To Ostuni - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

April 15, 2022

To Ostuni

It was an interesting day – the longest of the tour and one full of miss-directions and surprising delights.

My route out of Lecce took me through the lovely Parco di Belloluogo, with flowering trees and a turret then dumped me into the industrial zone - a very non-scenic five miles along wide roads with little traffic but many rounds-about. I was a little nervous about taking the wrong exit from the round-about as I didn’t want to end up on the on ramp of either of two highways flanking my route.

I was happy to be safely through the industrial zone, but faced a barricaded dirt track. Undaunted, I rolled Vivien Geoge under the barricade and toward an ancient stone arch, a bit excited to be on a road trod by ancient Greeks and Romans that I’d heard so much about yesterday. Vivien George posed for several photos and we proceeded on the track through the arch, only to find ourselves at the edge of a freshly plowed field. I’d been so distracted by the arch that I failed to notice the blue line on my RWGPS went around the old fortress, not through the arch. Unfortunately, the blue line soon led to an insurmountable barrier of stone and dirt than was not scalable. We retreated back toward the industrial zone and found an alternate road that would allow me to rejoin the original route outside of Trepuzzi. But the routing miscues weren’t over – one led to another dirt track (not taken) and a second to two large German Shepards (again, not taken). Finally, after passing through Trepuzzi I found the small sealed road through the olive groves that I was seeking. I was back on track, after four extra miles on this, my longest day.

In Parco di Belloluogo
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Not sure if this is better than a round-about, but it definitely won't put me on an expressway
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Scott AndersonGreat shot. Worth the detour.
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3 months ago
Following the blue line to who knows where
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This clearly is not a through route. Time to retreat
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Finally back on route
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In planning my routes, I always look for the smaller roads with low traffic, the sort where you can ride with your head on a swivel and perhaps stop abruptly for a photo-op. Though there were difficulties in getting to some of these roads today, my efforts were rewarded. The biggest bonus was the herd of goats. I raised a few goats while I was in graduate school, and found great delight in their curious and capricious nature. Today, the herd passing by were of a sort I’d never seen – white goats with floppy ears the size of a Christmas stockings, and black-faced, wooly ones that could have been either goats or sheep. The white Jonica goats, a breed native to Salento, were the most curious – giving me a wary eye or checking out my panniers. The black-faced ones kept their heads down, huddled together as they passed by. The goats were the highlight of the day, and something I’d not have experienced on a provincial highway.

The second high of the day was spotting my first trulli, a three-coned model tucked into the woods past Squinzano. I know that I’ll see many, many more trulli as I head into the Itria Valley where these unique stone huts with their conical roofs abound. Still, the first one was special.

My kind of road, even if it is a little potholed
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The best of the day is approaching
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I'm watching you
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The younger ones have ears to their knees
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Suzanne GibsonAren't they amazing!
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Suzanne GibsonFor sure, Suzanne. The ears must be as long as the baby goat when they're born and then they just "grow into their ears"
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3 months ago
Ears flapping in the breeze
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Another delight of small roads - random alters to the Madonna
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Another small road between Squinzano and San Pietro Vernotico
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My first Trulli
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Today’s mix of small roads and low traffic provincial highways passed through varied landscapes - including olive orchards and fields of ripening artichokes. Unfortunately, the olive trees in Puglia are suffering from a new bacterial disease called olive quick decline syndrome. Efforts to identify infected trees and control disease have been ongoing since 2013, and I’ve witnessed crews out removing trees and/or severing their limb. Interestingly, Scott Anderson recently reported the destruction of the plane trees of Southern France due to an infectious plant disease.

Old growth olive trees appear to have been de-limbed, perhaps as a means of disease control
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Scott AndersonThat’s so sad! I haven’t heard of this before. Old olives are such amazing trees.
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3 months ago
More recent evidence of disease control
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A hopeful sign
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I'm always amazed each time I see and artichoke plant
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I also passed through several small to medium-sized towns - Squinzano, San Pietro Vernotico, Mesagne, and San Vieto dei Normanni. Looking back, they were almost indistinguishable, with narrow one-way roads lined with stone buildings, many in need of refurbishing. These are not the towns that attract tourists but rather are lived-in towns where people work, shop, and raise families.

In Squinzano
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In Squinzano
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In Squinzano
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In Squinzano - the bike belongs to a Good Friday worshipper
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In San Pietro Vernotico
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The cathedral in Mesagne is putting on her Easter finery
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The wind picked up as I left Mesagne and headed north on the gradual but steady climb to Ostuni. I got all turned around in San Vieto dei Normanni, adding another 2 miles to the day. But I soon caught a dramatic view of Ostuni, the white city on a hill overlooking the sea, that put extra effort into each pedal stroke.

It was a bit crazy in old town Ostuni as Easter tourists and vehicles crowded the small streets. I weaved my way up and down through narrow alleys and archways but eventually it was impossible to ride. Dismounting, I trod gingerly on the smooth stone pavers while trying to keep Vivien George under control. I was glad to be not wearing my cleats. I found my B&B tucked away on a side street, with an interior of white stone walls resembling a small cave. Pretty beat from the long day, I settled for pizza and a coke before turning out the lights on a challenging and rewarding day.

Another trulli sighting
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Ostuni, the white city
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The 2nd best pizza of the tour.
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Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 270 miles (435 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Rachael AndersonWow! That’s a long ride. Hopefully your ankle is doing well.
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rachael AndersonAnkle is doing great - not 100% but getting stronger each day. As am I!
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3 months ago