. This Italian region has beautiful whitewashed towns in the hills and offers miles of Mediterranean coastline.
Your Apulian cycling holiday begins in Lecce, nicknamed the “Florence of the south” in the Salento region.
Highlights of the stay:
- Lecce and its architectural wealth
- Otranto, beautiful fortified city
- The coasts of the Ionian Sea
- Santa Maria di Leuca
- picturesque villages
Day 1: Lecce
Arrival in Lecce in Italy, welcome and collection of bikes at the meeting point or at the first hotel.
Lecce is located in the Salento region, it is a city of great cultural and architectural wealth with more than 40 palaces and churches to be discovered.
The essentials of the city:
- Lecce cathedral
- Piazza Sant'Oronzo
- the three city gates.
Day 2: Lecce - Otranto / 58 km
Your cycling trip in Puglia begins with a flat route, of great cultural and natural richness.
You visit the fortified city and the castle of Acaya, dating from the 16th century, before heading down to the Le Cesine nature reserve, which hosts many species of migratory birds.
Tasting of the sea in San Foca for lunch. You cycle along the Adriatic coast to reach the Alimini Lakes and its magnificent beaches. On your way, you can see the Bronze Age ruins of Roca Vecchia and the town of Otranto.
You can see wonders in every corner of the narrow streets such as the frescoes of the Byzantine Church of S. Pietro, the Cathedral and its mosaic floor and the promenade on the bastions with breathtaking views of the sea.
Day 3: Otranto and its surroundings
This day is dedicated to the exploration of the lands of Otranto. You walk along the small river "Idro" ("water"), which gave its name to the city before joining Casamassella.
You can learn more about the old trades still practiced today by visiting the “Le Costantine” foundation.
After a guided tour, you will pass through the megalithic garden of Giurdignano to observe its dolmens and menhirs from the Bronze Age up close. Mandatory stopover at “La Cutura” botanical garden where “Totò” will show us its incredible collection of plant species from all over the world.
It is a unique place in Europe for its cactus species.
For lunch, you will taste typical products cooked in a characteristic stone oven, accompanied by local wines.
Return to Otranto where you can go shopping or reach a beach near the town or take a horseback ride along the cliffs at sunset (suitable for beginners).
Day 4: The coast of Salento, from Otranto to Leuca
Cycling route along the wildest coasts of Salento to the Punta Palascìa lighthouse. You will be able to see a singular small lake emerging in an abandoned bauxite quarry. You continue along the coastal road over the cliff.
From here looking at the horizon one can see, in the clearest mornings, the mountains of Albania and the nearest Greek islands.
Then visit the Zinzulusa cave which penetrates up to about 200 meters into the bowels of the earth.
Along the way you can admire the terraced crops. Before arriving in Leuca, you cross the Canalone del Ciolo, a small canyon hollowed out by water and characterized by the richness of its flora.
In the evening, you join Santa Maria di Leuca to visit the sanctuary, in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims.
Day 5: Gallipoli and the Ionian coast
Your Apulia cycling trip continues along the western coast of Salento, characterized by great beaches and crystal clear water. After a few kilometers you will find the countryside again and drive through olive groves and along dry stone walls.
You join a farm for a cooking class. You will learn how to make handmade pasta and taste organic and local products. Then you will take the road towards Gallipoli where an aperitif awaits you.
Located on an island, this small fishing village is very bright with its alleys and its fish market. After a delicious ice cream, you will reach the Church of San Mauro: one of the hidden treasures of this country, which has preserved ancient Byzantine frescoes.
Enjoying the sunset you will drive towards Santa Caterina, a quiet village on the borders of the Porto Selvaggio natural park.
In the afternoon you can take a kayak trip (optional) in the park of Porto Selvaggio.
Day 6: Gallipoli and its surroundings
Discover the surroundings of Gallipoli with a first stop in Sannicola to discover its underground oil press. Then direction Tuglie, where there is a beautiful museum of peasant culture. Then you will cross Neviano, to visit the ruins of Macugno Abbey, then Cutrofiano and its fossil park.
Organic lunch at the "Piccapane" farmhouse where Giuseppe will cook the vegetables picked by you! In the afternoon, arrive in Galatina where you can admire the Church of Santa Caterina, whose walls are completely covered with frescoes in the Giotto style.
Your day continues with a visit to the magnificent historic city center. Later you can see the "Santi Dimitri" vineyard and discover the secrets of oil and wine production ... followed by a wine and cheese tasting, of course!
Day 7: return to Lecce
Last day of your cycling trip in Puglia and return to Lecce admiring the many "masserie" (old fortified buildings used as farms) and the 19th century villas characteristic of the region.
You will reach Nardò and its historic baroque-style center. Your route to Lecce passes through an area of very rich vineyards in the province. You will stop at Copertino to discover its castle of Norman origin.
Before reaching Lecce, you can visit the traditional terracotta workshop of the Martina Brothers, skillful guardians of this traditional art.
At the end of the afternoon, you will enjoy dinner in one of the best restaurants in the city of Lecce.
Day 8: End of the cycling trip in southern Italy
Your stay in Puglia ends after a guided tour of the city of Lecce.