From Matino to Santa Maria di Leuca by bicycle: it can be done!
The Acquedotto Cycle Route is an extraordinary itinerary between history and nature of about 500 kilometers from the history and nature of Puglia from Campania to Salento, passing through the Vulture, Alta Murgia and Valle D’Itria, following a historical conduct .
The historic conduit of the Apulian Aqueduct was built between 1906 and 1939, and today it runs along gravel paths up to Santa Maria di Leuca.
In this short article, in collaboration with Bikeitalia.com and Roberto Guido, we will talk about the last stretch of this wonderful cycle-trip, the track that from Matino, a village in the province of Lecce, leads to Santa Maria di Leuca, only taking into consideration the last kilometers you can alternate with your sunny spring days lying on the Salento beaches.
DEPARTURE: “A Locanda Tù Marchese”, in Matino
ARRIVE: Santa maria Di leuca
LENGTH: 47.00 km
DIFFERENCE: + 449 / -483
ROAD FUND: Asphalted road / Dirt road
TRAFFIC: Low intensity
A nutritious breakfast at the inn and we go, without being discouraged by the slight gradients of the historic center of Matino, on the other hand the sight of the flowered courtyards and of some open underground crusher, will cheer this short section.
Passing the industrial area of Casarano, we then reach an ancient farm “Le Stanzie”, a historic Roman statio along the ancient Via Sallentina, at the center of an important crossroads between the oil road that connected the Adriatic and Ionian seas, and the path of pilgrims by leuca. Here you have to turn on your imagination to find the trace of the water:
you will see a plateau that in the past was a body of water of 70 hectares, the Sombrino marsh, which was reclaimed in the mid-800s. Continue on a descent of 100 meters along the greenhouse up to Supersano where we recommend take a look at the Shrine of the Virgin of Coelimanna, with a crypt carved into the rock with extraordinary Byzantine frescoes and a majestic Baroque altar.
Then up to Ruffano, where you enter the village, where a fountain of the Apulian Acquedotto welcomes every cyclist.
Continue southwards and at km 27 there is a possible detour to Specchia (with a significant difference in height) and Presicce, two of the most beautiful villages in Puglia.
A few more kilometers, always at high altitude, and here from the top Alessano: in the panoramic point there is a reservoir of the Aqueduct, with its characteristic architecture, which from here ensures the distribution of water to the whole district.
We then enter Montesardo, a small fraction of Alessano, where the beautiful hanging tank of the Acquedotto stands out with its sober elegance, with its unique cylindrical shape and peculiar architectural lines, which recall those of the typical Rationalism of the thirties, to which it dates.
Between terraces and stone walls of dry squared stones, which subtract soil from the scrubland to make it cultivable, continue to Salignano (a tiny hamlet of Castrignano del Capo), to cross it entirely, not before having stopped in front of the circular sixteenth-century colored tower of carparo yellow, 15 meters high. A historic fountain of the Aqueduct reminds that this is the Ciclovia trail.
You will begin to see the long blue strip of the sea, in Santa Maria di Leuca, with Punta Meliso, which, according to some nautical conventions, separates the Adriatic Sea from the Ionian Sea. But it is the monumental waterfall, over 250 meters long, that celebrates the triumphant end of the historical conduct of the Apulian Aqueduct. Here the water of the Sele, arrived for the first time in 1939, ends up in the sea.
A lunch in the square and a rejuvenating view and get back in the saddle.
The easiest way to get back is by bus, otherwise you have to go back to the small station of Gagliano del Capo: in 48-49 minutes you return to Matino with the lines of the Ferrovie del Sud Est.
To tackle the road back in the saddle, the proposed itinerary includes changing the register and passing over the sea, along the Ionian coast road. It is an opportunity to further explore the area with San Gregorio, just six kilometers from Leuca, a small bay full of history with extraordinarily transparent water. The bathroom in this place puts you back in the world! To reach it you must turn left, go down towards the sea, following the signs and you will find yourself in a small square overlooking the splendid inlet.
Following our track we enter Pescoluse, up to the Maldives of Salento. A little further on you turn left to take a dirt road a few meters from the long beach that runs parallel to the coast road following the drainage channel. And it goes on like this until Torre Pali, where you enter to see on the beach, a few meters from the shoreline, the ruins of the tower surrounded by water.
Following Lido Marini, Torre Mozza, heading towards the sea, take a beautiful cycling route: the dirt track follows the system of reclamation basins of the Regional Natural Park of Ugento and, after passing the Rottacapozza basin, leads to Torre San Giovanni, one of the most populated marinas on this stretch of coast. Continue to Torre Sinfonò, Marina di Capilungo, where the beach ends and the low cliff begins.
From here, however, you turn off into the hinterland, following the roads of the SAC (Environmental and Cultural System) Salento di Mare and Pietre, a cycling network project in the Lower Salento. We head towards Alliste, Racale and Taviano riding between red earth and olive trees, many of which are afflicted by the scourge of Xylella, a possible plague that devastated Salento’s olive trees. Here we are in Matino, in the Locanda, where Greta and Luisa welcome you as if you were returning home, guiding you to put your bikes in the bike room and clean them up.
Have you followed us with your imagination? Then you are also ready to do it by bike! Everyone in the saddle!
Contact us to enjoy to our group: +39 3408274276