EXPLORE: Bari, Alberobello, Martina Franca, Lecce, Ostuni, Otranto, S. Maria di Leuca, Gallipoli, Matera.
Food lovers will find a home in this culturally rich region, where you can find tasty Mediterranean delicacies from both local farms and seaside: from fresh-caught fish and seafood dishes, to the famous artisanal mozzarella called "Burrata" (creamy, rich, and decadent!), traditional meatballs with tomato sauce, home-made "orecchiette" pasta, fragrant extra virgin olive oil, the "Dop" brick-oven baked bread from Altamura, and so much more. If you like good wine (and, really, who doesn't?), take a journey in the lands of Negroamaro and Primitivo wine, where you'll visit an elegant boutique winery.
In the beautiful city of Lecce, in the heart of the Salento area, you'll discover the intricate designs of Baroque architecture, with its cloisters, palaces, the beautiful Santa Croce basilica, the expansive Piazza Duomo, and learn about the local craft of papier-mache' in a traditional shop.
Travel back in time as you visit the amazing caves in Matera, an ancient village rising through a dramatic landscape of ravines, steep slopes, churches built in the rock, and stone-paved streets. You'll be able to have a taste of the fascinating history first-hand with a sojourn in a luxury hotel built within natural caves.
(Itinerary is subject to change with or without notice. Sequence of daytrips may vary. Final itinerary will be given to travelers prior to the start of the trip.)
Friday Day 1 | Benvenuto al Sud : Welcome to the South!
Welcome to Puglia! Start your journey uncovering one of Italy's last hidden gems and unspoiled regions. Tonight you will rest in a luxury hotel within walking distance of "Bari Vecchia" (the historic district of Bari) and relax after a long trip overseas. Enjoy a leisure walk through the picturesque streets of Bari with an expert local guide who will introduce you to the main sites, churches, buildings, and traditions that Bari is known for, including the Basilica di San Nicola, which holds St. Nicholas' tomb under its main altar. Wherever you lay your eyes on, you are surrounded by history, you are part of it. We'll walk along the ancient walls, so we can better enjoy the view of the sea and harbour. The old town of Bari appears to revel in its own liveliness. You may run into old ladies sitting by their front door, kneading fresh pasta and leaving the "orecchiette" (ear-shaped pasta) to dry out in the open air. Enjoy a delicious home-style meal with regional specialties with your fellow travelers.Dinner.
Saturday Day 2 | La Storia incontra la Cucina : Where History meets Food
We'll leave the city of Bari to head towards the inland, where we'll slowly see the stern and imposing Castel del Monte in the distance. This impressive structure dominates the surrounding countryside from a high view point, where nothing interrupts its 360 degree view. There is a strong element of mystery within the castle, built in the 1240's by Emperor Frederick II of Svevia. The intent was not to create a defensive fortress, but rather a study & knowledge center where science, theology, philosophy, and alchemy experts from all over the Mediterranean could meet and exchange their thoughts & findings. The architecture seems to follow the evolution of the Sun and the zodiac signs. The number 8, symbolizing the infinite nature of the Divine, appears repeatedly, almost obsessively, within the 8 rooms, the octagonal base, 8 towers each with 8 sides, and other architectural elements within the castle. We'll take a guided tour of this amazing site, a Unesco World Heritage site since 1996.
We continue south-west, towards Altamura, a charming town with beautiful palaces and churches such as the imposing Cattedrale dell'Assunta. Here, we'll stop for lunch and taste the first bakery product in Europe branded "DOP" (a certification that protects the traditional recipe, process, and place of production). The famous Pane di Altamura is prepared with "mother yeast", ground wheat flower from the Murge area of Puglia, and baked in a wood brick oven. It dates back to Medieval times and is often in the shape of a "priest's hat". We'll visit an ancient bakery where you'll see how this traditional bread is made.
After some free time to stroll around Altamura, we continue south and check into our hotel in Matera, said to be one of the world’s oldest towns, dating back to pre-historic times. As we arrive, you will be spellbound by the "Sassi" - cave dwellings dug into the limestone rocks, located on both sides of a deep gorge, created by the "Gravina", a river flowing in the valley far below. You'll be able to experience "life in a cave" for one night in one the world's most unique hotels.Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Sunday Day 3 | Riflessi del Passato : Reflections of the Past
Today we are exploring Matera's deep and complex history through the centuries, leading all the way to the 1950's, when the government forced all its inhabitants to relocate to the new town, allowing for healthier and more sanitary living conditions. Enjoy a group lunch in a classic Matera restaurant that is in walking distance to the hotel. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening on your own in Matera to discover the ancient history of humanity.Breakfast, Lunch.
Monday Day 4 | Perso nel Barocco : Lost in Baroque
After we leave the mystical air of Matera, we'll continue our journey south towards Lecce. Along the way, we'll stop in the hilltop town of Martina Franca for a stretch and a leisurely stroll through its cobblestone alleys lined with beautiful Baroque palaces and churches. At every corner, you can find arches, balconies decorated with wrought iron, rich portals with a family coat of arms and apotropaic
masks. After arrival in Lecce, aka "the Florence of the South", we'll check into one of the most elegant parts of the city, where different architectural styles live together in perfect harmony. An expert local guide will meet us at the hotel in the afternoon to introduce us to Lecce's famous landmarks including the splendid Roman Amphitheater, the richly decorated Cathedral of Maria SS. Assunta, and a traditional papier mache' shop, where you can learn all about the ancient craft and why it bloomed in Lecce. The way the light reflects on the buildings of Lecce is truly remarkable; making them spectacular by day, almost made of gold, but most strikingly dramatic at night time. Don't miss the opportunity to explore Lecce's boutiques, bakeries, and piazzas at your own leisure in the afternoon.Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Tuesday Day 5 | Dal Mare agli Ulivi : From the Sea to Olive Groves
Today we'll be visting Otranto, the easternmost Italian city, with a charming historical center, an imposing castle "Castello Aragonese", and many picturesque viewpoints of the sea. Not to be missed is the Cattedrale dell'Annunziata, where you can see a massive mosaic floor dating back to the 12th century, with semi-precious stones depicting the tree of life, with fascinating scenes that mix sacred stories with profane ones. Walk around the cobblestone alleys decorated with flowers and stop by hidden gems such as the Byzantine Basilica of Saint Peter's.
From Otranto, we'll be boarding a boat that will take us along the beautiful East coast of the region, where pebble beaches alternate with green-blue caves and craggy outcrops facing the clear waters of the Adriatic. We'll enjoy lunch on the boat, after taking a refreshing swim, then continue a relaxing ride passing by ruins of ancient towers and small fishing villages, slowly reaching our destination: Santa Maria di Leuca, a popular vacation destination, where many luxury villas were built in the 1800's. This is what Romans called "Finis Terrae" (meaning: the End of Land), where you are able to see the southernmost point of the European continent from the the iconic lighthouse. With its height of 155 ft, it is the second most important lighthouse in Italy, after Genova's. Next to the lighthouse is the Basilica, built in 1720 to commemorate the passage of St. Peter during his travel to Italy. It lies on the former site of a Roman temple dedicated to Minerva. We'll get back on the road with our private transportation and head back towards Lecce. On the way, we'll stop to visit a small town called Sternatia, the only place in Italy that has retained the use of ancient Greek - surprisingly, you can see shops and streets carrying dual language signs. But Sternatia's allure lies in its underground - a dense network of man-made tunnels and galleries lead to old olive mills (frantoi ipogei), which we'll be visiting with a local guide who will tell us about the strenuous and grueling work conditions of the people who made the valuable oil in the past centuries. Once we return to Lecce, you'll be able to enjoy dinner on your own.Breakfast, Lunch.
Wednesday Day 6 | Buon Cibo & Negroamaro : Good Food & Negroamaro
In the afternoon we'll be visiting Galatina, a village where ornate palaces, rich portals, and Baroque churches boast the most elegant embellishments of Rococo' style. A must-see is the Romanesque-Gothic Basilica of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria, where you'll be able to admire some of the most breath-taking frescos from the School of Giotto, of which the importance is only second to the Basilica of Assisi.
We continue on towards the west coast, stopping in Gallipoli, a fishing village with beautiful seaviews and alleyways lined with clotheslines and locals leaning over balconies, conversing and greeting visitors as they walk by. Before we head out to dinner back in Lecce, we'll be entertained by a local dance crew performing the famous "Taranta", among the most recognized forms of traditional southern Italian folk dance. It's characterized by a fast upbeat tempo, performed by a supposed victim of a "tarantula" bite, who is able to "shake off" through contortions and perspiration the delirium attributed to the spider's venom.Breakfast, Dinner.
Thursday Day 7 | Una Spruzzata di Bianco : A Splash of White
Today we'll visit a local boutique winery, where the intense and
full-bodied Salice Salentino wine is made from dark purple grapes of
Negroamaro (which translated to "black-bitter"). We'll learn about the
production of the area, ageing techniques, and then sit down for a wine
tasting and delicious home-made lunch. We will then drive north, stopping in the village of Ostuni. From the road below, it looks like a mirage of white light. From the ancient town, up the hill, you can see a beautiful coastline wrapped by green fields. The medieval heart of the town, called "Terra", is criss-crossed by narrow alleys, steep stairways, craft shops, family-style restaurants, and small courtyards adorned with geranium planters. The 15th century Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral boasts a rare 24-spoke rose portal. Don't forget to try the legendary "bombette", thin slices of veal stuffed with cheese, rolled, skewered, then grilled. After time for lunch on your own, we'll arrive at our resort in the late afternoon, so you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings, some R&R, then a fabulous group dinner near the resort.Breakfast, Lunch.
Friday Day 8 | Tradizioni di Famiglia : Family Traditions
Enjoy a fun group cooking class at a traditional family Masseria, a fortified farmhouse in typical Pugliese style, dating back to the 1600’s. This charming building allows to really sample life in southern Italy with the family's warm hospitality. After lunch with local specialties, we'll head back to the resort, where you can enjoy the rest of the day to relax by the pool, have a massage or spa treatment, spend time by the beach, and completely free your mind. Tonight we'll enjoy a unique dinner in a nearby family owned
restaurant by the beach
.Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Saturday Day 9 | Tesori del Tempo : Treasures of Time
Today we're exploring the beating heart of the Valle D'Itria, Alberobello, one of the world's most unique places and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We'll visit the community of Trulli, dating back to the 1400's with a local expert guide, who will tell us about life in these the cone-shaped dwellings and why they became popular in this area in the first place. On our way back, we'll stop in Locorotondo, a circular-base village with stunning views of the countryside, where you can enjoy lunch on your own. Then enjoy some free time in the afternoon to relax at the resort. Tonight you'll learn about olive oil and savor home-made dishes at a nearby family-owned farm, surrounded by thousand-year-old olive groves and beautiful lush gardens with large tropical plants and fragrant citrus trees.Breakfast, Dinner.
Sunday Day 10 | La Porta della Puglia : The Gateway to Puglia
After checking out from the hotel, we'll drive back up to Bari. On the way, we'll make a quick stop in Polignano a Mare, a charming coastal village, perched on the edge of a jagged cliff overlooking the Grotta Palazzese, a large and dramatic cave. After check-in, enjoy some extra time to experience the history and liveliness of Bari, explore its vivacious night life and bustling streets. Let the memories of the trip fill up your thoughts before returning home.Breakfast, Light Lunch.
Monday Day 11 | Buon Viaggio! : Have a Safe Trip Home and See You Next Time!
Hopefully you can stay longer in this gorgeous country and explore other regions. Nada's Italy wishes to have you back and experience more parts of this colorful culture! Until next time, beautiful ITALIA says Ciao!Breakfast.
What's included in the Puglia Paradise Tour:
- A luxury journey totaling 11 days/10 nights. Don’t delay and reserve your spots! For availability, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
- First and last night in luxury hotel in the center of Bari + 2 nights in a "Cave Hotel" in Matera + 3 nights in Boutique Hotel in Lecce + 3 nights in 5-star Luxury Seaside Resort for a trip totaling 11 Days/10 Nights. (Arrival in Italy is on Friday and departure is on Monday).
- Meals included: All Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners (included meals are shown at bottom of the description for each day). Beverages with meals: bottled water, soft drinks (in limited amounts), coffee drinks, and 2 glasses of wine per person (choice of red or white) with included lunches and dinners.
- Luxury transportation throughout the stay in a comfortable air-conditioned van with professionally licensed driver (not included: transfers from and to the airport, airfare, or any other personal travel expenses not associated with tour package). Please contact us if you wish to add airport transfers to your trip.
- Groups are limited to 6-12 travelers per tour!
- Full-time service of a friendly and knowledgeable Italian-born, English-speaking Nada's Italy Tour Director.
- Destinations Include Bari, Matera, Altamura, Lecce, Martina Franca, Cisternino, Locorotondo, Gallipoli, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, Alberobello, Galatina, Otranto, Sternatia, St. Maria di Leuca, among others. Itinerary and destinations may vary depending on the time of year and are subject to weather conditions.
- Professional pre-trip Assistance by Nada's Italy expert office staff with tips on making the best of your trip.
- Complimentary Travel Materials: Italian Phrasebook, Luggage Tags, Maps for towns visited, and much more!
- Exclusive Activities included: Private city tours by local expert guides (Bari, Castel del Monte, Alberobello, Lecce, and Matera), visit to a 15th century bakery in Altamura, private winery tour & lunch, private boat excursion with lunch, visit to an old underground olive mill, cooking class in family "Masseria" with souvenir apron, visit to a papier-mache' shop in Lecce, and much more!
- Surprise gifts and local food tastings throughout the trip!
- Local VAT taxes, government fees*, gas, highway tolls, city access licenses and permits, parking fees. *Accommodation taxes not included and must be paid by guest directly to the hotel.
- Tips to staff and restaurants. (Additional gratuities can be given at the sole discretion of each individual traveler and are not required for participation on the tour.)
For more information
, please call our office Mon.-Fri. 10am-6pm at 704.877.2003. Price listed is subject to change with or without notice.
What's Not Included in Tour Package
Trip price does not include airfare and anything that is not specified to be included. Price does not include any personal related expenses or travel-related expenses outside of the scheduled itineraries. The food & wine that is included is what is presented during meals, all other items ordered by traveler including wine and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are not included in tour price. Trip price does not include the accommodation tax imposed by local municipalities - to be paid in cash by guests directly to the hotel (typically between 1-2 Euros per guest per night).
Before you sign up you should note the following:
- The first day of the tour is Friday in Bari (departure from the U.S.A. on Thursday for an overnight flight to Italy). Last day of the tour is Monday (arrival in the U.S. is the same day of departure from Italy). Airfare is not included and booking flights are the traveler's responsibility. Please plan your flight accordingly as it is your responsibility to get to the city where the tour begins.
- The meeting point for the group is the hotel in Bari. The first activity is 4:00pm on Friday for a guided walking tour of the city. Please wear comfortable shoes and meet everyone in the lobby. Notifications, hotel information, and exact instructions will be emailed prior to the trip.
- After you register, you will receive a "Benvenuto Box" by mail within approximately 10-15 business days. It will include reminders and important materials for your trip. The content may vary based on availability and by tour date/itinerary.
- Reminders, hotel information, and arrival instructions will be sent by email roughly 60 days before the start of the trip (please make sure we have your current email address).
- Transfers to and from the airport are not included in the tour rate. Please contact us if you'd like to add transfers to your tour package.
- Two nights are spent in an ancient "cave dwelling" turned into a luxury hotel in Matera. Please know that in order to keep its authenticity intact and a unique atmosphere, the original layout has not been changed: the rooms have dim lighting, basic amenities, windows are very small, and bathrooms have no door.
- Add extra nights in Bari or other Italian cities, before or after the tour and extend your stay in this amazing country. Contact us for a quote on additional nights (subject to availability).
- You must be in good physical condition to sign-up for this trip. This is not considered a physically challenging trip, nonetheless, there will be a few times when the terrain will be challenging and include standing for extended periods of time.
- Please be aware that at times, the territory we are covering is full of tight turns, bumpy and steep roads, so bring motion sickness pills if necessary.
- Even though basic tips to staff and restaurants are included, it is highly recommended that you put aside approximately $100 (US) in combined gratuities for your driver & Tour Director for your entire stay (and any voluntary additional restaurant gratuities are at your discretion).
- The earliest activity on this tour starts at 9:00am with the latest activity starting at 10:00am.
- Nada's Italy highly recommends that you purchase Travel Insurance for your trip. For suggestions on policies, please contact us.
- Transportation for this tour is with one luxury van with a seating capacity of 16 (so we'll have some extra room as the group will not be that large).
- You should know that air conditioning in Italy, as well as wifi connections, are not as reliable as they are in the United States.
- The hotel staff assigns rooms to guests, some rooms may include stairs. A view is not guaranteed. Rooms differ in size and layout, in general, Italian rooms are smaller compared to US standards. Each room has its own en-suite bathroom with shower and/or tub, hair-dryer, and toiletries.
- It is your responsibility to obtain the documents you are required to have to travel to Italy. Your passport should be valid for 6 months after your return date. Verify with your own country's travel laws and government agencies.