PUGLIA & MATERA SMALL GROUP TOURS
Holidays in Puglia, Matera & Abruzzo
Apulia, the ‘heel’ of the elegant Italian boot has coasts on two sides with fabulous beaches dipped in sparkling turquoise seas, while the inland plains have treasures from imposing castles to the fairytale trulli of Alberobello and voluptuous Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’.
Known as the ‘spur’ of the Italian boot, the beautiful Gargano Promontory is in the north of Apulia, straddling the sea and plains. It is a place of dark ancient forests, fishing villages, coastal watchtowers, dazzlingly white limestone cliffs, caves and long, sandy beaches. Most of this mountainous land jutting into the Adriatic Sea is a National Park – the Parco Nazionale del Gargano. It is cloaked with coastal forests of pine and ilex and orchards where almonds, oranges and olives grow. The seaside towns Peschici and Vieste have lovely sandy beaches and to the north, the offshore Tremiti Islands have glorious rugged scenery with dozens of coves and exceptional diving in underwater caves and snorkelling over coral reefs. Inland, white medieval towns such as Ostuni, dazzle against the rich red soil and carpets of silvery green olive groves and vineyards in this, the region that produces much of Italy’s olive oil and full-bodied, lusty wines.
But perhaps most famous are the trulli around Alberobello. They stand in rows like little white beehives reaching towards azure skies, with pinnacles or crosses and strange stone markers that are said to have magical significance. The lush Istria Valley, a World Heritage Site, has these unique ‘hobbit’ houses, scattered throughout the countryside.
Bathed in an ivory light, Puglia radiates warmth all year round.Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, medieval Crusaders and pilgrims have all been drawn here by its easy access to the East. The rest of the world is now also catching on to the lure of Puglia’s mild climate, sandy beaches, clean water and superb full-bodied red wines. It is the home of the Trulli, simple yet beautiful dwellings with conical roofs made entirely of local limestone. This tour enables visitors to marvel at the monuments left behind from previous ages, including the magical clusters of ancient domed dwellings, or trulli Apart from this there are many fantastic sceneries to take in during our insightful Puglia Tour.
On a grander scale are the centuries-old fortified farmhouses, masserie, many of which have been restored into luxury hotels, which are often set among huge groves of ancient olive trees. As the producer of more than half of Italy’s olive oil, plenty of Puglia’s olive presses offer tours and tastings of the different varieties. And wine buffs will be spoilt for choice in this region once known as ‘the wine cellar of Europe’. Near Alberobello there are good local whites from Martina Franca and Locorotondo while the full-bodied reds from the south such as Malvasia Nera and Negromaro are very popular.
Farther south at the tip of the heel is the ‘Florence of the South’ where Lecce is known for its exuberantly voluptuous architecture, called ‘Lecce Baroque’.