A week - long bike tour with our expert guides so to discover deeper this land – exploring hidden places.
A full immersion in this land and its landscape, its people, its sounds and its thousand years old legends that still now are vivid in the culture.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN LECCE
Meeting in Lecce to meet the guides and the other participants.
Briefing about the route and bicycle delivery. Welcome dinner.
DAY 2: FROM LECCE TO OTRANTO (58KM)
Totally flat route, with many interesting cultural and naturalistic sights.
First, we visit Acaya – a fortified city with a huge castle - and then we plunge down to “Le Cesine” – a WWF protected area, crossing point for many species of migratory birds.
From there, we head to the coast, along the ruins of Roca Vecchia – an ancient Bronze age village – and then ‘Alimini’ Lakes, home to many different animal species.
Some more kilometers and we are in Otranto, where narrow streets reveal wonders at every corner: The San Peter church Byzantine’s frescoes, a walk along the ramparts overlooking the sea and finally the cathedral with his paved mosaic – one of the biggest in Europe! a sort of figurative Middle Age encyclopedia.
DAY 3: OTRANTO'S SURROUNDINGS (29 KM)
Today we explore the surroundings of Otranto.
Riding along the little river “Idro”, that gives the city its name, we visit an ancient Byzantine crypt from the 13th century and then we arrive in Casamassela, where ancient looms are still being used nowadays at “le Costantine” foundation.
We, then, move towards Giurdignano, crossing a Bronze age megalithic area containing huge stones (“dolmen” and “menhir”, prehistorical monuments).
Just right after, we reach one of the most characteristic bakery of the region, where we do a tasting of local products produces by the family.
Further, we go back to Otranto and we are free to enjoy the afternoon in the shopping area, swimming in a little beach close to the town or making a horse ride along the cliffs at sunset, suitable also for beginners.
DAY 4: THE PARK ROAD: FORM OTRANTO TO SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA (54KM)
Today we cycle along the wildest coastal stretch of Salento: the ‘Palascìa’ lighthouse, the easternmost point of Italy, and a little red lake surfaced in a disused bauxite quarry are the most interesting spots, just outside the town. Nestled among the cliffs above the sea, this road is a huge balcony that looks onto Otranto Strait and with a little bit of luck, we will be able to see the mountains of Albania and Greece.
We visit ‘Zinzulusa’ cave, going down nearly 200 feet into the earth bowels.
On the way to Leuca, we can also admire some terraces and dry walls, the ingenious “devices” of peasants to get arable land in barren and impervious areas.
After crossing the bridge over the “Ciolo”, a small canyon carved by the waters and rich of rare flora, we reach Santa Maria di Leuca where we visit the sanctuary, following the ancient pilgrims’ footsteps.
DAY 5: GALLIPOLI AND THE IONIC COAST (61 KM)
Today, you discover the area known as “Capo di Leuca”, the southern part of Apulia, one of the less know area, but the most suggestive of Italy.
Within few kilometers we pass by small hamlets, each one with its little treasure: in Salignano, an astonishing defense tower situated in the center of a small village, in Castrignano we visit an ancient mill, dug into the rock, and then an enigmatic funerary monument made by big stones, in Patú, (its name “centopietre”, means “hundred stones”), with byzantine frescos inside; then, we cross Giuliano with its ruined castle and finally, we visit Barbarano - or Leuca Piccola - ('little Leuca'), an important pilgrimage station which still maintains a vast underground area.
Through olive groves and dry stone walls we reach Ugento, maybe to visit its archaeological museum, if you want. In the afternoon we reach again the ionic coast until the St. Andrew’s island and "Punta Pizzo” natural park.
Few kilometers more and we reach the “Beautiful city” – Gallipoli; situated on an island, this small fisherman village is striking by its light, its alleys and its characteristic fish market.
DAY 6: GALLIPOLI' S SURROUNDINGS AND COOKING CLASS (40KM)
The first part of the morning is dedicated to the hinterland of Gallipoli.
In few kilometers we reach Alezio (ancient Messapian city, where there is an interesting museum on pre-Roman civilizations) then Sannicola, with its underground oil mill.
Riding on secondary country roads, among olive trees and dry-stone walls, we reach "Tenuta Donna Anna" - a family-run farmhouse where a cooking class will take place. The products are collected in the family vegetable garden and then we pass to the preparation: "pitta di patate" (a kind of potato gateau, with a filling of tomatoes, olives, capers, onion and tuna), "pittule" (balls of fried dough , stuffed with tomatoes and capers, or empty to taste with honey) and hand-made orecchiette (a typical ear-shaped pasta prepared with the fingers and the knife), the "torta pasticciotto" ( a sweet made with short pastry, filled with chantilly cream), are some of the dishes that will be prepared all together.
After a refreshing swim in the pool, we eat all together and find out who was the best in making the “orecchiette” pasta!
In the afternoon, we get back to Gallipoli. And you want to do a bet? You will not be able to have dinner!
DAY 7: WAY BACK TO LECCE (52 KM)
Last day of our bike trip.
On the way to Lecce, we admire many XIX century fortified farmhouse and villas that characterize the landscape of this area. We go up to Nardò to visit its stunning baroque style old town.
Next stop is in Copertino, to discover its impressive Norman castle and listen to stories about Saint Joseph from Copertino, “the Saint of flights”.
By the end of the afternoon we reach Lecce, where we have a delicious dinner in one of the best restaurants in town.
DAY 8: ONWARD TRAVEL
After a guided walking tour of one of the most beautiful town in Italy, it’s time to say “goodbye” Salento!