Fascinating Puglia is located in south-eastern Italy in the “heel of Italy’s boot”. It is relatively unspoiled, breathtakingly beautiful and rich with archaeological sites recalling the region’s strategic importance to the ancient Romans and Greeks. Puglia’s warm, dry, Mediterranean climate is ideal for walking in spring and fall. The unusual stone “trulli” buildings in Alberobello and cave-like “sassi” dwellings in Matera are Unesco World Heritage Sites so you can be certain we’ll enjoy our stay in these two fascinating and picturesque towns.
Day 1: Arrival on your own at the Bari Airport and transfer to Matera.
Our tour begins in Bari Airport with a transfer to Matera where you can settle into our first hotel. Matera is a labyrinth of winding streets, neighborhoods, squares, caves and rock churches, literally carved out of the rock while other parts have been constructed or added. Additional interesting sites to be seen are all conveniently located in the medieval and Renaissance parts of Matera, between the two rock towns. There’s the unfinished 15th-century castle, the D’Errica Gallery of Neapolitan Art in Palazzo Lanfranchi, the churches of Purgatory, St. Francis of Assisi, S. Lucia and Materdomini, and the cathedral, one of the last buildings erected in the Apulian-Romanesque style. After your visit you’ll understand that Mel Gibson filmed his “Passion of the Christ” here for Matera’s resemblance to ancient Jerusalem. In the early evening we’ll meet for a welcome drink and then dinner in a typical restaurant in the Sassi.
Day 2: Old Cave Villages – 6 hours of walking – 5 miles (8 km)- easy to moderate
In the morning we transfer from our hotel to the close by Park of the Rock Churches, a protected nature sanctuary consisting of dramatic cliffs, ravines, gorges and prehistoric caves. You’ll take a short trip on the Matera Moors to discover the treasures of rock civilization and its unique flora and fauna. Route: the Grotta dei Pipistrelli (Cave of Bats), the Jazzo di Lamaquacchiola, the Cristo la Selva cave and the Saraceno village. The footing can be rocky in places but the walking is absolutely superb along trails flanked by oak trees. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch at the Cristo la Selva village. In the afternoon we’ll take in Montescaglioso, a peasant village with a nice historical center and surrounded by a rich countryside. Here you can visit the ancient Abbey of S. Michele Arcangelo. The abbey dates back to the middle of the eleventh century, when some Benedictine monks replaced the religious communities of Greek origins in many towns. The abbey is at the top of the town surrounded by 15th century walls and proudly displays cycles of frescoes of the 17th and 18th centuries. Dinner is at a local restaurant in Matera.
Day 3: Park of the Rock Churches – 6 hours of walking – 5 miles (8 km) – easy to moderate
In the morning in Matera we’ll visit a local bakery to see how Matera’s bread is prepared and you’ll agree that it has extraordinary taste and fragrance. Puglia is well known for its tempting cuisine and its olive oil is considered one of the best in the world. IThen your guide will lead you into the ancient district of Matera to view the Sassi, one gigantic sculpture carved out of the rock along the side of the ravine. After our visit we transfer to the Murgia Timons, the plateau in front of the Sassi where we’ll begin a fascinating walk along a path visiting caves and Rock Churches. We’ll pass by the village of Murgeocchia on the way back to Matera. Dinner tonight at a typical restaurant in the Sassi.
Day 4: The Valley of Itria – 4 hours – 5.5 miles (8.5 km) of easy walking
Today we travel to the lush Valle d’Itria in central Puglia (60 minute transfer). Covered with vineyards and olive groves, the valley is dotted with hundreds of “trulli”, curious stone structures (resembling beehives) once used by Apulian farmers of centuries past. We’ll reach our trail head near the 6th century church of San Pietro in Barsento, a neighbouring town near Alberobello. A picturesque walk leads through green pastures, woodland and along country lanes flanked by stone walls and seemingly endless olive groves and trulli. Then we’ll reach Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Italian “Capital of Trulli”. Here the streets are dotted with hundreds of “trulli”. You have the rest of the afternoon to freely roam though this fairy tale town. We’ll transfer late in the afternoon to our wonderful hotel in Ostuni. Our dinner tonight is in a local restaurant.
Day 5: Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca – 6 hours – 4 miles (6 km) of easy walking
On our last day we’ll explore some enchanting villages in the Itria Valley: Locorotondo, one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (the most beautiful towns in Italy), is a town famous for its DOC white wine. It stands on a small hill commanding wonderful views over the scenic countryside. Next is a visit to Cisternino, a whitewashed small village, with its maze of streets also included in the most beautiful boroughs of Italy. The surrounding hills are covered with almond trees and fortified large farmhouses of the 17th century. Last but not least is marvellous Martina Franca, a town that rises on the hill of San Martina between the Adriatic
and Ionian Seas. The center has beautiful palaces, built since the late 17th century in gorgeous Baroques style. A true gem. After our visit we have a transfer to Masseria (local fortified farm house turned hotel) near the coast where we will enjoy dinner together later in the evening.
Day 6: The White City – 3 hours – 4 miles (6 km) of easy walking
This morning we discover the nearby historical “white city” of Ostuni, one of the most stunning cities in southern Italy famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses. It is a genuine and charming example of Mediterranean architecture. Ostuni overlooks the Adriatic Sea and boasts a captivating medieval center with a 15th-century cathedral. The views to the Adriatic are magnificent. Crossing the city, you enter the lush countryside, home to an abundance of oak, cork, and carob trees. This region is also thick with shrub vegetation such as wild broom and bay laurel. Here we’ll walk on an ancient farmer’s path, bordered along the way by sturdy stone walls that wind through a sea of gnarled olive trees. In the afternoon we will transfer to Polignano a Mare and give you some free time. We then transfer back to Ostuni, and tonight you are on your own for dinner to enjoy more “Puglia Cuisine” in one of the town’s restaurants.
Day 7: Breakfast and transfer to the Bari Airport to continue your stay in Italy or fly back home.
You will be met in Bari Airport in the late morning. Please let us know the arrival time of your plane or train at least one week before your trip! For train schedules visit the website of the Italian Railways, www.trenitalia.com or www.raileurope.com.
Daily breakfast and 3 dinners are included
Check out our Tour Calendar
7 days/ 6 nights
- – 6 nights of double occupancy lodging in very nice, air-conditioned 4-star hotels with private facilities each night
- – 6 breakfasts, 3 dinners
- – Expert leader service
- – All transportation during the tour
- – Transfer back and forth to Bari Airport
- – Luggage transfers
- – All taxes and gratuities for the hotel and restaurant portions of the tour
The average distance is between 3 and 6 hours of walking per day. The terrain is lightly rolling with some hills, upwards and down wards; walking is mostly on small footpaths and some country roads. Well fitting, supportive “broken in”, hiking boots are very strongly recommended for this tour, not because it involves dangerous mountain hiking but because they give a better grip on the occasionally loose, rocky surface. Rating of this tour is easy to moderate.
– Alcoholic and bar beverages
– Lunches and 3 dinners
– Gratuities for the guide
– Transportation other than scheduled transfers
Average daytime temperatures in Italy in April and May are 55-75. June, July, and August range from 65-85, and September and October from 60-75. It rains about 7 days per month, with more rain in September and October and less rain in July and August.