Tuscany and Puglia are incredibly diverse in every way, and our tours of these two regions of Italy bring out the best of what they each stand for. From the timeless beauty of Tuscany’s landscapes and the ease of life enjoyed by its warm, open people, to Puglia’s local fishing villages, ancient olive groves and rural heart with locals entrenched in preserving southern traditions – guests on both tours leave feeling truly immersed in each region’s distinct culture.
We are often asked how these two regions and tours differ and compare, so this week we thought we’d share our answers with you. In a nutshell, the decision of whether to join us in Tuscany or Puglia comes down to how much climbing you enjoy as a rider, and/or how much training you are prepared to do, and also the type of cycling holiday experience you are looking for.
1. How does the riding compare?
The riding on both our Tuscany and Puglia tours is completely different, with the key difference being that Tuscany has almost 10,000m of elevation and approximately 500km over 8 days of riding, and Puglia has almost 6,000m of elevation and approximately 650km over 8 days.
If you like climbing and hills, then Tuscany is for you. It’s amazing riding on continually undulating hills dotted with stone hamlets, olive groves, vineyards and quintessential cypress pines. The landscape is incredible.
Or if you prefer some days with a little climbing and others to be longer, flatter rides, then Puglia offers this. It is a fantastic tour that takes you around the heel of Italy’s boot, both inland amongst the trulli and olives groves, and along the beautiful coastline.
2. What level of fitness do I need for each?
Both tours involve 8 days of riding back to back, which is quite different to what most of us have the chance to do while riding at home. It is tiring for most people’s legs and so we recommend that you prepare well before you leave home, rather than leave it for when you’re on tour. We have seen different guests prepare in different ways and while everyone enjoys themselves on tour, on some days there are guests who are more tired than others, which then affects how much riding they do and how much they enjoy the post-ride activities. The key is to determine what your goal is and the level of riding you’ll be happy with. Damian can assist with tips on tour preparation.
3. How different is the terrain?
The terrain between these two regions is completely different, and in reality it’s like two seperate countries. Tuscany sees you meander through the regions of Chianti, the Val d’Orcia and across to San Gimignano with an amazing array of quiet back roads linking vineyards and small towns. It also has the Strade Bianche (white gravel roads) made famous by L’Eroica. There is a tangible feeling of ease and flow in all elements of life in bella Toscana.
Puglia is known for its beautiful, diverse coastline and turquoise waters, as well as its rustic and rural way of life, with limestone trulli and ancient olive groves integrally weaved across its terrain . It too has hundreds of tiny tarmac back roads that see you disappear into a super quiet landscape, giving you a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility as you roll between the white washed towns and villages.
4. Can I hire an e-bike?
Ordinarily our tours are not set up for e-bikes, however we do have lots of people ask the question about whether they can ride our tours on e-bikes. To ride an e-bike on either our Tuscany or Puglia tours, we believe it is imperative that you have experience in riding a road bike and have a strong appreciation for road and group riding etiquette. If you believe you satisfy these criteria, talk to us about the possibility of riding an e-road bike for your adventure, and what is involved in hiring.
5. How do the non-riding programs differ?
Our non-riding partner programs across Tuscany and Puglia are diverse because the regions are so different, however the core activities we choose for each tour are similar – because ultimately we want our non-riding partners to feel truly immersed.
We believe immersion is in learning about the history and culture from locals, so we do guided walking tours of Siena in Tuscany and Lecce in Puglia. It’s also about developing new skills or an appreciation for how food is produced, so we do authentic cooking classes and engage in local cheese tours and tastings in Pienza and Locorotondo. Finally, it’s about taking in the beautiful landscapes and being adventurous on foot – so we always include day hikes/walks of the stunning areas we are in, explorations/tours of ancient olive groves, historic castles and gardens, and meanderings through beautiful hilltop and seaside towns. Oh, and did we mention the small artisans and boutiques that we always seem to find the time to discover!
We hope you enjoy learning about the differences of each of our Tuscany and Puglia cycling tours, and if you’re keen to join us in 2023 and have further questions, please reach out via email anytime or call us on +61 410 651 573.