Tour description

UNKNOWN PUGLIA & MATERA DELIGHTS

Experience the Southern Italy lifestyle with a 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. You might be on a Greek island here – washed in dazzling light, surrounded by low whitewashed buildings, and gazing onto an omnipresent blue sea which hugs the region from two sides. Colourful, 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 spiralling 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. You soon get hooked on the region’s unique, striking flavour. Its extensive coastline bears the marks of many conquering invaders:the Normans, the Spanish, the Turks, the Swabians and the Greeks. Yet, despite its diverse influences, Puglia has its own distinct and authentic identity. Sun and sea, food, wine and quality of life – explore this diverse and captivating region with a Secret Tours.

We have a real passion for Puglia & Basilicata regions and look forward to sharing it with you!

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUSIONS: 10 DAYS/9 NIGHTS
  • Guaranteed departures small group travel: small, intimate group of 12/14 participants only!!
  • More than 10 included sightseeing tours & cultural experiences
  • Tour of BARI with its historical heritage
  • Drive the coastal road between BARI and BARLETTA
  • Wine tasting of PRIMITIVO WINES in MANDURIA & visit to the WINE MUSEUM
  • Visit CASA CISTERNA & CHIESA RUPESTRE in MATERA
  • Home -host lunch in ALBEROBELLO with taste and demonstration of Apulian BURRATA cheese
  • Marvelling at the Baroque splendour of LECCE
  • Included visit to an historical PALAZZO LECCESE
  • Experience the PAPIER MACHE LABORATORY
  • Wine tasting of LOCOROTONDO WINES in the Valle d’Itria
  • Soak up the beauty of MATERA with its Cave Dwellings
  • Discover MARTINA FRANCA and magical TRANI
  • Visit the charming fishing village of CASTRO with BOAT TRIP
  • Dine in traditional restaurants and taste authentic REGIONAL CUISINE
  • Fairytale white city of  OSTUNI
  • OLIVE OIL TASTINGS in Apulian MASSERIA
  • Visit OLD OIL MILLS (Frantoi Ipogei)
  • Falling in love with POLIGNANO A MARE
  • Admiring the imposing Medieval CASTEL DEL MONTE
  • Losing yourself among the iconic TRULLI in ALBEROBELLO
  • Discover the CITTA’ BIANCHE ( The White Towns) of MARTINA FRANCA and LOCOROTONDO
  • Being enchanted by the mystery of the CASTELLANA CAVES, with its amazing amount of richly colored stalactites and stalagmites.
  • Learn how to make typical Apulian pasta ORECCHIETTE while touring the ancient alleys of BARI
  • Tasting bread and focaccia in the medieval town center of MATERA
  • Visit popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Local Tour Manager, experienced to accompany you throughout your journey
  • All entrances to main archaeological sites are included
  • All transportation on tour, via private air-conditioned luxury 9 or 16 seats motorcoach
  • All transfers while overseas, baggage transfers & porterage are included
  • All city taxes in hotels are included
  • Included gratuity for city guides
  • No hidden extras
  • We strongly recommend arriving a day or more prior to the beginning of the tour. We’ll be happy to make these arrangements at the charming ” HOTEL PALAZZO CALO’“, an historical hotel located in the center of BARI or the central “PALACE HOTEL
  • Our divine included meals: All breakfasts, 2 foodie experience,4 lunches, 4 dinners (main meals include wine, mineral water, espresso coffee or tea only)
  • The tour will begin on Day 1 from Bari hotel at 09.00 and end with morning transfers at scheduled times to Bari airport and train station from Trani on Day 10
  • 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
  • PRE/POST TOURS: 4 days/3 nights in BEAUTIFUL CALABRIA
OUR UNIQUE HOTELS

Our Hotels are all four/five-stars properties that have been selected principally for their central location

TOUR ITINERARY

 

UNKNOWN PUGLIA & MATERA DELIGHTS TRAVEL ITINERARY

TOUR LIMITED TO 12/14 PARTICIPANTS FROM BARI TO BARI

Day 1: WELCOME TO PUGLIA AND THE SALENTO PENINSULA

The “Terra di Bari” or “land of Bari”, surrounding the capital is rich in olive groves and orchards, and the region has an impressive architectural history with some magnificent cathedrals, an extensive network of castles along its coastline, charming seaside towns like Trani and Polignano a Mare, and the mysterious inland Castel del Monte. After breakfast in your hotel in Bari, meet your local tour guide Paola for a fascinating walking tour through the ancient alleys of Bari, visiting the “Basilica of St. Nicholas”, one of the most remarkable examples of Romanesque architecture and the exterior of the “Swabian Castle” built in Norman times, refurbished by Frederick II and enlarged by Isabella of Aragon in the 16C century. Following a lesson on making typical Apulian “Orecchiette” pasta, we’ll drive to the picturesque town of Polignano a Mare, perched on limestone cliffs, boasting stunning views and colorful narrow streets for more explorations and time on your own for lunch. Leaving Polignano a Mare, continue to elegant Lecce, known as “The Florence of the South”on account of its astonishing number of baroque and Renaissance-style public buildings for our three nights stay at the central historical hotel “PALAZZO DEI DONDOLI” or similar.Over the next few days you’ll have plenty of time to explore this town at your own pace. This evening join your local tour director and fellow travelers for a welcome drink followed by an included feast of flavors in a local tavern where you’ll feel like one of the family. Eat like a real Pugliese! Overnight stay in LECCE

Day 2: LECCE AND ITS BAROQUE SPLENDORS

Southern Italians have long known Lecce and its glorious profusion of Baroque mansions and churches.Historic Lecce is a beautiful baroque town with a remarkable architectural confection of palaces and churches intricately sculpted from the soft local sandstone. The heart of the town is the cobblestoned “Piazza S.Oronzo” where a Roman column can be found together with excavations of part of a well-preserved “Roman Amphitheater”” dating from the 2nd century AD. In the morning, we take a private tour around the city with your local 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 during a visit to a well-known laboratory. After a delicious foodie experience with a typical “salty rustico” (with tomato,mozzarella,mednut,black pepper and besciamel),we’ll explore an historical Palazzo with its gardens located in the ancient corner of Lecce. You’ll have the afternoon free for more discoveries of beautiful Lecce. Overnight stay in LECCE

Day 3: THE MARVELS OF OTRANTO AND THE FISHING VILLAGE OF CASTRO WITH BOAT TRIP

This morning we depart to Otranto, a charming harbour town overlooking the turquoise Adriatic coast. By the 10th century, there were some 40 villages between Otranto and Gallipoli that were almost exclusively Greek in every way – language, clothing, customs and religion. The Greeks, the Romans, the Angevins and the Aragonese have all vied for control of this important port. With a rich heritage of Greek, Roman and Byzantine occupation due to its strategic port-side location, Otranto came to the fore during the middle ages when it became a vital trading center between the Adriatic nations. Here you’ll visit  the stunning Cathedral where, in the interior you will find a remarkable 12th century mosaic floor depicting the Tree of Life balanced on the back of two elephants. After a walking tour with your local guide to discover the charming town center and an included lunch in a local fishing restaurant, you’ll move to Capo d’Otranto to visit a recently restored 19th century lighthouse from where, on clear days you can see the mountains of Albania across a sparkling blue Adriatic Sea. Before going back to Lecce, we’ll take a scenic road trip to the charming fishing village of Castro for a boat trip.The evening is all yours to head to the old town for a meal or taking in the atmosphere of the evening “stroll”-LA DOLCE VITA !!!Overnight stay in LECCE

Day 4:  WINE TASTING IN MANDURIA & TIMELESS MATERA WITH BREAD EXPERIENCE

Leaving unknown Puglia region, we drive to nearby Basilicata and the town of Matera.With its primeval forests, sandy coves, chic cave dwellings, Castles and ancient rock-hewn churches, Basilicata is both a timeless biblical land and a beguiling new destination. 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 a well-known winery located in the Manduria region for a tasting of their local wines “Primitivo” and a visit to the wine culture museum.Following this, we head to the town of Matera for an experience of learning about the typical bread and focaccia made in old wood-burning oven. Our hotel for the next two nights in Matera is the charming “CORTE SAN PIETRO HOTEL” or similar,located in the heart of the Sassi district, said to be one of the world’s oldest towns, inhabited since the Paleolithic Age.Overnight stay in MATERA

Day 5:  A WANDER THROUGH SASSI OF MATERA

Breakfast in hotel. 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. Up until the 1950s the caves were home to peasants who lived alongside their donkeys in dark hovels. Then the Italian government, embarrassed by the poverty, re-housed the entire population.By the 1980s a number of intrepid Materani started to return, and now the Sassi are the region’s main attraction, recognized by the UNESCO as the finest example of “cave architecture”in the Mediterranean. With the help of a locally-grown expert, we’ll learn the stories of old and new Matera. We’ll visit “Casa Cisterna” 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. After an included light lunch with typical Matera products, you’ll visit a “Chiesa Rupestre” -a cave church-featuring medieval frescoes with their own legends that we will learn about. Rest of the afternoon is on your own. This evening we will meet for a delicious meal in a local tavern.Overnight stay in MATERA

Day 6: THE ENCHANTING “TRULLI” DISTRICT & HOME-HOSTED LUNCH WITH BURRATA CHEESE EXPERIENCE

This morning you’ll drive back to Puglia travelling towards the Murge Hills for a discovery of the “Terra dei Trulli” (The Land of the Trulli), a beautiful region between Fasano, Martina Franca, Ostuni and Alberobello which takes its name from the curious buildings, the Trulli, found in this part of Puglia. The frist experience of the day is a visit to Martina Franca with its white old town, the stunning ramparts and the bustling Piazza Roma, bordered by the 17C Palazzo Ducale.We continue to the town of Alberobello, famous for its district of Trulli (about 1400), spread over the hillside to the south of the town. These square structures have conical roofs covered with “Chiancarelle”, grey-limestone roof slabs. Originally built without using mortar, the walls and the edges of the roof are whitewashed. They are crowned by differently shaped pinnacles, each with a magical significance.Here you’ll enjoy a demonstration of Burrata making in a local cheese family masseria followed by an included home-hosted lunch. Following this our charming local tour guide Paola 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.You’ll spend the next two nights in the white village of Ostuni at the central family hotel “CASA D’AUTORE” or similar. Overnight stay in OSTUNI

Day 7: OLIVE OIL IN MASSERIA & WINE TASTING NEAR LOCOROTONDO

Breakfast in hotel. This morning we take a stroll with our local guide through the narrow alleys and steep stairways of picturesque Ostuni, a town which shines like a pearly white tiara, extending across three hills with the magnificent gem of a late-Gothic 15th century cathedral as its sparkling centerpiece. We’ll pay a visit to a well-known museum in Ostuni which was an 18th century monastery but now houses the skeleton of a 25,000 year old woman among other prehistoric finds. After an included wine tasting in a wine cellar, we’ll visit the small 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. After time on your own for lunch, we return to Ostuni to visit a locally Masseria -farmhouse- for an olive oil tastings and viewing an underground ancient olive mill (frantoi ipogei).Dinner is included this evening in a local pizzeria. Overnight stay in OSTUNI

Day 8: IMPERIAL PUGLIA: CASTELLANA CAVES, UNESCO CASTEL DEL MONTE & TRANI

Wide horizons, bold colors, sometimes harsh and a bit lunar.Today, we head north to the Murgia valley. Such is the landscape at Murgia, from the Imperial Puglia, dominated by the presence of Frederick II and by three artistic cities with a glorious past: Barletta, Andria and Trani. The morning starts with a surprising visit to the Castellana Caves, a series of limestone caves accidentally discovered in 1938 and are now one of Puglia’s main attractions. A guide will accompany you as you descend to the caves.After lunch on your own, you’ll visit UNESCO Heritage site of Castel del Monte which dominates the countryside of Andria from its 540 meters on sea level, where it sits isolated but impressive. It was surely not a defensive fortress; perhaps it was designed as a hunting lodge or a center where experts of maths and astronomy used to meet. Drive to the fishing town of Trani with its bustling port which a thousand years ago attracted pilgrims and crusaders.One of its highlights is the striking Cathedral dedicated to the pilgrims’ Saint Nicola. Located overlooking the picturesque harbor, the interior of this Romanesque church has been restored to its original Norman state. Spend the last two nights in a central hotel looking over the port” MARE RESORT” or similar. The remainder of the day is at leisure.Overnight stay in TRANI

Day 9:  COLOURS OF PUGLIA-DOLCE FAR NIENTE IN TRANI 

Breakfast in hotel. Morning with your tour guide for a walking tour of beautiful Trani. Start to explore Trani from the Cathedral of San Pellegrino, a Romanesque gem by the sea. Usually tall compared to other religious buildings in the region, the Cathedral boasts a richly decorated interior and two crypts dedicated to San Nicola and Santa Maria, along with San Laucio’s hypogeum. Not far from the Cathedral, the Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle) is an imposing fortress built by Frederick II. Behind the port, you can explore the Jewish quarter of Giudecca, a maze of small alleyways,synagogues and artisans’shops. Nearby, you ‘ll find the Villa Comunale with its relaxing seafront public gardens, while a mile or so out of the town, there’s the Monastery of Santa Maria Colonna.The elegant port is the town’s beating heart. Here you can buy fresh fish or enjoy a glass of premium Moscato wine by the sea.Free time for lunch and rest of the day is on your own. 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.Thanks for travelling Secret Italia Tours!

2019 TOUR DATES & LAST MINUTE

2019 TOUR PRICE: EUR 3,100       SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: EUR 400       Currency Converter 

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

April 29-May 8

May 9-18

May 23-June 1

June 9-18

Sept 4-13

Sept 14-23

Sept 24-Oct 3

Oct 4-13

Oct 14-23

Available departures

2019 Tour Price: 3,100 €| Single Suppl 400| €10 days/9 nights |up to 12 Participants only! To book a tour with us, simply fill in the online booking form with all your details Book Now! May 4-13 May 14-23 June 9-18 June 25-July 4 Aug 26-Sept 4 Oct 3-12

Tour score and score breakdown

10 / 10

Based on 1 reviews

Overall
10   
Accommodation
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Transport
10   
Meals
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Guide
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Value for money
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Guest reviews

  • Small Group Tours & Shore Trips in Sicily, Malta, South Italy & Portugal
    2014-10-12

    "Our South Italy tour was a wonderful experience thanks to the excellent planning by Secret Italia.."-Pamela & Mike Brophy ( CANADA)

    All ECCELLENTE