To/In Alberobello - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

April 16, 2022 to April 17, 2022

To/In Alberobello

Waking to a gray and windy day, I headed to a nice café down the way for a fortifying breakfast of granola with yogurt and a pasticciotti – I’m really enjoying these cream-filled Italian pastries, almost as much as almond croissants. I was ready to go by 9:30, and immediately faced the challenge of finding my way through Ostuni’s concentric circles of alleyways and staircases. Eventually, after a few dead-ends, I was out of the white city on the hill and climbing to the Itria valley.

My cave-like B&B in Ostuni
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In Ostuni
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In Ostuni
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In Ostuni
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How does one climb from “the white city on the hill” to a valley, you might ask. Well, valley is a bit of a misnomer as the Itria valley is actually not a valley but “a depression due to karstic phenomena” at the southern end of the Murge Plateau. Whatever the correct geological terminology, it was an up and down journey, starting with the 1.2 mile climb out of Ostuni. My delayed reward was a downhill chute toward the small town of Casalini, reminiscent of the Rippey Dumps in Madison County Iowa.

On the way up out of Ostuni
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Still climbing
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A group of four on horses passed on their way downhill. Pops was looking pretty relaxed atop his steed.
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The younger riders were alert and in good form
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Down to Casalini!! Just stay on the wrong side of the road.
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In addition to being a “karstic phenomena”, the Itria valley abounds in unique dry stone shelters with conical roofs called trulli (singular, trullo). Although I knew I’d be seeing many trulli today, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how prevalent they are – old ones with collapsing sides and/or roofs, refurbished ones standing alone or incorporated into fancy villas or B&Bs, and some that appeared to be new construction.

The numbers of trulli increased with each passing mile, and were especially prevalent near the larger towns of Cisterino and Locorotondo where I stopped for a coffee and lunch, respectively. Trulli are a big tourist draw and both towns had their fair share of visitors on this Easter weekend. But truth be told, I was getting pretty “trullied out” by the time I hit Locorotondo, especially by all the commercialized trulli I’d passed along the way.

A more traditional trullo in an olive grove, where they once provided shelter for farm workers
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In Cisterino
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A signed bikeway took me to Locorotondo
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Impressive ears, but they don't hold a candle to those on the Jonica goats I saw yesterday
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A two-room trullo
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In the small village of Figazzano
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Looking toward Locorotondo
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Lunch stop in Locorotondo
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However, you can’t stay jaded too long while on a bicycle tour and the route between Locorotondo and  Alberobello  was almost magical – cycling along stone-walled roads that curved through blossoming orchards, olive groves and vineyards. There were plenty of trulli, but they were mostly “county trulli” rather than the “city trulli”, a bit refurbished but not all gussied up for company.

It was also along this stretch that I met Alex, an engaging Italian from Bari out for a short bike-packing weekend to Martina Franca to visit his family for Easter. He was new to bike touring and we spent several enjoyable minutes exchanging information on gear, routes, and places to tour. The it was off to the Disney-like town of Alberobello, a town where trulli are so concentrated that it has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. I had a nice room that looked over scores of trulli and enjoyed a traditional Apulian meal in a trulli - a fitting end to to a most un-ordinary day.

The road to Alberobello was a popular cycling route
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The road to Alberobello - a trulli route
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Along the road to Alberobello
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Alex and Susan
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Steve Miller/GrampiesWe see the brace is still on. Is it now habit or is it needed?
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Steve Miller/GrampiesA little of both, Steve. The ankle isn't 100% but is giving me no problems cycling with the brace. I consider it helping with stability when I jump off the bike for a photo or quick stop. I'll be ending my tour in Puglia in a week and I figure why mess with things that are going well. Glad to see you and Dodie are on the road - safe travels.
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3 months ago
Suzanne GibsonThe best Easter outfit of all - biking shorts, jersey and windbreaker! I remember, too, getting all dressed up for Easter, and we weren't even Catholic.
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3 months ago
The road to Alberobello
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The road to Alberobello
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I had a room with a view
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Slicing up the local Martina Franco ham for my antipasto
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Easter Sunday In Alberobello

I’d been watching the weather forecast over the past few days, a bit concerned about predictions of strong winds and rain. Sure enough, the rain started sometime in the night, awakening me with a reminder that I’d left clothes drying on the balcony. Though it had cleared a bit by dawn, the day was forecast to be rainy, windy and cold – not a favorable forecast for the 42 mile ride to Matera.

Over breakfast, I was still contemplating whether to make a run for it when the skies opened and the sound of heavy rain sealed my decision – I would stay another night in Alberobello. I easily pushed back my reservation in Matera but had to find new lodging as my room was booked and I had to be out by 11. It is Easter weekend, and with Easter Monday being a bank holiday throughout Europe, finding a new booking wasn’t so easy. The good news is that I found a room at a large hotel on the outskirts of town, the bad news was that I couldn’t check in until 3 pm, not a moment before. Thankfully, the kind folks at Quercus let me leave my bike and bags at the B&B. Now all I had to do was while away a few hours on a cold, rainy day in a town jam-packed with visitors.I took a short walk through the town, finding new appreciation in the “city trulli” where people still live.

I've often seen umbrellas strung between buildings in Europe, but straw hats are a first
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Residental trulli
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A sea of trulli
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Trulli in need of some TLC
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It was cold and I was miserable, biding my time until restaurants opened and I could get a warming meal. Then, unexpectedly, I went to Easter Mass at the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian. I was raised Catholic and spent many years in Catholic schools, where priests and nuns hammered home the finer points of the sacraments and Eucharist. Easter was a pretty big holiday back then, not just Easter baskets but new spring outfits for Easter Sunday Mass. I was remembering all this, and all that has transpired since then that has led me to where I am now, a non-believer sitting in a pew in a chilly Italian cathedral surrounded by strangers. But while the setting and language are different, the ritual of Mass has changed little. It was a touchstone that brought a little warmth on a chilly, rainy day.

Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian
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Easter Mass is about to begin in the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian
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After Mass I joined a multitude of people looking for a place to eat – but everything was booked full. I finally settled for an espresso and warm ham and cheese panini from a bakery – outside eating only. It was just 1:30, but I picked up my bike and gear and made my way to the hotel, hoping they would take pity on me. Early check- in? No problem!!

I am now warm, comfortable and planning the last phase of my Puglia tour. Life is good.   

Today's ride: 25 miles (40 km)
Total: 295 miles (475 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 8
Scott AndersonYou’re heading up to Matera! Your ankle must be doing fine or you wouldn’t be considering it.
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3 months ago
Rachael AndersonSorry about the weather.
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonYes Scott, it's doing great. Not 100% but it's handled everything so far and there's no reason to stop now!
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rachael AndersonThanks Rachael - I'm just getting soft in my old age :)
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3 months ago
Rachael AndersonTo Susan CarpenterDefinitely not! I would have done the same thing. Hope the weather gets better for your visit to Matera, it’s an amazing place!
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3 months ago
Rich FrasierHappy Easter, Susan!
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3 months ago
Laura ChiharaLove seeing interesting trees on this tour!
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3 months ago
Laura ChiharaLove seeing interesting trees on this tour!
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3 months ago