Bordered on two sides by the Ionian and Adriatic seas, Puglia is a long sliver of land that stretches along Italy’s heel. Within this region, you'll find some of the best riding in all of Italy winding through tranquil backroads. All around, fertile fields and orchards yield the delectable ingredients that form the foundation of traditional dishes. The countryside is also rich in history, with the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans and many others leaving their mark.
Starting in Alberobello, the trulli region, you'll be captivated by clusters of fantastic conical dwellings surrounded by enormous, gnarled olive trees. Spicy handmade orecchiette, bruschetta covered with juicy tomatoes, roasted red peppers and grilled calamari satisfy our palates. Warm hospitality and friendly conversation greet us at every turn.
From Alberobello, we ride among olive groves, fig trees, blooming cacti, and aromatic herb gardens that fill our cycling routes with delightful fragrances. Through the Valle D’Itria we reach another gem in Puglia’s countryside: Locorotondo.
Between Fasano and the plain of Ostuni, we'll ride the "Valley of the Giants," a place known for its millennia-old olive trees that date back to pre-Roman times and are of exceptional dimensions. Our grand finale is on the Adriatic Coast in picturesque Polignano a Mare, once a fishing village and now a lovely seaside resort town famous for its dramatic vistas of limestone cliffs and whitewashed houses, as well as for its gelato.
While many regions of Italy boast of having the “the best food,” Puglia could humbly claim this title due to the use of simple preparations that allow the true flavors of the food to stand out. Slow Food has over 300 chapters here (called Presidi) to protect biodiversity and traditional production.
Not sure if you can do it? Contact us to schedule a call about how demanding the rides are. E-bikes available.
Charming Polignano a Mare
Spectacular fields of ancient olive trees and a visit to an olive oil producer
Cucina povera and the Mediterranean Diet
Beautiful countryside riding among the groves and
Two nights at a 5-star Masseria country resort
Alberobello loop - 18 miles - warm-up ride
Our tour starts with a shuttle from the Bari airport to Alberobello. Once there we'll have an overview of the tour and introductions over lunch. Next, we’ll take care of bike fitting before our first ride through a fantasy land of trulli via tiny roads that roll through lush farmland.
Before dinner, we will gather for a walking tour of Alberobello with a local guide. The origins of trulli architecture used to be debated. Now we have a fairly good idea of the why and the how of trulli and you’ll find out, too.
Dinner is at l’Aratro where Chef Domenico Laera will present a selection of traditional dishes. Domenico was the first one in town to serve what was local and in season, buying into the Slow Food philosophy early on while other restaurateurs were still catching up after the sudden popularity of Alberobello after it became a UNESCO site. Rediscovering ancient - almost lost - ingredients and recipes is what Domenico’s cuisine is all about.
Welcome to Puglia!
Alberobello - Locorotondo loop - 26 miles - Rolling
We continue our tour with a delightful ride, allowing you to explore the charming Valle d'Itria, amidst a backdrop of ancient olive groves and enduring dry-stone walls.
You will have a first stop and the chance to join the locals for a stroll in charming Locorotondo. This whitewashed gem is one of our favorite southern Italian towns and lends its name to a delightful white wine, a blend of local grape varieties. As you pedal through the scenic landscape, you'll pass by numerous vineyards punctuated by clusters of trulli, adding to the region's rustic charm.
We then dive deeper into the heart of rural Puglia, away from the hustle and bustle of Alberobello. The return route is via tiny country roads and it crosses the Selva di Alberobello Natural Preserve where your guides will set up a picnic lunch. We suggest that you try the legendary local mozzarella and burrata!
A few words about our “hotel” which is as unique as the town itself. The rooms (your own trullo apartments) are scattered throughout the Rione Monti quarter in what is called an albergo diffuso (scattered hotel). This authentic approach is less intrusive than a conventional hotel structure and allows you to bask in the genuine charm of a trullo, an experience no star-rated hotel can replicate.
Back in Alberobello, you’ll have free time to explore this magical city on your own.
Alberobello - Savelletri - 24 miles - Rolling
Today’s ride starts with a hill climb to the Selva di Fasano ridge until we reach a lookout point where we'll be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama of the Adriatic Sea. Our route continues downhill into olive groves and vineyards.
The fertile landscape and the warm and authentic hospitality of the Pugliese people are enough to lure in any visitor. Pugliese cuisine offers abundant seafood, fresh vegetables, homemade pasta, and outstanding breads. It is delightfully satisfying and healthy. As you may already know, the secret behind such remarkable food lies in the reverence for the land and a commitment to preserving traditional, uncomplicated recipes. You’ll be tempted by fresh mozzarella, bruschetta covered with sun-dried tomatoes, lots of orecchiette pasta, and abundant wine. Enjoy life the Pugliese way!
We will be at the hotel - the impressive Masseria Torre Coccaro* - in time for a free afternoon to take advantage of the swimming pool and the spa facility, or head to the private beach.
*alternative Torre Maizza
Savelletri - Cisternino loop - 23 or 37 miles - Rolling and hilly
In the morning we will take a shuttle to Cisternino, which is on the curated list of “The Prettiest Hamlets of Italy” (Borghi più Belli d’Italia). It was also featured in Stanley Tucci's "Searching for Italy." Grab a cappuccino in the central Piazza dell’Orologio, and enjoy the view of Valle d’Itria from the belvedere. Soon after leaving Cisternino, we cross a maze of tiny country roads. Take your time, and savor the simple pleasures of life!
Soon, the whitewashed town of Ostuni will come into sight. Enjoy this view before descending to pedal among olive trees that are like amazing natural sculptures. We are in a very special area that is now part of a natural preserve. Our next stop is at an olive oil producer, where you'll have the opportunity to sample this essential component of Pugliese cuisine. However, the most impressive part of this visit is the walk among the pre-Roman olive trees, some over 2,000 years old! Consider the history these ancient trees have borne witness to, and marvel at their continued production of olives.
In a few more miles we reach the coast again. Lunch is a seafood lover’s delight right by the water at the Pugliese version of a seafood shack. Sardines, shellfish, octopus, and sea urchins are on the menu.
Dinner is at the hotel. Tomorrow we are off to Polignano.
Savelletri - Poligano - 25 miles - Hilly
Our destination today is the charming coastal village of Polignano. En route, the landscape is adorned with patches of farmland, where you'll encounter fields of tomatoes, arugula, lettuce, artichokes, broccoli, and fava beans. Sparse almond and fig trees are also part of this peaceful landscape, while olive trees are a constant and reassuring presence.
In the morning we tackle a steady climb, the efforts of which will be duly rewarded by a more leisurely second part of our ride. At the top, we have a mandatory coffee stop in the unpretentious town of Gorgofreddo.
The Mediterranean Sea takes center stage as we approach the final leg of our journey, and there’s no better place than Polignano to enjoy its beauty. Upon arrivL, follow the guides for a stop at the one and only Mago del Gelato.
Sitting on a cliff as high as 70 meters (230 feet), Polignano is a fortified center of Greek origins. Its labyrinthine streets and alleys occasionally lead to scenic lookout points, allowing you to bask in the breathtaking vistas of the coastline and cliffs adorned with caves. The stark white facades of the buildings stand in striking contrast to the deep blue and turquoise hues of the sea.
Next to the city center, the beach of Grotta Piana is worth the short hike.
Polignano - Conversano loop - 20 miles - Rolling
Located six miles inland, surrounded by the countryside and the karst plateau, our first stop is in Conversano. It’s an ideal place to check in with everyone after the first climb. Cappuccino or gelato are waiting for us in the main square, of course!
The historic center was built around the Acquaviva Castle, a structure of impressive proportions with a trapezoidal layout featuring four towers at its corners, each corresponding to the cardinal points. This architectural masterpiece stands as a symbol of feudalism, the political and socioeconomic system in place from the Middle Ages until modern times (French Revolution). If you step back, it helps to understand what exclusive rights over land and farmers meant, and the social implications of such a huge imbalance.
The way back is uncomplicated but bumpy at times, yet quick enough to allow for an early lunch in the very pretty fishing village of San Vito, and then free time back in Polignano for a swim or some last-minute shopping.
The early evening offers the perfect occasion for an aperitivo and a leisurely stroll around this delightful seaside town, setting the stage for our farewell dinner at the hotel.
Puglia is predominantly an agricultural region, producing around 40% of Italy's olive oil and a large proportion of its wine (more than any other region in Italy).
This essentially agricultural nature influences the region's cuisine. Home cooks and restaurant chefs predominantly use the abundant local produce, such as durum wheat, tomatoes, artichokes, fava beans, fennel, peppers, onions, beef
The most widely grown grape variety is Negroamaro (literally black-bitter). Almost exclusively cultivated in Puglia, Negroamaro is used to produce some of the region’s best wines, including Salice Salentino. The title of most famous grape, however, goes to Primitivo, whose wines are generally high in alcohol content and full in body. White wines count for less than 20% of the overall production but are gradually growing in importance. Local grapes such as Bombino Bianco, Bianco d’Alessano, and Verdeca rub shoulders with international varieties including Chardonnay and Sauvignon to produce some excellent results.