From: $1,320 USD
Fascinating Puglia is located in south-eastern Italy in the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s relatively unspoiled, breathtakingly beautiful, and rich with archaeological sites that harken back to the region’s strategic importance for 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.
Our tour begins in Bari Airport where you will be picked up for a transfer to Matera, where you can settle into our first hotel. Here you meet our local agent for the briefing. In the afternoon you’ll meet your local guide for a 2 hour tour in the Sassi of Matera. Matera is a labyrinth of winding streets, neighborhoods, squares, caves, and rock churches that have been literally carved out of the rock while other parts have been constructed or added. Other interesting sites 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’Errico Gallery of Neapolitan Art in Palazzo Lanfranchi, the churches of Purgatory, St. Francis of Assisi, S. Lucia and Materdomini, and finally the cathedral, one of the last buildings erected in the Apulian-Romanesque style. After your visit you’ll understand why Mel Gibson filmed his “Passion of the Christ” here: Matera has a resemblance to ancient Jerusalem. Welcome dinner is in a typical restaurant in the Sassi.
In the morning we’ll 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 a rock civilization and its unique flora and fauna. We’ll go via 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, 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 will on your own in one of the many restaurants in Matera.
In the morning in Matera we’ll visit a local bakery to see how the village’s local bread is prepared, and you’re bound to agree that it has an 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. Next we’ll go into the ancient district of Matera to view the sassi, a gigantic sculpture carved out of the rock along the side of the ravine. After our visit we’ll transfer to the Murgia Timons, the plateau in front of the Sassi where we’ll begin a fascinating walk along a path to visit caves and rock churches. We’ll pass by the village of Murgeocchia on the way back to Matera. Dinner tonight will again be on your own.
Today we will 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 that were once used by Apulian farmers of centuries past. We’ll reach our trail and head near the 6th century church of San Pietro in Barsento, a neighbouring town near Alberobello. A picturesque walk will lead us through green pastures, woodland, and along country lanes flanked by stone walls and seemingly endless olive groves and trulli. 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’ll have the rest of the afternoon to freely roam though this fairytale town. You will stay overnight in Alberobello in a charming “Trulli”. Dinner is on your own.
On our penultimate 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 “Denominazione di Origine Controllata” (DOC) white wine. The town stands on a small hill commanding wonderful views over the scenic countryside. Next we’ll visit Cisternino, a whitewashed small village with a maze of streets, also counted in the number of most beautiful boroughs of Italy. The surrounding hills are covered with almond trees and large fortified 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 Baroque style: a true gem. After our visit we’ll transfer to Masseria (a local fortified farm house turned hotel) near the coast.
This morning we’ll discover the nearby historical “white city” of Ostuni, famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses and arguably one of the most stunning cities in southern Italy. It’s 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, we’ll 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. We’ll walk on an ancient farmers’ path bordered by sturdy stone walls that wind through a sea of gnarled olive trees. In the afternoon we will transfer to Monopoli. We’ll then transfer back to the Masseria where we will have our farewell dinner and you will stay again overnight.
You tour ends today. After breakfast, you’ll transfer to the Bari Airport to continue your stay in Italy or fly back home.
Green = Open | Yellow = Limited | Red = Full
Prices are per person in US Dollars
This tour can be guided upon request
Choose your own starting date
The accommodations listed below are examples of those usually used on the tour. Depending on availability, you may be booked in a different accommodation of equal quality.
Included in the tour price you’ll receive daily buffet breakfast and 2 dinners. For the buffet breakfasts there’s an assortment of cold meats and cheeses, eggs, bread, jams, cereal, yogurt, fruit, coffee, and tea. For lunches you will be in a town so you can find lunch at a restaurant on your own. Dinners are three-courses with either a set menu or a choice of two options. On four nights, dinner will be on your own, and you can choose one of many delicious restaurant options within easy walking distance from our hotel. We can accommodate many types of dietary restrictions including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy free. Please indicate these requests at the time of booking.