UNESCO SITES: Puglia & Basilicata Cycling Tour

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Cycling by the sea and through the hills of the Alta Murgia, among the UNESCO world heritage sites of Apulia and Basilicata. Visit Trani, with its port and splendid cathedral and Castel del Monte, with its mysterious, octagonal-shaped castle built by Frederick II. After crossing the Bradano Valley, on roads surrounded by hills of corn, head for Matera, with its ancient Sassi, dwellings dug out of the rock. The journey ends in the Itria Valley, among the trulli of Alberobello and Ostuni, the “white town”.

The tour unwinds largely on secondary roads with little traffic. Mainly on asphalt that is suitable for road bikes. The area is predominantly hilly with short, easy climbs near some of the towns.

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Duration: 8 Days/7 Nights
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Tour Dates: on Wednesday and Saturday from March 15 to October 25. Other days available upon request
Characteristics: 6 days by bicycle on hilly terrain of easy to medium difficulty
Total length: 300 km, with stages from 40 to 69 km to be done in 4 – 6 hours within the day
Hotels: 3*/4* hotels, B&B and holiday farms
Included meals: breakfast every day
Route: scenic and hilly
Climate: pleasant in autumn, ideal in spring. Not recommended in August
Nearest Airport: Bari (50 km.)

Railways:
Trani and Ostuni are well connected by the national railway service (TRENITALIA). There are also other local railways (Gravina, Altamura, Gioia del Colle, Noci and Alberobello) along the way.
Bikes on trains travel for free in Apulia

Day 1 – Trani

Individual arrival in Trani and get settled in at your Hotel. Free time to visit this old city with its beautiful historical centre, splendid Romanesque Cathedral on the sea, Swabian Castle, historical buildings, gardens and port, where we recommend you taste some fish for dinner in one of the many restaurants. Overnight stay.

Day 2 – Towards Castel del Monte

Our trip begins with a visit to the Alta Murgia countryside, not far from Castel del Monte, surronded by olive grooves and vineyards. Before the end of your ride you will visit the Castle of Frederick II, the amazing site, protected by UNESCO, which is unique of its kind.
Dinner on your own and overnight stay.
Distance: about 45 km
Grade: Easy route, almost completely flat with a brief climb to the Castle

Day 3 – Gravina di Puglia

Leave the marvellous meadowlands in the park and head for the valley until you come to the town of Gravina di Puglia, along semi-deserted roads where time seems to stand still. The town, which dates back to the 8th century B.C., unfolds over the centuries with amazing evidence of the various civilizations. Don’t miss a visit to the underground town and historical centre.
Distance: about 47 km
Grade: Easy hilly route with short climbs

Day 4 – Altamura and Matera

Head for the town of Altamura, which is famous for its splendid cathedral and bread. Don’t miss a ride through the streets in the historical centre, beneath the cathedral bell-tower and taste some fresh focaccia baked in an old wood-burning oven. Set off again for the countryside towards the built-up town of Matera, which is just a few kilometres away.
Arrival in the old part of the town called the “Sassi” and accommodation in a hotel in the historical centre.
Don’t miss a visit to the rock churches and city’s museums.
Distance: 46 km
Grade: Easy route with short climbs at the end of the day

Day 5 – enjoy a rest day or…

Enjoy a relaxing day visiting the city of Matera. A leisurely walk will enable you to visit: museums, rock churches. (entrance fees not included)
Alternatively, you have the choice of two routes that give you the chance to explore the surrounding area.

Day 5 – LOOP 1

San Giuliano Lake, the Matera hills and the Crypt of Original Sin

Follow the beautiful, deserted road around the San Giuliano Lake, a peaceful wildlife reserve for migratory species from Africa. Stop to watch the herons, cormorants, storks and ospreys. A stop-off at the lake is recommended for a picnic. Don’t miss a visit to the Crypt of Original Sin. To reach the crypt, a natural cavern that falls sheer to the “Gravina di Picciano”, cross the silent path of Pietrapenta, through cornfields and vineyards. This fascinating rock oratory represents one of the oldest examples of rock art in the South of Italy. Its extraordinary cycle of frescoes painted five hundred years before Giotto, highlights the typical features of Benedictine-Beneventan art (8th -9th centuries). Payment on entry (8 euros per person) and subject to booking.
Return to Matera back up the hill.
Distance: about 29 km
Grade: moderate, with a short climb at the end.

Day 5 – LOOP 2

Matera, the Bradano Valley and Montescaglioso

Cycle along the valley of the Rock Church Park, stopping off for a picnic break and a dip in the pool of a tourist farm along the way (subject to booking). If you still have enough energy, a 5 km climb will take you to the centre of Montescaglioso, which is dominated by the impressive 11th century Benedictine Abbey
Return to Matera and overnight stay.
Length: about 58 km with a short climb at the end. (that can be reduced to 40 km with a variation)
Grade: moderate, with good climbs for cycling (Matera and Montescaglioso)

Day 6 – Alberobello

Breakfast and departure for Alberobello. Go through the towns of Gioia del Colle and Noci until you reach Alberobello. Accommodation in aTrulli complex dating back to 1600, in the historical centre of Alberobello, which is included among UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Visit the old quarters with overnight stay.
Distance: about Km. 69.
Grade: easy with rolling hills and some short climbs

Day 7 – Ostuni “the White”

Cycling trough the Selva (forest) near Fasano, you follow the Adriatic coast and reach Ostuni, which is reputed an architectural jewel, and is commonly referred to as “the White Town” for its white walls and its typically white-painted architecture. Get situated at your 4* Hotel.
Dinner on your own and overnight stay.
Distance: about 45 km
Grade: easy with rolling hills and some short climbs

Day 8 – Breakfast and end of tour

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Prices per person, based on a double room occupancy

€ 730,00 (4 Casual + 3 Confort rooms)

What’s included

7 nights in double rooms, luggage transfer, technical and emergency assistance, road book.

What’s excluded

Medical/Luggage insurance, minivan assistance (available for small groups upon request), drinks, lunches and dinners, entrance fees, tips, personal extras, everything else which does not come under the heading “the fee includes”.

Supplements

Single room: € 170.00
Extra night in Trani € 60,00 (in double room)
Extra night in Ostuni € 60,00 (in double room)
Hybrid bike rental with 24/27 speed (Shimano Alivio/Deore gear) with rear pack frames and side bags: € 80.00 (7 days).
E-bikes and Road bikes: € 150,00 (6 days)
Transfer from Bari APT to Trani: € 40.00 (per person with 2 pax min)
Transfer from Ostuni to Bari APT: € 50,00 (per person with 2 pax min)

Castel del Monte: payment on entrance

Visitor opening hours: from 9 am to 6.30 pm open all day.
For information and bookings tel. 0883-569997
Cost of ticket: € 3.00
€ 1.50 reduced for people aged 18-25
Free entrance for children and people over 65

Gravina di Puglia – “Underground Gravina” Routes

Various tours ranging from 15 mins to approximately 2 hours with a chance to sample the different wines in cellars.
Ticket price: prices range from 2.5 euros to 10 euros per person

Matera: Guided tour of the Sassi (max 3 hr)

an unusual tour of the Sassi, a UNESCO world heritage site, to discover the hidden city. Set off from Piazza Vittorio Veneto to visit the city’s two treasures of Romanesque art: S. Giovanni Battista (1233) with its classical, figured capitals, and the Romanesque cathedral (1270), with its impressive façade embellished with a splendid rosette. The road down to the Sasso Caveoso begins at the top of the Cività, the ancient, medieval citadel surrounded by tall defensive ramparts and noble buildings, along a scenic route that unwinds through squares, steps and alleyways, which often run over the roofs of houses. This takes you to the rock church of Santa Lucia alle Malve (11th century), a splendid example of negative architecture: niches, apses, domes and capitals…created by digging a space out of solid rock. Next we come to a typically furnished cave-dwelling that was inhabited until 1956, which dates back to 1700, and a craft shop dug out of a cave. Also the seventeenth-century cellars, some of which are up to 100 metres deep, are hypogeums. Finally, stop off in a bar, in the Sassi for refreshments after the walk and to get an idea of how the cave dwellings have been renovated and rearranged today.
Individual Fee: € 30,00 (min. 2 participants)
Time max 3 hours, excluding entrance fees.

Matera MuSMA – Museum of Contemporary Art and the Crypt of Original Sin

Opening times and prices

The Crypt of Original Sin can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday, prior to booking.
Entrance fee: € 10.00 per person

MUSMA is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 8 pm.
From November until the end of March it is only open in the morning: from 10 am to 2 pm.
Entrance fee: € 5.00 per person

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