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Tour of South of Italy

On a motorbike along the Adriatic coast passing through the Marches, Abruzzo, Molise and down to Santa Maria di Leuca, to then go up the heel and arrive in Matera.


With 10 days available and a motorcycle, where can you go? In many places, we have chosen Puglia and Matera which we have wanted to visit for a long time. Even our cloud of fantozzi followed us and, although it was April, we could not admire the magnificent colors of the blue sea and the usual heat of Southern Italy..but it was still a wonderful experience!

First stage: the Adriatic coast from Romagna to Molise

Sirolo, San Benedetto del Tronto, Pescara, Ortona, Costa dei Trabocchi, Termoli

The first stage seemed easy, but it never ended. We set off early in the morning with frost and technical clothing to protect us from the cold air, but enthusiastic about traveling 350km of coastal road across 4 regions. First stop in Sirolo where the sun and the crystalline water of the sea awaited us, then lunch with a fish sandwich in San Benedetto del Tronto where we met some of our friends and we stretched our legs on the promenade with the beautiful palm trees. In Pescara we stop in the central avenue for a nice ice cream and then set off again towards Ortona. Here we stop at the Aragonese Castle to admire the view; down at the foot of the cliff we also see a brand new cycle path that runs along the sea and we promise to do it in the future. While outside Ortona there is also a beautiful Canadian cemetery. We continue along the Costa dei trabocchi, whose road is a paradise for motorbikes, with its gentle curves and its landscape between fields and seas. Along the coast you can admire the trabocchi, imposing wooden buildings that stretch out towards the sea and which were used to fish by lowering a large net. The overflows are found from Pescara to the Gargano, but the coast of the overflows is the area where there are more of them. Today they have been transformed into restaurants and you can enjoy an excellent dinner directly on the sea. We arrive at Termoli towards evening tired and luckily the master of the B&B gives us a lift with his amazing Ape up to the restaurant in the ancient village. Termoli is small but very pretty. We eat and wander around the cathedral, the narrow alley A Rejecelle, the Swabian castle and return to the more modern historical centre.

Second stage: the Gargano

Rodi Garganico, One hundred steps beach, Peschici, Vieste

It is less than 100 km from Termoli to the Gargano and we dedicate the day to visiting the promontory. Let's start with Rodi Garganico, then the Spiaggia dei Cento Scalini where we are amazed by the tracks without a level crossing which are practically one meter from the sand and unfortunately also a bit skeptical about the plastic that covers everything. Another stop at the Grotta di Manaccora, where we travel along the strip of land that juts out towards the sea in a sort of off-road; then Vieste to stroll in the winding white streets of the center. At sunset we return to Peschici and discover that a live band is playing in the little bar in front of our apartment, so we go and have a spritz with our feet in the sand. In the evening we booked at the il Trabocco da Mimì restaurant, it's Fabio's birthday and we need something unique like this place. The food is excellent and the location is one of the most particular of the whole Gargano. We finish the evening with a last walk in the center of Peschici and go up the narrow streets illuminated by many small lights that reflect on the white.

Third stage: Bari and nearby Barletta, Trani and Molfetta

Baia delle Zagare, Zaponeta, the Saline, Barletta and the Colossus, Trani and the cathedral, Molfetta and the Church of Death, Bari.

Traveling the Gargano from Vieste to Manfredonia by motorbike is exciting: we are accompanied by wild nature, the ups and downs of the mountains, the road overlooking the sea, the pines, the curves, the stacks. We stop to see the Faraglioni in Baia delle Zagare and have a coffee on the beach in Mattinatella, where we see the cultivation of mussels. From the beach of Punta Rossa the landscape changes and you enter the industrial area of Manfredonia, after about twenty kilometers we arrive in Zaponeta and we travel along the strip of land between the salinas up to Margherita di Savoia, they seem to ghost and continue up to Barletta. Here we go to see the famous Colossus, it is a 4.50 meter high bronze statue from the 5th century, probably depicting the emperor Theodosius II but commonly called Heraclius. It is located on the left side of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher of Barletta and is exhibited for free outside. We also discover the story of the Challenge of Bari and of Ettore Fieramosca who, captured and challenged, won the duel to demonstrate the honor and non-cowardice of the Italians.

Another obligatory stop is Trani, with its cathedral on the sea, unique for its position and particular structure. An example is the bell tower, 59 meters high but with an unusual arch as a base. The historic center of Trani is beautiful and lively, we also stop to see the castle and the port.

We continue towards Molfetta where we look for the Church of Death, in the street of the same name, born in 1613 from a partnership of 38 men who created a brotherhood to give a burial decent to those who could not afford it. On one side is engraved "The Brotherhood of Death erected this temple so that death raises his torches as a friend." Burial took place inside the church and the bodies were thrown into a pit which led the bodies into the sea.

Late in the afternoon, we arrive in Bari: we visit the Basilica of San Nicola and that ofSan Sabino, we enjoy a walk at sunset along le walls, we stop for a beer in the cafes near the colonna dell'infame and in Piazza del Ferrarese and cross the more modern center along < strong>via Sparano from Bari to the Gardens of Umberto I.

Fourth stage: from Polignano to Alberobello

Polignano a Mare, Cala Corvino, Alberobello

From Bari we go to nearby Polignano a Mare: its majestic cliffs surround the beach Lama Monachile, which can also be admired from above from Terrazza Santo Stefano. The old town is perched on high cliffs and the whitewashed buildings are reminders of its Greek origins. There are also about eighty caves, such as the exclusive Grotta Palazzese with its restaurant overlooking the sea.

We discover that we are only 5 kilometers from Cala Corvino, where the resort of the same name was set "Profession Holidays“ with the actor Jerry Calà. Fabio grew up with this TV series and was delighted to see the place and hang around the resort.

We travel another 30 kilometers in the countryside among olive trees and low walls and arrive at Alberobello, Unesco heritage since 1996, to see the trulli. These magnificent buildings were born following a fifteenth-century edict, in which a tribute was required for each new house. The counts of the area thus obliged the peasants to use only stones, without mortar, and the best solution was these round houses with domed roofs. The roofs are still embellished today with decorative pinnacles and symbolic designs. We have lunch in a trullo with orecchiette and local products in the La Nicchia restaurant.

Fifth stage: the interior towards Ostuni

Martina Franca, Cisternino, Ostuni

We'll take this stage more relaxed. From Alberobello we take a quick trip to the historic center of Martina Franca, to see the city where our friends come from. We continue towards Cisternino, positioned on the hill, it enchants us among the colors of the surrounding fields, the sun, the clouds, and the color of the buildings.

We arrive in white Ostuni and go to visit the medieval historic center where cafes, flowers, and music enliven the narrow streets. It is called White City for the coloring with lime paint of the ancient village, which is still rigorously used. The Cathedral of 1400 with the ancient rose window is very particular. It is 8km from the sea and on a clear day you can see it, but we are not lucky. In Osturni we sleep just outside the city, in the middle of the olive trees, and with the horses to keep us company. Southern Italian hospitality is unique and here they even let us find wine, food, water, and various sweets!

Sixth stage: from Lecce to Santa Maria di Leuca

Lecce, Bauxite Quarries, Porto Badisco, Cipollian Caves, Ciolo Bridge, Santa Maria di Leuca

The motorbikes that start from Carovigno and continue downhill with a 180° panorama tell us about a perfect road. We'd like to try it but we're pressed for time and they haven't given us specific directions, the roads in the area are still very beautiful and scenic. We arrive in Lecce under the scorching sun and go to visit the historic center following the advice of our friends from Lecce; first of all take a pasticciotto from Alvino! We tried them with cream and pistachio and we still dream of how good they are. Alvino is located in the central square where there is the Roman amphitheater. From here we walk along the streets of the center full of small shops and visit the beautiful Duomo with the sumptuous decorations typical of the Leccese Baroque. Lecce is a wonderful and vibrant city.

We get back on the motorbike and travel 47km to the Bauxite Quarries with their incredible colors. This is a bauxite quarry under Otranto that was abandoned in the 70s, where the red and ocher colors of the earth contrast with the green of the flowers and vegetation that surrounds them and everything is reflected in the lake inside. You arrive via a dirt road near the entrance, park, and walk for a few minutes to reach the quarry. It certainly deserves a stop.

We set off again towards Porto Badisco with its Approdo di Enea beach, also mentioned in the Aeneid. This place was recommended to us for the restaurants where you can eat spaghetti with sea urchins. Too bad there's a 3-hour wait and we forgot to book. Argh! We continue along the beautiful SP358 which runs along the sea and gives us a magnificent landscape. We stop in Santa Cesarea Terme to look at the particular arabesque building of Palazzo Sticchi and the Gattula Spa.

We can't stop stopping all the time: Torre di Porto Miggiano, Grotta Zinzulusa, Grotte Cipolliane (the name is too cute not to see them and the path is easier and faster than it looks), Ponte del Ciolo that impresses seems impossible that they dive from that height!

With 1800km we arrive in Santa Maria di Leuca, the southernmost point of the boot!

Let's see the illuminated monumental staircase, walk along the seafront in the evening, and eat an exquisite burrata in a good restaurant in the center. The next morning we delude ourselves that we can see the two seas meeting from the lighthouse, but it is impossible so we do it again with the Grotta del Diavolo.

Seventh stage: going up the heel towards Porto Cesareo

Pescoluse, Gallipoli, Porto Selvaggio, Porto Cesareo

We dedicate this stage to the sea since the weather is on our side. We stop at Pescoluse and go to the Maldives of Salento, a beautiful beach where we are delighted to discover that 1) the sunbeds are free and you just need to consume 2) Lecce coffee with ice and almond liqueur is the best coffee in the world.

After a swim in the middle and a few hours of sunshine, we set off again towards Gallipoli to take a stroll around the city and eat something for lunch. Gallipoli is a typical seaside city, with a small port, a fortress, small shops, and restaurants full of people. We loved it!

We want to spend the afternoon at the beach and we stop after 18km in Porto Selvaggio: it's a natural park with pine forests, coves, cliffs, and crystal clear water. One of the most beautiful places we've seen! You walk about 15 minutes to get to the sea, but it's a nice walk.

We arrive in Porto Cesareo in the evening and we go to eat in a small restaurant on the seafront in front of the Isola dei Conigli (which is full of rabbits and which can be reached during the day with a small boat as the owner of the b&b tells us).

Eighth stage: towards Matera

Punta prosciutto, Taranto, Matera

In this stage, we covered 150km. To start the day well, we stopped at Punta Prosciutto beach to admire the Caribbean colors. Continuing north we took the coast road and loved the different and wild landscape with green shrubs on the right and surfers in the middle of the waves on the left. Towards Pulsano we entered the vineyards and fields of flowers and poppies. In Taranto, we had a very nice guy check the tires in a workshop and we went downtown to eat a delicious panzerotti and drink a Raffa beer. Here we noticed a curious thing: the ice cream parlors are called Sorbetterie. We also visit the historic center, passing by the Aragonese Castle, paying close attention as our friends from Taranto have advised us. A boy runs back and forth menacingly with a rearing motorbike, and an elderly artist sells his works created with logs fished from the sea. We walk along the road that flanks the historic center to reach the merchant port and it is suggestive to see the historic and decadent buildings. The industrial area is impressive and huge; we also see Ilva which we hear so much about on the news.

Ninth stage: Matera

Matera, Sasso Caveoso, Sasso Barisano, Civita

We arrive in Matera at sunset and we are enthusiastic: it is the last stage of our journey and one of the most important. We go to the B&B and immediately get back on the bike to go and admire the lights on of the Sassi of Matera from Belvedere Murgia Timone.. is something unique and suggestive.

These magnificent Sassi, however, have been the shame of Italy for years. Following his exile in Lucania, the anti-fascist writer Carlo Levi published in 1945 ' Christ stopped at Eboli ', a novel in which he denounced the inhuman conditions of the peasant population. "These inverted cones, these funnels, are called Sassi: Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. They have the shape with which, at school, we imagined Dante's hell. And I too began to go down a sort of mule track, from circle to circle, towards the bottom."

After the war, the newborn Italian state could no longer turn its gaze to the other side and in 1952 it passed a special law for the evacuation of the stones of Matera, the redevelopment of the Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano districts and the construction of social housing. For the new Matera, Adriano Olivetti also designed a model of an ideal city called Villaggio La Martella, which was unsuccessful due to emigration to the north. In the 60s the emptying of the Sassi was completed, which became the property of the state. In the following years, the Sassi of Matera became the setting for important films such as Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Gospel according to Matthew" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", which helped to raise the city's fame.

Today Matera can be visited by following its 3 main districts:

- Sasso Barisano: the oldest part, where there are hotels, restaurants and shops.

- Sasso Caveoso: here the appearance has remained similar to the past with caves dug into the rock, rock churches, and the Cave house, which was inhabited until 1957 and which today shows how it once was (room, kitchen, and stable well organized in the same room).

- Civita: the hill with the Cathedral and its narrow streets.

Furthermore, from the city, you can cross the Tibetan bridge and the prehistoric caves of the park of the Murgia Materana and the Rock Churches.

Tenth stage: the Alta Murgia and Castel del Monte

Altamura, Alta Murgia National Park, Castel del Monte

A few kilometers from Matera Altamura is worth a visit, a city famous for the delicious pane DOP and for its founder Federico II di Svevia (in April you can participate in the Federicus medieval festival). Let's take a walk in the historic center, see the cathedral and eat excellent grilled sausages. Let's get back on the bike and take the road to the north. We travel through the Alta Murgia National Park, perfect for motorbikes with its intense green expanses and gentle curves.

We arrive at Castel del Monte built in the XIII century by Frederick II of Swabia. The interior is bare but the structure is fascinating with its octagonal plan, 23-metre towers and astrological elements.

Last stop: Vasto and back

Vasto, D'Annunziano Hermitage, Senigallia

Leaving Puglia, we cross Molise again and cross the Abruzzo border, stopping at Vasto. The city is divided between the coast and the historic center on the hill, where we see the main square with the Caldoresco Castle and the panorama from the Belvedere di Porta Palazzo. Near Vasto there is Punta Aderci and the Eremo d'Annunziano built on a promontory where in the summer 1889 resided Gabriele d'Annunzio. From the bench, you can enjoy the panorama, the green and blue waters of the Turchina beach with the homonymous overflow next to it. The last stop before the final return to Romagna is Senigallia, with its beautiful square and its always vital and fascinating center.

Must places:

Trabocco from Mimi, Alberobello, Ostuni, Cave Bauxite, pasticciotto from Alvino, Porto Selvaggio

Itinerary on the map:



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