THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED – PUGLIA – MAY 2018

The Road Less Travelled – Puglia – May 2018

15 – 28 MAY 2018

AUD 7,950 per person (twin share)
AUD 8,900 per person (solo traveller)

This small group tour of Puglia travels all over this wonderful region in Southern Italy and really gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Pugliese culture. You’ll be able to admire the art and architecture of the region in the cities like Bari and Lecce and have the opportunity to wander around the picturesque small towns, but also to see first-hand the local agricultural life with visits to family-run wineries and farms.

Highlights of the tour:

  • The over-the-top Baroque architecture of the town of Lecec
  • Exploring the gorgeous coastlines of Puglia
  • Quiet mornings wandering the streets of pretty towns like Martina Franca and Locorotondo
  • Long lunches trying the local produce at family-run farms and wineries
  • The MARTA museum – one of the best collections of Messapic, Greek and Roman artefacts
  • Private boat trip and beach picnic on the Gargano coast

We’ll be staying in just four hotels over the 15 days to ensure we minimise the time spent packing and moving. Our bases for the tour are Lecce (3 nights), the Valle d’Itria (4 nights), Trani (3 nights) and Mattinata (3 nights).

Read the full itinerary by clicking on the days on the right, or download via the button below. 

ENQUIRE NOW ABOUT THIS TOUR
What our clients have said about this tour:

We explored Puglia with 14 friendly like minded travellers in October 2016 guided by Luca and Philippa of Italian Tours.

Contrary to some group tours, there was no hassling, early departures, pressure to buy etc, rather on 3 days we visited fascinating farms and vineyards in different regions savouring the delicious local products over a long lunch in a beautiful setting. The UNESCO sites were stunning and Luca has a great depth of knowledge and history that he generously shares in his delightful way.

Philippa and Luca make a great team and we would love to go on all their varied destinations. The hotel selection and long stays make for a relaxing holiday with something different and interesting each day.

This company had been on our bucket list for some time and it certainly lived up to its reputation.

Merran (2016)

Read more testimonials here.

ITINERARY

ARRIVAL IN PUGLIA

Our tour begins with four nights based in wonderful Lecce, with its ornate iron balconies overlooking golden stone streets, its Roman ruins and the local ‘Leccese’ Baroque architecture. On day one we collect you Brindisi airport or you are able to arrive in Lecce on the fast train from Rome. We meet in the evening for aperitivi and welcome dinner.
Overnight: Lecce

EXPLORING LECCE

We spend the first morning wandering the atmospheric streets of this ancient town, which is even older than Florence, dipping into the churches to discover hidden masterpieces and enjoying coffee in the glorious central piazza.
The afternoon is free time for you to explore Lecce.
Overnight: Lecce

PASTICCIOTTO AND OTRANTO BY THE SEA

On our third day we head out to the small town of Galatina, which is famous for two very different things. The first is a relatively undiscovered gem: a beautiful fresco cycle by Francesco d’Arezzo, which depicts the Franciscan story of the new and old Testaments, in the church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria.

For the sublime to the gastronomic, our second Galatinese gem is the local pastry, a sweet custard treat called Pasticciotto Galatina. We’ll call into Pasticceria Ascalone where it was invented, to indulge ourselves. You might also like to try local pastries and shortbreads flavoured with quince paste, another local specialty.

We’ll spend the afternoon at Otranto on the sea, a small fortified town completely surrounded by medieval walls overlook- ing water so clear that you can see to the bottom. We’ll walk the walls and then visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata to see the spectacular Tree of Life mosaic that covers three naves in the church. This mosaic is very old, dating from the twelfth century, and was made by a monk called Pantaleone. We’ll also see his fascinating zodiac mosaic in the same church.
Overnight: Lecce

PUGLIESE WINE AND A MASSERIA

On day five we depart Lecce and drive first to Masseria Li Veli, one of the top producers of wine in the Salento area. We have a guided tour of the winery, before sitting down to a relaxing lunch and to try the wines. Well fortified, we move on to our fabulous masseria accommodation in the Valle d’Itria. Masserias are common in this area, and best described as fortified plantation-style farmhouses once owned and occupied by wealthy barons-farmers. Much of the accommodation is within the trulli, the famous conical dwellings that are particular to this region. There’ll be time enough for a swim in the pool before dinner. We are based in this very comfortable accommodation for the next four nights.
Overnight: Valle d’Itria

OLIVES, OSTUNI AND APERITIVI IN MARTINA FRANCA

Today we explore the surprising towns of this region, but first we stop at an olive farm, where you will see how olive oil has been cultivated over the centuries. The farm is just outside Ostuni, which will be our next stop. This architectural jewel is known as the ‘white city’. As we approach you’ll notice the town from afar because all the buildings are painted white and it absolutely gleams in the sunlight.
We return to our masseria for some free time in the afternoon, before venturing into Martina Franca in the late afternoon We’ll enjoy the piazza, appreciate the elegant Baroque architecture and wander around its picturesque streets.  We’ll stay in town for dinner in a Slow Food restaurant.
Overnight: Valle d’Itria

ALBEROBELLO AND LOCOROTONDO

This morning we visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello. This town has been listed because of its high concentration of over 400 trulli. Make sure your cameras fully charged for this ridiculously pretty town!
We head on to Locorotondo in the afternoon, another pretty town in the area where you will have some free time to explore the town. delightfully pretty town!
Overnight: Valle d’Itria

A WORKING FARM, TARANTO AND THE MARTA

This morning we head off to visit a local farm that specialises in the production of local cows milk cheeses and olive oil. We’ll arrive in time to see the cheese makers producing the mozzarella and other cheeses.
In the afternoon we visit Taranto, first colonised by the Greeks who arrived in 700 BC, and the location of one of the highlights of our visit to this area:  the MARTA museum. Luca compares the collection and curation of this museum with the British Museum in London. The collection is of extremely high quality, partly because much of it was hidden underground and only rediscovered with the arrival of modern plumbing.  Surprised workmen unearthed a cemetery laden with riches including gold jewellery, precious jewels, mosaics and a hoard of Greek and Roman artefacts. It is beautifully displayed with extensive, well written explanations in English.
Overnight: Valle d’Itria

BARI

Today we pack up and leave our masseria and head towards the region’s capital city, Bari. We will spend most of the day in Bari, this fascinating old city, with its atmospheric medieval centre. There will be a walking tour with a local guide, where we will visit  the basilica of San Nicola, the original Father Christmas, who had a reputation for secret gift giving, see the local women making pasta in the laneways and generally learn about the history of this town.  There will be some free time for lunch and to have a look around the town on your own, before we drive on to our next base in Polignano a Mare.
Overnight: Polignano a Mare

POLIGNANO A MARE

Polignano a Mare is one of the prettiest towns on the east coast and we won’t move from here today. which will be all about relaxing. We’ll take a wander through the town together in the morning so you can get your bearings and then the rest of the day will be free time to relax and enjoy the town. You may wish to take a dip in the ocean or the more active can head off for a walk along the pretty coastal walkway to check out the views.
Overnight: Polignano a Mare

MATERA

We visit another UNESCO World Heritage site today: the ancient city of Matera – and also the location for Mel Gibson’s film ‘The Passion’! Matera is internationally famous for its an- cient town, known as the Sassi, which translates as ‘stones’. The Sassi began life as a prehistoric troglodyte settlement mined into the rocky face of a ravine but over the centuries many groups of people lived in these cavernous dwellings. The inhabitants were forcibly removed in the 1950s but today much of the area has been regenerated and there are small business, hotels and bars there. To see this area properly we’ll be dedicating the entire day to our visit with a local guide.

Overnight: Polignano a Mare

AN EMPEROR’S CASTLE AND THE GARGANO PENINSULA

We drive on to our final destination today, Mattinata on the especially beautiful Gargano Peninsula.
First however we stop at Castel del Monte, ‘a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture’ and the third UNESCO World Heritage site that we visit on this tour. Castel del Monte is located on a gentle hill that overlooks the surrounding flatlands. It comprises a13th century citadel and castle built by Emperor Frederic II. Many people describe it as ‘a copybook castle’ because of its pleasing octagonal design, and perfect symmetry. Luca describes it as ‘Essentially a medieval Stonehenge, in the middle of an otherwise empty landscape, with great atmosphere and a mysterious significance’.
Our accommodation in Mattinata, which means ‘morning’, is in self contained apartments with stunning views along the blue coastline from their balconies. While the area is a huge drawcard for Italians seeking sun and sea in summer, inland it remains a big agricultural area where they grow oranges, grapes, olives and a type of dairy cattle particular to the area. The Parco Nazionale del Gargano is a short drive away.
Overnight: Mattinata

A PILGRIM’S CHURCH, THE SHADY FORREST AND DINNER AT A TRABUCCO

This morning we drive up to Monte Sant’Angelo, a pilgrim destination where the faithful came to visit the sanctuary of St Michael Archangel, built in 13th century by Charles I of Anjou, and now a World Heritage site.
We drive through the the Parco Nazionale del Gargano to the Foresta Umbra (the Shady Forest). The road takes us through brilliant green forests to a lovely tableland and then we take a short stroll through the forest.
Last stop for the day is at a trabucco  an old fishing station, where we will enjoy an early dinner as the sun sets.
Overnight: Mattinata

THE GARGANO COAST

This morning we climb aboard our private charter boat and work our way along the coast to enjoy the stunning limestone cliffs and caves of the peninsula. We disembark at the typical fishing village of Vieste, where we have lunch overlooking the coastline. Weather permitting we’ll have an opportunity for swimming in the dazzling blue sea of the Adriatic before we return to Mattinata for our farewell dinner.
Overnight: Mattinata

FAREWELLS

On the last day of the tour we provide a group transfer back to Bari for your departure by air or train. Check with us for timings.