Cycling through Apulia's Fairyland

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The assumption about cycling in Italy is that the terrain will be hilly. This is not the case in Apulia, whose gentle rolling farmland is an ideal introduction to cycling and Italy. To arrive in the magical trullo region is like spinning into a fairyland of white conical dwellings, huge gnarled olive trees and miles of ancient stone walls. The warm and generous Pugliese people produce a culinary repertoire of abundant vegetables, pasta, bread and seafood, sure to satisfy even the hungriest cyclist.

[Alberobello's Trullo] A highly recommended route begins in Polignano a Mare, a charming whitewashed village overlooking the Adriatic just south of Bari. From Polignano head inland and stop at the Castellana Grottos, considered the deepest caverns in Italy. Then cycle towards Alberobello, famous for its picture-perfect narrow streets and hundreds of beehive-like trullo dwellings (pictured at left). Alberobello is the perfect base for several glorious loop rides to some of the most beautiful towns in southern Italy.

Your first loop should be to Martina Franca and Locorotondo, the latter a stunning circular village known for its excellent white wine. On loop two, stay in Ostuni, a charming hamlet whose whitewashed arches and houses are neatly piled like sugar cubes on hills rich in olive groves and vineyards. From here you can visit Alberobello and head south, past ancient olive groves and along the Adriatic to the Greek ruins of Egnazia.

Summers can be very hot and crowded in Apulia, so the best times for cycling are in April or May, when temperatures are perfect and the entire region is in full bloom, or September through early October, during la vendemmia (grape harvest). Cyclists will love the tiny roads that sometimes seem like bike paths. The only problem is that many of these roads are not on maps so it can be a bit of a maze; cyclists should bring a compass and be ready to explore. Luckily, the outgoing and friendly Pugliese people will always point you in the right direction!

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