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Puglia Bicycle Tours

THE REGION IN DETAIL

You may find it helpful to view and print off a copy of the regional map and cross reference with the description below.

The coast immediately to the south of Bari is rather low, rocky and jagged, changing as the landscape softens to a series of sandy coves as far as Conversano. The coastline between here and Monopoli is truly spectacular, with the balconies on the rocks of Polignano a Mar and the splendid rocky coastline that runs the Castellana Caves. From here to Brindisi there is sand, sand and more sand, with mile after mile of unspoiled beaches. Puglia

Trulli, gently rolling countryside, olive oil, white wine, capocollo ham, easy access to the beaches of the Adriatic and the Ionian seas and half a dozen really super, picuresque towns, including Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Cisternino, Ostuni, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello... these are some of the highlights of the Valle d'Itria, one of Puglia's most popular and attractive areas! Set on a high fertile plain in the centre of Puglia, the Valle d'Itria stretches from Putignano in the north to Ostuni in the south, its wooded slopes, vineyards and endless olive groves punctuated by the coned roofs of trulli, those unique cylindrical constructions that are peculiar to the area.

The valley in Valle d'Itria's name is not a a typical valley but rather a Karstic depression that runs between Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca. This geological phenomenon has also created the fascinatingly beautiful caves of Castellana Grotta, which run for about 3km under the north-eastern edge of the Valle d'Itria.

Thanks to Puglia's long slender shape, even if you are in the centre of the Valle d'Itria you are never far from the sea... or should we say seas! The Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea, where you can enjoy the long sandy beaches and turquoise waters contribute to Puglia's great popularity as a holiday destination.

Food lovers are assured of a endless array of delights! Each town in the Valle d'Itria seems to have its own specialty, whether it is the capocollo ham of Martina Franca, the meat bombette of Cisternino (barbecued directly by the butcher for you) or the DOC white wine of Locorotondo. Of course the olive oil is supreme, and the cheeses, including the milky Pugliadelights of burratina, are truly memorable!

The southernmost part of Italy's heel, the Salento begins where the hills of the Valle d'Itria end. From there, the land becomes a long flat tongue of land that laps two seas: the Adriatic to the the east, the Ionian to the west.

The Salento is home to some of Italy's loveliest towns and cities: the sea-front fortified gems of Gallipoli and Otranto, the creamy baroque sophistication of Lecce and the luxurious seaside Liberty pleasures of Leuca.

Besides these architectural gems the Salento is also full to brimming with small sleepy towns that are off the tourist trail but greatly worth visiting for their unspoilt historic centres and their unassuming genuineness. Examples include Specchia and the so-called Greek towns of Calimera, Carpignano Salentino, Castrignano dei Greci and Zollino.

These towns preserve the Salento's strong historic ties with Greece, dating back thousands of years. The local dialect, 'Grika', and many of the area's gastronomic, cultural and religious traditions have evident Hellenic roots which are celebrated with frequent festivals, including the hugely popular and energetic Notte della Taranta.

The Salento's hinterland plays a fundamental role in Italy's agricultural economy, producing enomous quantities of Pugliaexcellent olive oil and full-bodied, robust wines, such as Primitivo di Manduria and Salice Salentino.

It is the long and varied coastline, however, that is the major attraction for the area's tourist industry. Home to some of Italy's loveliest beaches and most dramatic rocky coastline, the Salento is a haven for sea lovers. From the southernmost tip near Leuca, running up the west coast to Gallipoli and beyond, is a vast almost non-stop strip of paradisiacal golden sand and transparent azure waters. To the east, the Adriatic coastline is more varied, offering sandy beaches, Karstic grottoes, chalk cliffs and salt-water lagoons.

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