Stage 39: Martina Franca to Marina di Ginosa

Distance: 63.62 km

Time: 3 hours 3 minutes

Speed: 20.9 km/h

Ascent: 314 metres

Total distance: 1989.6 km

Total time: 106 hours 41 minutes

Wordle scores: Captain 5 Stoker 4

Word of the day: “meraviglioso” (mer-a-vee-lyo-soh) – marvellous

The Captain writes:

We walked with stiff post-cycling legs into Martina Franca last night, and it was well worth it. Navigation was a little tricky, through twisty, narrow, breathtakingly lovely streets, but then we emerged into Piazza Plebiscito, and saw the stunning curved loggia, the facade of the cathedral and a fine clock tower. Wonderful.

The rest of our outing was a little more mundane – shopping for dinner – but we managed it all and returned wearily to the apartment, one of those places which is bright and attractive but also over-stuffed with the owner’s prized possessions. Not a nook was left unfilled! Still, we managed not to break anything and enjoyed our stay. Oh, and we slept like logs!

This morning we wheeled the tandem back towards Piazza Plebiscito for the usual Italian breakfast, knowing that today would be rather easier than yesterday.

The profile of our route included an enormous descent, but we knew that when we set off it would be preceded by some climbing. It’s fair to say that the legs took some warming up, but we tackled the climbs well enough, reaching the top of the plateau.

There followed a section of road which rolled down and up repeatedly, then when our climbing muscles had been exercised sufficiently we moved onto the downhill section. All the while we were seeing what would turn out to be the final trulli of the trip, these ones beautifully maintained.

This was a joy, as the gradients were gentle, so I didn’t have to use the brakes very often.

Shortly after the descent began we had an extensive view to the south, taking in Taranto (a place we’ve deliberately shunned as it is surrounded by a series of petro-chemical facilities – definitely not easy on the eye). The rest of the vista was splendid, though.

All good descents come to an end, and ours did so at Massafra, with a brief but nerve-wracking section of steep cobbled streets, on which I did have to use the brakes. A lot! We worked our way around a busy SS road, and the Stoker navigated us onto a quiet, calm, flat SP road.

A few kilometres later we entered the town of Palagiano and called lunch – a little earlier than usual but it was the last town of any size on our route for the day. We ordered focaccia with mortadella, mozzarella and pistachios. What arrived was enormous – we did our absolute best but managed only about seventy percent of what was on offer.

It did fortify us for the next section, mostly still flat and on an almost empty road.

Having turned towards the south we also had the benefit of a tailwind, a most pleasant experience after the last two days. After a while we turned left towards the coast, entered Marina di Ginosa and round our lodgings. Our host – a keen cyclist – was keen to compare notes and share advice on our southward journey. He also spotted our pink faces and sweaty clothing and disappeared briefly, returning with a huge bottle of chilled water. What a star!

Tomorrow we will leave Puglia and enter Basilicata. We’ve spent twenty-six days in the region and it has been a fantastically enjoyable experience, we will be sad to leave. It has had so much to offer, and the highlights have been spread out geographically, so visiting it by bike has proved to be a wonderful way to see as much as possible. I suspect we’ll be back!

Here’s today’s route and a short video

Leave a Reply