A cycling tour through Abruzzo, Molise and Apulia
Pescara-Francavilla al Mare-Fossacesia-Termoli-Lesina-Peschici-Mattinata
A true experience, exploring the most beautiful stretches of the Adriatic Coast by bike. From Abruzzo, you ride South across the Molise to the Gargano Promontory (National Park) in Apulia. The coast of Gargano houses numerous beaches and tourist facilities, including resorts such as Vieste, Peschici, and Mattinata. The two major salt lakes of Lesina and Varano are located in the northern part of the peninsula. Monte Gargano is the site of the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to the archangel Michael, Monte Sant’Angelo sul Gargano.
It is a tour to enjoy the excellent wines and delicious local meat and fresh seafood dishes, handcrafted nougat ‘torrone’ and confetti. Abruzzo, Molise, and Apulia truly offer a unique dining experience. Each moderate and scenic ride of this tour ends in a new, charming seaside town. The fine hotels chosen for this tour are all located on the beach.
Therefore, after a relaxing ride, you can spend your time on the sandy beaches and dive in the refreshing seawaters of the Adriatic Sea. Then, as aperitif time approaches, stroll through the alleys of old marine villages. A remarkable dinner in a restaurant of your choice will be the top of a beautiful day.
The daily program of the 7-day tour
You will be picked-up for a transfer from Pescara train station or airport to a 4 star hotel on the beach of Francavilla al Mare (20 min drive). Francavilla has 25.000 inhabitants and is therefore the largest town of this trip in the Abruzzo. It is a renowned beach resort with fine shops and a great choice of restaurants. Francavilla has an interesting history as you can see from the archeologic findings in this area, which date back to the prehistoric, Italic and Roman periods. Moreover there are many, very beautiful and interesting churches.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Francavilla al Mare
After leaving Francavilla the cycle route turns inland sneaking through the wine country. A gentle incline leads you to Tollo, one of the main wine towns in Italia. The road rolls through vineyards, olives groves and small hamlets until you are back on the coast at Ortona. Here a fierce battle lasting 6 months took place during World War II. You pass the Canadian War cemetery, a memorial of those tragic events. Soon you descend to the cute beach resort of Marina di S.Vito. This section of the Adriatic Coast is called “Costa dei Trabocchi”. The “trabocchi” are ancient wooden stilt-constructions suspended above the sea for fishing and are a distinctive feature of Abruzzo’s southern coast. At the arrival in Fossacesia Marina we suggest you a short detour to visit the magnificent abbey of S.Giovanni in Venere. Built in the XIII century over the ruins of a pagan temple this cathedral is, for location, architecture and artworks, one of the finest Romanic churches in Italy. Your 4 star hotel is right on the beach.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Fossacesia; Distance: 47,1 km / 29,3 mi; Ascent/Descent: + 599m -585m
You ride south along the easy rolling coastline crossing a few cute fishing villages. You cross the Sangro River passing by the British War memorial. The ride continues along the Costa dei Trabocchi until Casalbordino Lido. Here you turn inland and tackle a 3 km / 1,9 mi climb to Vasto, one of the nicest town on the Adriatic coast and an ideal setting for lunch. You can indulge on the local specialties, as the rest of the ride does not present other particular difficulties. A scenic descent to Marina di Vasto takes you back to the coastal road. Soon you leave Abruzzo crossing into Molise. The road now gets completely flat all the way to your 4 star hotel right on the wide sandy beach of Termoli. Termoli is a charming beach resort and has an old fishing harbour. The town is renowned for the quality of the beaches and the relative purity of the seawaters. This evening it will be difficult making a bad choice among its many fine seafood restaurants.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Termoli; Distance: 58 km / 36 mi; Ascent/Descent: +426m – 428m
The only short climb of today is the one that takes you through and out of Termoli.
In Campomarino you leave Molise and enter Apulia. Here the flat coastal road crosses a wildlife area without any villages. You leave the Adriatic road turning towards the Gargano Promontory and Lesina. Stretching on a lagoon rich of fish and bird life, Lesina is a delightful white-stone built maritime village. Lesina lies on the northern side of Gargano and on the shores of the lake with the same name. It is known for the production of (female) eels. The site, populated since the Neolithic era, is a narrow strip of land covered with sandy dunes and little woods, separating the lake from the sea, which creeps into its waters through two canals (Aquarotta and Schiapparo).
You stay at a charming B&B in the heart of town.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Lesina; Distance: 42 km / 26 mi; Ascent/Descent: +123m -131m
A lovely bike ride with a view on a quiet lagoon on one and agricultural fields on the other side. A silent wilderness occasionally interrupted by the chirping of birds and some tractors working on the fields. A short climb takes you up to Rodi Garganico. You are now entering the heart of the Gargano Promontory, a National Park and one of Italy’s nicest seaside. The historic center of Rodi Garganico has a medieval character and the typical Gargano structure, with steep stairways, narrow alleys and terraces overlooking the deep blue sea. Another short climb takes you to Peschici. This lovely town positioned on a cliff is overlooking the sea. It has characteristic white-stone houses of different periods and partially still walled-in. It is a real jewel. You will love the stone-paved alleys, dotted with local workshops, the flights of steps that suddenly show views of the sea and the casual artworks scattered everywhere. Your four star hotel is on the beach at a walking distance from the old town.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Peschici; Distance: 65,3 km / 40,6 mi; Ascent/Descent: +344m -324m
This final stretch is entirely in the National Park of the Gargano promontory. You ride in the shade of a vast old forest extending all the way to the white cliffs and to the beaches. The first and easier half of the ride takes you to Vieste, a charming town that is absolutely worth a visit. The ancient medieval village has kept very well its original characteristics. It has cosy irregular alleys, many tiny squares, lookouts opening to the sea and terraced houses with small balconies. You can take a break in one of the cafés of the main square and enjoy the tasty local specialties. Again in the saddle the coast becomes more rugged and this second stretch characterized by short up- and downhill cycling, but after every curve a new fantastic panorama is offered. A long descent takes you to the Pugnochiuso Bay, after which you must conquer another hill with a four km climb (the longest climb of the whole tour). Anyhow, this section can be skipped if you decide to stay on the busier main road. This alternative is shorter and less undulating. The two ways meet again at the Baia delle Zagare. From here only a few more rolling miles to get you to your hotel on the beach of Mattinata.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Mattinata; Distance: 61 km /38 mi; Ascent/Descent: +1200m/-1190m
After breakfast ends your scenic tour along the Italian Adriatic coast. Transfer to the train station of Foggia.
moderate to difficult
Cycling in a hilly landscape. Some long stretches and ascents to tackle. For cyclist with experience and good physical condition. Cycling mostly along quiet asphalted roads but along the coast there can be heavy traffic in certain periods. Not suitable for children under 12 years.
Average daily distances:
min. 42 km / 26 mi – max. 65 km / 40,5 mi
273 km / 170 mi
Daily from 24 April to 26 June and from 28 August to 02 October 2021
2 or more people.
START / FINISH:
Pescara / Mattinata