What to say then: a beautiful region to be discovered, with its favourable climate, a fabulous sea, art, culture … and so much great food. And for the latter there is no need to argue with the dietician: just turn by bike! But this is not the only reason that makes the most eastern region of Italy the perfect place to be explored on two wheels: here is the story of my Apulia bike tour!
Why turn it by bike
First of all, Puglia is long but narrow (on average only 60 km), and is crossed by two parallel roads that run more or less at its two ends: the Via Francigena and the Via Appia. These, joined by a dense series of connections, allow you to easily reach any location.
Most of the territory, then, has a low population density with funds spread throughout the territory and of small-medium size. This means that many small roads connect the different lands and therefore offer many alternatives to reach any point of the Region through routes surrounded by greenery and especially poorly trafficked.
What to do where to go and what to see in Apulia
Apulia can give emotions of all kinds. From the sea to nightlife, from art to history, from culture to food and wine. And all the places of interest are distributed throughout the territory at such distances that they can easily be covered by bicycle.
And it is precisely to experience this reality that we were invited to a Press-Trip by the Puglia Region, which from tourism is undeniably doing an excellent job in recent years. So, in the company of other excellent bloggers and journalists we embarked on this exciting adventure on the saddle of a mountain bike rented from a local company, but worthy of the best international organizations: Puglia Cycle Tours, precisely. You can imagine how heterogeneous the group was, forage, interests, and especially level of fitness. No problem. For those who were out of shape, injured or simply wanted to use the excuse that to make the films and bring the equipment could not comfortably pedal, there were also electric bicycles, with which to take away the satisfaction of overtaking all the others when they struggled uphill!
I, although attracted by this idea, preferred a nice mountain bike, a bit ‘for pride, but especially because, as often happens in this type of travel, I was going to taste everything and maybe several times, and this would make me feel less guilty.
It is impossible to tell the emotions that this trip has been able to give me. E not only to my palate, which is still languorous for the typical “pasticcio to” of Lecce, although I think I ate more than a pound in a delicious and traditional aperitif in the historic house “La Torre del Borgo”. Reliving the fairytale atmosphere of the caves of Castellana, admiring the coasts of Melendugno (incredibly similar to those of the Australian Great Ocean Road) and being able to touch the still productive olive trees that are there since Roman times, are only a small part of the memories that will remain forever imprinted in my mind.
There are more touristy places like Alberobello (where you can sleep in a trullo and discover that the roofs are actually born white and become grey only after a few years for the moss that forms on it) and less popular places but still able to take your breath away, like Palagianello (a small Matera with its stones and its ravines). Why not visit Monopoli and discover that it’s not square and you don’t need dice to get around? In short, the territory is full of points of interest. And touring them by bike is easy and fun, especially if you carry in your backpack a nice piece of Apulian focaccia … and some pie!
I can’t help but say one thing this time. It’s about my fellow travellers and their companions. Anyone who moves in the company, or in a group, knows the problem. Travelling is like living together because you share timetables, meals and whole days. And it is very difficult to live together (divorce lawyers know this well), especially with people who may have completely different ages, habits, times and interests.
Of course, it should be noted that cycling offers several advantages from this point of view: during the journey, you can decide to pedal alone, to get closer to a fellow traveller or another, perhaps because you want to talk to him alone or because it has a pace closer to your own. Doing a journey together, then, and with effort, always unites the soul, creates a kind of military spirit.
But usually, there are still some incompatibilities. In this case, however, I must say that I found myself surrounded by all the truly exceptional people. My grandfather always said, “hang out with people who are better than you”. He couldn’t have been happier if he had seen me in this Press-Trip.