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 beautiful blues of the Ionian Sea at Gallipoli, then the crystal waters of the Adriatic near Otranto. 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), Gallipoli and Otranto. 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, starting with a rewarding day’s cycling down to the historic harbours of Gallipoli on the Ionian Sea. Pedal east through olive groves and vineyards en route to impressive Otranto with its ‘Castello Aragonese’; then coast up alongside the Adriatic, via charming bays and coves, the nature reserve lakes of the Alimini and the historic fortified village of Acaya.
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 – Diving down to the Ionian Sea
Room for another architectural treat or two? You’ll find plenty on the route from Lecce as you head south across Salento to the historic harbour town of Gallipoli. Galatina is one of Puglia’s many hidden gems with fine town walls and gateways and amazing frescoes inside St Catherine’s cathedral. The intricate doorways and balconies of the aristocratic ‘palazzi’ are quite something, but so too is Galtone’s exceptional Baroque church in the Piazza Santissimo Crocifisso. Enjoy them all, then accompany the coast awhile to arrive at the town the Greeks called ‘Kale Polis’ - beautiful city.
Gallipoli lives up to its name with sandy beaches, impressive harbour ramparts, noble palaces, churches and plenty of delicious seafood stalls and restaurants – certainly a feast all round – and not just one for the eyes. Go for a wander and catch sight of the Palazzo Senape De Pace, or just weave your way through its labyrinth of streets and alley ways and you’ll soon the ideal spot for supper!
Overnight in Gallipoli.
Miles 35 Kms 56
Day Three – Across Italy’s heel to the Adriatic Sea
Missed something on that pre-supper ‘passeggiata’ last night as you strolled along harbour ramparts? Take time to explore Gallipoli just a little further, then steer inland for a day of coast to coast cycling. Your route leads you across Salento from Gallipoli to Otranto, 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. Alternatively, why not try a hearty serving of ‘macccheroni al forno’, an interesting pasta-meatball concoction served up under a pie crust!
If seafood is more your style, then there’ll be plenty more in Otranto, the massively fortified town on the Adriatic coast and consequently a real melting pot of a place with evidence of Greek, Turkish and even Norman influences to name but a few. The ‘Castello Aragonese’ dominates the town, but the French-style ‘Duomo’ (Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata) is a real attraction on many levels – particularly the famous crypt. Don’t miss the extremely fine medieval mosaic floor, or the bones of 813 martyrs safely stored behind glass!
Overnight in Otranto.
Miles 37 Kms 60
Day Four – Castles, coves and even flamingos
Put the binoculars at the top of your panniers today to make the most of the herons and flamingos which grace the ‘I Laghi Alimini’ – two interconnecting lakes and one fine nature reserve. Check out the high cliffs, broad bays and sheltered coves at Torre dell’ Orso and explore the idyllic pool known as the Grotta della Poesie (Cave of Poetry). It’s listed by National Geographic as amongst the ten most beautiful natural pools in the world. Time for a swim perhaps? The final few miles lead through pine forests, past Acaya’s round-towered castle and back to that irresistible ‘Florence of the South’, Lecce for a celebratory ‘aperitivo’ on the café terraces perhaps.
Overnight in Lecce.
Miles 34 Kms 55
Day Five – Depart after breakfast
Depart after breakfast, or take time for a last wander around the lavish town of Lecce.
Extra nights can be booked at any of the overnight destinations included in this tour to allow more time to explore Puglia at your leisure.
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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