Apulia Charme

Pisa PI, Italy
from/per person 690
  • Italy
  • 8 Day Tour
  • Hotel Comfort Level: 3
  • Self Guided
  • Trip difficulty: 2
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Aquila CHARME – Riding the Heel of Italy – 8 day Self-guided individual cycling tour

Tripcode: ITSB010

The Apulia region of south-eastern Italy has quite a story to tell, having been in the hands of the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottomans, the Spaniards and other colourful peoples, each which have contributed to the region’s dialects, flavourful cuisine, and distinctive architecture. This is Italy’s best kept secret for outstanding cycling. From Otranto, crossroads of culture, to the whitewashed houses of Ostuni reaching towards the rich blue sea; from the memorable conical roofs of the “Trulli” in Alberobello to the enchanting white sand beaches near Gallipoli, enjoy superlative rides through sparsely inhabited ancient olive groves, Mediterranean Mache and invigorating coastal roads with views that make you fall in love.

Trip Highlights

  • Lecce, the stunning Baroque city of southern Italy
  • Sleep in a real Trullo house in the UNESCO heritage town of Alberobello
  • Beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise sea
  • Visit breath-taking caves
  • Wonderful landscapes with ancient olive groves, vineyards and jagged coastline
  • Authentic country towns and villages: Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, Gallipoli, Otranto
  • Friendly people and great traditional Apulian culinary specialties

8 Day Programme

Day 1 – Arrive in Polignano a Mare ( Polignano a Mare on BB basis)

Arrive in the glorious town of Polignano a Mare overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Get lost in the labyrinth of streets amidst whitewashed houses. Visit the main church, known as Chiesa Madre, and the stunning, unique squares of San Benedetto and Dell’Orologio. Marvel at the Marchesale Arch, an original entrance to the old town, where the cycling itinerary commences.

Day 2 – From Polignano to Alberobello

Today’s ride is a gradual climb from the Adriatic sea to the gently undulating valley of Itria. through the typical Murgia landscape with olive groves and fields surrounded by low stone walls. Stop at Castellana Grotte for a rest and to visit an immense underground cave system, one of the largest in Europe. Continue on to Alberobello, the Trulli capital of the world and a UNESCO Heritega town. Alberobello is unique for having over 1000 trulli, or white washed stone houses with conical roofs.


Day 3 – From Alberobello to Ostuni

Cycle through several beautiful villages from Alberobello to Ostuni – a white-washed town perched on top of a hill dominating the Adriatic. Along the way visit Locorotondo, the ‘round place’ also on a hill that dominates the countryside, admire it’s cathedral and the old church of Madonna della Greca. Continue on to Cisternino, well known for its meats and cheese. Excellent DOC wine and olive oil is produced in this region.

Day 4 – From Lecce to Gallipoli 

This morning you cycle down to Ostuni train station where you catch the train to Lecce, taking your bike with you. From Lecce Train station you quickly leave town on a narrow country lane. Crossing the Salento region in a south west direction you reach the Golf of Taranto. You will ride across a sparsely inhabited flat countryside, dotted with large olive trees then coastal pine forests and sand dunes, passing ancient coastal watch towers as you approach the medieval fishing town of Gallipoli bustling with life. Along the way there are several good swimming spots.

Day 5 – From Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca ( Santa Maria di Leuca on B&B basis)

A coastal road takes you to the southernmost point of Puglia, dividing the Ionian and Adriatic Sea. But first, take a swim in the turquoise waters of paradise, at the Torre del Pizzo beach and lay along the fine white sands. Then continue south to Santa Maria di Leuca, a magnificent village of fantastic beaches and wacky, wild, colorful mansions.

Day 6 – From Santa Maria di Leuca to Otranto ( Otranto on B&B basis)

Revel in the sea breezes as you ride along the high coastal route, winding your way along gentle, undulating rift of the cliffs. Phenomenal views will make you feel part of a National Geographic cycling special feature. Stop for a glimpse of the spectacular cave, the Grotta Zinzulusa, and then on to Otranto, a Greek-come-Roman port town, frequented by merchants and thrill seekers.

Day 7 – From Otranto to Lecce ( Lecce on BB basis)

Today you visit the Alimini Lakes which run parallel to the sea. Cycle your way through the countryside of Greek Salento, where traces of the former colonies are still present in the dialect, cuisine and bright style of architecture. The whites shine against the euphoric blue of the sea. Arrive in Lecce, a brilliant city full of wonderful palaces and a treasure which will mesmerize you.

Day 8 Arrivederci Lecce!

The trip and our services end after breakfast, unless you have booked a transfer to the airport or other supplementary services.

Level of Difficulty

With a certain athletic attitude, the majority of the tours are not really demanding. You’ll be in a position to fully enjoy the exhilarating sections through unspoilt country and nature areas. Four days you make circular tours, during these days you can eventually intercalate a resting day. Several days you can lengthen or shorten the rides.

N. Participants:Minimum 2 persons
Trip Grade:Generally easy to moderate with some short uphill stretches, no shade on the roads & it gets very hot in summer (late June to late August). (Daily climb between 300—500 metres) Day 6 is the most demanding because of climbing stretches towards Otranto.
Activity characteristics:The rides are mostly along well asphalted country lanes and secondary roads with little traffic, however sometimes you have to travel on larger trafficked roads when approaching and riding in the larger towns.
Best arrival & departure airport:Bari or Brindisi Airport. You can also fly to Naples and take a train from Naples to Polignano a Mare. You can walk to the hotel (only 600m from train station) or call the hotel which will come pick you up. Transfer to be paid locally. There is no taxi service in the town of Polignano a Mare.
Best arrival & departure stations:Bari – Brindisi Airports / Lecce train station
Trip availability:Departure ONLY ON FRIDAYS from 4/3 to 22/7 & from 2/9 to 30/11; Please note that it can be very hot in July


Getting there and away

The nearest airports are Bari or Brindisi. From Bari or Brindisi you can take a train to reach Polignano a Mare or Lecce, depending on the trip you are doing. You can also fly to Naples and take a train to Polignano a Mare or Lecce. For more information visit the website www.trenitalia.it

Flights can be booked using low cost carriers or your partner Stein Travel here if required.

  • 7 nights accommodation on B&B basis, all rooms with private en-suite bathrooms
  • Luggage transfer from Polignano a Mare (day 2) to Lecce (day 7)
  • 24-hour telephone assistance (simple puncture not covered)
  • Detailed maps and road book in English

  • Flights and public transportation
  • Travel insurance
  • Admissions and entrance fees of any kind
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Personal expenses such as lunches, dinners, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, etc.
  • Any items that have not been specifically mentioned in the programme
  • Possible CITY TAX to be paid in cash on the spot (it varies depending on the city and on the hotel’s category)

  • 21 speed hybrid bike hire, helmet (puncture repair kit, pump, map holder, front and side bag, lock)
  • Arrival and/or departure transfers to and from Bari or Brindisi airports
  • Guided tour of Lecce with a local private city guide

Accommodation and Meals

All the accommodations selected for this trip are different, as the areas are sparsely populated.

They are all comfortable 3* and 4* hotels or cosy B&B, depending on the version of the trip you are doing:

  •  CHARME VERSION: All 4* hotels except in Alberobello where you stay in a typical “Trullo”.
  •  CLASSIC VERSION: All 3* hotels and B&Bs except in Alberobello where you stay in a typical “Trullo” and Ostuni and Santa Maria di Leuca, where you stay in 4* hotels. All the rooms have private bathroom and a good continental breakfast is served each morning.

Alternative accommodation

During high season, you might sleep in different accommodation to the ones indicated in the description. In some cases it is possible that your list of accommodation differs somewhat. This means that start or end of the routes can be slightly altered. Therefore, you should check to see if your accommodation is the same as that mentioned in this programme. If not, you must be alert at the start and end of the routes. In choosing alternative accommodation, we have tried to maintain the same standards and quality. We have also tried to stay in the same towns and villages, in order to change routes as little as possible.

 Luggage Transfer

Luggage transfer is included in your package; this is normally provided by the accommodation itself.
Please clearly mark all your belongings with your name and put a small note with the name of the next accommodation in order to indicate where the bags should go to next. (check your accommodation list). Also Ask the accommodation owner where the bags should be left in the morning. Labelling your belongings prevents mix ups, delays and loss.

Bags should be ready and at the reception or store room by 9:00 hrs.
If you are unable to ride, you can always ask if the luggage transporter can take you with him when transporting your baggage, but this is not always possible and sometimes you have to pay a small fee locally. In some countries there are special insurances for transporting peoples and sometimes the car is not suited for transporting persons.
When you travel with public transport you always take your luggage with you unless specified differently.

Self guided cycling requires individuals to use problem solving skills, be adaptable and have a keen eye. It is recommended that you are comfortable map reading, referring to route notes and that you have a good sense of direction (or are willing to work on improving this!) Sometimes route finding, losing your way, finding it again and asking the locals for help is all part of the adventure.

If you’ve never been on a self guided trip, after the first couple of days you will get the hang of if as the vast majority of our first time travellers attest. Please be assured that our written material issued to you for route finding is updated regularly and we provide a 7day service hotline in the event of any problems.

There is a certain level of the unknown that comes with self guided trips; however with a methodical approach potential problems will be averted. The freedom of a self guided trip is something that, once experienced, is sought time and time again.

The concept behind most of our trips is active holidays and the fitter you are the more easily you will adjust and enjoy yourself. We expect participants to take responsibility for their fitness and preparations on a consistent basis prior to departure, and INCREASE the regular weekly training schedule in the two months leading up to departure. That way, when you start walking, you will feel relaxed and comfortable and strong, having done more than sufficient preparation for the trip. You will also have more energy to enjoy the views, take photos and explore the sights in your spare time, rather than just make it to the next hotel.

During the day is when the most interesting features of interest will be found, and being fit allows you to optimize every situation you encounter. As a minimum, we recommend 40 minutes of aerobic type exercise; running, swimming, biking, hill walking, or gym work two to three times a week for two to six months leading up to your walk.

Note the best training is the activity that you are actually going to be doing; walking up and down hill, and cross-country. Practice this as much as possible. Training should be stepped up as you get closer to departure, to an amount you feel appropriate (you don’t want to cause yourself an injury!). Using your gear before departure (boots, daypack, clothing, etc.) gives familiarity and comfort whilst on the walk. It makes sense to know that all your gear ‘works for you’ BEFORE departure, rather than discovering how things work or fit (or don’t!) on the trip you have invested so much in. Use the philosophy of ‘getting fit to go cycling’, rather than ‘cycle to get fit’, to avoid problems.

Cycling responsibility

Bicycle touring has its inherent risks. It is a sport whose safety is dependent upon the judgment and alertness of the cyclists. As a cyclist you are responsible for the way you ride and the condition of your bicycle. We, nor the local agent, are responsible for possible damages (physical or not) to the participants due to: physical activity during the tour, not following road regulations, alcohol consumption, breaking of means or materials, lack of medical assistance in far-off places or other not predictable circumstances.

Rental Bikes

If you have rented a bike with us, you will find it waiting for you in the Hotel’s storage room, fitted to your requirements. Our adult hybrid-bikes are provided with comfortable seats, reliable components, 21 gears and Shimano Alivio components.

All bikes, before being handed out are cleaned and overhauled.
All bikes are equipped with a padlock and key that must be used at all times when not riding the bike, luggage pannier attachments at the rear and 1 rear side bag per bike, 1 front bag and map compartment, front and back lights, puncture repair kit, pump and spare inner tube, all of which you should know how to use. One every 2 bikes there is a KM distance counter. You are expected to know the vary basics of bike mechanics and how to mend a puncture or change a tire. If something more serious happens to the bike that you cannot repair on the spot, call the shop and they will help you fix it or suggest the best and fastest solution.

Level of Difficulty

The shorter routes are on average easy with a longer day from Lucca to Vinci. The longer/steeper routes are moderate to demanding and a reasonable level of training is required. The most difficult stages of both the easy and the demanding trip are 2 and 3.


8 Day Programme

1Arrival in  Polignano a MarePolignano a
2Ride from Polignano to AlberobelloAlberobello36.35001003
3Ride from Alberobello to OstuniOstuni403004103
4Ride to Ostuni train station, take the
local train to Lecce and ride to Gallipoli
5Ride from Gallipoli to Santa Maria di
Santa Maria di
6Ride from Santa Maria di Leuca to
7Ride from Otranto to Lecce Lecce52.4120904.5
8Depart Lecce