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Puglia Grand Tour
The Grand Tour della Puglia (Puglia Grand Tour) is a cycle route throughout the region of Puglia, the heel on Italy’s boot. The epic 787-kilometre route is designed to show the rich culture, history and beauty of the region.
The tour can be completed from start to finish in a series of days or broken up into sections to be completed at the cyclists’ own leisure. Whilst there are many suggested paths, there is no official route.
The phrase The Grand Tour comes from the 17th-century book ‘The Voyage of Italy, Or a Compleat Journey Through Italy’. In this, the author detailed the characters, churches, monasteries, villas and nature that characterise Italy to this day.
Bari is an excellent favoured starting point for many modern-day tourists. The city lies just 8 kilometres from the airport and allows participants to travel anti-clockwise to enjoy the beaches and small towns first, then the region’s eastern beaches later in the trip.
This route takes you from Bari to the cave dwellings and mountains of Matera, via Altamura. From here a very long jagged stretch awaits, via Murgia Materana and Terra delle Gravine National Parks. This will help you reach the charming naval port city of Taranto, nestled on the cusp of the Ionian Sea. Continuing this route will take you to the west coast, or if you prefer, you can head straight back to the east coast from Matera.
If you continue, a beautiful long stretch of the beach leads you down to Gallipoli on the Salento Peninsula. People often choose to rest here before heading to Italy’s southernmost town, Santa Maria di Leuca. It’s good to rest here as the next stop, Brindisi, is one of the trip’s highlights. Once at Santa Maria di Leuca, be sure to visit the lighthouse and gaze at the incredible views over the ocean.
Then follow the coast north on the eastern coast. Weary travellers, time permitting, can bathe in the natural crystal swimming pool at Marina Serra. As the area has just 30 inhabitants, you can also enjoy peace and quiet!
This stretch is particularly notable, taking in Tricase (with its many caves and hiking trails), the historic port town of Otranto and the beaches of Torre Dell’Orso, Grotta della Poesia (‘Cave of Poetry’) in Roca Vecchia and San Foca.
You can then take in the beautiful Baroque town of Lecce, before re-joining the coast and following it up to the historic city of Brindisi. Then bring this epic route to a close by cycling the short final stretch to Bari.
Alternative routes can take you from Bari up to Barletta and Rodi Garganico (in the Gargano National Park), right in the north-east of the region. Or you could decide to start in the Gargano and wind your way down to Lecce.