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Puglia & Matera Exploring the Untouched Heel of Italy


Our tour of Puglia, the untouched heel of Italy’s boot, explores Southern Italy’s cultural traditions, authentic food and wine, and stunning landscape. From crystal-blue coasts to whitewashed cities, Puglia brims with picturesque sights. In addition, this tour will highlight unique history of Jewish settlers in the Puglia region. Trip highlights include behind-the-scenes olive oil tour/tasting, Matera’s meandering stone streets, and views of the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Expert guides will share with you the Southern Italy that locals know and love. Puglia and Matera will enchant even the most well-heeled traveler.


TOUR ITINERARY  { 7 days / 6 nights }

DAY 1:

ARRIVAL IN PUGLIA

Welcome to Pulgia! Upon arrival at the airport or train station, you will be transferred by private car to your authentic lunch. You will savor here Puglia’s famed cucina contadina (home cooking), featuring traditional recipes and seasonal ingredients.  After lunch, we will head to your accommodation in Ostuni.  Dubbed the “white city” for its sun-bleached buildings, Ostuni is a medieval hilltop city overlooking the sea.  You will pass your first three nights in Puglia in the city of Ostuni or in the countryside nearby.  In historic Ostuni, travelers can enjoy the 5* boutique hotel La Sommita Relais, set in a converted 16th century monastery. If you prefer to quiet charm of Puglia’s countryside, you can instead enjoy Masseria Torre Coccaro, a noble family’s farm now transformed into a luxury spa and golf resort.

DAY 2:

DISCOVERING CISTERNINO, ALBEROBELLO & POLIGNANO A MARE

The first stop on day two of your tour is the charming town of Cisternino. We’ll stroll the village’s narrow streets, passing whitewashed buildings in the medieval city center. Next, you will be driven to the town of Alberobello – passing field after field of silver-green olive orchards along the way.  Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Alberobello is famed for the cone-shaped homes found only in this valley.  These traditional dwellings are called trulli. Their conical roofs are built – stone by stone – without ever using mortar.

After touring the town of Alberobello, you will enjoy the local cuisine at the family-run La Cantina restaurant. Francesco will prepare a delizioso meal for you from his open kitchen.  Watch as he crafts each delicious bite the old-fashioned way.  In the afternoon, we set off for Polignano a Mare — renowned for its sweeping views of the blue-green Mediterranean and homes built atop the dramatic sea cliffs.  Enjoy a tour of Polignano’s historic center, including ample time to take stunning photos by the sea.

DAY 3:

COOKING OR BOATING

After a delicious breakfast you’ll visit Masseria Brancati – a historic farm that houses an ancient olive mill in its stone cellars. First, we will walk the farm’s ancient olive groves and hear how olives are raised and harvest. Next, you will taste will taste five different types of olive oil produced on site here – using traditional techniques. You then have the opportunity to partake in our Pugliese cooking class in the main farmhouse.

After your lesson, you’ll either enjoy the food you have just made or take a 2-hour boat trip, (including a light lunch) along the Adriatic coast.  Those who opt for the sea excursion will have the chance to swim in hidden coves, reachable only by boat. In the afternoon, you will have time on your own to stroll, visit shops or enjoy a glass of local wine in Ostuni.

DAY 4:

GALLIPOLI, WINE-TASTING & SEAFOOD MARKET

From Ostuni, we will head south – crossing the heel of Italy to Gallipoli, a charming fishing town on the sea. After a stroll through the town’s vibrant fish market, we will tour an ancient underground olive oil mill.  The, we will savor a delicious seaside lunch at Puritate — one of the best seafood restaurants in the entire region. In the afternoon, you will tour a local winery, Schola Sarmenti, in Nardò. Here, you will visit its ancient wine cellars and taste their award winning, organic wines.  Finally, we will drive 10 minutes to Santa Maria al Bagno and visit the “museo della memoria e dell'accoglienza” – learning about the one thousand German and Polish Jewish refugees who lived in Puglia between1943 to 1947, as they awaited entry to Israel or the U.S.

In the evening, you will be surrounded by the golden-hued stones in the Baroque jewel of Lecce. We will dine at Le Zie – a favorite of locals and Italian celebrities. As we walk to and from the restaurant, we will glimpse Lecce lit up at night. Centuries-old palazzos and the carved facades, made from the soft local stone, fill the city center. You will enjoy three nights in Lecce at the 5* luxury resort Hotel Risorgimento, found in the heart of this city; this elegant resort has been an inn since the 15th century. The gourmet restaurant's executive chef, Cosimo Simmini, uses local produce to bring to life the traditional flavors Puglia’s cuisine.

DAY 5:

HISTORICAL LECCE AND THE MARVELS OF OTRANTO

After breakfast we will explore the city of Lecce, much of the architecture is in the highly decorative Baroque style , which flourished in the 17th century and earned the city the name   “Florence of South”. We will visit Piazza S. Oronzo and the magnificent Roman Amphitheater. Or, if you prefer, there is an option to take a boat trip and enjoy a swim in the crystal-clear Mediterranean Sea in the morning. We will have our lunch at Il Cantico dei Cantici in the stunning seaside town of Otranto, one of Puglia's most vibrant towns, overlooking a stunning blue-green harbor.

Otranto has been named as one of the “Borghi piu’belli d’Italia” – one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. In Otranto, St. Peter is fabled to have celebrated the first mass in Western Europe.  In the afternoon, we will visit the centuries-old winery Castel di Salve. Due to the presence of microclimates and differing soils in the area, this winery is able to produce multiple varietals of wine on four neighboring vineyards. You will visit the winery’s historic cellars and enjoy a tasting of the unique varietals produced in this area.  We will then visit the old town of Tricase, enjoying a prosecco toast at Farmacia Bilboa. You are then free to enjoy the evening in Tricase before we drive back to Lecce.

DAY 6:

 

THE SASSI OF MATERA

Today we leave Lecce and head the unforgettable city of Matera – a town that seems to be carved from the mountain. First, we stop in Grottaglie, for its handmade ceramics. Here, we will visit the potters’ workshop before continuing on to Matera. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Matera is unlike any other city in Italy.  Winding stone streets and rock grottoes fill this mountaintop city.  We will lunch at Falco Grillaio to enjoy the regional cuisine and food products. Our tour of Matera will bring you in touch with the city’s famed sassi – rock caves gouged from the mountainside.

The people of Matera used to live in the sassi. In addition, numerous chapels were also carved into the stone here. In Matera, you will spend two nights in the spectacular hotel, Sextantio Grotte della Civita – a cultural project of preservation and renovation located in the oldest part of the sassi. The hotel overlooks the Gravina stream and the mountainous scenery of the Murgia Natural Park. We will dine at Abbondanza, an innovative restaurant housed in a cave.

DAY 7:

MATERA & DEPARTURE

After breakfast, we well visit the Crypt of the Original Sin commonly known as the Sistine Chapel of Rupestrian art it was discovered as late as 1963. Experts have dated the cycle of paintings back to the second half of the eighth century, painted by Basilian monks.

We’ll then escort you by private car to either Brindisi or Bari airport for your return journey. We hope you will return to visit us and keep exploring more of the bellissima land of Puglia.  Arrivederci!

+ DAY 1

DAY 1:

ARRIVAL IN PUGLIA

Welcome to Pulgia! Upon arrival at the airport or train station, you will be transferred by private car to your authentic lunch. You will savor here Puglia’s famed cucina contadina (home cooking), featuring traditional recipes and seasonal ingredients.  After lunch, we will head to your accommodation in Ostuni.  Dubbed the “white city” for its sun-bleached buildings, Ostuni is a medieval hilltop city overlooking the sea.  You will pass your first three nights in Puglia in the city of Ostuni or in the countryside nearby.  In historic Ostuni, travelers can enjoy the 5* boutique hotel La Sommita Relais, set in a converted 16th century monastery. If you prefer to quiet charm of Puglia’s countryside, you can instead enjoy Masseria Torre Coccaro, a noble family’s farm now transformed into a luxury spa and golf resort.

+ DAY 2

DAY 2:

DISCOVERING CISTERNINO, ALBEROBELLO & POLIGNANO A MARE

The first stop on day two of your tour is the charming town of Cisternino. We’ll stroll the village’s narrow streets, passing whitewashed buildings in the medieval city center. Next, you will be driven to the town of Alberobello – passing field after field of silver-green olive orchards along the way.  Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Alberobello is famed for the cone-shaped homes found only in this valley.  These traditional dwellings are called trulli. Their conical roofs are built – stone by stone – without ever using mortar.

After touring the town of Alberobello, you will enjoy the local cuisine at the family-run La Cantina restaurant. Francesco will prepare a delizioso meal for you from his open kitchen.  Watch as he crafts each delicious bite the old-fashioned way.  In the afternoon, we set off for Polignano a Mare — renowned for its sweeping views of the blue-green Mediterranean and homes built atop the dramatic sea cliffs.  Enjoy a tour of Polignano’s historic center, including ample time to take stunning photos by the sea.

+ DAY 3

DAY 3:

COOKING OR BOATING

After a delicious breakfast you’ll visit Masseria Brancati – a historic farm that houses an ancient olive mill in its stone cellars. First, we will walk the farm’s ancient olive groves and hear how olives are raised and harvest. Next, you will taste will taste five different types of olive oil produced on site here – using traditional techniques. You then have the opportunity to partake in our Pugliese cooking class in the main farmhouse.

After your lesson, you’ll either enjoy the food you have just made or take a 2-hour boat trip, (including a light lunch) along the Adriatic coast.  Those who opt for the sea excursion will have the chance to swim in hidden coves, reachable only by boat. In the afternoon, you will have time on your own to stroll, visit shops or enjoy a glass of local wine in Ostuni.

+ DAY 4

DAY 4:

GALLIPOLI, WINE-TASTING & SEAFOOD MARKET

From Ostuni, we will head south – crossing the heel of Italy to Gallipoli, a charming fishing town on the sea. After a stroll through the town’s vibrant fish market, we will tour an ancient underground olive oil mill.  The, we will savor a delicious seaside lunch at Puritate — one of the best seafood restaurants in the entire region. In the afternoon, you will tour a local winery, Schola Sarmenti, in Nardò. Here, you will visit its ancient wine cellars and taste their award winning, organic wines.  Finally, we will drive 10 minutes to Santa Maria al Bagno and visit the “museo della memoria e dell'accoglienza” – learning about the one thousand German and Polish Jewish refugees who lived in Puglia between1943 to 1947, as they awaited entry to Israel or the U.S.

In the evening, you will be surrounded by the golden-hued stones in the Baroque jewel of Lecce. We will dine at Le Zie – a favorite of locals and Italian celebrities. As we walk to and from the restaurant, we will glimpse Lecce lit up at night. Centuries-old palazzos and the carved facades, made from the soft local stone, fill the city center. You will enjoy three nights in Lecce at the 5* luxury resort Hotel Risorgimento, found in the heart of this city; this elegant resort has been an inn since the 15th century. The gourmet restaurant's executive chef, Cosimo Simmini, uses local produce to bring to life the traditional flavors Puglia’s cuisine.

+ DAY 5

DAY 5:

HISTORICAL LECCE AND THE MARVELS OF OTRANTO

After breakfast we will explore the city of Lecce, much of the architecture is in the highly decorative Baroque style , which flourished in the 17th century and earned the city the name   “Florence of South”. We will visit Piazza S. Oronzo and the magnificent Roman Amphitheater. Or, if you prefer, there is an option to take a boat trip and enjoy a swim in the crystal-clear Mediterranean Sea in the morning. We will have our lunch at Il Cantico dei Cantici in the stunning seaside town of Otranto, one of Puglia's most vibrant towns, overlooking a stunning blue-green harbor.

Otranto has been named as one of the “Borghi piu’belli d’Italia” – one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. In Otranto, St. Peter is fabled to have celebrated the first mass in Western Europe.  In the afternoon, we will visit the centuries-old winery Castel di Salve. Due to the presence of microclimates and differing soils in the area, this winery is able to produce multiple varietals of wine on four neighboring vineyards. You will visit the winery’s historic cellars and enjoy a tasting of the unique varietals produced in this area.  We will then visit the old town of Tricase, enjoying a prosecco toast at Farmacia Bilboa. You are then free to enjoy the evening in Tricase before we drive back to Lecce.

+ DAY 6

DAY 6:

 

THE SASSI OF MATERA

Today we leave Lecce and head the unforgettable city of Matera – a town that seems to be carved from the mountain. First, we stop in Grottaglie, for its handmade ceramics. Here, we will visit the potters’ workshop before continuing on to Matera. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Matera is unlike any other city in Italy.  Winding stone streets and rock grottoes fill this mountaintop city.  We will lunch at Falco Grillaio to enjoy the regional cuisine and food products. Our tour of Matera will bring you in touch with the city’s famed sassi – rock caves gouged from the mountainside.

The people of Matera used to live in the sassi. In addition, numerous chapels were also carved into the stone here. In Matera, you will spend two nights in the spectacular hotel, Sextantio Grotte della Civita – a cultural project of preservation and renovation located in the oldest part of the sassi. The hotel overlooks the Gravina stream and the mountainous scenery of the Murgia Natural Park. We will dine at Abbondanza, an innovative restaurant housed in a cave.

+ DAY 7

DAY 7:

MATERA & DEPARTURE

After breakfast, we well visit the Crypt of the Original Sin commonly known as the Sistine Chapel of Rupestrian art it was discovered as late as 1963. Experts have dated the cycle of paintings back to the second half of the eighth century, painted by Basilian monks.

We’ll then escort you by private car to either Brindisi or Bari airport for your return journey. We hope you will return to visit us and keep exploring more of the bellissima land of Puglia.  Arrivederci!


Price: please inquire for pricing and specifics »


INCLUDED:

  • Transportation
  • Pick-up and Drop-off from/to airport in Bari or in Brindisi.
  • Accommodation with breakfast daily
    • 3 Nights – Ostuni
    • 2 Nights – Lecce
    • 1 Night – Matera
  • 5 Lunches & 2 dinners with wine
  • 1 authentic cooking course with lunch
  • 1 wine tasting
  • 1 olive oil tasting
  • Optional private boat excursion in the Mediterranean
  • Entrance tickets to museums and historic sites
  • Expert, local guides
  • Local city taxes

 

NOT INCLUDED

  • Air Transportation
  • Meals, when not indicated in the itinerary
  • Tips