We had already hinted to the fact that we would start our world trip with a vacation in Fontainebleau, France, for 2 weeks of bouldering. In fact, there was another pre-vacation waiting for me. For the past 8 years, I have reserved 1 week per year to go on a cycling tour with my Mum who is the best at researching possible destinations. This year, it was beautiful Puglia at the southernmost tip of Italy’s heel.
Although the start was a bit difficult with rainy and cold weather and me having caught a cold at Oktoberfest, the tour was magnificent (thanks again to Gabi for choosing this great travel destination!) Puglia in autumn is great for low budget, uncrowded travel with fantastic sights, outdoor activities and the best Italian food – go and see for yourself! Although there is so much more to say, I want to point out 10 highlights of the trip:
1.) The food: it’s THE BEST for vegetarian options as a lot of the dishes “di terra” (from the land as opposed to “di mare” from the sea) are 100% plant-based. Best are pasta with seasonal vegetables as “cime di rapa” (a bit like kale) or “fave e cicorie” bean puree with chicory. Incredibly tasty!
If you’re into cooking, here is a Fave e cicorie recipe – very easy!
2.) The east coast between Santa Maria de Leuca and Otranto: Few places to stop for a swim as the cliffs are very steep, but the sea view is extremely beautiful. Also one of the more challenging stages as the road is a constant up and down
3.) The friendly B&B hosts and their houses: we chose the B&B option since we knew from our previous trips that one spends almost no time in the room – you leave early, arrive late, and after dinner you fall into your bed. This time, there were a lot of traditional B&Bs with very helpful hosts.
4.) The sandy beaches of the west coast: This was the first time we hit the coast after starting in the inland town of Matera. Although it was a bit overcast, the beaches were still beautiful – and due to the late time of the year there were almost no other tourists.
5.) Olive trees that accompany one along one’s way: a familiar view in most of the Mediterranean region, and still I like it.
6.) Stops on the way either in small old towns or picnic: the nearest coffee stop in this region is at most 10km away given that every village ha at least one coffee bar 🙂 and the espresso still only costs you 0,80 € 🙂
7.) My mum overtaking me on the ascents with the little help of an e-bike 🙂 – no comment 😉
8.) The Zinzulusa cave: Great natural caves that are open for visitors can be found all along the coast line. This cave (home to bats and sea birds) is the largest one and can be reached by foot which we did during a short stop.
9.) The Sassi dwellings carved in limestone: very impressive town with many buildings and even churches carved into the soft limestone. One of the touristic highlights of a lot of Asian tourists as witnessed by the busloads coming in the city even outside of the main season.
10.) Bertram’s visit towards the end: coming over from a weeding of two Cambridge friends Bertram joined us for the last 1.5 days. Due to slow (but very inexpensive) public transportation, it took Bertram the same time to make the 60km stage as we took on our bikes 🙂
Let’s see where the next bike tour takes place – maybe we will even be able to build one into our world trip 🙂