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Biking Vacation Puglia: Italy's Undiscovered Coast ​

Activity Level: Easy  |  Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 4 hr
Air package plus
10 days from only
$4095
Price includes roundtrip airfare.
Land only
7 days from only
$2895
Pre-trip Extension:
Matera · 2 nights $345

Post-trip Extension:
Rome · 3 nights $495*
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2015, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below. 

Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly overnight to Bari

Depart from the U.S. and travel to Italy. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

Day 2 - Arrive in Savelletri

You arrive at the airport in Bari, Italy, where a VBT representative meets you and helps you transfer (approximately 1 hour) to your first masseria in Savelletri. If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please have airport staff page our driver with your last name so they may be notified of your delay. You may also contact our One Call travel assistance to advise of your delay and they will contact our transfer service. Our drivers are only able to wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands after which you would be responsible for your own transfer.

Upon arrival in Savelletri, you have the rest of the day free to discover the peaceful countryside and relax at our luxurious 5-star masseria where there are a number of amenities to take advantage of. You can play golf at the 9-hole course, get a massage at the Aveda hotel spa, spend the afternoon relaxing on the private sand beach or stroll through the large orchards, vineyards and olive groves. By contacting the hotel in advance, you may also book a cooking class, rent a boat or practice outdoor sports like tennis, sailing and horseback riding.

Day 3 - Land Program begins / Warm-up ride to Egnatia

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at 2:00 pm in the lobby of our first masseria. To get to the masseria, we suggest that you contact the hotel and ask for their shuttle. The shuttle is available at special rates for our guests, and must be booked in advance, directly with the hotel. If your arrival at the masseria is scheduled later than 2:00 pm, or if you are delayed, please contact the hotel and the staff will pass your message along to your VBT Trip Leaders. A taxi to the masseria from the Bari railway station is approximately 100 euros/$150 USD; from the Bari airport, the cost is approximately 110 euros/$165 USD. Alternatively, you may consider traveling from Bari (or even Rome) by train. The closest railway station to the masseria is FASANO. Note that if you take a train from Rome to Fasano you may need to connect in Bari. Once in Fasano call the masseria to arrange for a taxi or shuttle pickup (approximately a 10-minute drive). VBT highly recommends flying to Italy at least one day before the tour begins; this allows you to rest and recover from jet lag before you begin sightseeing and cycling.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Extension guests: This morning continue exploring the surroundings on a self-guided walk, or maybe join in an optional cooking class organized by the masseria. Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at 2:00 pm in the main lobby; they will be wearing VBT staff garments. Please plan to eat lunch before you meet them.

The Masseria Torre Coccaro, and its sister Masseria Torre Maizza, are 5-star resorts set alongside each other on the kind of historic fortified farms for which this region is known. Masseria is the local name for these large farms, which were fortified around the 16th century to ward off attacks by pirates and brigands. Masserie feature high boundary walls, angular towers, drawbridges and watchtowers. Inside the walls, families worked and lived alongside their own church, oil mill and oven to bake bread. These farms would also house cisterns for water, storage rooms for tools and hay, stables, and everything else needed for day-to-day life.

After meeting your VBT Trip Leaders, join them for a safety and bike-fitting session. Then take a short warm-up ride along quiet country roads past 800-year-old olive groves to Egnatia, an ancient Messapican (and later Roman) coastal town of great economic and military importance in the 10th century. A short stop at its archaeological museum reveals precious finds such as sculptures, jewels, funeral equipment and the particular pottery produced here, called gnathia.

Later, enjoy a welcome cocktail reception on the elegant hotel patio. Dinner is at the hotel restaurant and is prepared with local products and herbs produced on the farm.

Day 4 - Cycle to Savelletri and Monopoli

After breakfast we cycle along the coast on quiet roads, completely surrounded by ancient olive trees. Puglia ranks first in Italy in the production of olive oil, wine, and hay, and second for almonds. Continue to Monopoli, where you stop to visit the beautiful cathedral and the fish and fruit market. Spend free time here exploring and eating lunch on your own. Walk the maze of pedestrian streets in Monopoli's old city center and see why they make the city so intimate and unique.

In the afternoon, ride along the coast to your beautiful hotel and enjoy its numerous amenities. Tonight, dinner is in the hotel restaurant.

Day 5 - Alberobello / The Itria Valley

This morning we shuttle to Alberobello in the Itria Valley where we visit with a local expert to learn about ‘trulli’ and why they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A trullo is a unique type of building, characteristic of this region, consisting of a whitewashed, round house topped by a large cone of local stones—all assembled without mortar. It is believed that trulli originated as storage sheds built for agricultural implements. Much later, they became dwellings, with adjoining buildings added as families grew. Many trulli are still used and inhabited today, and some of their roofs show mysterious chalk marks, either to protect from evil or to bless the house. After our visit and lunch in Alberobello we continue cycling mostly downhill through the gorgeous countryside to our next masseria. Tonight dinner is at the hotel restaurant. 

Day 6 - Ride to Ostuni / Olive oil tasting

This morning we ride along the coast and on our way we will see many different masserie, like the 17th-century fortified Masseria San Lorenzo with its church.
           
For lunch, we visit Armando and his wife, Rosalba at Il Frantoio, a family-run masseria. The estate extends over 150 acres and includes a “secret garden” planted with orange and lemon trees, and a well-preserved underground oil mill. Our hosts have collected many interesting novelties over the years. From ancient dresses and hats to precious books and a gramophone, each piece has its own story.

Lunch is prepared using produce grown on the farm and we'll have the opportunity to try a sampling of five different extra-virgin oils that Rosalba uses to flavor her focaccia, pickles, preserves and delicious laganari pasta. Afterward, shuttle or continue cycling to our hotel.
 
In the afternoon, choose the long or short option to bike back to our agriturismo-masseria. 

This evening, stroll Ostuni's narrow, limestone streets before having dinner on your own. Admire the graceful towers, staircases, arches, balconies and carved doorways, many of which are adorned with colorful pots of flowers or garlic and tomato crowns left to dry in the sun.

Day 7 - Cycle to Otranto / Discover Otranto

Leave Ostuni and take a morning shuttle further south to discover another area of Puglia, Salento. Begin biking at Melpignano. In Curzi, notice the impressive quarries where big ivory sandstones (called chianche in the local dialect) are extracted for use in local construction. Continue your ride into a quiet park, shaded by big olive trees and old oaks, as you head toward the sea to Otranto. Lunch is on your own in Otranto, in one of the many simple fish restaurants or pizzerias.

After lunch, discover this picturesque town on the Italian coast. Founded by the Greeks, Otranto is surrounded by great ramparts and walls. From late spring onward, its atmosphere is extremely lively with local craft studios selling clay whistles, baskets, hand-dyed fabric and ceramics. The city's highlight is certainly the huge, 800-square-meter floor mosaic representing the Tree of Life, created in the year 1163 by a monk in the Otranto cathedral.

After our visit, cycle flat, country roads catching sight of menhirs and dolmens, ancient monoliths and tombs before arriving at our last accommodations. After settling in, you may want to swim or relax with a good book. This evening we shuttle to Otranto for dinner on your own at one of the many outdoor cafés or restaurants. Or, if you prefer, enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Day 8 - Discover the Coast of Salento

After breakfast we set out on one of the best bike rides in Italy. Starting in the interior of Salento, we then continue cycling on gentle, rural pathways through little villages to the coastal town of Castro Marina. Relax on the way with a picnic lunch prepared by your Trip Leaders.
           
Continue to Santa Cesarea, a quiet town set on the edge of the Adriatic Sea. Then follow the cliffs to the town of Porto Badisco, famous for its azure waters and prehistoric Cervi Grottoes. In Porto Badisco, take time for a dip before continuing to Cape Otranto, the easternmost tip of Italy. We cycle back to the hotel in time to freshen up before a special farewell dinner at the masseria's restaurant.

Day 9 - Transfer to Lecce / Free day in city / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the Brindisi airport, arriving at approximately 11:30 am. Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served. Important: Flight departures from Brindisi prior to 1:30 pm are not recommended; those departing earlier must make transfer arrangements at their own expense from the last hotel in Otranto to Brindisi (approximately 1½ hours). Taxi cost to the Brindisi airport is approximately 80 euros/$102 USD.

VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: Transfer to the Hotel Patria Palace in Lecce, an elegant and centrally located 5-star hotel, arriving at about 10:30 am. A local guide will be there to offer an informative hospitality introduction and take you on a walking tour of the city. Lecce is a beautiful Baroque city, called “the Florence of the South” thanks to the skill with which local builders and stonemasons worked the soft, pink-tinged local stone called pietra dorata

With our guide, explore the Piazza Sant'Oronzo, the city's main square and the heart of local activities for centuries. The square's centerpiece is the Roman amphitheater. From here, narrow streets fan out into the city's charming quarters.

The gem of Lecce is Piazza Duomo, closed on three sides by the cathedral and two palaces belonging to the church. Though this is one of the largest squares in Europe, it has an intimate feel that invites lunch and people-watching from a local café or bakery. Your VBT Information Packet will provide useful information for exploring on your own for the rest of the day. Tonight, dinner is on your own.

Day 10 - Depart for U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the Brindisi airport for your flight to Rome or your flight back to the U.S. VBT recommends that you check the transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder” the night before your flight. The transfer is prearranged with the reception desk and is prepaid by VBT.

Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.


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