Bicycling and Walking Vacations Since 1971 Call a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868

Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast

Cycle along stunning coastal roads overlooking the Adriatic Sea and discover a different side of Italy, where local life moves at a gentle pace. Along the way we’ll learn about local culture through home-hosted meals, olive-oil tastings and a visit to the iconic trulli houses of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking
  • Easy
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Puglia: Italy's Undiscovered Coast

Cycle through a corner of Italy well off the beaten path. Slip through Adriatic fishing villages by day and by night sleep in intimate masserie, authentic 16th-century fortified farms. We’ll savor the subtle flavors of a medley of olive oils, cultivated by our local hosts. Clusters of cone-roofed trulli homes will beckon us as we pedal past. We’ll wander the narrow alleys of the walled sea town of Otranto and follow the limestone cliffs of the Salento Coast. Join VBT in discovering the people and places of Puglia, Italy’s best-kept secret.

Cultural Highlights

  • Stay at several luxurious masserie, centuries-old, fortified villages transformed into country hotels
  • Explore the town of Otranto and its mysterious mosaic
  • Taste a variety of fresh olive oils along with a delicious home-hosted lunch at Il Frantoio
  • Cycle on peaceful country roads along the glimmering coast
  • Relax in wonderfully restored farm hotels and a 5-star country resort
  • Marvel as our local host in Alberobello explains the unique construction of a “trulli” house

What to Expect

This tour offers easy terrain throughout the trip and is ideal for beginning cyclists. Average Daily Mileage: 15 - 35 miles Average Cycling Time: 2 - 4 hours

Climate Information

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Otranto Feb 53° Mar 55° Apr 60° May 68° Jun 75° Jul 80° Aug 80° Sep 75° Oct 68° Nov 60° Average Rainfall (in.) – Otranto Feb 2.6 Mar 3.0 Apr 1.7 May 1.0 Jun .9 Jul .3 Aug .3 Sep 2.5 Oct 3.8 Nov 4.5

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in 4- and 5-star hotels and authentic masserie
  • 12 meals – 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in 4- and 5-star hotels and authentic masserie
  • 14 meals – 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners
  • Transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Matera – 2 nights for only $345 • Post-trip: Rome – 3 nights for only $545

 Both Vacation Options Include

  • Free use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two local, bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • FULL VAN SUPPORT
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
Dates & Prices
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Air Package Plus 10 Days Includes round-trip international airfare

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Air Package Plus 10 Days Includes round-trip international airfare

BOSTON

Air Package Plus 10 Days Includes round-trip international airfare

Land Only

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $445 | Land Only Single Supplement: $295

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What's Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Bari

Depart from home and travel to Italy. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive

Upon arrival at the airport in Bari, Italy, a VBT representative meets you and helps you transfer (approximately 1 hour) to your first night’s lodging. If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please let our driver know by calling or sending a text message to +39 330 96 49 27. The driver will be generally able to wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands, after which you would be responsible for your own transfer. You may also contact our One Call travel assistance to advise of your delay and they will contact our transfer company. For guests staying in Savelletri: Upon arrival, 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 such as tennis, sailing and horseback riding. For guests staying in Ostuni: Upon arrival, meet the friendly staff of our hotel and settle in. At 5:30 pm, meet our local guide and stretch your legs on an orientation walk through the narrow, white-washed limestone streets of this small city. 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. Dinner is on your own tonight. Hotel: Masseria Torre Coccaro Alternate Hotel: Masseria Torre Maizza or Ostuni Palace Hotel

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: Guests in Savelletri: 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. Guests in Ostuni: A transfer at 10:00 am will take you to our first masseria, where you will be staying for the next two days. Explore 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. Hotel: Masseria Torre Coccaro Alternate Hotel: Masseria Torre Maizza Meals: B, D Daily Options: 6 miles (10 km)

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 we 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. Hotel: Masseria Torre Coccaro Alternate Hotel: Masseria Torre Maizza Meals: B, D Daily Options: 17 or 25 miles (29 or 41 km)

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” (traditional Puglian stone huts) and why this unique style of architecture has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A trullo consists 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 them 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. Hotel: Masseria Torre Del Diamante Meals: B, D Daily Options: 20 or 35 miles (33 or 56 km)

DAY 6: Ride to Ostuni / Olive oil tasting

This morning, we ride along the coast. On our way, we will see many different masserie, such as the 17th-century fortified Masseria San Lorenzo, which has its own 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, as well as 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. We'll also 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. Guests who spent their first night in Ostuni: We will shuttle to the white-washed village of Locorotondo, in the Itria valley, famous for its white wines. This cozy little city has plenty of cafes and restaurants for dinner on your own. Hotel: Masseria Torre Del Diamante Meals: B, L Daily Options: 18 or 31 miles (30 or 50 km)

DAY 7: Cycle to Otranto / Discover Otranto

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, 8,611-square-foot (800-square-meter) floor mosaic representing the Tree of Life, created in 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. Hotel: Masseria Montelauro Alternate Hotel: Tenuta Centoporte Meals: B Daily Options: 15 or 20 miles (27 or 35 km)

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 follow 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. From here, we 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. Hotel: Masseria Montelauro Alternate Hotel: Tenuta Centoporte Meals: B, L, D Daily Options: 14 or 24 or 38 miles (23 or 40 or 63 km)

DAY 9: Transfer to Lecce / 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. 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. Explore 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, enclosed 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 City Information Packet will provide useful information for exploring on your own for the rest of the day. Tonight, dinner is on your own. Hotel: Patria Palace Hotel Meals: B

DAY 10: Depart for home

After breakfast, transfer to the Brindisi airport for your flight to Rome or your flight back home. 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. Meals: B

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Accommodations

Tenuta Centoporte

The 4-star Tenuta Centoporte is a peaceful oasis on the old road between Otranto and ancient Giurdignano. This recently opened property is surrounded by centuries-old olive trees and is only a few miles from Salento’s southern coast. It is located close to the ruins of Le Centoporte (“100 Doors”), an ancient abbey built during the 5th and 6th centuries, after which the hotel is named. With its seaside color scheme of bright whites and aqua-greens, Tenuta Centoporte is the perfect place to enjoy Mediterranean culture. Each tastefully appointed room has a private entry and features telephone, television, minibar and private bath with shower and hair dryer.
Free WiFi Included

Patria Palace Hotel

The Patria Palace Hotel enhances the baroque scenery of Lecce’s historical center, called “the Florence of the South” for its beautiful buildings, churches and squares. The hotel brings to life an 18th-century marquis palace. Each room is unique, personalized with original frescoes and equipped with all modern comforts.
Free WiFi Included

Masseria Torre Coccaro

The ancient, fortified Masseria Torre Coccaro was built in the 16th century. It is known for its watchtower and the centuries-old olive groves and carob trees that surround it. Today it keeps the simple and characteristic whitewashed look of old masserie, but this 5-star resort is a relaxing oasis of tranquility where food is still finely prepared from local products grown on the property. The onsite Aveda Health Club has a unique setting in a series of caves. Its Jacuzzi pools are kept at different temperatures and its hammam bath offers beauty treatments and relaxing massages. Its beautifully designed swimming pool is nestled among the olive trees and palms, perfect for a refreshing dip.
Free WiFi Included

Masseria Torre Maizza

This 5-star resort is part of a large hillside estate overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, just one mile from the coast and its beaches. In the 16th century it was used as a garrison and watchtower against the raids of Ottoman and Saracen Turks. Beautifully restored and refurbished, the estate includes its sister farm Masseria Torre Coccaro (another ancient watchtower restored into a 5-star country hotel), a 9-hole golf course, a small lake, and 10 hectares of land cultivated with centuries-old olive trees, carob trees, vineyards and orchards that provide fresh vegetable and fruit to the masseria’s restaurant.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel Giulio Cesare

The Giulio Cesare is a family-run hotel in Rome, quietly located a few steps from the Tiber River and a 10-minute walk from Piazza Del Popolo. Once a patrician villa, this hotel has been recently redecorated in an elegant, classical style. You’ll enjoy the garden, where breakfast is served, and a quiet lounge with an antique fireplace. These and other touches keep this 4-star hotel feeling very much like a family home. Breakfast is said to be one of the best in Rome, because many of the products are grown by the owner in his fields north of the city. Internet is available for guests at the reception desk and a free WiFi connection is available throughout.
Free WiFi Included

Relais La Casa di Lucio

The small, intimate Casa di Lucio – located in the fascinating Sassi district of Matera – is comprised of two renovated ancient palaces and their courtyards. Its ten adjacent guestrooms surround the courtyard, and the hotel itself is nestled among the stone city’s narrow lanes and network of stairs. Each room is designed to mirror the Sassi’s houses, with the front dug from tufa and the rear carved into the rock. The guest rooms feature a large, modern bedroom and ample amenities. Its sister property, the Hotel Sant’ Angelo Sassi, is just a few steps away and has a restaurant and spa. Complimentary WiFi is available in the lobby.  
Free WiFi Included
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