Salento is mostly identified as the “heel” of the Italian peninsula. You will spend seven days on pedals, following our gps maps leading you in the most evocative corners, to the countryside roads, small villages and handcraft laboratories in small sleepy towns that are off the tourist trail but greatly worth visiting for their unspoilt historic centres and their genuineness. This is a version for Family.
Day 1: Indivual arrival in Lecce
In the late afternoon you will meet our staff for a briefing on your trip and the delivery of bicycles and GPS. Then we recommend a wander – by bike or on foot – around the historic centre of Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’ that will win you over with its Spanish-style baroque architecture and its Roman ruins.
Day 2: Lecce – Martano 26 km
Completely flat route and on secondary roads. First stop is in Cavallino, where we’ll visit an open-air museum on the Messapian civilization (the people who lived here before the arrival of the Greeks and Romans). Continue then, through olive groves bounded by dry stone walls, up to Calimera. Here you can visit a nature museum, where you’ll discover the distinctive flora and fauna of the region. Final destination is Martano, the capital of the “Salentine Greece”
Day 3: The “Salantine Greece” 23 km
During the Middle Ages in Salento, people spoke Greek, thanks to the presence of the Byzantine monks. The ‘Grecìa Salentina’ is a small region of 9 municipalities where a version of this language is still spoken. You will visit some of these municipalities: Zollino, Sternatia, Martignano. In their charming historical centres you will discover some of the most delicious gastronomic specialties, such as ‘sceblasti’, a soft bread seasoned with tomatoes, courgettes, onions and peppers. Just this on its own is a worthy lunch!
Day 4: Matrano – Galatone 35 km
The first part of the journey is still in the Grecìa Salentina: we will will pass through Castrignano de Greci where, among other things, you can admire the ‘pozzelle’, an ancient system of public rainwater collection. Then on to Corigliano D’Otranto, with its majestic castle. You can do an optional visit to before continuing to an organic farm near Cutrofiano – which is also an educational farm. A cheese producer and a honey producer.
Day 5: Around Galatone: Galatina 30 km
You can start the day by picking vegetables in the farm’s vegetable garden, or you can decide to take a cooking class with Anna, who will host you in her large country house with swimming pool. Learn how to make orecchiette (typical pasta of the place, in the shape of an ear) and the “pitta di patate”, a pizza made with potatoes. The house has a large swimming pool, so before and after lunch you can relax with your family.
Then we’ll set off in the direction of Galatina, where you can admire the church of Santa Caterina, whose walls are completely covered with frescoes in Giotto style, and wander around the beautiful historical centre of the city.
Galatina is the centre of ‘tarantismo’, a ritual in which sick people (supposedly bitten by a taranta, a spider) were treated through music (the famous ‘pizzica’). The ritual itself is no longer pursued but the traditional music is still very much alive and performed everywhere. Do not miss the ‘pasticciotto’, a typical dessert of the locality, filled with a creamy custard. Preferably eaten hot!
Day 6: Galatone – Galipoli 25 km
Today we’ll continue to ride in the countryside, among olive trees and “pajare” (typical dry stone buildings, which dot the countryside). In Galatone you can visit the castle of Fulcignano (built by our Norman antecedents), in Alezio the museum of the Messapian civilization. If you want, you can take a detour to Tuglie for a visit to the Radio Museum (where you can find a history of radio communication with dozens of ancient examples all working).
Day 7: Around Galipoli: Porto Selvaggio 28 km
A relaxing day by the sea. After a short ride along the coast (quite deserted outside the peak season), you get to the Natural Park of Porto Selvaggio: a wooded area of more than 1000 hectares close to the sea. The calm sea here is fed by spring waters, and you can swim and relax for your last day of travel. On the way back, you really must stop in Santa Caterina, a very small town, where the inhabitants seem to know no other activity than that of eating ice cream!
Day 8: Breakfast and end of your bike tour.
In the morning you can walk around the historic center of this fishing town, among whose narrow streets you can still breathe life as it would have been lived decades ago. Do not miss the wine served at the underground mill, where olives used to be processed when Gallipoli was the world capital for the export of olive oil.
Transfer to Lecce / Brindisi / Bari.