- Baroque Lecce and cristal-clear sea in Salento
- ‘Trulli’ houses in Alberobello
- Visit the unique UNESCO town of Matera
Our tour starts in Matera, one of the most unusual and memorable tourist destinations in Italy famous for its extensive cave-dwelling districts, the sassi. Our hotel is located in the heart of Matera Sassi UNESCO site, just a few steps from the town’s most famous attractions, and offers a terrace with panoramic views across the town. After checking in we enjoy a first glimpse of Matera’s enchanting alleys and unique architecture.
We start our week with a full day in one of the most interesting, distinctive, and memorable tourist destinations in Italy: Matera. Nestled on a hill, overlooking an impressive canyon in the neighbouring region of Basilicata, Matera has only recently gained the deserved spotlight. In 1993 the town was made a UNESCO World Heritage site, for being the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, all carved in bare limestone rock. Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, we walk through the town’s famous cave-dwelling districts and learn of the history of this fascinating place. In the afternoon we have time to discover the city at our own pace and visit the world-famous rupestrian churches. Overnight in Matera.
In the morning we take a private transfer to Alberobello, stopping en route for a visit to the village of Polignano a Mare, located on the edge of a craggy ravine. There will be time to stroll along the white-washed streets and enjoy superb views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea and coastline from one of the panoramic terraces. Later, we transfer to the town of Alberobello, known for its dry-stone dwellings called ‘trulli’. Before dinner, we will also enjoy wine tasting at a local winery. Overnight in Alberobello in a traditional ‘trullo’.
Today is free to choose amongst the several activities available locally. You may choose to take a day-trip to the fishing village of Monopoli or visit the Castellana Caves, Italy’s most important and biggest cave system. Located at the entrance of the Itria Valley, these caves began to form about 90 million years ago. There is a tour that takes you to more than 60 meters depth and allows you to explore stalactites, stalagmites, concretions, incredible shapes, fossils, and canyons. Overnight in Alberobello.
In the morning we take a private transfer to the white city of Ostuni. On the way, we stop to visit an ancient masseria (traditional Apullian farm) where we enjoy some olive oil tasting. For lunch, we visit another typical masseria surrounded by olive trees, some of which are more than a thousand years old, reaching it via a 2 km walk along a scenic lane. Here, we take part in a cooking class followed by a delicious lunch. In the afternoon, we walk 6 km to Ostuni, where there will be free time to visit the city (for those who prefer not to walk, taxis can be arranged and paid for locally). Overnight in Ostuni.
Today we transfer to pretty Otranto, the easternmost town in Italy. The day will be spent exploring the town’s mediaeval centre and its pretty architecture, views, sea-front restaurants, and white sandy beaches which make it one of Puglia’s most interesting and picturesque towns. We will also visit the Romanesque cathedral, dating back to 1088 and boasting extensive 12th century floor mosaics. After lunch, we have the opportunity to join our tour leader for an optional gentle coastal walk following the Salento coves and creeks (approx. 2 hrs walking, 6 km). Those who prefer not to take part in this activity may decide to continue exploring the town at their own pace, or perhaps to relax in one of Otranto’s beaches, famous for the picture-perfect clear water (seasonal). Late afternoon transfer to Lecce, where we stay overnight.
In the morning we enjoy a guided visit to Lecce, arguably one of the best and most distinctive Baroque cities in Europe. Most of the buildings here are built in the soft local stone, with pretty decorations and cherubs covering facades and doorways. During our walking tour, we will have time to admire several architectural gems, including the best Baroque monument in town: the Basilica di Santa Croce, ornamented with strange beasts and allegories. Lecce is also famous for a centenary tradition of papier-mâché (chewed paper) and you have the option to visit a local laboratory at the end of the tour. The rest of the day is free to enjoy some shopping opportunities or visit other famous monuments such as the Roman amphitheatre. Overnight in Lecce.
The tour ends in Lecce the morning of day 8.
- 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels
- 8 days land only / 8 days flight inclusive
- Group normally 6-18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
- Travel by air-conditioned private minibus
- Countries visited: Italy
- All breakfasts, 1 lunch/cookery class, 1 wine tasting
- All accommodation
- London flights (if booking incl. flights)
- Airport transfers for group flights
Images courtesy of Exodus Travel
EXT – ADE