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Puglia: Discover the Heel of Italy

from $2,349.00

Discover Puglia’s traditional farmland, Mediterranean coastline and Baroque
cities

  • Reviews 20 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely
    1/8
  • Group Size Small Group
    6 - 18
All about the Puglia: Discover the Heel of Italy.

Puglia, known for its whitewashed hill towns, traditional farmland, fine cuisine and sweeping Mediterranean coastline, is Italy’s southern heel and, until recently, its best kept secret. With a focus on art, architecture, traditions and local cuisine, this trip explores the region’s highlights. From Baroque Lecce, known as the ‘Florence of the South’, we travel to the elegant white city of Ostuni and on to the mediaeval coastal town of Otranto, where winding narrow streets conceal perfect Baroque churches. Matera is also visited, a UNESCO listed town carved into bare limestone rock, where centuries-old caves are still inhabited.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts, 1 lunch/cooking class, 1 wine tasting
* 7 nights accommodation in *** and **** hotels
* Tour leader throughout
* Airport transfers (at designated times)

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Local city taxes (approx. €15)

Highlights

  • Baroque Lecce and cristal-clear sea in Salento
  • ‘Trulli’ houses in Alberobello
  • Enjoy a fun cooking class and wine tasting
  • Visit the unique UNESCO town of Matera
  • 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels with en suite facilities
  • Group normally 6-18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private minibus
  • Reverse itinerary (Matera to Lecce) on selected departure dates (inquire for dates)
  1. Day 1 Start Lecce.

    Our tour starts in Lecce, the Baroque masterpiece of southern Italy located in the heart of Puglia. Sometimes described as the ’Florence of the South’, the city is a real architectonic gem boasting sumptuous palazzi and churches.*Standard Hotel*

  2. Day 2 Transfer to Otranto; visit the historic centre; afternoon optional coastal walk or relax at the beach (seasonal); back to Lecce.

    Our week starts with a transfer to pretty Otranto, the easternmost town in Italy. The day will be spent exploring the town’s mediaeval centre and its pretty architecture, views, sea-front restaurants and white sandy beaches which make it one of Puglia’s most interesting and picturesque towns. We will also visit the delightful Romanesque cathedral, dating back to 1088 and boasting extensive 12th century floor mosaics. After lunch we have the opportunity to join our tour leader for an optional gentle coastal walk following the Salento picturesque coves and creeks (approx. 3hrs walking, 8 km). Those who prefer not to take part in this activity may decide to continue exploring the town at their own pace, or perhaps to relax in one Otranto’s beaches, famous for the picture-perfect clear water (seasonal). Late afternoon transfer back to Lecce.**

  3. Day 3 Morning guided tour of baroque Lecce; afternoon private transfer to Ostuni. Visit a masseria for an interesting olive oil tasting; free time in Ostuni.

    In the morning we enjoy a guided visit of Lecce, arguably one of the best and most distinctive Baroque cities in Europe. Most of the buildings here are built in the soft local stone, with pretty decorations and cherubs covering facades and doorways. During our walking tour we will have time to admire several architectonic gems, including the top Baroque monument in town: the extravagant Basilica di Santa Croce, ornamented with strange beasts and allegories. Lecce is also famous for a centenary tradition of papier-mâché (chewed paper) and you have the option to visit a local laboratory at the end of the tour. Early afternoon we transfer by private minibus to the charming hilltop town of Ostuni, famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses. Before reaching the town we will make a stop in a traditional masseria and visit the ancient underground oil mill. The interesting tour will end with an olive oil tasting! Once in Ostuni, there will be some free time to get lost in the maze of picturesque staircases, alleys, arches and perhaps enjoy some shopping in the local artisanal boutiques. Overnight in Ostuni.*Comfortable Hotel*

  4. Day 4 Easy walk in the Ostuni countryside overlooking the Adriatic coast; visit the archaeological park of Agnano; cooking class in traditional masseria.

    This morning will be spent exploring the beautiful countryside around Ostuni, walking through ancient olive groves and vineyards overlooking the Adriatic coast. Along the route we stop for a visit at the archaeological park of S. M. Agnano, where past excavations have brought to the impressive discovery of fossils dating back to the Paleolithic. Before returning to Ostuni, we will enjoy an intersting cooking class followed by a delicious lunch at a traditional ‘masseria’, a typical Apullian converted farmhouse located in a picturesque and tranquil rural setting. Free evening and overnight in Ostuni.

  5. Day 5 Visit to the Castellana caves; on to Alberobello, known for its dry stone dwellings also known as 'Trulli'. Wine tasting and overnight in a traditional trullo.

    After breakfast we leave Ostuni and transfer to the Castellana Caves, Italy’s most important and biggest cave system. Located at the entrance of the Itria Valley, these caves began to form about 90 million years ago. The tour will take us to more 60 meters depth and will allow us to explore an amazing scenario made of stalactites, stalagmites, concretions, incredible shapes, fossils and canyons. In the afternoon we take another private transfer to Alberobello, home to the famous Trulli (peculiar conical roofed houses) that have made its historical centre a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a stroll in the picture-perfect colourful alleys we visit a local winery where we enjoy a wine tasting. We spend the next two nights in traditional converted Trulli houses in the historic centre of the town.*Standard Hotel*

  6. Day 6 Free day. Visit Polignano a Mare or Monopoli by the Adriatic Sea or enjoy optional activities in Alberobello.

    Today is free to choose amongst the several activities and excursions available in the area. **

  7. Day 7 Full day sightseeing in Matera, including a tour of the UNESCO

    We conclude our week with a full day in one the most interesting, distinctive and memorable tourist destinations in Italy: Matera. Nestled on a hill, overlooking an impressive canyon in the neighbouring region of Basilicata, Matera has only recently gained the deserved spotlight. In 1993 the town was made a UNESCO World Heritage site, for being the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, all carved in bare limestone rock. Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, we walk through the town’s famous cave-dwelling districts and learn of the history of this fascinating place. In the afternoon we have time to discover the city at our own pace and visit the world-famous rupestrian churches. Overnight in Matera.*Standard Hotel*

  8. Day 8 End Matera.

    The tour ends in Matera in the morning of day 8.

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Where you stay

Hotels and Trulli houses

All hotels on this trip have been specially selected for their location, character and comfort. We mostly stay in renovated traditional buildings which give a real taste of the typical Apulian architecture. We spend 2 nights in a comfortable and modern hotel located in proximity of Lecce’s historic centre, 2 nights in a traditional 4-star hotel in Ostuni, two nights in authentic Trulli houses (dry stone dwellings) in Alberobello and a final night in a comfortable 3-star hotel in Matera’s historic centre.

List of hotels normally used:

3-star Eos Hotel or Hotel President, Lecce

4-star Hotel La Terra or Sant Eligio Relais or Hotel Palace, Ostuni

Trulli houses, Alberobello (Trulli e Puglia ,Trulli Holidays or La Corte dell’Astore )

3-star Hotel Sassi, Matera

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 lunch/cooking class and 1 wine tasting

In Puglia you will find genuine regional cooking that has strong links to the land and the sea. To give you just a small list of the types of food on offer in Puglia: Bread from the Murge, durum wheat pasta, olives, the pasta delicacy Orecchiette served with a sauce of turnip-tops or fresh tomato and sheep’s ricotta-cheese, Cavatelli with pulses, aubergine and parmesan bake, grilled fish and seafood, burrata (soft mozzarella and cream cheese), plus excellent wines. This region is a food lovers paradise and the aboundance of delicious vegetables makes it a perfect destination for vegetarians! On this trip there will be many opportunities to taste the best local specialities, in particular during the produce and wine tasting, cookery class and the traditional lunch included in the itinerary.

Grade: 1 (Leisurely) This is a relaxing week where you can enjoy some real Italian hospitality and sightseeing on foot in the best towns and areas of Puglia. All the transfers will be by private air conditioned vehicle or train. This trip also includes two gentle walks (max. 3hrs walking each), on flat terrain. The walking isn’t too strenuous and it is entirely optional, should you prefer not to join the excursions. Be prepared for climbing a lot of steps, sometimes uneven, in Matera and Ostuni during the sightseeing. Please note that Puglia can be very hot, reaching high 30s in the summer. The overall Activity Level for this trip is 1 (Leisurely) meaning that it is suitable for all people who are in good health and fitness.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Puglia

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many, visit olive trees thousands of years old. The caverns, each cave better than the last. Staying in a trulli.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Giuseppe was very passionate about showing us his part of Italy, from introducing us to amazing food and wines made from local products, to showing us beautiful little towns.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Food is a little more expensive than the trip notes suggest. Double the recommendations as there is so much amazing food and wine to trip.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    On our free day we went to Martina Franca and Locorotondo, these were beautiful towns well worth a visit

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Puglia: Discover the heel of Italy

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Spending time in Matera was a real highlight and also travelling on the local train to Lecce through the olive groves.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Marinella was an exceptional guide; nothing was too much trouble and she was very knowledgable about the area and interesting to listen to. We appreciated the effort she made to find good local places for the group to eat together in the evening, and accompanying us, which made a lot of difference to our holiday.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the pavements were polished cobbles so a shoe with a good grip is essential. There were quite a lot of hills and steps to negotiate.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were no early morning starts so in that sense it was leisurely, but we were on our feet most of the day so in our view we would classify this holiday as leisurely/moderate.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

I fell in love with Italy

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole trip was perfect but if I were to pick a section that stood out, I would say Aberobella. To stay in a Trulli house was such a wonderful experience - not at all what I was expecting. The cookery lesson was more of a demonstration (although we did get to try make some pasta) but it was thoroughly enjoyable and the meal at the end was the best meal of the holiday.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Salvatore' was an excellent leader. He was knowledgeable, professional and caring. His English is perfect and he has a personable way about him that makes him a pleasure to listen to. Nothing was too much trouble, he didn't once look irritated (particularly by eight women who were always looking for the next loo stop!). His choice of restaurants and eating places was superb. Once you know you're in good hands it is so easy to switch off and chill out.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't hesitate - just book it.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If I were to change anything about this trip it would be to add an overnight stay in Otranto. We had a lot of time in Lecce and if anything were to give I would forego some time there. The specialist guides in Lecce and in Matera were first class !

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Discover the Heel of Italy

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I'm unable to pinpoint a "moment". I thought the whole week was inspirational. But if I'm forced on pain of death, then sitting by the roadside in Alberobello licking ice-cream made me appreciate life after serious health issues.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Marcella was lovely. Very knowledgeable, chatty and welcoming. Excellent command of English. Catered to people's individual tastes. On the free day in Alberobello everyone went elsewhere. But I wanted to savour this Unesco World Heritage town, so I stayed put. I have an urge to swim everywhere I visit and Marcella pointed me in the direction of a hotel where I could use their pool for 5 Euros. The staff were lovely and didn't ask for anything.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although a solo traveller I thought this trip and the region of Puglia and Basilicata would be ideal for young families. There is the usual tacky souvenir stuff but I found locals friendly and helpful, particular in local restaurants. No pestering anywhere from touts. The Peroni beer is outstanding, particularly the Tradizione (red label) and the Gran Riserva (quite strong at 6.6%) which is difficult to find in this country (Scotland).
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Try and visit before we end up out of the EU. The pound seems to losing its value quicker than expected.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Discover the heel of Puglia

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was very excited to see Alberobello, which I had long wanted to visit. And Matera was a great revelation - I knew nothing of its history, and found it fascinating
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Marinella was friendly, energetic and charming, and full of interesting information. She found some lovely places for us to eat at. She was concerned for and interested in everyone in the partyExpect
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you go in July, leave your woollies well behind. It was EXTREMELY hot when we were there.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You will feel well looked after by Exodus.

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