For a glimmer of Puglia’s magic, it’s hard to beat this circular cycle tour which sweeps round the heel of Italy from Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’, to touch first the crystal waters of the Adriatic near Otranto, then the beautiful blues of the Ionian Sea at Gallipoli. Experience the olive greens and flamingo pink of a region whose groves and lakes are rich in flora and fauna and whose vineyards produce more wine than any other area of Italy. This may be the gentlest of our cycling adventures around Puglia, but it remains as full-bodied as the region’s renowned red wines, packing a real punch with its range of impressive castle towns, opulent Baroque treasures and its authentic Italian welcome.
is in Lecce (2 nights), Otranto and Gallipoli. Selected properties include two 4 star hotels and one 3 star hotel. We are pleased to discuss details on request.
This gentle introduction to cycling under southern Italian skies sets out in a circle from the vibrant and architecturally rich university city of Lecce, taking in the historic fortified village of Acaya, the Alimini lakes and the Adriatic bays and coves around Otranto. A rewarding day’s cycling across to the historic harbours of Gallipoli on the Ionian Sea through olive groves and vineyards is followed by more Baroque treats en route back to Lecce.
Day One - Arrive & explore
Lecce is sure to have you under its spell in minutes! With all its swirls and flourishes, the 'Florence of the South’ is a masterpiece of the Baroque and any stroll down the streets of this university city is just a whirlwind of discovery. Stand back and admire the opulent façade of Santa Croce Basilica in the Piazza Duomo or potter past churches and palazzi to sit back and take it all in from the cooling comfort of a gelaterie terrace. Not to be missed are the spectacular views of the town’s Roman amphitheatre on offer at the history museum in the former Santa Chiara Monastery, but Lecce has so much on the menu – and it’s a great place to eat out too! Overnight in Lecce.
Day Two – Coasting along the Adriatic: castles, coves, flamingos
Just a short pedal from Lecce lies the impressive fortified village of Acaya with its medieval castle, ramparts and wide moat. But the coast is calling and as the Adriatic draws nearer, stretches of thick pine forests finally reveal wide bays and sheltered coves at Torre dell’ Orso, where the towering cliffs provide fortifications of a more natural kind. Pedal on south towards the two interconnecting lakes known as ‘I Laghi Alimini’ to catch sight of herons and flamingos, before continuing along the coast to Italy’s most easterly city. Massively fortified and a real melting pot of Greek, Turkish and Aragonese influences, Otranto is dominated by its ‘Castello Aragonese’ and its nearby Norman cathedral, renowned for its crypt and mosaic flooring. Overnight in Otranto.
Miles: 34 Kms: 55
Day Three – Across Italy’s heel to the Ionian Sea
Steer inland for a day of coast to coast cycling. Your route leads you across Salento from Otranto to Gallipoli, calling at Corigliano to take in the must-see castle with its beautiful Baroque façade. This is a day to enjoy Puglia very much at your own pace as you wind your way through vineyards, olive and almond groves, perhaps stopping off for bowl of ‘orecchiette’, Puglia’s famous little ear-shaped pasta or even a hearty serving of ‘maccheroni al forno’, an interesting pasta-meatball concoction served up under a pie crust! If seafood is more your style, then simply save yourself for Gallipoli where fishermen sell their catch from quayside stalls and restaurants serve the freshest fish creations imaginable. Originally named ‘Kale Polis’ - beautiful city - by the Greeks, Gallipoli lives up to its name with bars and sandy beaches, impressive harbour ramparts, noble palaces and churches. Overnight in Gallipoli.
Miles: 37 Kms: 60
Day Four – Gems of a golden age, en route to Lecce
Missed something on that pre-supper ‘passeggiata’ last night as you strolled along harbour ramparts? Take time to explore Gallipoli just a little further, catch sight of the Palazzo Senape De Pace perhaps or just weave your way through its labyrinth of streets and alley ways. Heading north along the coast before steering inland, it’s not long until you reach Galatone, home to the exceptional Baroque church in the Piazza Santissimo Crocifisso. Galatina is another of Puglia’s many hidden gems with fine town walls and gateways and amazing frescoes inside St Catherine’s cathedral. Don’t miss the intricate doorways and balconies of the aristocratic ‘palazzi’, but all this is just a warm-up in a way when you know what’s up the road in Lecce. Enjoy the ‘aperitivo’, then settle back in the saddle for the last northward stretch back to ‘The Florence of the South’. Overnight in Lecce.
Miles: 35 Kms: 56
Day Five - Depart after breakfast
Depart after breakfast, or take time for a last wander around the lavish town of Lecce.
Once you have decided on the ideal Cycle Break in England or Europe, please fill out your details on our booking formProceed to Book
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