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Italy: Puglia, Alberobello & Lecce

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Savor Puglia on this self-guided bicycle trip, riding from one historic locale to the next and stopping to explore, swim, and indulge in gelato.

Self-Guided Biking

  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 32|
  • Biking: 2 - 5 hr
Activity Easy/Moderate
Easy / Moderate
E-Bikes Available
E-Bikes Available
Airplane
Air Package Available
Self-Guided Tour
Self-Guided Tour

Starting From

10-day Self-Guided Air+

$3,495

7-day Bike Vacation Only

$2,495

Per person, double occupancy

Italy: Puglia, Alberobello & Lecce

Cycle Puglia the Italian way during our Self-Guided Bicycle Vacation. As you pedal your way past the breathtaking seaside views of Italy’s heel, you’ll have time to linger at waterfront cafés, pause to admire the vistas at sweeping overlooks, and savor every timeless olive grove, swim-worthy seaside cove, ancient watchtower, and dramatic, chalk-white cliff. Your scenic route along the Ionian and Adriatic Seas links stunning historic towns—the island of Gallipoli, seaside Santa Maria di Leuca, and Baroque Lecce. You’ll relax as you spend your restful nights at former palaces, modern hotels, and a historic, restored dry-stone trullo house. Savor Puglia on your own timetable with VBT!

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain and moderate hills and is ideal for beginner and experienced cyclists. Rides are on relatively flat paved roads and bike lanes paralleling the sea coast. Expect more rolling Mediterranean landscapes inland and semi-urban riding into historic centers. Please verify your bike selection for this tour as it is not always possible to change bikes once you arrive on tour. Travel with your friends and family—we can accommodate multiple guests on this self-guided vacation. Our 24/7 support system is available if needed.

  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 32|
  • Biking: 2 - 5 hr
Activity Easy/Moderate Easy / Moderate
Cycling
Bar Graph Beginner - Experienced
Cyclists
24/7 Support System 24/7 Support
System

Tour Highlights

  • Stay overnight in the dry-stone trulli dwellings of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Cycle the Ionian and Adriatic coastlines at your own pace, stopping to explore whatever and whenever you wish
  • Stay in seaside Gallipoli, Santa Maria di Leuca, and Otranto, rich in ancient history and legend
  • Enjoy ample opportunities to swim at sandy beaches and Mediterranean coves tucked under limestone cliffs
  • Pedal through timeless villages into the ancient fortified city of Acaya
  • Ride into Lecce, known as the “Florence of the South” for its exuberant Baroque architecture

Climate Information

Temperatures

Average High /
Low Temperature (°F):

Mar55º/46º

Apr60º/50º

May68º/55º

Jun75º/62º

Jul80º/68º

Aug80º/68º

Sep75º/64º

Oct68º/57º

Nov58º/42º

Average
Precipitation:

Mar3.0 in

Apr1.7 in

May1.0 in

Jun0.9 in

Jul0.3 in

Aug0.3 in

Sep2.5 in

Oct3.8 in

Nov2.6 in

What's Included

Self-Guided Air+

Bike Vacation Only

Roundtrip international airfare Check
Detailed information for your independent travel to/from arrival and departure airports Check
One night in Alberobello and one night in Lecce in conveniently located hotels with breakfasts included Check
Six nights in boutique hotels Check Check
Seven meals: six breakfasts, one dinner Check Check

Tour Bikes

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Road Bicycle (Carbon frame)

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Step-Through (Mixte Hybrid) Comfort Bicycle

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Step-Over (Diamond) Comfort Bicycle

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Electric-Assisted Bicycle (E-bike)

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Self-Guided Biking Packages Include:

Custom VBT bike, helmet, and bike bag

Welcome orientation and bike fitting with local host

Luggage transfers

Ride with GPS and daily route notes

VBT Road Book with destination information

24/7 support system

Flat kit and multi-tool

Your choice of VBT branded gear for your adventure

Itinerary

Fri, Mar 26 to Sun, Apr 4 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Depart for Italy. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Upon arrival at the Bari Airport, make your own travel arrangements to Alberobello. For details, refer to your VBT Handbook.

When you arrive in Alberobello, you might feel as if you’ve stepped into a fairytale, thanks to the city’s many trulli. These round, white-washed, dry-stone huts capped with conical limestone roofs were constructed without mortar so they could be quickly disassembled when word got around that the taxman was on his way. Their original purpose was to store agricultural tools but they later became dwellings. Today, they are a carefully preserved symbol of Puglia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many have been beautifully restored for modern living, including the ones clustered within the hotel village that welcomes you today. Make yourself at home in your very own charming trullo house, relax after your journey, and stroll among these 500-year-old dwellings, some of their roofs marked with chalk-white symbols meant to bless their inhabitants.

Accommodation: Trulli & Puglia, Alberobello
Included Meals: None included

After breakfast at Trulli & Puglia, meet your local host at 1:00 p.m. for your Welcome orientation in the lobby of the Trulli & Puglia, along with any other VBT guests arriving on the same day. Please be dressed and ready for cycling. Your local host will be carrying a VBT sign.

The Welcome orientation with your VBT local host includes:
• An overview of the itinerary
• Bike fitting and equipment familiarization
• Review of the Ride with GPS navigation app
• Important contact information in case you need to reach your VBT local host
• Safety briefing

• Local suggestions (restaurants, things to do, etc.)

Get to know your bicycle and ease into the rhythm of biking in Italy during today’s ride. From the center of Alberobello, you will enter the rolling Itria Valley. Take your time on today’s ride, stopping to savor the rustic landscape of ancient olive trees, small vineyards, and vegetable gardens interspersed among farmhouses and trulli. Your route brings you to the hilltop village of Locorotondo, rated one of Italy’s “most beautiful villages.” As you approach, it appears like a vision in white on a hilltop. Walk into its shaded, labyrinthine alleys, filled with Baroque churches and finely sculpted architecture, and find a gelato in its historic center or in a café overlooking the valley, before returning to Alberobello at your leisure.

Today’s Ride:
Alberobello Warm-up: 23.3 km (14.5 miles)

What to Expect: A loop departing narrow town streets follows paved rural roads into ancient olive groves and past farmhouses before a gentle ascent to the village of Locorotondo (ideal for a late lunch stop). Lock your bike and explore the town on foot. Returning, there are some short ascents and descents, and then a final gradual ascent back to Alberobello. See D1 Locorotondo walk for Locorotondo suggested walking route, services and points of interest.

Accommodation: Trulli & Puglia, Alberobello
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, at 9:00 a.m. a 90-minute van transfer takes you to the Salento Peninsula on the magnificent Ionian Coast, where sandy beaches and the cobalt-blue waters of inviting inlets are sure to lure you in for a refreshing dip. Your initial destination is the seaside resort town of Porto Cesareo, overseen by a handsome 16th-century watchtower. From here, set out for a spectacular coastal ride, passing through villages that showcase the real Puglia. Get out of the saddle as the spirit moves you, for photos, or to poke into a shop. You’ll find that conversations with locals come easily in this corner of Italy that sees few visitors!

Later, you’ll glide into the Old Town of Gallipoli, the “Gem of Salento,” a medieval fortified island city linked to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge. Gallipoli was a part of Magna Graecia, or Greater Greece, which included vast swathes of southern Italy and Sicily in ancient times. Once a center for olive oil, today Gallipoli is a lively city, full of boutiques, cafés, and vestiges from its Greek and Roman days. The fishing port still brings in the catch of the day and the surrounding walls, once a defense against centuries of invasions, are the perfect place to join locals in their sunset passeggiata, or evening stroll, before a well-earned aperitivo overlooking Sant’ Andrea’s lighthouse. After settling in to your hotel, you have numerous fine restaurants from which to choose for a freshly prepared seafood dinner.

Today’s Ride:
Porto Cesareo to Gallipoli: 32.5 km (20.2 miles)

What to Expect: Departing Porto Cesareo, your ride stays mainly along the coast on a mixture of roads and dedicated bike lanes through populated areas, farmland, and open fields with the sea in the distance on your right. Rising after 13 km (eight miles), the day’s steepest ascent is more than made up for by stunning sea views, after which you will veer inland for about five km (three miles). The route returns to the coast through some charming small ports and beaches before rolling into the center of Gallipoli and your hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel 33 Baroni, Gallipoli
Included Meals: Breakfast

Relish another day cycling along the Ionian Sea, where each crystalline beach seems more inviting than the last. You might want to plan on an early start so you can take as many swim breaks as you wish. There will also be opportunities to stop for true Italian coffee and to grab lunch at a seaside restaurant in Marina di Torre San Giovanni. And of course, an Italian cycling adventure cannot live up to its reputation if it doesn’t include at least a daily stop for gelato. As much as you’ll enjoy the culinary and swim breaks, it’s the vistas and picturesque marinas that are truly inspiring in this breathtaking corner of Puglia. You will end the day in Santa Maria di Leuca—a beautiful destination perched on a low seaside promontory and steeped in ancient history and legend. This historic town was named for the white cliffs that have been providing the scenic backdrop to your ride (leukos is Greek for “white”).

The locals claim that this is where the Ionian meets the Adriatic, although officially it is further east. Pause at Punta Ristola for sweeping views of the lighthouse, Italy’s second most important, and the adjacent Basilica Sanctuary of Saint Mary—also known as De Finibus Terrae, or “The End of the Land,” named when it was commonly believed that the earth was flat. The Basilica, built over a Roman temple and dedicated to the goddess Minerva, marks where Saint Peter is said to have started his long walk to Rome after crossing the Mediterranean from Jerusalem. Today, the devout follow in his footsteps along the Via Francigena pilgrimage route.

After a rewarding day, settle in to your exclusive enclave and enjoy an included dinner at your hotel.

Today’s Ride:
Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca: 51.7 km (32.1 miles)

What to Expect: An easy ride that stays almost entirely along the coast on roads or shared-use bike lanes (in Italian, signs for percorso cicloturistico indicate a slower speed limit for cars). You will pass many sandy beaches, marinas, and beach resorts with ample options for swimming, lunch, coffee, and ice cream, as well as many scenic viewpoints and ancient watchtowers. As you round the tip of the peninsula, you will pass the Devil’s Cave, a natural limestone cave.

Accommodation: Hotel Approdo, Santa Maria di Leuca
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today’s ride continues along the dramatic Adriatic Coast with the sea on your right for the entire day, descending into enticing crystalline coves. Later, some invigorating climbs lead to high bluffs with breathtaking views followed by exhilarating descents bringing you to quaint harbor villages. At today’s highest elevations, you’ll pass a series of ancient watchtowers where guards once kept an eye out for intruders approaching from the southern Mediterranean. As you ride, you’ll find plenty of options for lunch and snacks; perhaps you’ll sample freshly prepared seafood or provola e mortadella. One final long and steady downhill brings you into Otranto, Italy’s easternmost point. Surrounded by great ramparts, it is one of Italy’s most scenic coastal towns, situated on the Strait of Otranto, which separates Italy from Albania by just 45 miles.

Otranto’s Old Town is a rich amalgam of the history of past invaders: Greeks, Romans, and Turks among them. Exploring it all is a must, and stopping in its 11th-century cathedral is absolutely required. Behind the altar, the bones of 813 martyrs who fell in a 15th-century siege are encased in a glass cabinet. But the medieval mosaic floor, the largest in Europe, is the real draw: Created in 1163 by a resident monk, the “Tree of Life” spans 8,611 square feet. Back outside, you might find your own mosaics—and other crafts—among the bustling stalls that line the narrow lanes. Otranto’s 15th-century castle is also worth a visit for its history and the exhibit devoted to the now-closed Neolithic caves in Porto Badisco that you passed on your way into town.

At dinnertime, you can stroll to the city’s inviting waterfront with its wide terrace and lovely vistas.

Today’s Ride:
Santa Maria di Leuca to Otranto: 52.2 km (32.4 miles)

What to Expect: You will ride along the Adriatic Coast, with the week’s highest elevation gains and losses. The route is high above the sea on bluffs and also dips down to charming harbor villages with stops for swimming, food, and drinks. The second climb of the day takes you to Torre Nasparo, with its spectacular views east and north. On a clear day, after the last big climb to Torre Minervino, before reaching Italy’s most easterly lighthouse of Punta Palascia, you may spot Albania’s Acroceurani mountain range and some Greek islands on the other side of the Adriatic Sea. A sustained descent brings you to Porto Badisco, Approdo di Enea and then into Otranto.

Accommodation: Hotel Albania, Otranto
Alternate Accommodation: Vittoria Resort & Spa (tour starting March 28, 2021), Otranto
Included Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a Stay Put Day to do as you please. If you just can’t stay off the saddle, take a loop ride into the interior away from the sea, following quiet country roads. An initial slight ascent lifts you above Otranto and then flattens out as it winds through olive groves framed by stone walls. You may stop to ponder ancient dolmens and menhirs, the region’s mysterious prehistoric standing stones. Take your time on this scenic route, perhaps pausing to toast your good fortune at a local winery or stopping to observe a traditional weaving workshop. Back at Otranto’s beach, reward yourself with a swim and a delicious seafood lunch along the port.

Alternately, you can join a boat excursion along the dramatic coastal cliffs and past spectacular grottos, stopping for swims along the way. You may prefer to spend the day on land, browsing Otranto’s inviting shops, and the halls and grounds of its seaside castle.

Today’s Ride:
Otranto to Uggiano la Chiesa loop: 25.4 km (15.8 miles)

What to Expect: A narrow road exits the center of Otranto. After an initial, gradual ascent, the route flattens out on quiet country roads, rolling through olive groves and past stone walls, farms and hamlets. You may stop for lunch and a tasting at a winery or visit a traditional weaving workshop along the way. Scattered throughout the landscape are prehistoric standing stones.

Accommodation: Hotel Albania, Otranto
Alternate Accommodation: Vittoria Resort & Spa (tour starting March 28, 2021), Otranto
Included Meals: Breakfast

Leaving Otranto today, you’ll savor your last ride along the dramatic Adriatic coast. Ride along the Strait of Otranto before turning into a countryside of enormous olive and oak trees. This scenic route leads to the small Renaissance village of Acaya, one of Puglia’s last remaining fortified cities. Its notable 16th-century grid of streets divides the town into rectangular “islands.” After exploring, you’ll join a bike path that leads into the center of Lecce. This beautiful city is constructed from pink-tinged local stone called pietra dorata. There is so much Baroque-period architecture with chiseled cherubs, angels, and saints, that Lecce has been called the “Florence of the South.” As you explore, your week of cycling will no doubt bring a new sense of urgency to your gelato cravings; you’ll have plenty of options to satisfy them here!

A stunning five-star hotel in the heart of the pedestrian Old City welcomes you to Lecce, a fine finale for your trip. Settle in and then take a short stroll to historic sites, including the Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the city’s main square with its centerpiece Roman amphitheater. Pick any of the narrow streets that fan out from the square to discover charming neighborhoods—and to duck into any number of rustic eateries serving the hearty cuisine for which the city is known, including pureed fava beans and broccolini and a robust primitivo wine. It’s the perfect way to celebrate your ride around Italy’s heel!

Today’s Ride:
Otranto to Lecce: 50.4 km (31.3 miles)

What to Expect: After an initial ascent departing Otranto from sea level, the ride is mainly flat along the coast, then at around the 30 km (18 miles) after San Foca, you will turn inland through olive groves and begin a slight sustained ascent to Acaya, one of the best examples of a Renaissance fortified town in Italy. From there, you’ll join a bike path that leads into the center of Lecce. Although Lecce is a bike-friendly city, please be aware that urban riding will be very busy compared to the low-traffic riding you have enjoyed this week. Please exercise caution and, although not required, we recommend walking your bike the last few kilometers to your hotel.

Accommodation: Patria Palace Hotel, Lecce
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, you have the day to explore the city of Lecce. Visit the Piazza Duomo, enclosed on three sides by the cathedral and other church buildings. Despite being one of Europe’s largest squares, its surrounding buildings and many cafés create an intimate ambience. You can visit up to six of Lecce’s intricate Baroque churches on one entry ticket.

Your VBT City Information provides useful recommendations for exploring on your own for the rest of the day. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Accommodation: Patria Palace Hotel, Lecce
Included Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast* this morning, if traveling by public transportation, allow yourself a minimum of four hours’ transfer time prior to your flight from Brindisi airport; for details, refer to your VBT Handbook. This timeframe includes approximately 1.5 hours travel and around two hours recommended pre-flight check-in time.

The train and bus stations are just under 1.4 km (.9 mile) from your hotel, a 20-minute walk.

* 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.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Sun, Mar 28 to Sat, Apr 3 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

We suggest arriving in Italy at least one day prior to the start date as your tour begins at 1:00 p.m. Make your own way to Alberobello, where you will begin your self-guided adventure. For details, refer to your VBT Handbook.

When you arrive in Alberobello, you might feel as if you’ve stepped into a fairytale, thanks to the many trulli. These round, white-washed, dry-stone huts capped with conical limestone roofs were constructed without mortar to be quickly disassembled when word got around that the taxman was on his way. Their original purpose was to store agricultural tools and they later became dwellings. Today, they are a carefully preserved symbol of Puglia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many have been beautifully restored for modern living, including the ones clustered within the hotel village that welcomes you today.

Meet your VBT local host at 1:00 p.m. for your Welcome Orientation in the lobby of the Trulli & Puglia (Piazza Gabriele D’Annunzio 2, +39 080 4324376), along with any other VBT guests arriving on the same day. Please be dressed and ready for cycling. Your local host will be carrying a VBT sign.

The Welcome orientation with your VBT local host includes:
• An overview of the itinerary
• Bike fitting and equipment familiarization
• Review of the Ride with GPS navigation app
• Important contact information in case you need to reach your VBT local host
• Safety briefing

• Local suggestions (restaurants, things to do, etc.)

Get to know your bicycle and ease into the rhythm of biking in Italy during today’s ride. From the center of Alberobello, you will enter the rolling Itria Valley. Take your time on today’s ride, stopping to savor the rustic landscape of ancient olive trees, small vineyards, and vegetable gardens interspersed among farmhouses and trulli. Your route brings you to the hilltop village of Locorotondo, rated one of Italy’s “most beautiful villages.” As you approach, it appears like a vision in white on a hilltop. Walk into its shaded, labyrinthine alleys, filled with Baroque churches and finely sculpted architecture, and find a gelato in its historic center or in a café overlooking the valley, before returning to Alberobello at your leisure.

Today’s Ride:
Alberobello Warm-up: 23.3 km (14.5 miles)

What to Expect: A loop departing narrow town streets follows paved rural roads into ancient olive groves and past farmhouses before a gentle ascent to the village of Locorotondo (ideal for a late lunch stop). Lock your bike and explore the town on foot. Returning, there are some short ascents and descents, and then a final gradual ascent back to Alberobello. See D1 Locorotondo walk for Locorotondo suggested walking route, services and points of interest.

Accommodation: Trulli & Puglia, Alberobello
Included Meals: None included

After breakfast, at 9:00 a.m. a 90-minute van transfer takes you to the Salento Peninsula on the magnificent Ionian Coast, where sandy beaches and the cobalt-blue waters of inviting inlets are sure to lure you in for a refreshing dip. Your initial destination is the seaside resort town of Porto Cesareo, overseen by a handsome 16th-century watchtower. From here, set out for a spectacular coastal ride, passing through villages that showcase the real Puglia. Get out of the saddle as the spirit moves you, for photos, or to poke into a shop. You’ll find that conversations with locals come easily in this corner of Italy that sees few visitors!

Later, you’ll glide into the Old Town of Gallipoli, the “Gem of Salento,” a medieval fortified island city linked to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge. Gallipoli was a part of Magna Graecia, or Greater Greece, which included vast swathes of southern Italy and Sicily in ancient times. Once a center for olive oil, today Gallipoli is a lively city, full of boutiques, cafés, and vestiges from its Greek and Roman days. The fishing port still brings in the catch of the day and the surrounding walls, once a defense against centuries of invasions, are the perfect place to join locals in their sunset passeggiata, or evening stroll, before a well-earned aperitivo overlooking Sant’ Andrea’s lighthouse. After settling in to your hotel, you have numerous fine restaurants from which to choose for a freshly prepared seafood dinner.

Today’s Ride:
Porto Cesareo to Gallipoli: 32.5 km (20.2 miles)

What to Expect: Departing Porto Cesareo, your ride stays mainly along the coast on a mixture of roads and dedicated bike lanes through populated areas, farmland, and open fields with the sea in the distance on your right. Rising after 13 km (eight miles), the day’s steepest ascent is more than made up for by stunning sea views, after which you will veer inland for about five km (three miles). The route returns to the coast through some charming small ports and beaches before rolling into the center of Gallipoli and your hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel 33 Baroni, Gallipoli
Included Meals: Breakfast

Relish another day cycling along the Ionian Sea, where each crystalline beach seems more inviting than the last. You might want to plan on an early start so you can take as many swim breaks as you wish. There will also be opportunities to stop for true Italian coffee and to grab lunch at a seaside restaurant in Marina di Torre San Giovanni. And of course, an Italian cycling adventure cannot live up to its reputation if it doesn’t include at least a daily stop for gelato. As much as you’ll enjoy the culinary and swim breaks, it’s the vistas and picturesque marinas that are truly inspiring in this breathtaking corner of Puglia. You will end the day in Santa Maria di Leuca—a beautiful destination perched on a low seaside promontory and steeped in ancient history and legend. This historic town was named for the white cliffs that have been providing the scenic backdrop to your ride (leukos is Greek for “white”).

The locals claim that this is where the Ionian meets the Adriatic, although officially it is further east. Pause at Punta Ristola for sweeping views of the lighthouse, Italy’s second most important, and the adjacent Basilica Sanctuary of Saint Mary—also known as De Finibus Terrae, or “The End of the Land,” named when it was commonly believed that the earth was flat. The Basilica, built over a Roman temple and dedicated to the goddess Minerva, marks where Saint Peter is said to have started his long walk to Rome after crossing the Mediterranean from Jerusalem. Today, the devout follow in his footsteps along the Via Francigena pilgrimage route.

After a rewarding day, settle in to your exclusive enclave and enjoy an included dinner at your hotel.

Today’s Ride:
Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca: 51.7 km (32.1 miles)

What to Expect: An easy ride that stays almost entirely along the coast on roads or shared-use bike lanes (in Italian, signs for percorso cicloturistico indicate a slower speed limit for cars). You will pass many sandy beaches, marinas, and beach resorts with ample options for swimming, lunch, coffee, and ice cream, as well as many scenic viewpoints and ancient watchtowers. As you round the tip of the peninsula, you will pass the Devil’s Cave, a natural limestone cave.

Accommodation: Hotel Approdo, Santa Maria di Leuca
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today’s ride continues along the dramatic Adriatic Coast with the sea on your right for the entire day, descending into enticing crystalline coves. Later, some invigorating climbs lead to high bluffs with breathtaking views followed by exhilarating descents bringing you to quaint harbor villages. At today’s highest elevations, you’ll pass a series of ancient watchtowers where guards once kept an eye out for intruders approaching from the southern Mediterranean. As you ride, you’ll find plenty of options for lunch and snacks; perhaps you’ll sample freshly prepared seafood or provola e mortadella. One final long and steady downhill brings you into Otranto, Italy’s easternmost point. Surrounded by great ramparts, it is one of Italy’s most scenic coastal towns, situated on the Strait of Otranto, which separates Italy from Albania by just 45 miles.

Otranto’s Old Town is a rich amalgam of the history of past invaders: Greeks, Romans, and Turks among them. Exploring it all is a must, and stopping in its 11th-century cathedral is absolutely required. Behind the altar, the bones of 813 martyrs who fell in a 15th-century siege are encased in a glass cabinet. But the medieval mosaic floor, the largest in Europe, is the real draw: Created in 1163 by a resident monk, the “Tree of Life” spans 8,611 square feet. Back outside, you might find your own mosaics—and other crafts—among the bustling stalls that line the narrow lanes. Otranto’s 15th-century castle is also worth a visit for its history and the exhibit devoted to the now-closed Neolithic caves in Porto Badisco that you passed on your way into town.

At dinnertime, you can stroll to the city’s inviting waterfront with its wide terrace and lovely vistas.

Today’s Ride:
Santa Maria di Leuca to Otranto: 52.2 km (32.4 miles)

What to Expect: You will ride along the Adriatic Coast, with the week’s highest elevation gains and losses. The route is high above the sea on bluffs and also dips down to charming harbor villages with stops for swimming, food, and drinks. The second climb of the day takes you to Torre Nasparo, with its spectacular views east and north. On a clear day, after the last big climb to Torre Minervino, before reaching Italy’s most easterly lighthouse of Punta Palascia, you may spot Albania’s Acroceurani mountain range and some Greek islands on the other side of the Adriatic Sea. A sustained descent brings you to Porto Badisco, Approdo di Enea and then into Otranto.

Accommodation: Hotel Albania, Otranto
Alternate Accommodation: Vittoria Resort & Spa (tour starting March 28, 2021), Otranto
Included Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a Stay Put Day to do as you please. If you just can’t stay off the saddle, take a loop ride into the interior away from the sea, following quiet country roads. An initial slight ascent lifts you above Otranto and then flattens out as it winds through olive groves framed by stone walls. You may stop to ponder ancient dolmens and menhirs, the region’s mysterious prehistoric standing stones. Take your time on this scenic route, perhaps pausing to toast your good fortune at a local winery or stopping to observe a traditional weaving workshop. Back at Otranto’s beach, reward yourself with a swim and a delicious seafood lunch along the port.

Alternately, you can join a boat excursion along the dramatic coastal cliffs and past spectacular grottos, stopping for swims along the way. You may prefer to spend the day on land, browsing Otranto’s inviting shops, and the halls and grounds of its seaside castle.

Today’s Ride:
Otranto to Uggiano la Chiesa loop: 25.4 km (15.8 miles)

What to Expect: A narrow road exits the center of Otranto. After an initial, gradual ascent, the route flattens out on quiet country roads, rolling through olive groves and past stone walls, farms and hamlets. You may stop for lunch and a tasting at a winery or visit a traditional weaving workshop along the way. Scattered throughout the landscape are prehistoric standing stones.

Accommodation: Hotel Albania, Otranto
Alternate Accommodation: Vittoria Resort & Spa (tour starting March 28, 2021), Otranto
Included Meals: Breakfast

Leaving Otranto today, you’ll savor your last ride along the dramatic Adriatic coast. Ride along the Strait of Otranto before turning into a countryside of enormous olive and oak trees. This scenic route leads to the small Renaissance village of Acaya, one of Puglia’s last remaining fortified cities. Its notable 16th-century grid of streets divides the town into rectangular “islands.” After exploring, you’ll join a bike path that leads into the center of Lecce. This beautiful city is constructed from pink-tinged local stone called pietra dorata. There is so much Baroque-period architecture with chiseled cherubs, angels, and saints, that Lecce has been called the “Florence of the South.” As you explore, your week of cycling will no doubt bring a new sense of urgency to your gelato cravings; you’ll have plenty of options to satisfy them here!

A stunning five-star hotel in the heart of the pedestrian Old City welcomes you to Lecce, a fine finale for your trip. Settle in and then take a short stroll to historic sites, including the Piazza Sant’Oronzo, the city’s main square with its centerpiece Roman amphitheater. Pick any of the narrow streets that fan out from the square to discover charming neighborhoods—and to duck into any number of rustic eateries serving the hearty cuisine for which the city is known, including pureed fava beans and broccolini and a robust primitivo wine. It’s the perfect way to celebrate your ride around Italy’s heel!

Today’s Ride:
Otranto to Lecce: 50.4 km (31.3 miles)

What to Expect: After an initial ascent departing Otranto from sea level, the ride is mainly flat along the coast, then at around the 30 km (18 miles) after San Foca, you will turn inland through olive groves and begin a slight sustained ascent to Acaya, one of the best examples of a Renaissance fortified town in Italy. From there, you’ll join a bike path that leads into the center of Lecce. Although Lecce is a bike-friendly city, please be aware that urban riding will be very busy compared to the low-traffic riding you have enjoyed this week. Please exercise caution and, although not required, we recommend walking your bike the last few kilometers to your hotel.

Accommodation: Patria Palace Hotel, Lecce
Included Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel in Lecce and depart on your own. For details, refer to your VBT Handbook. Depending upon your destination, it may not be possible to depart for the U.S. on the last day of the tour. Please check airline schedules carefully. If you plan to schedule a return flight immediately following the tour’s conclusion, please call your airline directly for specific check-in requirements.

Lecce has good train connections with all main lines connecting to destinations throughout Italy (e.g., Naples, five hours; Rome, five and a half hours). The train and bus stations are just under 1.4 km (.9 mile) from your hotel; a 20-minute walk across the pedestrian city center.

Included Meals: Breakfast

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Dates & Prices

Self-Guided Air+

10 days, includes round-trip international airfare and additional hotel nights with included breakfast.

Single Supplement: From $295
Solo Surcharge: From $1,895

Departing From New York, NY (JFK)

Bike Vacation Only

7 Days. Includes Self-Guided bike vacation only.

Single Supplement: From $195
Solo Surcharge: From $1,895

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For more information, call: 800-245-3868

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