Puglia, September 23 - October 2, 2020
Join me in an intimate group of no more than 12 people as we explore together this land of transparent waters that Crusaders once sailed from, a land of olive groves some which have been alive for more than two thousand years. Puglia is a land of fairytale trulli and hilltops ridged by white cities like Ostuni. We will visit Matera, last year's Capital of Culture, just across the border in Basilicata. Taste the burrata cheese. Tear off a piece of Altamura’s famous bread. Drink the Primitivo wine. Learn to make Puglia’s orecchiette pasta.
Special Offer! Take The Leap! Register by April 29, 2019 and you will receive a $200 discount.
Special Offer! Take The Leap! Register by April 29, 2019 and you will receive a $200 discount.
- Walk Bari’s Old City – The capital of the region of Puglia is the home of Ol’ St. Nick.
- A visit to the Maffei pastaio, Puglia's premier fresh pasta-making factory.
- Trani, one of Puglia's romantic seaside towns.
- The Castello del Monte, whose unique medieval 8-sided structure is mysterious and mystical - its image is on the one-cent euro coin.
- A visit to see how Puglia's famous burrata cheese is made.
- Making the acquaintance of the 150,000 year old Altamura Man from neolithic times.
- A tasting of one of Italy’s DOP “protected” breads found in Altamura.
- Alberobello - the capital of “Trulli Land” - those unique white, cone-shaped homes that have become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Matera, last year's Capital of European Culture & also a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements since the Paleolithic period.
- The sparkling white-walled medieval city of Ostuni, that shines bright and welcoming to sailors at sea.
- A masseria farm estate where we will walk through olive groves as well as learn the art of making orecchiette, Puglia’s signature pasta.
- Lecce, the “Florence of the South” - a jewel of Baroque churches and palaces.
- Otranto where you’ll appreciate the Cathedral’s incomparable “Tree of Live” mosaic floor.
- Santa Maria in Leuca - the very tip of Italy’s heel where we will board a boat to enjoy the caves and swim in its pristine water.
- Gallipoli - meaning “Beautiful City” in Greek with its massive fortifications.
- A Primitivo wine-tasting.
The Day before the tour |Tuesday, September 22
Our group will meet in Bari the night before the tour officially begins to enjoy a welcome drink and walk along Bari's lovely seaside promenade.
Day One | Wednesday, September 23
We leave Bari and head north to Trani, known as one of Puglia's pearls, romantically situated on the Adriatic Sea. This will be our base for the next two days as we explore our surroundings. We'll make a stop at the Maffei "Pastaio"- Puglia's premier pasta making factory. This is where fresh pasta is made and sold in the food stores throughout Puglia. After a demonstration and tasting, we check into our hotel and enjoy a welcome drink. The afternoon is free to relax. Consider going biking or taking a swim before dinner - a great way to get over jet lag. Meet for dinner when we meet to go over the activities for the following day and stroll into the downtown for a gelato.
Day Two | Thursday, September 24
We enjoy a relaxed beginning to our day, as our guide takes us on a walking tour of Trani, which was a major point of embarkation for the Crusades. The Knights Templar built a church and hospital here to nurse the sick and wounded.
Burrata cheese are in on our minds today because this delicate and creamy soft mozzarella-like cheese from Puglia has taken the world by storm. We will visit the epicenter of burrata to see how it's made and to enjoy a tasting.
After lunch, we head inland to visit the 13th century medieval castle built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, now a World Heritage site.
Its unique octagonal shape shrouds it in mystery as to its intended use. The structure is so unique that it is featured on the one euro coin.
Day Three | Friday, September 25
The Old City of Bari is our destination this morning. We'll take to the streets of the historic downtown, visiting the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the original Father Christmas. It is here along these narrow intimate byways that you will see women making Puglia’s typical pasta “orecchiette “ which means ‘little ears”. They have been supplying the local restaurants with fresh pasta for years.
After lunch, we head for Altamura to pay our respects to the most complete 150,000 year old Neanderthal skeleton, found in 1993 just outside the town. We will learn what scientists have gleaned about the life and times of "Ciccio" who fell into a sink hole and died of starvation so many eons ago.
After our visit we'll stop at one of Altamura's famous bakeries to enjoy a tasting of the "Pane di Altamura", famous even in Roman times for its taste, shape and long lasting freshness. This evening we will check into our hotel in Matera, where we will lodge for the next two days.
Day Four | Saturday, September 26
Today we explore Matera, last year's Capital of European Culture located in the neighboring region of Basilicata. Used as a backdrop for Mel Gibson’s “Jerusalem” in The Passion, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993 for being one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements since the Paleolithic period.
We will visit the Sassi, multi-level cave dwellings where people once
lived even up until the 1950s without electricity, sewer or running water - a plight that was brought to the world's attention by Carlo Levi in his book, Christ Stopped at Eboli, spotlighting the misery and poverty of the South of Italy. Thankfully that's all changed and we can appreciate the lengths man went to to literally carve out a life from the rock.
Day Five | Sunday, September 27
Today we head for the Valley of Itria - our destination for the next two days. where the land of the trulli is found. Alberobello, this town of unique, brilliant white, cone-shaped, mortar-less structures, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique architecture and the story behind it.
We will enjoy a guided tour of Alberobello in the morning and the afternoon is free to enjoy the many wonderful shops of artisanal foods and crafts that Alberobello is known for.
Day Six | Monday, September 28
This morning will be spent strolling through a grove of some of Puglia's most beautiful and ancient olive trees at the Masseria Brancati and visit an underground olive mill that dates back to the ancient Greeks on this estate farm. An olive oil tasting will follow.
For lunch, we will learn from the best how to Puglia's signature pasta "orecchiette" (little ears) and enjoy the fruits of our labor in a grand meal al fresco.
Our afternoon will be spent in Ostuni, The White City, which is a sparkling white-washed medieval city high on a hill which can be seen far away We will
be free to explore the narrow, winding streets of this “colorful” town, appreciating the far-reaching views from the very top, where its famous rosetta-windowed Cathedral is located.
Day Seven | Tuesday, September 29
Lecce - The Florence of the South
The cream-colored buildings of Lecce, called "The Florence of the South", invite you to enjoy the golden baroque architecture of its palaces and churches. The Roman amphitheater prominent in the central square shows that its roots go back many centuries. As Lecce is renowned for its paper we will enjoy taking a paper maché class and coming away with our own piece of artwork.
There will be time to take part in the traditional evening stroll – la passeggiata – that Lecce’s residents take part in, as this city will be our base for the next several nights.
Day Eight | Wednesday, September 30
Otranto, Italy’s easternmost city and Roman and medieval gate to the Holy Lands is our destination today. King Arthur is one of the enigmatic figures we will see in the Cathedral’s incomparable Tree of Life mosaic floor from the 12th century.
The afternoon is spent in Santa Maria di Leuca, the tip of the heel of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula. Previously named Leukos in Ancient Greek times meaning “Lit by the Sun", St. Peter disembarked here on his way to Rome.
There we will board a boat and sail the deeply colored waters where the Ionian and Adriatic seas meet and spend the time exploring its caves and swimming in its pristine waters. At sunset, we will watch the sun go down over the tip of the heel of Italy before heading back to Lecce for the night.
Day Nine | Thursday, October 1
We head west to Gallipoli, from the Greek-named “Beautiful City” on the Ionian Sea. The historic center is an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. Protected by massive fortifications, once the Mediterranean capital of lamp oil, whose product reached as far away as Moscow, its small alleyways
and seaside promenade with relax and regale you, as you are free to roam its streets and do some last minute shopping.
The cantina we will be visiting in the afternoon has been part of the family wine business since 1489. Located just outside Gallipoli, we will walk through its vineyards of Primitivo and Negroamaro grapes and taste its delicious offerings.
We will then head back to Lecce to enjoy our last dinner together as a band of travelers.
Day Ten | Friday, October 2
It's time to say "Goodbye!" from the Brinidisi airport but not before having one more of Puglia's famous "Pasticciotti" - cream-filled goodness on the inside and wonderfully crispy dough on the outside.
We've shared so many wonderful experiences together and made good friends along the way. Once you're back home, something will remind you of a place or time or person or food you've experienced in Puglia and you'll be transported back again, and of course, I'll be here too to remind you of the good times we've shared.
It's is truly my pleasure to share with you the joys of travel to "La Bell'Italia!"
September 23 - October 2, 2020
Cost per person: $3500 (based on double occupancy) for 9 nights/10 days. Single supplement is $600. The price includes lodging, transportation, all admissions and tours, a cooking class, a wine tasting, a paper maché class, a boat excursion, a burrata cheese tasting. All breakfasts, dinners but three and all lunches but three are included and all gratuities except for tour guides. I will provide special pre-tour information and preparation to deepen your appreciation of this unique area.
Not included: airfare, air transfers, tour guide gratuities and beverages where not stipulated.
Special Offer! Take The Leap!
Register by April 29, 2019 and you will receive a $200 discount.
Interested in joining? Get in touch to begin the process