Puglia & Basilicata Scooter Tour
Hit the open road on this guided tour of Puglia (“Apulia” for the Brits), southern Italy’s hottest tourist destination. Your guide will lead you along quiet backroads amongst olive groves and vineyards to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello, where we spend two nights. Alberobello is famous for its conically shaped “trullo” houses, which are unique to the region and impart a fairytale feeling to the landscape. Our last two days are in the fantastic city of Matera, also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Matera is cut in two by a spectacular ravine, creating cliffs that have been inhabited since prehistoric times. During the last thousand years, the locals excavated their houses, chapels, and shops from the soft tufa rock. The result is a fascinating and spectacular honeycomb of cave-hewn buildings.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Italy without great food and wine. Puglia is home to some of Italy’s most interesting cuisine, from fresh seafood to the opulent array of antipasti prepared from local produce like roasted artichokes, fresh figs and almonds, savory vegetable pies, and the deliciously creamy burrata cheese. What’s more, the indigenous grapes are being transformed by state-of-the-art wine-making techniques into opulent and powerful wines that many now consider to be among the best in Italy.
NOTE: You must arrive at the start of the tour already a safe, competent rider. We are not a motorbike school. A motorcycle license is NOT required to drive a scooter up to 125cc in Italy. A valid car license is required.
Puglia & Basilicata Scooter Tour itinerary
Independent arrival in Bari and check into the four-star Palace Hotel. It is centrally located on Bari’s main shopping street and is less than a ten-minute walk from the old city center. The colorful and atmospheric old own has been revitalized during the past ten years. Cafés, wine bars, and trattorias line the labyrinthine medieval streets, all of which eventually lead to the remarkable Romanesque architecture of the 12th century Basilica di San Nicola. Dine independently tonight in one of the many local restaurants. All meals and transfer to Bari on your own. Hotel included. Dinner not included.
Meet your guide this morning at 9:00 in the hotel lobby and transfer by van to the countryside just outside of Monopoli, where our scooters will be waiting. We will do a safety talk and then practice riding in a parking lot before heading out onto a quiet road. When you feel comfortable on the scooter – and we have assessed your ability to drive safely – we will head out to explore the countryside. Stop along the way to admire the view over a sea of olive trees that seem to wash up against the Adriatic. We take a side road to avoid traffic and ride to Monopoli’s imposing 16th century fortifications. Explore Monopoli by foot and then enjoy a lovely lunch at a local trattoria. Then hop back on your scooter and follow the coast road before climbing back up to Alberobello. On the way you'll pass whitewashed masserie, the imposing fortified manor houses that are the legacy of centuries of danger when corsairs raided the coast. Once in Alberobello, check into your "trulli house," which will be your home for the next two nights. Your bags are delivered by van. Meet again this afternoon for a guided visit of Alberobello’s famous Trulli Zone with a local guide. Dinner tonight is at “La Cantina”, a wonderful local trattoria where the open concept kitchen allows you to be entertained by the cooks as they prepare your meal. Overnight Alberobello. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today begins with a ride past ancient olive groves and whitewashed cottages to the town of Martina Franca, where you can admire the lovely Baroque architecture and then visit an olive mill where you'll learn all about the production process and then enjoy a tasting. Afterwards we have a short ride to the charming village of Locorotondo for lunch. On the way back to Alberobello, stop into a winery for a quick visit and “educational” tasting of the area’s delicious wine. Back in town, you have free time to wander through the maze of trulli houses or simply enjoy a chilled glass of wine in the square. Dinner tonight is at Trattoria Terra Madre, where you enjoy a delicious meal made from produce grown in the owner's garden right outside the restaurant windows. Overnight Alberobello. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Head southwest this morning through vineyards and orchards to the village of Gioia del Colle, where we stop for a coffee break and a visit to the imposing Swabian (yes, Swabian!) medieval castle. Then we have another hour’s ride to lunch at the edge of Matera in an ancient sheep corral. It's a short ride from there to amazing Matera, where we have a visit with a local guide who will tell us all about the region’s Christian and pagan past. Visit centuries’-old frescoed rock chapels and monasteries, as well as some of the previously inhabited cave-houses. Matera is another UNESCO World Heritage site and is truly an unforgettable place. Up until the late 1950’s, many of Matera’s inhabitants lived in stone dwellings partially excavated from the rockface of the two steep ravines that slice through the city. The “Sassi” fell into ruin in the 1960s when the city moved these “cave dwellers” into new government housing. Fortunately for us, however, the people from Matera began restoring the ancient village a decade ago and it is now a truly unique place. Our hotel for the next two nights, the Hotel Basiliani, is a chic and modern re-interpretation on Matera’s traditional “Sassi” houses. Enjoy an aperitivo on the hotel terrace and watch the last rays of the sun play on the opposite wall of the gorge before walking to dinner. Overnight Matera. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today’s ride takes us into the heart of the province of Basilicata, one of Italy’s most beautiful and least populated regions. Our route takes as across wide open plains to perched hilltop villages. You will get a glimpse of authentic Italy as we explore the rustic villages of Montescaglioso and its ancient Benedictine Abbey before dropping in to see our new friends Cinzia and Flavio for a superb light lunch at their farm. They produce their own sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants which they preserve “sott'olio” and which we enjoy as our antipasti. Bring your swimsuits, because they have a lovely pool which we can enjoy before returning to Matera. You have free time before one last fantastic dinner. Overnight Matera. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Enjoy a relaxed morning as our final transfer to the Bari train station departs at 11:00 to connect with trains for Rome (13:17) and afternoon flights (Ryan Air has a 15:05 flight to Rome). Earlier departures are possible but at your own expense. Breakfast and one group transfer to train station included.
Trip Cost Includes: 5 nights, 5 breakfasts & 4 dinners; bilingual guide; *provision of a 125cc scooter with rear carrier bin and helmet; related third party liability insurance as required by Italian law (but not insurance covering damage to the scooter caused by you); fuel; van pick-up on Day 1 from Hotel Palace in Bari, final van transfer to Bari train station or airport; guided visit of Alberobello and Matera with licensed city guide.
The Palace Hotel is one of the top hotels in Bari. It is a comfortable four-star hotel with a great location in the heart of the city, close to the train station, the main shopping street, and the old port. We are there for one night.
The Trulli Holiday offers the opportunity to stay in the Trulli historic homes, unique in the world.
The Hotel Basiliani in Matera is a beautifully-renovated hotel situated amongst the historic “Sassi” district with memorable rooms and unforgettable views.
IMPORTANT | QUALIFICATIONS
You must be over 18 years of age, have a valid driver’s license. Of course anyone can be a passenger. Previous experience on a scooter or motorbike is advantageous and highly advised. If you have not ridden one before then you should do so before you do this trip. Rent a scooter locally, and learn how to ride it before coming on the trip.
WE ARE NOT HERE TO TEACH YOU HOW TO DRIVE A SCOOTER. YOU MUST ARRIVE AT THE START OF THE TRIP ALREADY A COMPETENT RIDER. In the past we have been amazed by people who arrive to drive a scooter on public roads who have never ridden a scooter before and who are uncoordinated, nonathletic, and who will clearly never be able to drive a scooter safely. Please do not be one of these people. Our scooters are easy to ride, but a good sense of balance and coordination is required. The scooters have a 125cc engine and an all-steel frame. They are lighter and easier to drive than a larger motorbike but they are also heavier than a moped and other smaller 50cc scooters (they weigh about 110 kg, or about 235 lbs).
You will be driving a motor vehicle on public roads. You are responsible for your safety but also for the safety of other motorists, bikers and pedestrians. You must be able to control the scooter and drive it competently. If we feel your driving skills put you and others at risk we reserve the right to take the scooter away from you. In the event that you cannot ride as a passenger on the back of someone else, then we will help to arrange an alternative mode of transport, either taxi, or rental car, but at your expense.
The bottom line is that we just want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday!
The Scooters – Traveling by scooter is fun and easy. We have a local scooter provider who supplies us with modern 125cc scooters. They are not Vespa™ brand but are very similar, with an electric start and automatic transmission. The brakes are on the handlebars, like a bicycle. We provide you with helmets. The 125cc scooter is also powerful enough for two people to happily cruise through the countryside. It’s the best way to get off the beaten track without working up a sweat! Of course, couples can ride together on one scooter (and save €100 for one person).
Scooterbella in the news: our tours have been featured in the travel section of The Guardian (UK), Jan 20th, 2007. Another article was published by The Observer on April 23rd, 2006. Our Tuscany scooter trip was also featured in a 3-page full-color article in the London Telegraph, and in London’s The Times.
Useful Links -
Puglia tourism: general introductory site on the region of “Apulia,” including links to weather forecast, train schedules, and local events
Bari: basic information and history on the city by Wikipedia
Trulli houses: short site on these traditional houses
Matera tourism: basic Wikipedia site on this amazing city
Basilicata Province: website for the province of Matera, lots of information
UNESCO World Heritage Site: check out all the wonderful places in Italy!
Vroom with a View: check out Peter Moore’s lively account of his solo trip from Milan to Rome on a vintage Vespa™ scooter.
Getting There: the trip starts in Bari on Saturday night at our pre-booked hotel. You can either take the train or fly directly into Bari airport.
Air: Bari Airport (see link at the bottom of this page) is well connected with other Italian cities and there are some flights from European hubs such as London. It is a 25-minute taxi ride from the airport to our hotel in Bari (about € 25). Remember that London, Milan, and Rome have multiple airports (one serving more international flights and the other domestic), so be careful when purchasing transfer flights on different companies!
Rail: There are several trains a day to Bari from the major Italian cities (for timetables please see the link below to the Italian railway website). Travel time from Rome and Milan by Eurostar train is about 5 hours and 8 hours respectively. The hotel is a 5-minute cab ride from the train station (a taxi is advised), and should cost no more than €10. See our section on Italian trains below for more information.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends in Bari for afternoon trains to Rome (either at 13:17 or 18:20). If you choose to leave earlier from Matera for the Bari airport or train station, we can arrange transport for you (at your expense, about €90).
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or feel free to e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
A scooter is the perfect way to explore Puglia and Basilicata. Especially when you are in the hands of such knowledgable and fun guides. This was the first tour we did with Brett and Sara - and we have now done three! They make everything fun. Just the right pace, flexible, relaxed and just the best restaurants and hotels. We look forward to our next (4th) tour with our friends at Scooterbella.
This was the first group tour we have done and it proved to be a huge success for us. The scooters were a perfect way to see a little bit of Italy, having said that we felt we saw it all. The food and wine was great and every place we visited was well thought out. Brett and Sara were excellent guides, making sure we were well looked after. We enjoyed Our scooterbella experience so much we booked two years later for a similar experience on the Croatia scooter tour.
My husband and I are independent travelers and don't typically take tours. But we loved this trip led by Brett & Sara. It felt like we were just out scootering each day with our friends. We went on backroads we never could have found on our own. We lunched at an olive farm and another day an organic tomato / sun dried tomato farm. We visited small towns and UNESCO World Heritage sites along the beautiful Adriatic. Brett and Sara go the extra mile to make this a unique and wonderful experience.