Hotel San Paolo al Convento in Trani, a historic port with a handsome Old Town, Romanesque cathedral and a Swabian castle protecting the harbour.
Leaving Trani, you head through countryside planted with grapes, figs, cereals, olive and almond trees. It is worth pausing in Andria, a busy market town famous for its wine, olive oil and almonds, to take in the ducal palace and cathedral, complete with a 7th-century crypt. Back in the saddle, you continue to Castel del Monte, which is visible for miles around. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most important medieval castles in Italy, famed for its octagonal towers. Take time to visit before cycling the last leg to the Masseria Lama di Luna, Montegrosso, in the La Murgia National Park. (52km)
The highlight of today’s cycle ride is reaching the historic town of Minervino, which perches on an escarpment, earning it the name the ‘balcony of Puglia’. The views are remarkable, and there are several other sights worth seeking out, namely the Norman cathedral, the castle and, just outside the town, St Michael’s Cave. From here, you head south-west, ascending into the higher Basilicata region, where you find your hotel for the next two nights, Tenuta La Maddalena, near the Roman town of Venosa, birthplace of Horace. (55km)
With a free day here you have plenty of time to enjoy a circular cycle ride (30km or 55km) into the surrounding countryside, passing a vineyard where, if you have booked ahead, you can call in for a visit and tasting before continuing via the intriguing town of Maschito back to La Maddalena. Alternatively, spend a more leisurely day exploring the many Roman archaeological remains in Venosa.
You cycle through rolling countryside to the lakeside town of Genzano, where a taxi has been arranged to take you on to the welcoming and friendly hill-top Agriturismo Bufalara, near Grottole, where a wonderful dinner awaits in a homely house-guest setting. If you choose, you can cycle all the way, following the glistening River Bradano through undulating fields of golden wheat. (35km + transfer; or 87km)
A beautiful road leads along the side of tranquil Lake San Giuliano, a protected oasis that is home to migrant birds from Africa, after which you make a gentle ascent into amazing Matera, where alleys, houses and churches all blend into the hillside. Among them you will find your fascinating hotel, the Locanda di San Martino, where you spend your last two nights. (40km)
Cycle along the valley of the Chiese Rupestri (rock churches) Park. After an optional further 5km uphill, you will reach the hill-top town of Montescaglioso, dominated by its enchanting 11th-century Benedictine abbey before returning to Matera. (44km or 54km)