THE BEST OF PUGLIA TOUR PLUS MATERA IN BASILICATA
Italy Trip for Women
This date is a trip for women only.
NOTE: Privatize any of our tours for your own group.
Trani, Gioia del Colle, Castel del Monte, Matera, Gravina, Altamura, Alberobello, Bari, Conversano, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Ostuni, Gallatina, Otranto, Gallipoli, and Lecce
Group Size: 8 – 12
This escorted, upscale women’s tour features the fantastic sights of Puglia (aka Apulia), a region of southern Italy bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Puglia is unique, barely resembling what you are accustomed to seeing in Italy. Over the centuries, Puglia was invaded by Greeks, Arabs, Swedes, Normans, Spaniards, Aragonese, Saracens and all left their mark here.
One of the richest archaeological regions in Italy, Puglia boasts medieval castles, Renaissance churches, magnificent art, prehistoric cave dwellings, cone-shaped houses, and Greco-Roman ruins, all of which you will explore on this upscale guided tour. Many castles are to be found including the most impressive Castel del Monte commissioned by Frederick II.
We will refine our palates sampling the fine wine and local cuisine of the Puglia region, including their local wine, mozzarella, foccacia and olive oil direct from the producers and learning to prepare traditional dishes during a private cooking class. You will also gain a deeper understanding of Italian art, history and architecture with the spectacular museums and ancient sites we will explore along our route. Puglia’s breathtaking countryside and seaside landscapes – not to mention a day’s pampering at a luxury spa — will leave you feeling relaxed and peaceful.
Note: This escorted tour of Puglia, Italy can also be privatized for your own group for travel any time you wish. We can also make arrangements for an extended stay in Italy beyond the guided tour.
Arrival Airport: Bari
You may arrive early or depart later. We’ll make all the arrangements for you.
Note: Activities or order of activities are subject to change due to unforeseen closures, etc. We reserve the right to replace an activity.
(B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
Arrival in Trani, Walking Tour of Trani, Overnight in Trani
After your arrival in Trani, you will enjoy a guided tour of this charming port town with a magnificent setting by the sea. The Lombards, the Normans, The Byzantine Empire, the Spanish and the French were all a part of its tumultuous past. Trani flourished during the 11th through the 13th century and was an important port for the Knights of the Templar. Your tour will include the port, the Templar Knights’ church, and Trani’s historic quarter. You will have leisure time in the afternoon and evening to explore Trani’s medieval streets, the beautiful squares and shops. Group welcome dinner is planned. (D)
Trani, Castel del Monte, Overnight in Trani
You will have a chance to explore a little more of Trani in the morning before our afternoon’s journey to Castel del Monte. First, we will stop for a special lunch at a destination restaurant in the countryside. We’ll visit the restaurant’s vegetable garden after. We’ll continue on to Castel del Monte, a UNESCO protected site and an important symbol of Puglia. This 13th century castle was one of many built by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. (B, L)
Gioia del Colle & Castle, Matera, Gravina, Mozzarella Making Demo & Tasting, Winery Visit, Overnight in Matera
This morning we will check out of our hotel and head to Matera, our next home base. En route, we will visit Puglia’s hidden jewel, the town of Gioia del Colle, the birthplace of a fantastic wine called, Primitivo. We will tour the historical quarter and its namesake castle, which was rebuilt in 1230 by Emperor Frederick II. We will stop at a cheese shop and see them make mozzarella cheese they sell that day. We will also visit prestigious wine producer and sample local wine including the area’s fine wine called Primitivo.
Next, we will travel to ancient Gravina, also inhabited since the Neolithic era, has the most fascinating history. It was a prosperous town during the Magna Grecia era. It was inhabited by the Romans, the Saracens, the Byzantines, the Longobards, the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins, the Bourbons and the Aragons. We’ll hear all about Gravina Underground. We’ll have our lunch here and tour the city’s highlights including ancient Greek ruins and a Roman bridge.
We’ll arrive Matera late afternoon. We will check into our luxurious five-star hotel and continue on for a privately guided tour of the town. Matera has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic time. The old town of Matera consists of winding, narrow, steep steps and dwellings cut out of rocks. Matera has been used in films (most notably, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was filmed here), as its town center is one of Italy’s most unique town. We will visit the Sassi di Matera (literally meaning “stones of Matera”), a UNESCO site made up of prehistoric cave dwellings and churches hewn from the rock. (B, L)
Leisure Day, Overnight in Matera
Today you will enjoy a leisurely day exploring Matera or you may simply relax in our fabulous luxury hotel. Your may want to book a service at the hotel’s spa. NOTE: It is important to make an appointment ahead of time. Let us know you are interested.
You will have the rest of the day to spend as you please. As always, your tour manager is available to help you organize your day or for company. (B)
Altamura, Alberobello – Trulli & Trullo Sovrano Museum, Overnight in Polignano
It is known all over Italy that the best bread even today comes from Altamura. Today we will travel to Altamura, where we will taste what many claim to be the best focaccia baked in a very old bakery with a wood-fired oven. The town is renown for its DOP bread, referring to the highly coveted Denomination of Protected Origin (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), Italy’s food and wine seal of approval. Afterward, you will have free time to explore the town and have lunch.
Altamura is also famous for a limestone cave called grotta di Lamalunga, home to Altamura Man, the 400,000-year-old calcified remains of prehistoric man. Near Altamura, there is another important paleontological site where 80 million-year-old dinosaur prints were found.
After your leisure time in Altamura, you will continue on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello for a guided tour. En route, you will pass the Pulo di Altamura, the largest sinkhole of the Murge. Arriving in Alberobello, you will walk among the trulli, ancient Italian stone dwellings built without mortar whose roofs are sometimes adorned with Pagan or other symbols. You will visit the trullo Sovrano, the town’s only two-story trullo, which has now been converted to a museum. You will also visit a working olive oil mill, where you will taste freshly pressed oil with freshly baked bread.
We will proceed to our boutique hotel in Polignanoi, where we will stay for the next two nights. (B)
Bari, Conversano, Cooking Class in Castellana, Overnight in Polignano
We will start off today with a visit to lively Conversano, a town dating from the 8th century with beautiful medieval and Baroque architecture, which you will have an opportunity to discover the city’s lovely squares, interesting neighborhoods, shops and imposing castle. Today’s lunch stop is here in Conversano.
Next we will continue our Puglia tour on to the medieval seaside town of Bari. You will enjoy a brief tour of San Nicola’s church, yet another of Frederick II’s castles and the city center. In the late afternoon, we will enjoy a private cooking class in a villa located in the countryside of Castellana Grotte. We will have a group dinner together after the class. (B, D)
Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Ostuni, Lecce, Overnight in Lecce
Today’s journey begins with a visit to Martina Franca, a smart and elegant hilltop town with a historic center with whitewashed winding lanes studded with private mansions overlooking the Adriatic sea. You will note the city’s beautiful Baroque architecture, from its towers to churches. We will continue on with our local guide to explore Locorotondo, located in the Valle d’Itria, a span of countryside dotted with the whitewashed cone-shaped houses called Trulli. Locorotondo itself is the main site. We’ll enjoy meandering around taking in its beauty.
In the afternoon we will continue on to Ostuni, known as the “White City” for its houses covered in white lime wash. Ostuni’s history is reason enough for a quick tour of the old center. You will take notice of the difference between Martina Franca, our favorite, and Ostuni.
Finally we will proceed to Lecce, our base for the rest of the trip. After checking into our hotel, we will enjoy a guided tour of graceful and elegant Lecce. One of the finest Baroque cities in Italy, Lecce is known as the “Venice of the South.” The town boasts wonderful churches, monuments and an old Roman theatre in its historical center. You will have the evening free to enjoy Lecce, but as always your tour manager is available to accompany you or provide any recommendations. (B, L)
Galatina, Otranto, Gallipoli, Overnight in Lecce
Today we will head to the heel of Italy’s boot to visit the country’s two southernmost cities. First, we will visit medieval Galatina with Baroque town center. It is one of Pugia’s hidden treasure with lots of good bars, restaurants, boutiques. We will have time to explore, stopping to see the interior of the early Basilica di Santa Maria d’Alessandria for its magnificent frescoes. We’ll also stop by Galatina’s most famous pasticerria for a taste of the local sweets, favorites including cream-filled pastries and various confections made with almond paste.
Our next stop is Otranto, a walled seaside town with a brutal history. Later event was the Sack of Otranto in 1480 when the Turks executed 800 locals for refusing to convert to Islam. However, it was Italy’s main port to the Orient for a thousand years. The center of town is filled with restaurants, bars and shop. We will have a nice walk in the historic center and along the waterfront. We’ll have some free time after. After, we will head to Gallipoli for lunch and a brief tour of this historic Greco-Roman town. Gallipoli, Kallipolis in Greek which means “Beautiful City” was a city of the Magna Grecia. We will see vestiges of Gallipoli’s past, from a 3rd century fountain to its city walls. We’ll some free time to explore on our own. We will return to Lecce, where you will have the evening free. (B)
Prepare for your flight home. OR join us in the Amalfi Coast. (B)