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Web Writing Sample: Biking Puglia

Biking Puglia: We love venturing off the beaten path... discovering ancient footpaths and isolated villages, seeing the Italy Hannibal knew, and tasting truly authentic food. This is the Puglia that awaits modern-day adventurers.

Puglia, possibly Italy’s least familiar region, is now being touted as the next Tuscany. This is an ancient world, and the hills and small coastal towns are steeped in history. Located on the Eastern Coast, deep in the heartland of Greek mythology, Apulia does have a distinctly Greek feel, but its ruins also feature Gothic and Byzantine architecture, among others. What better way to explore this mysterious region of olive groves and emerald waters than by bike? You’ll cycle past castles both small and grand, and old stone trullo dwellings.

You’ll swim in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas and view the Strait of Otranto. You’ll sleep in ancient masserias— fortified country homes renovated into elegant inns — and explore cities whose histories stretch back thousands of years. You may even imagine you’re no longer in Italy at all, but instead in some bewitching fairy tale.

Biking Puglia: Day 1 (46 km; 1.6 km = 1 mile) We’ll meet at the airport in Bari and shuttle you to our first night’s lodging, Il Trappetello, the starting point of our unforgettable adventure. Once we’re all settled in our rooms, you’ll have your bicycle adjusted and then you’re off for the first ride. Bari prides itself on its friendliness toward travelers, in the tradition of their patron, Santa Nicola, or Saint Nicholas. You'll appreciate their hospitality as we wind along its back roads and take in the view of the sea before retiring back to the inn. Then a relaxing swim and libations in the cool, intimate rooms of Il Trappetello’s bar. Dinner will be a delicious selection of Pugliese specialties devoured at a local trattoria. After this sample, you’ll anticipate your meals with the same relish we do! Lodging: Il Trappetello

Day 2 (66 km) Today is the tour's most challenging ride, but not to worry— the van is nearby in case you need a boost. We’ll pedal through the rolling hills of the Val d’Itria enroute to Alberobello, a Unesco World Heritage site, and home of the famous trulli. Unique to Puglia, these circular stone homes are topped with conical roofs of gray limestone, and Alberobello alone has a total of 1500! After a refreshing lunch, we’ll ride a few more kilometers to arrive at our peaceful, rural inn. Lounge poolside while sharing the highlights of today’s journey, then partake in a tasting of local olive oils before tucking into our catered dinner. Lodging: Masseria San Martino

Day 3 (49 km) After another hearty breakfast, we head out on a loop ride through the towns of Cisternino and Ostuni. After the initial uphill (better to get it over with early in the day!), you’ll meet astonishing views of the surrounding countryside and Adriatic as you cycle along the scenic ridge road to Ostuni. Known as "The White City", Ostuni is built on the remains of a prehistoric town destroyed during the final throes of the Second Punic War. Its labyrinthine alleyways and cobblestone streets are ideal for exploring on foot or bike. A stop here is not complete without a visit to the Spanish-influenced, fifteenth-century Cathedral, built under the auspices of the Sforzas, an aristocratic Milanese Renaissance family. Then it’s back to our inn to prepare for another prodigious dinner. Lodging: Masseria San Martino

Day 4 (40 km) After a van shuttle, we begin our travels through the Salento Peninsula. Today's breathtaking scenery is characteristically Mediterranean, and, not surprisingly, there's a distinctly Greek atmosphere. Words can't describe today's views: white sand beaches, the Alimini Lake Oasis, dozens of small, ancestral olive groves and vineyards, plus easy, smooth terrain. You'll have lunch at a funky, little seaside trattoria before continuing onward to Otrano, a thriving port town and jewel of the Adriatic. Before resting your head at our inn, experience the elegant ambience and breezy night life of Otranto's well-preserved historic center. Take your pick from one of the many trattorias for your dinner and explore the town at your own pace. Don't miss the Byzantine frescoes and the Castello Aragonese. Lodging: Palazzo de Mori

Day 5 (55 km) Awe-inspiring coastal vistas, hidden grottos, undulating cliffs... just a small part of what our ride has in store for us today. We’ll cycle along the spectacular high coastal road down to the southernmost point of Puglia, Santa Maria de Leuca— home of the famous lighthouse— where we’ll see the Strait of Otranto. This marks the point where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. Enroute, we’ll pass Grotta Zinzulusa, a fantastic seaside cavern lined with stalactites and stalagmites, and if the tide is right, you’ll be able to tour it. We’ll savor our lunch among the cliffs with stunning views over the Adriatic, then onwards to Santa Maria Leuca; our home for the evening. Lodging: Villa Ramirez

Day 6 (30-50 km) Today we leave the Adriatic behind and explore Puglia's Ionian coast. We'll encounter flat countryside and a lush panorama as we journey along the western tip of Italy’s heel. Perhaps we'll stop for a swim with the Naiads in the sparkling sea; if we do, keep your eyes peeled for fossils! With luck, the winds will be in our favor and we'll end our day with an afternoon ride along Gallipoli Bay. Lodging: Masseria Don Cirillo

Day 7 The end point of the Appian Way — the refined city of Lecce — the Florence of the South, where cyclists outnumber cars and Vespas. According to local legend, Lecce was founded during the Trojan War, and it's now the region's economic and agricultural center, dealing in olive oils, wines, and ceramics. As for its own natural resources, they export Lecce stone, a malleable limestone perfect for sculpture and carving, as well as formidable opera singers and footballers. A guided tour of this small city with its particular brand of Baroque architecture, barocco leccese, will wrap up our amazing adventure. We'll relish our final goodbye lunch together, then it’s off to the train station where you'll continue alone on further journeys or head to your homes, richer for the experience.

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