Puglia & Matera
DAY 1 – BARI / MONTEGROSSO
Arrival from the U.S. at Bari Airport. Private transfer to the masseria, your typical manor farm for the first three nights. Time to relax and welcome dinner with the owners. Overnight.
DAY 2 – MONTEGROSSO / BARLETTA / MONTEGROSSO
It is your first day in the so-called Imperial Puglia, rich in history as well as in gourmet specialties such as the DOC wines, mozzarella and burrata cheese. The first destination is Barletta, a seaside town with a magnificent Norman Castle transformed by Charles V in an impregnable fortress with a large moat and mysterious undergrounds. Walk through the city centre and visit the Cathedral which was built in a Romanesque and Gothic style on a pre-existing early Christian basilica. You will not miss to visit the Cantina della Disfida, an old inn where one evening in the 4th century thirteen Italian soldiers challenged thirteen French knights and won, forcing them to pay a ransom. After lunch on your own, you return to your masseria where the owner will guide you through the old farm house, showing the handmade production of wine, oil and organic local foods. Relax in the peaceful natural landscape and enjoy the pool before dining together with the local homemade products. Overnight.
DAY 3 – MONTEGROSSO / CANNE DELLA BATTAGLIA / MARGHERITA DI SAVOIA / MONTEGROSSO
Today you head to Canne della Battaglia, the largest Bronze Age archeological site in the area, where the Carthaginians led by Hannibal inflicted a terrible defeat to the Romans (3rd century B.C). Here you will enjoy a private guided tour of the Archeological Park and you will admire the majestic city walls and two Roman basilicas. After some free time to explore the village and have lunch, you move to Margherita di Savoia salt pans which are one of the largest in Europe. During your guided visit you will admire a stretch of salt water pools and crystal salt mountains before enjoying a fresh seafood dinner at a restaurant with an evocative view of the salt pans. Transfer to Montegrosso to spend the night in your rural masseria. Overnight.
DAY 4 – MONTEGROSSO / CASTEL DEL MONTE / ALTA MURGIA / MONTEGROSSO
The Alta Murgia National Park is a limestone plateau scored by deep ravines and sudden sinkholes. Remote and aloof, Alta Murgia is the perfect setting for Castel del Monte, an awe-inspiring octagonal construction declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The medieval castle, commissioned by Frederick II (13th century A.D), is located on a hilltop at about 540 meters where you will enjoy an amazing view of the park. The building is entirely a product of the Golden Ratio which lets the sunrise and sunset trajectory mark a perfect rectangle on the Castle’s perimeter in certain special days of the year.
Try to solve the enigma of Castel del Monte, finding an explanation to justify its defensive plan together with the presence of many elements typical of a residency. After a thorough visit, you head to Minervino Murge, a small town just outside the National Park. After some free time for lunch on your own and to explore the village, you will transfer to a nearby winery to taste the main local wines. In the evening you head back to the Alta Murgia National Park for a sunset walk in a suggestive atmosphere as the setting sun reflects off the white stone. You will enjoy a picnic with local delectable products in a stunning environment. After dinner, you return to the masseria. Overnight.
DAY 5 – MONTEGROSSO / ALTAMURA / MATERA
After breakfast you say goodbye to your masseria and proceed to Matera. On the way, stop in Altamura, a small town located on a hill of the Murge plateau. You enter the historical centre from Porta Bari and you reach the Roman Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commissioned by Frederick II. You won’t miss the National Archaeological Museum hosting the remains of the “Altamura Man”, from which researchers have extracted the oldest Neanderthal DNA. For lunch you will taste the famous Altamura’s bread, the first bakery product in Europe branded DOP prepared with wheat flour from Murge and baked in a wooden oven and “bruschette” with local products. Before departing, you may explore the ateliers of expert artisans making this excellent bread. Check-in at your spectacular hotel right in the Sassi. The rooms are the result of a stunning restoration process that involved cave-dwellings. You will enjoy a memorable experience. After some free time to relax and dinner on your own, you join the group for an evening walk with a professional photographer who will show how to use your camera to see what your eyes can’t and will lead you to discover hidden and unforgettable corners of the city. Overnight.
DAY 6 – MATERA
Discovery of the history in the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, the most outstanding and intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean Region, a UNESCO site. Your private guide will show how men in the Paleolithic Age were able to perfectly adapt their shelters to the terrain and ecosystem of the region. You will see the evidences from the Bronze Age of the creation of underground cisterns and tombs as well as a few of the 155 stone churches, with many still clear frescoes, dug out of the peculiar calcareous rock which represent an expression of the spiritual needs of men. Back to Matera, you will have lunch on your own and some free time to continue the exploration of the town to relax or to go shopping in the local shops. Dinner will be served in a unique atmosphere, inside a former Rupestrian Church. Overnight.
DAY 7 – MATERA / OTRANTO / SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA / OTRANTO
After breakfast you drive to Otranto, the most easterly point of Italy. On your way you stop near Taranto, a Greek colony which was one of the largest city in Italy with a estimated population of 300,000 people in 6th century B.C. You will visit a cheese factory to learn how the famous mozzarella and burrata cheeses are handmade. Lunch en route on your way to Santa Maria di Leuca, the most southern point of Puglia. It was called “de finibus terrae” by Romans because of the encounter of Ionian and Adriatic Sea, becoming a very panoramic spot.
After a walking tour, depart to Otranto, crossing the Salento Peninsula with its low rolling hills and many centuries old olive trees carpeting the land as far as the eye can see. Check-in at your lovely masseria near Otranto, a picturesque town of Greek origins. Free time to relax before meeting up for dinner together in the internal restaurant. Overnight.
DAY 8 – OTRANTO
This morning you enjoy a cooking class, so wear your apron and get ready to become chef for a day! Often translated as “the food of the poor,” “la cucina povera“ is the Italian term to indicate Apulian cooking. The term seems unlikely to make mouths water but you surely will change your mind! You will enjoy learning how to prepare some local specialties such as pizzelle and orecchiette and later you will taste the fruits of your labor. Your afternoon will be free to relax at the beach or to visit the impressive lighthouse Faro della Palascia and the Norman Cathedral with its unique “tree of life” mosaic. Optionally, take a boat trip in Castro and discover the hidden little bays with crystal waters or rent a bike to appreciate the Lungomare.
In the evening you meet up to have a fresh seafood dinner at a local trattoria. Overnight.
DAY 9 – OTRANTO / LECCE / OTRANTO
This morning you will visit a quarry of Lecce Stone. In his laboratory an expert artisan will explain the production cycle and the tools used since old times. You will then put yourselves at test with the carving technique, making objects that you will take home as a memory of a unique experience. Lunch will be at an olive oil mill where the owner will tell you about the olive oil production cycle, with tasting. You will then head to Lecce, where a professional guide will show you the main historical buildings among which the Roman Amphitheater, the Duomo, Charles V Castle and particularly the typical Barocco leccese. You will be fascinated walking through the winding alleys surrounded by some of the best Moorish-Italian Baroque buildings in the world with their fruit baskets, flower composition and little angels dancing. You will dine together in a lovely restaurant with delectable local specialties. Overnight.
Day 10 – OTRANTO / ALBEROBELLO / MONOPOLI / BARI
On your way to Bari, you stop in Alberobello, the house of the worldwide famous 1400 trulli, declared World Heritage Site in 1996. Trulli are typical white dry stone constructions with a conical roof which were used as field shelters and storehouses and are still in use today. Lunch on your own in Alberobello and in the afternoon walk through the winding alleys to reach Trullo Sovrano, the biggest one built on two floors. In Alberobello, you visit the Wine Museum and the Oil Museum.
Before reaching Bari, an unforgettable dinner in Monopoli at the Michelin-starred restaurant “Angelo Sabatelli” is well worth a stop. Check-in at your deluxe city hotel overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Overnight.
DAY 11 – BARI
Bari with its breathtaking seaside promenade, the ancient Old Town centre, the historic Teatro Petruzzelli and the Basilica of St. Nicholas, the saint who is believed to be the model for Santa Claus, will fascinate you immediately. A private guided visit of the city will let you discover the main historical buildings and the famous Via delle Orecchiette (Orecchiette Street), where expert housewives prepare handmade pasta everyday, Sundays included, and sell them to the many glutton visitors. For lunch you will be welcomed into a private house where you will eventually taste them. After this unique experience, free time to enjoy the city or to relax at the beach. In the evening, farewell gourmet dinner. Overnight.
DAY 12: BARI
Depart to Bari Airport for your flight home.