† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $50 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.
Puglia – the beautiful heel of Italy (2023)
Overview: Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is famed for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and olive groves and for its spectacular Mediterranean coastline. Capital Bari is a vibrant port and university town, while Lecce is known as “Florence of the South” for its baroque architecture. The central Puglian towns of Alberobello, Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca are renowned for delightful old-town centres and their trulli, traditional circular stone houses with conical roofs. The centre of Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to the high concentration of these distinctive constructions.
In Salento, the sun-kissed peninsula at the southern tip of Puglia you will visit the fortified island town of Gallipoli and, on the southern tip, Santa Maria di Leuca, with its opulent Liberty-style sea-front villas.
Puglia offers not only some of Italy's loveliest beaches but also a sublime climate, a series of fascinating towns, a number of important archaeological sites and, last but certainly not least, an excellent culinary tradition bristling with local specialties!
Itinerary: Our adventure starts in fact not in Puglia, but with a 2-night stop in the town of Matera in the neighbouring region of Basilicata. Matera is one of the most interesting, unusual and memorable tourist destinations in Italy, famous for its extensive cave-dwelling districts, the sassi.
Leaving Matera we ride east to enter the limestone plateau of Central Puglia in the most famous part of the region, the Valle d’Itria. En route we can stop at a traditional farm for a lunch of freshly made Mozzarella cheese and salad washed down with a glass of local red wine. The beautiful white washed village of Locorotondo, one of the region’s most important wine centres, is our base for the next two nights. The loop ride from here offers several options, but you should certainly visit Alberobello, the trulli capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Locorotondo we drop down to meet the coast at Polignano a Mare, a wonderfully romantic village perched on a cliff over the Adriatic Sea, where we stay for 2 nights. The optional ride from here takes us north along the coast to Mola di Bari, then inland through a vineyard covered landscape to the ancient town of Conversano. for lunch.
We exit Polignano following the coast south to the colourful bustling old port of Monopoli. Along the coastline of Pezze di Greco we have the opportunity to visit the impressive Roman archaeological site of Egnatia. The overnight stop is a wonderfully peaceful Masseria hotel surrounded by beautiful centennial olive groves near Torre Canne.
Continuing south from here we ride via the White City of Ostuni to a charming country estate close to Mesagne where we stay for the night.
The route from here takes us southwest to reach the Ionian Sea coast at Torre Lapillo. Following the coastline south we reach Gallipoli - this beautiful city is our base for the next two nights. Next destination is Otranto, a charming Adriatic port that is Italy’s easternmost town. The loop ride based on Otranto follows the Adriatic coast south before climbing inland to visit the beautiful hilltop town of Specchia.
Leaving Otranto, we ride north along the coast to the Almini Lakes – the temporary home of many migratory bird species like white storks, flamingos, cranes, wild geese and swans. Turning inland, we ride through the Cesine nature reserve to the fortified village of Acaya before continuing on to our final destination of Lecce. The loop ride to the north of Lecce takes us to the vineyards and olive groves of the wine producing region around the villages of Squinzano and Cellino San Marco. If you are not into wineries, there are more than enough attractions and sites of interest in Lecce with its incredible historic heritage of Baroque and Rococò architecture and Roman remains to keep you fully occupied for the day.
Day 1 – arrive Matera – bike fitting
Day 2 – explore Matera on foot
*Day 3 - Matera to Locorotondo (82.5km / +630m)
Day 4 – Locorotondo Loop (27.0km / +321m)
*Day 5 – Locorotondo to Polignano a Mare (58.4km / +265m)
Day 6 – Polignano a Mare Loop (78.1km / +399m)
*Day 7 – Polignano a Mare to Torre Canne (35.7Km / +189m)
*Day 8 – Torre Canne to Mesagne (67.0km / +412m)
*Day 9 – Mesagne to Gallipoli (70.0km / +210m)
Day 10 – Gallipoli Loop (58.1km / +201m)
*Day 11 – Gallipoli to Otranto (60.6km / +306m)
Day 12 – Otranto Loop (91.3km / +617m)
*Day 13 – Otranto to Lecce (54.3km / +219m)
Day 14 – Lecce Loop (68.6km / +248m)
* required rides (average distance and ascent of required rides = 61.2km / 238m)
Ride Rating: The itinerary is rated 1B. The ride from Matera to Locorotondo is 2C, but van shuttle support will be provided in case of need. On some of the core routes we will be cycling occasionally on gravel roads for short times but that should not be a problem on road bikes with slightly wider tires (700x25-28) recommended. Hybrid and touring bikes are perfect for this tour.
Optional longer rides will be available on some days.
Accommodations and meals: Included are 14 hotel nights in a mix of 3* and 4* hotels, all breakfasts, and 8 dinners (drinks not included). Because of hotel restrictions all happy hour/map meetings will be cash bar and with limited snacks. Our gourmet dinners will be plentiful. In Matera we will have dinner with traditional folk music and tarantella dancers. There will be a cheese tasting along the route from Matera to Locorotondo.
Guiding: A native Italian guide/driver who also speaks excellent English, will accompany us. Also included are guided walks of Matera and Lecce with professional guides.
Support: The luggage van will transfer luggage between hotels. It will also will provide emergency support – there is no on demand sag support. There will be a daily route briefing. Routes will be in the form of maps, GPX files and route notes - cue sheets will not be provided. The GPX files will be available well in advance of the tour for those with their own GPS units or GPS enabled smartphones. GPS units with the routes pre-loaded will be available (free of charge) to those who do not have their own. A trip planner with some useful general information will also be available in advance.
Arrival: On previous trips this tour was a 13-night itinerary with one night in Matera at the start. However, almost all participants requested an additional night in Matera prior to the official start date, so it has been decided to include this as part of the tour, giving a more leisurely start and a non-biking day to fully explore this remarkable city, and extending the itinerary to 14 nights.
The most convenient arrival point is Bari Airport, from where you can take an airport bus to Bari Centrale Station. Trains run frequently to Matera Centrale from Bari FAL station – just across the road from Bari Centrale Station – journey time is around an hour and a half.
There are good train connections between Bari and Rome and between Bari and Naples. It is possible to take a direct bus from Naples to Matera.
Bike boxes will be collected on the afternoon of Sunday 16th April for transfer to Lecce for storage.
Departure: The tour finishes after breakfast on Saturday 29th April. Brindisi Airport is the most convenient to Lecce. There are frequent trains from Lecce to Brindisi from where you can catch an airport bus (15 minutes journey time – every 30 minutes). A private shared transfer from our Lecce hotel to Brindisi Airport (around 45 minutes) is a more convenient option. Our provisional Lecce Hotel is the Suites Hotel Santa Chiara, which is less than a kilometre from Lecce Railway Station.
There are good train connections between Lecce and Rome and between Lecce and Naples.
Bike rental: Rental bikes (hybrid, road and E-bikes) will be available through Hike and Bike Italy. Those wishing to rent should liaise directly with Hike and Bike Italy – more information about this will follow in due course. Bike fitting for those renting will take place from 1pm on Saturday 15th April.
Weather and climate: Puglia has a classic coastal Italian climate; mild all year round with scorching summers and drizzly winters. April is the first month in the region where the weather starts to grow more consistently warm and sunny.
The average high temperature in Puglia in April is 18°C which is very pleasant and usually only requires a light jacket when you are out and about. It’s not quite warm enough to for lying on the beach, but it is an ideal temperature for outdoor sightseeing or hiking excursions. There is an average of 7 hours of sunshine every day in Puglia in April, and around 13 hours of daylight overall.
Costs: The cost of the tour is based on an exchange rate of $1.10 to the Euro. The price is subject to change based on the exchange rate and will be reviewed in December 2022. Depending on currency exchange rates, there may be an adjustment in the amount of the final payment. The initial deposit of $1000 plus the $100 BAC tour fee is due immediately. The final payment of $1900 is due on 1st January 2023
Singles and Solos Policy: It is recommended that singles who want a roommate try to find their own. However, after receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the ride and given until June 1, 2022 to find a roommate. If they are unable to find a roommate, they will have the option to receive a full refund (minus the BAC fee and payment processing fee) or pay the solo supplement and stay on the ride. If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary. The Ride Leader will assist by attempting to match singles who apply for the ride, but singles must make their own rooming decision.
The solo supplement is $750 and is limited to four spots. Solo supplement payments need to be sent to the BAC office by 1st January 2023. Checks must be made out to "BAC" with a notation of the tour name included on the check. These are to be mailed to: Bicycle Adventure Club, PO Box 23998, San Diego, CA 92193.
Cancellation Policy: The BAC ride registration and payment processing fees are not refundable unless the entire tour is cancelled due to participation below stated minimum requirements. Refunds of tour payments will depend upon whether a replacement rider signs up, and on costs that can be recouped. The amount refunded will be based on the principle that the tour’s remaining participants will not incur any additional cost as a result of cancellations. If the cancelling participant is replaced, a refund will be made at that time. If the cancelling participant can't be replaced, any refund will be determined after the ride and final expense report are completed. If a single participant cancels and another roommate cannot be found, in addition to other costs that cannot be recouped the cancelling roommate may also be liable for the single supplement fee of the roommate remaining on the tour. BAC encourages members to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
For cancellations for which a replacement is not found, the Hike and Bike Italy cancellation fee policy is as follows and are additional to any BAC cancellation costs:
90+ days - $300 (to be adjusted for current exchange rate)
30-90 days - $1000 (to be adjusted for current exchange rate)
0-30 days -$2150 (to be adjusted for current exchange rate)
The above fees will be deducted before any refund is calculated.
Ride Participant Responsibility: Please remember that BAC Ride Leaders are volunteers, and that successful tours depend on participants providing much of their own support. Participants are expected to come to the ride well trained, in good health and ready to accomplish the required daily riding using well-maintained bicycles. All participants should accept responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour. We encourage you to read the ride description carefully and respond to requests from Ride Leader. While on the ride, support your Ride Leader. Please keep the Ride Leader informed of any special request you may have and respect the Ride Leader’s decisions.
Insurance: Before participating in any BAC tour, you should assess whether your medical and travel insurance coverage is sufficient. BAC maintains insurance that covers expenses related to accidents, medical emergencies such as sudden and unexpected sickness, and repatriation. This coverage applies when touring outside the US, regardless of your nationality. It will cover you door-to-door for a maximum of 90 days but will expire if you make a side trip not related to the BAC tour for more than 7 days before or after. There is limited coverage for a family member to join a covered person in an emergency. The policy covers the cost of treatment for Covid and other unexpected illnesses, but not quarantine. You should ensure that your vaccinations are up to date.
There are currently no Covid restrictions covering travel to or within Italy apart from the requirement for face masks on public transport within the country. If we still have a Covid 19 risk we will follow all the necessary rules and change activities needed to remain covid compliant and to keep the tour as safe as possible. Discussions concerning any necessary Covid precautions will take place 90 days before the tour start date.
Sign Up: To submit a request to join this ride use the "links" displayed above this Ride Description. When you are accepted, the Ride Leader will move you from the Waitlist to the Pending List. you will then receive an email notification to login to the BAC website to sign the release of liability form, and pay the non-refundable BAC ride registration of $100 plus the tour deposit of $1,000 by credit card. As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participant List.
To contact the Ride Leader, "click" the name at the top of this Ride Description.
Bicycle Adventure Club
PO BOX 23998 San Diego, CA 92193
Telephone (858) 715-9510 email@example.com