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2020 September 12 to 19 – Booking Closed
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $3898
Private Room: $5598
Reside for a week in the authentic 14th century Villa Cappelli, perched next to the fabled Appian Way.
Cycle through medieval towns and villages ranging from Adriatic coastal fishing ports to inland market towns.
Relax by our private, clothing optional pool in the villa’s courtyard and enjoy a complimentary cocktail hour every night.
Dine on local delicacies prepared in the villa’s kitchen, using olive oil produced at the villa and exported to gourmet shops.
Taste wine produced at the villa and sample the vintage of nearby vineyards.
Meet neighbors who rarely see tourists and who enjoy mingling with the guests.
See what “La Dolce Villa” is all about: this a very authentic Italian experience without any “tourist” traps.
Travel with friends and request the top floor of the villa (three rooms that share a huge living room and one bath).
Leisure travelers may enjoy the Puglia Villa Culinary Experience, featuring the same delicious regional cuisine, with sightseeing to nearby towns and markets, historical and agricultural sites accomplished by van. Bicycles would be available for optional rides/sightseeing.Testimonials
“We all eventually started saying, “when we get back to the Villa” or “are we having dinner at the Villa tonight?” like we were Italian royalty (albeit, with helmets instead of crowns). I picked sage from the garden for our dinner table, helped at the market, and hung out with the neighbor in his cut-flower greenhouse. All this and biking, too!”—D. Henderson, Orlando, FL
“Paul and Steven were consummate hosts. Steven cooked great food, and Paul took us to great, reasonably priced restaurants. The bicycling was occasionally challenging, and though I did it all, it was nice to have the option to stop at any time and get in the van. The sights we saw were well-chosen and the countryside beautiful in spring with wildflowers.” — Will D., Seattle, WA
“Paul and Steve, the hosts of the villa, take care of your every need. Paul is from Puglia and was able to give us a deep insight into the culture. The food was incredible and we biked off practically every calorie, so it was a win-win.”—M. DuBois, Los Angeles, CA
“It was difficult leaving the villa and the new friends I made. Everyone made turning 50 the most memorable experience!”—D. Braget, Portland, OR
“I laughed more on this trip than I have in years. Paul Cappelli’s wit kept me in stitches all week. I felt a real bond with the guys on this trip and was sad to leave them all. This was my fifth [HE Travel] trip and I have enjoyed all previous guides, but Steven and Paul were the best by far…they were warm, welcoming and fun. They have a rare gift and made me feel like a part of their family for the week.” – D. Burch, Atlanta, GA
“The owners of the Villa were great but their wine and food were spectacular. The villages we cycled to on the Adriatic were so beautiful. Cycling was one of the best enhanced by perfect weather every day. The good food at the Villa was so abundant you never knew when it was going to stop. The Villa made wine, limoncello and other liquors were the best. I made a point to try everything, including horse meat tartar.” – Joe Kaiser, New York, NY
“The Puglia Biking trip, with hosts Paul and Steven, was a beautiful, fun, dynamic, and overall a terrific experience.” — Eric L., New York, NY
A Week at 14th-century Villa Cappelli
Cycle along the ancient Appian Way and lightly traveled roads through countryside that reflects centuries of pilgrims, soldiers, and other travelers. Stay in a villa that has stood since the 14th century (and some parts even older), which has been restored to its ancient splendor by a gay American with deep family roots in the soil of Puglia.
During our gay Italy bike tour in Puglia, we’ll have five biking days, designed in a “roller coaster” fashion, with light days in the beginning and end and harder days in the middle.
Each day you are fully supported with a van, an SUV with a bike rack and two Italian guides. Most rides take you on back roads you’d never be able to find on your own (avoiding a lot of traffic in the process), allowing you to see and enjoy the beauty of the land that few get to see. From local fishing villages to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Castel del Monte to ancient Roman bridges, you’ll experience all that Puglia has to offer. Each day, enjoy the food and wine of the region, freshly prepared in the kitchen at Villa Cappelli, or at restaurants in Terlizzi and around the area.
Day 1: Welcome to Puglia!
All travelers should plan to arrive in Bari today. Upon arrival at Bari airport or the Terlizzi train station (connecting in Barletta), a transfer will be provided to Villa Cappelli, located on a quiet portion of the ancient Appian Way, a few kilometers inland from the Adriatic Sea.
After settling into our rooms, a light lunch will be available for those arriving early enough for lunch.
In the afternoon we will check out and adjust our bikes so that we’ll be ready to go in the morning. The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore the grounds, then later to enjoy snacks and some local wine. We will enjoy our welcome dinner tonight at the villa, sampling the olive oil and other delicacies of the region.
Day 2: Ruvo di Puglia Necropolis & Molfetta
Today we ride to a few neighboring towns. First, a morning bike ride through the serene countryside, orchards, and vineyards to the necropolis of Ruvo di Puglia and the Jatta Museum, famous for its Grecian Urns. Many of Ruvo’s Urns are on display in the Greco-Roman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.
Then, it’s off to Molfetta. Here, bikers, if so wishing, can dip their toes in the Adriatic. After Molfetta, we lunch together in a delightful seafood restaurant right on the water.
After lunch, we’ll take a quick ride to the seaside town of Giovinazzo and explore the quaint seaport and the magnificently restored medieval town center with a quick walking tour. Then we ride back inland to Villa Cappelli. For dinner tonight, we’ll enjoy a local Terlizzi restaurant together.
Day 3: A Gravina we will go
We might need a shot of espresso with the locals to get us ready for today: one of our longer rides, from the practically “undiscovered” town of Gravina. We will bike through La Murgia with beautiful fields of grain and trulli covering the countryside.
Gravina itself features a large ravine with some spectacular views and an ancient Roman bridge is right out of a postcard. After touring the city, we will ride back to the villa, stopping for a picnic lunch halfway and enjoy dinner tonight at the villa.
Day 4: Holy Cow, It’s the Holy Grail!
Today we will ride in the van to first visit Castel del Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is featured on the back of the Euro penny. Built in the 13th century by the Swabian Emperor, Frederick II, Castel del Monte is perched atop a hill, overlooking all of Puglia and the Adriatic.
The castle is featured in many myths and historical accounts, including the legend of the Holy Grail. After a tour of the castle, we will hop on our bikes to ride back to the villa, stopping along the way to visit some sights. Mostly downhill, the ride features some truly beautiful scenery. We will enjoy lunch at the villa, and then dinner is on your own tonight in Terlizzi.
Day 5: Polignano a Mare & Bari
This will be our off-day from biking, offering a chance to visit the seaside town of Polignano a Mare and Bari, the capital of Puglia.
We’ll travel by mini-bus and have a chance to walk the winding ancient streets of Polignano a Mare as it juts out into the sea. Then we’ll head to the nearby capital of the Puglia, where we can grab some lunch and enjoy some sites (including the church where Santa Claus, Saint Nicolas, is buried — don’t tell the kids!) and do some shopping.
We’ll return to Villa Cappelli to relax and enjoy and a pizza party for dinner, featuring pizzas cooked right in the villa’s own ancient wood-burning pizza oven.
Day 6: Mama Mia, Matera
Today we jump back into the van for a quick ride to Matera. We’ll walk the winding ancient streets of this town so well preserved that it has been used as a movie set. One part of the town spills down a hillside, and another features homes, restaurants, and hotels built in caves in the soft “tufa” rock.
After our morning tour here, we’ll lunch at a nearby agriturismo and then bike back to the villa through some more of the amazing countryside.
Day 7: Trani — no not that kind!
Today on our final bike trip, we head to the beautiful seaport of Trani.
Traveling through the backroads full of olive trees, we’ll stop to admire some of the sites along the way. In Trani, we’ll tour the giant cathedral that sits right on the sea. After lunch in Trani, we’ll head back to the villa for our final farewell dinner.
Day 8: Homeward Bound
Today we bid farewell to our friends and to Puglia. A morning group transfer will be offered to Bari Airport for flights back to Rome and beyond.
Please note that for some flight routings, an overnight stay in Rome will offer the most choices of flights heading home.
Price includes: Lodging for 7 nights in double occupancy at Villa Cappelli (some rooms share a bathroom); Limited single rooms upon request if available; All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 5 dinners, including local wine or soft drinks for group dinners at the villa or in Terlizzi; Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour host (with a minimum number of participants); and Local bicycling guide from Puglia; Van support to get luggage (and tired riders!) to destination; Use of bike (hybrids if available); Regional map and detailed route instructions for primary routes on biking days; Transfer from designated flight into Bari on the first tour day, and back to Bari airport for a designated flight on departure day. (Transfers at other times are on your own for the 20-minute ride between the villa and the airport.); HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Transportation to and from Bari, Italy; 2 Dinners and 4 lunches; Personal items such as souvenirs, snacks, faxes, telephone calls and alcohol other than at included dinners; Admissions not described as included in the itinerary; Gratuities for guides and host.
Optional Tour Choices:
$1700 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$600 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom but share a bathroom)
$375 Upgrade to Garden Room at Villa
$375 Upgrade to Courtyard Room at Villa
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
When you travel “Back-to-Back” on two or more of our tours, you are eligible for a discount! Contact us for details.
Come Early and Join Valley of the Chateaux
For those with more time to spend in France, please consider our Valley of the Chateaux cycling trip! Cycle through hills and villages rich in history, redolent with the scents of forest and vineyard. Bicycle to Amboise, Chenonceau (where gay Henri III held drag parties), and Azay-le-Rideau. Our gay French bike tours are the perfect way to travel between the castles of France.
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
This trip offers daily biking through the countryside with few tourists. Roads near our villa are quite flat but longer rides in a hilly national park are available. Biking days cover 30-80 km, with options each day for longer or shorter days.
- How do I get to the Villa?
- This tour starts and ends in Bari, Puglia, Italy.
Airplane Travel: Most flights to Bari are from Rome, so North American travelers can depart home the evening before our tour starts, arrive in Rome in the morning, then connect on a late morning or early afternoon flight to Bari. Please allow a minimum of two hours to connect in the often-chaotic Rome airport (three hours if possible). There are a few direct flights to Bari from Milan’s domestic airport, Munich and other European hubs. If you take one of these flights, allow a long connection window since there are far fewer flight choices to get to Bari than there are from Rome.
Rail Travel: The Villa is a 6-8-hour train ride from Rome or Milan. If you take the train, the closest station is Terlizzi, a four-minute ride from the Villa. Take the express train to Barletta Centrale (Barletta C. Le) then transfer to the local commuter railway for the last leg to Terlizzi. Trains run every 40 minutes for most of the day, and schedules are at this website: www.ferrovienordbarese.it/home (click on the British flag in the upper right for English)
To check national rail schedules and Italy rail pass options, see www.raileurope.com or check the Italian Railway site www.trenitalia.com for trains from Rome, Milan or other Italian cities to Barletta.
For those returning to North America after our tour, you will need a morning flight from Bari to connect with most international flights. If you have time, you may prefer a leisurely late morning flight from Bari to Rome, a night or two in Rome, then your flight home.
Does this sound confusing? We’re here to help! Our flight/rail specialists have been helping guests arrange travel to the Villa for years, and will be happy to assist you too! Please Contact Us if you’d like travel assistance for this tour.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174