Tour description

PUGLIA SMALL GROUP TOURS

Southern Italian lifestyle is all about familia, socialising, good food, and celebrating life! Come and immerse yourself in the Italian lifestyle and see Italy through the eyes of the locals on our 10 days small group tour. On this tour, there are over 10 cultural experiences and tours that you’ll get to enjoy. Puglia, or “the heel of Italy,” is known for being a historical and agricultural centre in the south of Italy. This hidden gem region is often overlooked by larger tour companies, giving it more of an authentic feeling. See where a lot of the food in Italy is grown and learn how Italy’s most famous foods like olive oil, wine, bread, and cheese are made, a one-of-a-kind experience to take home. 

Discover the natural and historic beauty of this region, from the crystal clear blue water and idyllic beaches to the rolling countryside, dramatic mountains, and endless sunshine. Have the opportunity to step back in time to the endless ancient historic and UNESCO World Heritage sites in the region. Each of the cities and towns we’ll visit are home to some of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in the country. Come and experience this unique region of Italy and hop off the beaten path for a true Italian experience!

Read what our friends have to say about this fantastic tour over on Tripadvisor.

HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUSIONS: 10 DAYS/9 NIGHTS

Highlights

  • City tours of Matera, Lecce, Trani, Galatina, Polignano A Mare, and more!
  • Tour of Bari and its famous fish market
  • Primitivo red wine tasting
  • Tour of the historic Casa Cisterna & Chiesa Rupestre in Matera
  • Home-hosted lunch in Alberobello with a burrata cheese-making experience
  • Paper-mache workshop in Lecce
  • Hands-on cooking workshop in Cisternino
  • Traditional restaurant & regional cuisine experiences
  • Olive oil tasting experience in Ostuni
  • Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Castel Del Monte

Included

  • Small group tour of 12-14 participants
  • Knowledgeable English-speaking tour director
  • Entrance fees for all sites
  • Tour transportation in a private air-conditioned motor coach
  • Local guides in the outlined cities and towns.
  • Hotel city and service taxes at all accommodations and restaurants are included
  • Baggage transfers or porters
  • All breakfasts, three lunches, and five dinners are covered.Main meals include wine, mineral water, espresso, or tea
  • Transfers to and from Bari airport
  • Activity level: Light/Moderate
  • Terms & Conditions/single supplement and FAQ

Not Included

  • Baggage transfers or porters at the Hotel in Bari
  • Travel insurance and visa fees/Trip Interruption & Cancellation Insurance
  • Any charges for extras not listed in the itinerary
  • Room services, telephone charges, laundry fees
  • Gratuities for the tour director and local driver
  • Single room supplement
OUR ACCOMMODATIONS
DAY-BY-DAY TOUR ITINERARY

 

Day 1: BENVENUTI IN PUGLI!! BEAUTIFUL BARI TO THE FLORENCE OF THE SOUTH

Welcome to the beautiful region of Southern Italy – Puglia! Today, we will meet in BARI outside the Oriente Hotel at 9:30 am for a fascinating walking tour through the ancient alleys of Bari. We’ll stop at the towering Basilica of St. Nicholas, a stunning example of Romanesque architecture. We’ll also pay a visit to the exterior of the Swabian Castle, the bustling fish market. After seeing Bari up close, we’ll head to the picture-perfect town of MONOPOLI for a guided walk through the town’s waterfront.In the early afternoon, we’ll head to our final destination of LECCE, or as it’s often referred to,“ Florence of the South,” due to the astonishing number of Baroque and Romanesque-style buildings. We’ll spend the first three nights in a beautiful boutique hotel Palazzo Dei Dondoli (or similar). We’ll have a welcome dinner tonight at a local bistro.

Meals: Breakfast & lunch on your own, dinner included

Accommodations: Overnight in Lecce

Day 2: THE BAROQUE SPLENDOR OF LECCE & ANCIENT PALAZZO

LECCE is well known for its extensive collection of Baroque mansions and churches that are intricately sculpted from local soft sandstone. In the morning, we’ll take a private city tour to see the top sights.Besides remarkable architecture, Lecce is also known for its paper-mache handicrafts, displaying skills and artistry that are hard to find elsewhere.Afterward, we will visit an ancient APULIAN PALAZZO before having the afternoon to yourself to explore the city. We highly recommend visiting the Museo Faggiano, giving you a greater insight into the city’s centuries-long history. 

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Lecce

Day 3: THE SALENTO PENINSULA & BREEZY OTRANTO

This morning, we’ll wake up and depart for CAPE OTRANTO to visit a restored 19th-century lighthouse.On a clear day, you can see straight to the mountains of Albania! Afterward, we will visit OTRANTO, a charming harbour town perched on the shore next to the perfect turquoise blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. Here in Otranto, you can see the stunning Cathedral with its remarkably preserved 12th-century mosaic floor. After time on your own for lunch, we’ll end the day by relaxing on the soft, pillowy sand and swimming in the sea (weather permitting). In the evening, dine with locals in a authentic Apulian bistro.

Meals: Breakfast & dinner included, lunch on your own.

Accommodations: Overnight in Lecce.

Day 4: ANCIENT GALATINA, WINE TASTING & INTRICATE MATERA

Today, we will leave stunning Puglia and head to the Basilicata region, a hidden gem in Italy. We are starting our tour in GALATINA, an important Greek colony in the Middle Ages. This city is now renowned for being the home of the splendid church of St Caterina d’Alessandria. The church contains alluring 15th-century frescoes with scenes from the Old and New Testaments.Afterward, we’ll meet our good friend Donato, who will show us around a well-known winery for a taste of their delectable red and white wines and a light lunch. We will end our evening in MATERA, a fabulous troglodyte town, where we will stay for the next two nights at the boutique cave hotel Pianelle Resort (or similar)

Meals: Breakfast & lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Matera

Day 5: DIVE INTO HISTORY IN BIBLICAL MATERA

MATERA is rumoured to be one of the world’s oldest towns, with records showing its earliest inhabitants in the Palaeolithic era. The area is littered with prehistoric grottoes, cave tabernacles, and Renaissance homes, all excavated into the luminous  limestone tufa rock.These rock-cut cave dwellings, known as SASSI, date back to the Byzantine times. With the help of a locally-grown expert, we will explore these historic structures and learn all about the stories and treasures they hold. Matera is home to over 3000 habitable caves, including a mediaeval church with legendary frescoes. You’ll have the afternoon to explore this unique town on your own before we reconvene for a delicious cena (dinner) this evening in a local restaurant. 

Meals: Breakfast & dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Matera

Day 6: TWO PILLARS OF ITALIAN FOOD: BREAD IN ALTAMURA & CHEESE IN ALBEROBELLO 

Our day starts with a visit to the historical town of ALTAMURA, which once was an important agricultural centre in the 13th century. Today it’s better known for its exquisite cathedral, built in the 13th century, and the art of bread making.Here, we’ll have the opportunity to take a private walking tour and sample the local artisanal bread. Bread is a staple of the Italian lifestyle, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to try it straight from the baker’s oven! After some bites, we’ll continue our journey to ALBEROBELLO to see its beautifully unique buildings with conical roofs. Here, our local guide Paola will show us an 18th-century Trullo House to give us an insight into their distinctive lifestyle and intriguing architecture. We’ll conclude today’s tour with a visit to a cheese-making farm for a demonstration. Cheese is another pillar of Italian cuisine and an essential ingredient in many Italian dishes. Experience how fresh hand-made cheese is created and sample some of their hard work for our lunch.After that, we will finish our evening in OSTUNI, where we will stay for the next two nights at Hotel La Terra (or similar). You’ll have the evening on your own to stroll the town or visit the top sights. Live as a local in Ostuni!!!

Meals: Breakfast & lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Ostuni

Day 7: OLIVE OIL FARM, FASCINATING LOCOROTONDO & HANDS-ON-COOKING IN CISTERNINO

Today, we’ll continue to explore the pillars of Southern Italian cuisine with a visit to a local MASSERIA for a tour of an olive oil farm and a tasting. We’ll continue on to the tiny whitewashed village of LOCOROTONDO, easily one of the most picturesque towns in all of Italy. The historical centre is so quiet you could hear a pin drop and the rosy red geraniums in the window boxes as a crisp pop of colour. After a relaxing walk, we’ll continue on to CISTERNINO to visit an Apulian family who will welcome us into their trullo house for a HANDS-ON COOKING experience. Learn how to craft an authentic Southern Italian dish that you can recreate at home to share with family and friends. Following this, we will head back to Ostuni for some time on your own to explore. 

Meals: Breakfast & lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Ostuni

Day 8: SAIL THE DAY AWAY IN POLIGNANO A MARE & A TRIP TO CASTEL DEL MONTE

Wide horizons, bold colours, sometimes harsh and a bit lunar. Such is the landscape of the MURGIA VALLEY from the Imperial Puglia, dominated by the presence of Federick II. This morning, we’ll head to POLIGNANO A MARE to sightsee and set sail on our boat tour (weather permitting). We’ll start by taking a walk through the postcard-worthy town perched on the edge of a cliff. After our walking tour, we will depart on our private boat tour that will take us along the spectacular coast.We will then return to Polignano a Mare for a street food experience before heading to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site, CASTEL DEL MONTE. This massive and beautiful fortified castle has stood the test of time. It’s the perfect example of the everlasting nature of mediaeval architecture. In the early afternoon, we will head to TRANI, a coastal fishing village, for the final two nights at Mare Resort (or similar).Here you will have the evening to explore on your own.

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch & dinner on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Trani

Day 9: A POSTCARD OF TRANI 

Today, we will meet our tour guide bright and early for a walking tour of the captivating seaside town of Trani. We will see the famous Romanesque Cathedral of San Pellegrino, followed by the Swabian castle. We will also get to explore the town’s Jewish quarter with its maze of small alleys, synagogues, and artisan shops. This elegant port town is sure to steal your heart.Following this, you can explore the rest of Trani on your own.We recommend shopping in the markets or visiting the marina.Tonight, we will gather for a celebratory dinner at a regional restaurant.

Meals: Breakfast & dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodations: Overnight in Trani

Day 10: ARRIVEDERCI PUGLIA!

This morning, we will part ways and say arrivederci to this magical region of Italy. You can continue your exploration of Italy with a tour of the Amalfi coast, Sicily, or Sardinia. Transfers are provided to Bari airport and train station. 

Meals: Breakfast included.

TOUR DATES & PRICING

2024 TOUR PRICE: € 3,500      SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: € 500       Currency Converter 

Price is per person based on double room occupancy for 10 days/9 nights

REVIEWS
5.0
Rated 5.0 out of 5
5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 11 reviews)
Excellent100%
Very good0%
Average0%
Poor0%
Terrible0%

Fabulous Puglia tour!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
27/01/2024

Dear Aldo, Katrin and your staff,

I did not think anything could be better than visiting my roots in Sicily but, Puglia was just fantastic. It was perfect from the first moment we met Paola in Bari until we hugged goodbye in Trani. The hotels were excellent and so perfectly located in each town. The sites defied description. How do you describe the sites of Matera and sleeping in a beautiful cave hotel! Walking around the most quaint towns of Puglia, seeing the men slap the fish, repair fishing nets by hand and sell their olives dolce from their houses just made it all so real. All the hands on experiences and tastings were fabulous. I just can’t say enough about this tour. We knew all but two people on our bus. We met the two additions and they were a treasure ….as we made new friends.Paola, of course is a national treasure! She was proud to show us all with wit and kindness.We look forward to traveling again with Secret Italia.

Denise and Bruce Jaeger

Denise Jaeger

Puglia small group tour

Rated 5.0 out of 5
12/08/2023

We recently participated in the small group tour of Puglia in May 2023. The tour was very well organized for its duration with excellent transportation and accommodations. There were 13 people in the group tour plus our knowledgeable amiable guide. The itinerary was fairly inclusive but not overwhelming with lots of free time available. The activities and highlights are well described on the website and include amazing historical sites, wonderful culinary experiences, and beautiful scenery. The small size of the group facilitates amicable interactions within the group . We selected this tour of Puglia from a list of 3 small group tour companies and were not disappointed. We would definitely do another tour with them. Way to go Aldo !!

Joe Colontino

Response from Secret Italia Tours

Thanks so much Joe…it was an honor to have you with us and hope to have you in future tours. Many thanks and Keep in touch!!!

We Love Secret Tours

Rated 5.0 out of 5
22/06/2023

Let me first state that I have travelled with Secret Italia Tours through Portugal, now Puglia and have plans to be with them in Greece next year. So I guess that I am sold on them. I think they are one of the best choices for a small tour group available BAR NONE. They have extremely well organized and thorough tours that are passionately constructed by Aldo. They hire amazingly talented and educated guides and drivers, and believe me, that makes a huge difference. The tours are not all church and museum but much more about the culture and people of the region. But if this is your first time and you are unsure, let’s address some of your concerns.

All Hotels are indeed boutique, unique, up-scale and mostly smaller in size, thus giving more time to your comfort. They are almost always right in the centre of the old towns you visit meaning you can walk to restaurants and most often, attractions. Remember that most old town centres have very small and winding streets so you often have to park the van outside the walls and walk into town. It is rarely more than a 15 minute walk but can be uphill going, but remember that they are down hill leaving. Luggage is moved by smaller cars when required.

All the tours visit not only amazingly unique and beautiful churches and castles, they also take boat rides, go to cooking school and have wine tasting. In Europe, going to wine tasting means having a full and amazing lunch with the wine. In Puglia, we also visited a Burrata cheese Farm and made fresh cheese, an olive oil farm where the trees were still producing great olives even after 3000 years, worked with a paper mache master finishing a small statue and learning how to drape paper to look like cloth and made our own orecchiette for our lunch at cooking school as well as some secrets of Puglia cuisine.I could go on and on about all the amazing adventures we all had in a stunningly beautiful country.Trust me when I say that Aldo and his team have worked tirelessly to make sure each of his tours satisfies everyone. Puglia is no exception. There is a good amount of free time to shop and nap but not a ton. All of your breakfasts are covered, many of your lunches and lots of dinners which are usually in very gourmet restaurants. Everywhere we went, our gluten free and vegetarian travellers were taken care of royally.On our trip to Portugal, half of the travellers were returning visitors to Secret Italia. This trip to Puglia had almost half as well. A few of us talked about Greece for next year. So one of the best things to notice about any tour is the number of recurring travellers.I cannot say enough good things about our experiences on both of our trips and we know if we take another, it will be with Secret Italia. Thank you Aldo, Katrin, Paola and the rest of the great team for giving us such wonderful memories.

Stuart Aikins and Kevin Arens (Canada)

Fabolous Puglia

Rated 5.0 out of 5
13/11/2022

Everything was perfect from the moment the driver picked me up at the Bari airport prior to the tour, to when the driver dropped me back off at the airport for my flight out of Bari. That transfer service was very much appreciated. Every hotel was spectacular, ideally situated, and extremely comfortable. I liked that I could wander and explore on my own after the day’s activities since the hotels were in or near the city centers. Our van driver was excellent and expertly navigated the roads. Our guide, Paola, is an absolute treasure! She made sure we all knew the agenda, where to meet, where we were going, and made sure we all had adequate restroom breaks. She has an incredible personality and is warm and friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the area. If only I could remember a tenth of the history she told us. The restaurants and meals were all superb, with excellent menu choices. I liked that we typically had one major meal as a group and could eat a smaller meal (or just have aperitivo) on our own. The pacing of the tour and activities was very well planned out. I never felt rushed, but I felt like I saw and did a lot of things each day. The special activities like the bread making, paper mache, and olive oil tasting, were wonderful and very special, as I doubt I could have done those things without being part of the tour. It is obvious that you took great care in researching the area’s hotels and restaurants in order to plan out such an incredible experience for us every day. My favorite place was Matera.There is so much to explore there and such fascinating history.The reason I chose Secret Italia was because your tours actually stay 2 nights in Matera, so I could explore on my own early in the morning and late at night. It was beautiful in the various light. I liked walking through the trulli neighborhood prior to going to the tourist area. Alberobello was a good stop. I’m glad that weather permitted us to take a boat trip in Polignano. The sea caves are incredible!

Sally Monahan (USA)

Secret Tours never disappoint!!!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
30/10/2022

I’ve just returned from my third tour with Secret Italia, the Puglia and Matera trip, and I absolutely loved it! The pace of the tour was really good, including a great balance between the free time and the scheduled sights. And the wine and olive oil tastings were amazing , as were all of the food experiences. I loved seeing Matera and Lecce and the Castel Del Monte. And having Paola as our guide made everything even better, if possible! Her depth of knowledge combined with familiarity with the people and places provided much insight into Puglia and Matera.Thanks for offering such a great trip… I hope everyone has a chance to visit Puglia!

Linda Saviano (USA)




PUGLIA & BASILICATA

PUGLIA & BASILICATAMany travelers who claim to “know” Italy have never set foot out of Rome. But plenty of Italophiles say that the fun starts once you leave Rome’s southern city limits. Italians refer to the part of Italy south of Rome as the Mezzogiorno, which means midday and refers to the hot sun that blazes down Read more