PUGLIA SMALL GROUP TOURS
Experience the Southern Italy lifestyle with a Puglia small group of 12/14 participants only! Distinctive and delightful, with crystalline seas, pretty countryside and endless sunshine, Puglia is a land of natural beauty, warm hospitality and amazing food and wine. A unique, much-loved southern region.Dramatic mountains, Byzantine rock-hewn churches, sun-baked olive groves, stunning Romanesque architecture and some of Italy’s best beaches are tempting more and more visitors to the exciting little-known regions. The high heel of the Italian boot looks and feels like nowhere else in Italy.
Colorful, exotic Puglia is the beguiling and stimulating place, with its own distinctive food, architecture and atmosphere. Its landscapes have an appealingly elemental quality – stark rocks meeting clean beaches lapped by crystal-clear water; gigantic olive trees spiraling up from dark red soil fringed by vivid wildflowers; fragrant pine forests opening onto chalk-white sands. Nature’s colors are bold in Puglia, and man-made shapes are simple – with chunky, cubic houses and conical-roofed cottages dotting the countryside. Its extensive coastline bears the marks of many conquering invaders:the Normans, the Spanish, the Turks, the Swabians and the Greeks.
Sun and sea, food, wine and quality of life – explore this diverse and captivating region with a small group tour.
We have a real passion for Puglia & Basilicata regions and look forward to sharing it with you!
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP UNIQUE
- Small, intimate group of 12/14 participants only!!
- More than 10 included sightseeing tours & cultural experiences
- Tour of BARI with its historical heritage and the FISH MARKET
- Taste PRIMITIVO RED WINE
- Visit CASA CISTERNA & CHIESA RUPESTRE in MATERA
- Home-hosted lunch in ALBEROBELLO with a BURRATA cheese making experience
- Marveling at the Baroque splendor of LECCE
- Experience the PAPIER MACHE WORKSHOP
- Soak up the beauty of MATERA with its CAVE DWELLINGS
- HANDS-ON-COOKING in CISTERNINO
- Discover magical TRANI
- Visit the marvels of GALATINA- A mind-blowing Giotto-like experience!
- Dine in traditional restaurants and taste authentic REGIONAL CUISINE
- Fairy tale white city of OSTUNI
- OLIVE OIL TASTING in Apulian MASSERIA
- Falling in love with POLIGNANO A MARE
- Admiring the imposing Medieval UNESCO CASTEL DEL MONTE
- Losing yourself among the iconic TRULLI in ALBEROBELLO
- BREAD EXPERIENCE in the medieval town center of ALTAMURA
- Visit popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Local Tour Manager, experienced to accompany you throughout your journey
- Transportation on tour, via private air-conditioned luxury 20 seats motorcoach
- Baggage transfers & porterage are included
- Included gratuity for city guides only
- No hidden extras
- Tour package does not include transfer from Bari airport to your hotel, airfare, or any other personal travel expenses’ suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour
- Our included meals: All breakfasts, 2 street food experiences,3 lunches, 4 dinners (main meals include regional wine, mineral water, espresso coffee or tea only)
- Activity level: Good/Moderate
- Terms & conditions/Single supplement: (View here) & FAQ (View here)
- Trip interruption & cancellation insurance is not included . We highly recommend Travelex-indurance.com to protect your vacation
- Purchase of European Travel & Health Insurance is strongly recommended
BELLISSIMA PUGLIA & MATERA TRAVEL ITINERARY
TOUR LIMITED TO 12/14 PARTICIPANTS ONLY FROM BARI TO BARI
Day 1: WELCOME TO BARI, COSMOPOLITAN MONOPOLI & MAGICAL LECCE
We meet in BARI outside the Oriente Hotel at 09.30 for a fascinating walking tour through the ancient alleys, visiting the Basilica of St. Nicholas, one of the most remarkable examples of Romanesque architecture, the exterior of the Swabian Castle built in Norman times and the fish market. Following an experience on seeing making Apulian orecchiette pasta, we’ll drive to the picturesque fishing ancient town of MONOPOLI for a guided stroll through the town’s quaint streets and along the water. Afterwards, continue to the elegant town of LECCE, known as the Florence of the South on account of its astonishing number of baroque and Renaissance-style buildings. Spend the first three nights of your Puglia adventure at the boutique hotel “PALAZZO DEI DONDOLI” or similar.Dinner is included this evening in a local bistro. Overnight stay in LECCE
Day 2: THE BAROQUE SPLENDORS OF LECCE
Southern Italians have long known historic LECCE and its glorious profusion of Baroque mansions and churches. A beautiful baroque town with a remarkable architectural confection of palaces and churches intricately sculpted from the soft local sandstone. In the morning, we take a private tour around the city with our locally born guide to have the key sights explained to us. Lecce is known for its crafts, most notably papier-mache’ figurines, and this display is dedicated to explaining the skills and artistry that go into a local product. After an included street food experience, the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. You might choose to visit the Museo Faggiano, which will give you an even greater insight into the city’s long history. Overnight stay in LECCE
Day 3: THE SALENTO PENINSULA & THE SEASIDE TOWN OF OTRANTO
This morning we depart to CAPE OTRANTO to visit a recently restored 19th century lighthouse from where on clear days you can see the mountains of Albania. We then move to OTRANTO, a charming harbor town overlooking the turquoise Adriatic sea. You’ll have time for viewing the stunning Cathedral where, in the interior you can find a remarkable 12th century mosaic floor depicting the Tree of Life balanced on the back of two elephants. After time on your own for lunch, we’ll end the day in a popular beach for swimming (weather permitting).The evening is all yours to head to the old town for an included Apulian Aperitif. Enjoy the atmosphere of the evening “stroll”-LA DOLCE VITA !!!Overnight stay in LECCE
Day 4: THE MARVELS OF GALATINA, PRIMITIVO WINE TASTING & UNIQUE MATERA
Leaving beautiful Puglia region, we drive to nearby BASILICATA and the town of MATERA. Even for Italians, Basilicata is off the beaten track and little known, despite being portrayed as Biblical Palestine in countless film epics. Our first stop is the town of GALATINA, an important Greek colony in the Middle Ages and nowadays renowned for its splendid church of ST CATERINA D’ALESSANDRIA which contains early 15th-century frescoes with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. A mind-blowing Giotto-like experience! Continue to a well-known winery for a tasting of their wines “PRIMITIVO“. Our hotel for the next two nights is “LOCANDA SAN MARTINO” or similar, located near the Sassi district, said to be one of the world’s oldest towns, inhabited since the Paleolithic Age. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight stay in MATERA
Day 5: BIBLICAL MATERA
MATERA is a fabulous troglodyte town of prehistoric grottoes, cave tabernacles, abandoned hovels and Renaissance houses, all excavated into the luminous limestone tufa. The rock-cut cave dwellings known as the SASSI, date back to Byzantine times. With the help of a locally-grown expert, we’ll learn the stories of old and new Matera. Discover an ancient cave dwelling which tells a tale of poverty, hardship and struggle, whose history is best immortalized in writer Carlo Levi’s superb book “Christ stopped at Eboli“, comparing the Sassi to Dante’s Inferno. Today Matera contains some 3000 habitable caves. Visit a cave church-featuring medieval frescoes with their own legends that we learn about. Your afternoon is free to relax and explore.This evening we’ll meet for a delicious meal in a local gourmet restaurant. Overnight stay in MATERA
Day 6: BREAD MUSEUM IN ALTAMURA,BURRATA CHEESE MAKING & MAGICAL ALBEROBELLO
Our day starts with a visit to the historical town of ALTAMURA. Settled in the 5th century BC by the Peucezi people, it become an important agricultural centre in 13th century. Famous today for its beautiful Cathedral built by Frederick 11 and since antiquity for its local bread town as Pane di Altamura.We take a private walking tour and sample the locally made bread during an exclusive visit to a bakery in the old town. Afterwards,continue to ALBEROBELLO, famous for its district of Trulli, spread over the hillside to the south of the town. These square structures have conical roofs covered with “Chiancarelle”, grey-limestone roof slabs and are crowned by differently shaped pinnacles, each with a magical significance. Your expert guide will show you an 18th century small Trullo house, giving something of the atmosphere of trullo life, with sweet, rounded rooms that include a re-created bakery, bedroom, and kitchen. We end the day visiting a CHEESE MAKING FARM for a tasting of their famous BURRATA CHEESE. Spend the next two nights in the white town of OSTUNI at the “HOTEL LA TERRA” or similar. In the evening, take a stroll through the narrow alleys and steep stairways of the picturesque town which shines like a pearly white tiara, extending across three hills with the magnificent gem of a late-Gothic 15th century cathedral. Dinner is included this evening in a local restaurant. Overnight stay in OSTUNI
Day 7: OLIVE OIL FARM,FASCINATING LOCOROTONDO & HANDS-ON-COOKING IN CISTERNINO
Today’s visit takes you to a typical Apulian MASSERIA for a tour and olive oil tasting, then continue to the small, whitewashed village of LOCOROTONDO considered one of the most picturesque ones in Italy boasting an extraordinarily beautiful and whisper-quiet pedestrianized historical center, where everything is shimmering white aside from the blood-red geraniums that tumble from the window boxes. Continue to the mooring feel town of CISTERNINO where an Apulian family will open the doors of their TRULLO house for a HANDS-ON-COOKING. Dinner is on your own this evening in beautiful Ostuni. Overnight stay in OSTUNI
Day 8: SAILING IN POLIGNANO A MARE & UNESCO CASTEL DEL MONTE
Wide horizons, bold colors, sometimes harsh and a bit lunar. Such is the landscape of the Murgia Valley from the Imperial Puglia, dominated by the presence of Frederick II .We start the day with a drive to the stunning town of POLIGNANO A MARE for sightseeing and an included boat tour along the dramatic Apulian coastline (weather permitting).After an included street food experience, continue to the UNESCO Heritage site of CASTEL DEL MONTE, a masterpiece of medieval architecture, which dominates the countryside of Andria from its 540 meters on sea level. Spend the last two nights in the nearby fishing town of TRANI, staying at the central hotel “MARE RESORT” or similar. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight stay in TRANI
Day 9: COLORS OF PUGLIA: LIVE THE MAGIC OF TRANI
In the morning meet your tour guide for a walking tour of beautiful TRANI. Start to explore from the Cathedral of San Pellegrino, a Romanesque gem by the sea, the Swabian Castle, an imposing fortress built by Frederick II. Behind the port, you can explore the Jewish quarter, a maze of small alleyways, synagogues and artisans ‘shops. The elegant port is the town’s beating heart. Tonight we’ll celebrate your Apulian adventure with a Farewell dinner at one of the typical regional restaurants in Trani. Overnight stay in TRANI
Day 10: ARRIVEDERCI PUGLIA!
Morning transfers to Bari airport and train station. You might also like our new 8 Days Small Group Tour to ABRUZZO & THE GARGANO PENINSULA
Puglia Reviews Summary
Recent Puglia Reviews
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!
Secret Tours never disappoint!!!
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!
Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know I had a fabulous time on the Secret Italia tour of Puglia. There are so many memories from this trip – 1. the Museum of the Bread in Altamura with the bread forming experience, 2. the Santa Chiara Church with the paper mache statues and the paper mache ceiling and then going to the paper mache workshop and experiencing working with paper mache, 3. Matera and the caves, and 4. the Trulli homes in Alberobello. All the experiences included in the itinerary were delightful – it was hard to pick my favorites. The food included in the tour was fantastic; we were never hungry!! The pacing of the tour was good – there was always time to get a gelato!! The hotel accommodations were very good, all in different types of buildings – some in new buildings and some in historic buildings. Knowing you have personally chosen the food experiences, the hotels, the restaurants, and the sights to tour has impressed me and also proves you have good taste!! (I had purchased The Mini Rough Guide to Puglia before the trip but had not read it. When I came home, I started reading it and of the 10 Things Not to Miss, we saw 7 of them! You know your stuff!)I would be remiss in not mentioning what a great tour leader Paola is. She is very knowledgeable and well-organized. She kept us on schedule. She is definitely an asset to your organization. Paola went so far as to help Linda and I with our laundry in Matera – recommending and finding the laundromat and securing laundry soap for our clothes when the local store was closed. It was quite the experience and makes for a good story/memory.The fact that we only had 6 people in our group made the trip a true “small group” experience and the activities reflected this. I liked that our group was comprised of not only Americans but there was also a couple from Australia. Prior Secret Italia tours reflected a similar diversity of nationalities.
Puglia with Secret Tours
Secret Italia’s Puglia tour is an excellent tour. The hotels, dinners, and attention paid to every detail of our tour was certainly 5 stars. My favorite spot was Matera but all 9 days were simply amazing. Your tour manager Paola was excellent as well. Her knowledge base was remarkable at every location in Puglia. Traveling with Secret Italia is truly like traveling with the locals.
Tuscany and Puglia ... PURE MAGIC
Carolina and I are home from what has to be the greatest vacation experience of our lives. It was amazing. The itinerary, the hotels, the guides, the venues; all superb. The restaurants that you have cultivated (one in Lucca with a Michelin Star), were wonderful. It was an absolutely perfect trip. Our private tour in Tuscany was pretty amazing and we Immediately knew we were going to enjoy ourselves when we met Walter. Funny, thoughtful, and punctual. And a music lover like us. I am sure that everyone who has ever had the good fortune to have him as a driver would agree. (I always referred to him as Walter il migliore). As I already mentioned, all of our guides in each city were outstanding, as were the individual tours themselves. Puglia with Paola, was just great. It was full of content and virtually indescribable, (Mattera, for example). Again, the hotels, food, the individual venues, such as the Wineries, the olive farm. Just perfect. Carol and I spoke constantly about the places that you chose, many that we really knew nothing about before the trip. It was brilliant. We loved every bit of it. In fact being with the people who lived in the areas that we visited, and interacting with them, and for me, speaking with them in their own language as often as I could, was a stated goal when we started each of the two tours, and your people helped me achieve this.Two individuals really stood out for us; Walter and Paola. I have already spoken of Walter, but Paola was just remarkable. Everyone on our tour just loved her, and I must point out her remarkable modesty, repeatedly telling us that this was all your doing. You designed the tours, discovered the hotels and restaurants. The company and all that goes with it was your creation. How on Earth did you find her? In fact, how have you managed all of this? Carolina and I will definitely return to Secret Italia Tours. Hopefully soon.