Escape to Southern Italy for a warm Mediterranean getaway. Puglia is a treasure trove of art, history, and nature. A land of sun and hospitality, you won’t believe your eyes. In Puglia you’ll find enchanted landscapes surrounding historic towns and cities of art. Romanesque and Baroque cathedrals and monuments frame town squares as they stand placidly in the shade of majestic castles and noble palaces. Enjoy the rich natural beauty of the rugged mountains and coastline along with its distinctive, delicious cuisine, warm and friendly people and its myriad outstanding ancient sites.
Day 1 Alberobello: Upon arrival at Bari airport, after clearing customs you will be met by your local tour manager who will be assisting you throughout the tour. Welcome to Puglia, one of Italy’s hidden treasures. This is the region of fine weather, beautiful shorelines, lovely towns, baroque architecture and delicious cuisine. You will be transferred to your Hotel close to the center of town. In the afternoon enjoy a walk with your tour manager in Alberobello famous for its stunning collection of unique houses with conical roofs, the Trulli. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 2 Alberobello / Ostuni / Martina Franca / Alberobello: After breakfast, depart for Ostuni, known as the white capital. It is one of the most stunning towns of Southern Italy. Clinging onto three hills at the edge of Le Murge, the old center is a spiral of whitewashed houses with dramatic views towards the sea with olive trees and the sparkling blue Mediterranean. Later, visit a fortified Masseria, an active farm of monumental centuries old olive trees still producing supreme quality extra virgin olive oil today. Tour Martina Franca a little baroque gem built like a balcony overlooking the land of Trulli. Later, savor a traditional Pugliese dinner at a local Masseria.
Day 3 Alberobello / Lecce / Alberobello: Morning departure for Lecce. With its wealth of art, elegance and culture, Lecce is known as the “Florence of the South.” Upon arrival, meet your guide for a gentle walking tour of the historical center of Lecce. Visit the Basilica di Santa Croce, site of the most important local Roman ruins and the Duomo standing in one of the loveliest piazzas of Italy. Have some free time to try one of the local restaurants and do some shopping before returning to Alberobello for the evening at leisure.
Day 4 Alberobello / Cheese Farm / Trani / Alberobello: After breakfast, depart for an ancient farm still producing delicious dairy products to this day. This is the land of the mozzarella, burrata and ricotta cheese. Learn about the production and enjoy a cheese making demonstration. Learn how to make the orecchiette pasta, traditional in the region and enjoy a country style lunch at the farm. Later, arrive at the pretty fishing town of Trani. Walk through Trani, often called the pearl of the Adriatic Sea, a city known for its 19th century architecture and medieval art. See the castle and continue to the magnificent Cathedral, one of the most beautiful and evocative Romanesque-style cathedrals in Apulia which stands towering over the sea. Return to the hotel for evening at leisure. (B,L)
Day 5 Alberobello / Matera / Alberobello: Depart this morning for Matera, home to the cave dwellings known as the “Sassi”, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and now one of Italy’s most fascinating icons. For millennia people of this area have carved dwellings directly into ravines and gullies made of tufa, a characteristic honey-colored soft stone. Visit a church cut into the rock of hillsides and ravines and explore a cave house. What a fascinating opportunity to see the typical layout of an inhabited cave, as they would have been until being deserted in the 1950’s. The furnishings and design are all very standard, and it is both impressive to see how families adapted to these restrictive living conditions, and shocking to think how recently people lived like this. Enjoy free time for personal discovery. Return to hotel for evening at leisure.
Day 6 – Castellana Caves – Braceria & Bakery experience: After breakfast, depart for the Castellana Caves. The tour winds along a distance of 3 km, a unique guided tour of the caves to more than 60 meters deep in an amazing tableau made of stalactites, stalagmites, concretions, incredible shapes, fossils, canyons and caves with fantastic names (not suitable for people with health or mobility problems – gentle half tour is available.) After this walk you deserve a special lunch, so today we have lunch at the “Fornelli” also called the “Braceria” a local butcher where the patron chooses the meat that the butcher will grill served with jugs of local full-bodied red wines. In the afternoon before going back to the hotel, stop at a bakery to see the production of the focaccia Pugliese and and of course taste some! Evening at leisure.
Day 7 – Bari & Polignano a Mare: This morning, depart to visit Bari the capital of Puglia, with its elegant waterfront, Murat district, streets and boulevards adorned with elegant and refined buildings. The old city is an area of rare beauty and a contains many fine examples of medieval architecture. Standing imposingly over the Old Town of Bari, enjoy a guided tour of the Basilica of San Nicola. Continue on to the Norman Castle, Piazza Ferrarese e Mercantile and the historic center. Afterwards, some time at leisure to explore Bari independently. In the afternoon stop at Polignano a Mare. The tiny old town built on a cliff, reached through the Porta Vecchia gate, combines charming, white-washed streets with beautiful old churches such as the Chiesa Matrice. You may find yourself getting lost in the winding streets, but you won’t mind at all. Before you know it, you will have reached one of three panoramic terraces offering breathtaking views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea and coastline. This is the native city of the world famous singer Domenico Modugno, who wrote and sang numerous classic songs, including the “Volare.” Farewell dinner at the hotel restaurant with entertainment of local folk music and dancers–La Pizzica has been the local dance for generations!
Day 8 Depart: After breakfast depart for the Bari airport.