Stage 28: Canosa di Puglia to Terlizzi

Distance: 47.8 km

Time: 2 hours 43 minutes

Speed: 17.6 km/h

Ascent: 325 metres

Total distance: 1439 km

Total time: 77 hours 34 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 2, Stoker 2

Word of the day: “lucertola” (loo-chair-toe-lah) – lizard

The Stoker writes:

We really enjoyed our short stay in Canosa di Puglia. The house was fabulous, small but very spacious somehow, and our host, Giusy, was an absolute gem. She’d renovated the house, and it was really beautiful, little personal touches everywhere, she clearly has quite an eye. There was even a huge ghost fennel in one corner of the living room.

She’d shown us the access to the roof terrace:

With over 1000km remaining in our planned itinerary, though, we decided to err on the side of caution and not attempt an ascent.

We had a look round the town during our trip out to buy food.

It was another labyrinth of white streets, with a central cathedral, and the mausoleum of Boemondo, a fierce and successful leader in the First Crusade, but described by Anna, daughter of Emperor Alexios of Constantinople thus: “A certain charm hung about this man but was partly marred by a general air of the horrible…”. Not a great review!

After a lovely evening in the Casa Levante, we were up fairly betimes this morning, in order to try to get to Terlizzi before the worst temperatures of the day. Our host had requested a picture of us with the tandem outside the house, so we set that up before we left.

I’m pleased to report that there was no tea-based disappointment this morning, our chosen café were ‘tè caldo’ specialists, and even put the boiling water straight on the tea-bag, which is vanishingly rare! The tea thing is funny here. You ask for tea with a little cold milk. They say “Tea? Hot tea?”, with a quizzical expression. You confirm. Then they say “and cold milk?”, looking even more horrified. You confirm. And then tea will arrive, or hot water and a tea-bag, and milk, which may be hot or cold. Or in one case, already in a teapot with the tea! 😳 Anyway, this morning’s was perfect, full marks.

We set off out of Canosa di Puglia, having thoroughly enjoyed our stay, and pedalled off pretty much straight into the olive groves.

We knew it would be just like that all day, but it was really lovely. Lizards were out in force, recharging themselves by the side of the road, and scuttling into the verges as we rode by. The road was very quiet, just weaving gently through the olive groves, little ascents and descents keeping things varied. There were lots of vines too, with some now ripening to redness.

There was an occasional worker in a tractor or some other unidentifiable agricultural machinery. Olives and vines seem like they pretty much take care of themselves, but I think there is a lot of work goes on to keep them healthy and productive. There’s always somebody furtling around underneath keeping the undergrowth down so it doesn’t (a) take over or (b) catch fire. There’s specialised harvesting at a carefully selected time, often by hand using age-old techniques, and complicated pruning in the autumn. And if they get it right, the results are sublime.

There were lots of ruined old buildings among the olive groves, and then an occasional posh looking mansion, a bit like yesterday among the tomato barons. Don Olivi today, then.

We even saw something which looked a bit like a trullo, one of the little round stone buildings for which Puglia is known. We’re still a few days from Alberobello, which features many of them, and have our eyes on spending a night in one.

Mainly, though, we were just happily sailing through the olives and vines.

At Corato we diverted briefly to a bike shop to stock up on a few things. It even had a dog, a very good sign in a bike shop… 😉

We passed a sign indicating we were on the Via Francigena, a pilgrim route which starts in Canterbury and makes its way to Rome through France and Switzerland.

We encountered this route on our last Italy tour, unsurprising as we did go through Rome on that trip. Apparently the route then continues from Rome through Puglia to various ports of embarkation to what was known as the Holy Land.

At Ruvo di Puglia we stopped at a water fountain for a drink in the enormous piazza. There were several churches and at 12:00 a veritable cacophony of clanging went off to announce it, along with various numbers of bells, none of which added up to twelve.

A long shallow descent had us quickly into Terlizzi, and we negotiated some panini in a little place near our lodgings before meeting our host at a motor repair shop, where he had arranged for the tandem to be stored overnight. He offered to drive us to the lodgings, and being in a vehicle seemed very strange – that’s the first time since the day we arrived in Trieste!

We’re comfortably installed now, with the washing machine gently gurgling, and pizza proposed for dinner. Tomorrow we will ride to Acquaviva delle Fonti, which looks amazing.

Here’s today’s route and a short video

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