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coast of italy

Your Words, Not Ours: Self-Guided Tour of Italy

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"Don't tell anyone about how beautiful Lecce is – everyone will go there! There are white limestone cathedrals, old squares and little cobbled streets, but it's nowhere near as busy as somewhere like Rome."

MateraMatera at dusk

Self-Guided Cycling in Italy

Venturing south to Italy's heel ticks all the Mediterranean boxes – scrumptious food and wines, sunny skies and time-old towns –with fewer crowds. For Cheryl Gooch and her family, cycling over gentle hills and past twinkling bays seemed the perfect way to catch up last summer.

"Cycling 50km a day, in southern Italy, with bikes supplied and all your baggage transported for you – I was sold! Our family's split across countries – my husband, teenage daughter and I live in Geneva – but our son's in the UK, so it would've been tricky to bring our own bikes.

And, as there were five of us, we thought a self-guided trip would give us that extra bit of flexibility and the chance to go at a leisurely pace, chatting as we cycled along.

Poppy fields 

Exodus gave us route notes about the area and suggested detours to the sights – castles, lighthouses, grottos. We only had to carry what we needed for the day; we left our bags behind in the morning and they magically appeared at our next hotel in the evening!

We began the trip in beautiful Matera. Buildings staggered up a cliff, with a dramatic drop at the back of the town where caves are built into the rocks. Our next night's stay in a traditional trullo in Alberobello was a pleasant surprise too.

Apulian Frisella with tomato 

Exploring Puglia

Each day gave us a complete change of scenery. Puglia is one of the biggest olive-producing areas of Italy, so there are fields and fields of olive trees.

There are also flat coastal paths, the chance to stand on the heel of Italy, and a breathtaking view of Leece as you approach the final leg of the trip.

Not to forget dairy farming and mozzarella production, which worked out nicely for our midday picnics – although we didn't go over the top at lunch because there was always a delicious meal and a glass of red wine waiting for us in the evening.

That's the brilliant thing about cycling in Italy – it's a great way to see the countryside, and you can eat and drink as much as you like!" Cheryl Gooch travelled on Puglia: Self-Guided Cycling in the Heel of Italy

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