Apulia, Flavors and Authenticity of a Time Never Passed
Puglia, sun, sea and a warm welcome in places rich in history and enchanting landscapes. A magical region with its coastline of sheer cliffs and Caribbean beaches, unspoilt nature, quality food and wine, and rich history and art with its fascinating destinations. Puglia is Castel Del Monte, the Trullis – traditional conical dry-stone construction -, the Romanesque cathedrals, the Baroque treasures, the Gargano and Murge National Parks, the marine reserves of the Tremiti Islands, the rhythms and colours of the Taranta and Salento Pizzica – Salento Folk Dances -.
Arrival at Bari airport where the group will meet the tour leader. Transfer by bus to Matera, the “città dei Sassi”, European capital of Culture in 2019 and Unesco heritage since 1993. Ancient and picturesque town made by a modern part, called the Civita, and by an ancient one, located on the edge and on the sides of a deep Gravina.
Due to its particular appearance, Matera has been favorite set of many famous directors including Pier Paolo Pasolini with “the Gospel according to Matthew” and Mel Gibson with “The Passion of the Christ”.
Looking around, the visitor can immerse himself in this marvelous atmosphere and will be like living in the past, a past full of events, strugge and history. The evocative atmosphere will remain forever in the visitor’s mind and heart, which will be fascinated by every corner of this city.
Arrival at the hotel and check in. Free time for the rest of the day to settle in and be fascinated by this great beauty. Breefing with the tour leader who will explain the tour program. Dinner in a characteristic restaurant in the center of Matera with a scenic view of the panorama of the Sassi. Overnight in Matera.
Breakfast in hotel and meeting with the tour leader.
Departure by bus to Altamura, the city of bread. Guided tour to get to know and discover this fantastic town full of monuments located in the famous Alta Murgia National Park. Visit of a bakery with a rich tasting of typical products to delight everyone’s palates: bread, focaccia with tomatoes, taralli, almond paste desserts and many other products.
Return by bus to Matera for a guided tour of this fascinating city where the Sassi represent the ancient part of the city. Developed around the Civita, the city has been constituted completely carved into the rock, locally called “tuff”, a housing system articulated along the slopes of a deep valley with unique and surprising natural characteristics: the Gravina. Built structures, elegant and articulated, alternate with underground labyrinths and cavernous meanders, creating a landscape of great effect. The overlapping of different phases of urban transformations, the refined dialogue between rocks and architecture, canyons and bell towers, has created over the centuries an urban scenery of incomparable beauty and quality. The Sassi, once the heart of peasant civilization, today, restored and rehabilitated, relive and leave you breathless, especially in the evening when the small lights of residences houses, artisan shops and restaurants make them like a papier-mâché nativity scene. The Sassi are made up of two large districts: Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. The Sasso Caveoso district is today characterized by an ancient aspect, with the houses almost completely carved into the rock and mostly remained intact compared to the past. The large square of the same name, with the recently renovated church of San Pietro Caveoso, allows the visitor to admire the panorama of the Gravina and the row of houses and caves, perched on each other and crossed by the main road. The visitor could admire the four parts into which it is divided: the Civita, the Piano, the Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso. The guided tour includes also the visit of the churches Santa Maria de Idris and Santa Lucia alle Malve and the entrance to the Museum Casa Grotta .
Free time. Back to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Breakfast in hotel and meeting with the tour leader. Departure by bus to Castel del Monte, built by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia around 1250. This citadel and castle are nestled in the Apulian landscape and fascinates with its symbolic meanings, it is listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. Guided tour inside the Castle (which will be reached by shuttle) and reconstruction of the fascinating mystery that surrounds it: the most mysterious and most studied in the world. It is a splendid octagonal castle perched on the top of a high hill that dominates the entire plain of the North-Bari area. Its innumerable mysteries have not yet been clarified: is it a fortress? Frederick II’s hunting reserve? A place for meditation? A monument without meaning? What was it for, since it wasn’t habitable? Who built it? What happens in the castle every year on the days of the Solstices and Equinoxes? All this will be reconstructed and clarified in this fascinating and unforgettable excursion!
At the end of the visit, transfer by bus to Trani, free time for lunch and then guided tour of the splendid town, dominated by the Cathedral on the sea, a superb example of Romanesque-Apulian style. Guided tour inside the amazing Cathedral of S. Nicola Pellegrino, one of the most celebrated cathedrals in Puglia, very popular for commercials!
Visit of the highly suggestive Port of Trani.
The day continue by bus to Alberobello, a characteristic village of the Murge, famous for being almost entirely made up of Trulli, small buildings of ancient origin in limestone with a circular or quadrangular base with a conical roof.
The Trulli of Alberobello are the symbol of Puglia and are listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.
Check in in hotel, dinner and overnight in Alberobello.
Breakfast in hotel and meeting with the tour leader for a guided tour of this charming and characteristic village: a walk among the Trulli, the famous conical buildings joined to form an urban agglomeration that has always been the most visited by tourists from all over the world. Absolutely unique in their kind, the Trulli constitute a milestone in rural architecture: as a matter of fact, what looks like a simple pile of stones, is actually one of the most ingenious rural buildings that man has ever conceived.
Visit of the Trulli of the Aia Piccola district (still inhabited), the panoramic terrace, the Monti district, the artisans’ road (where there are women who still work the fabrics on looms of 1600), the Trulli church.
Optional: “cooking class” inside a Trullo to cook and taste the delicious dishes of this rich cuisine.
After lunch we will reach the Grotte di Castellana (Castellana Caves) by bus. A karstic scenery of incredible beauty, very rich in calcite concretions (up to 12 meters in length !!). The route winds for 1 or 3 km, until it reaches the cave that the “International Speleological Symposium 1957” defined as “the most beautiful cave in the world”: the White Cave, where the mineral that covers it is very pure. The temperature is mild (15 ° throughout the year). Our visit will be about 1 km long, 70 meters deep, through splendid scenery, caves, stalactites and stalagmites.
Return by bus to the hotel in Alberobello. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Breakfast in hotel and meeting with the tour leader. Departure by bus to Bari, the capital of Puglia which, due to its geographical position, is called the “Gateway to the East”. One of the major commercial, economic and cultural cities of the South that gives us a historic center rich in history and Christian tradition. Guided visit inside the Basilica of San Nicola, which collects in the name of the Saint, among the most venerated in the world (because also present in Orthodox culture) and where its relics are kept, which attract thousands of pilgrims from all over the world every year; the Cathedral of San Sabino, a splendid Romanesque church which, in the crypt, houses the intact body of Santa Colomba. Free time for lunch.
After lunch departure by bus to reach Polignano a Mare, famous for being the only urban center in the Bari area overlooking the sea, with suggestive terraces and sea caves with unique reflections and romantic atmospheres. Polignano a Mare is the birthplace of the famous italian singer Domenico Modugno and the city is also the recognized capital of ice cream! Visit of the Old Town, the Church Matrice (ex Cathedral of Polignano) and the terrace overlooking the sea to enjoy a splendid postcard that will remain forever in your hearts.
Last part of our day will be a visit of a typical Masseria: of its bovine and pig farms and of its laboratory of mozzarella (the visitor will be involved in the production of this typical cheese). Rich tasting of dairy products, cured meats and products of the masseria’s oven, like focaccia, bread and the taralli combined with oil tasting and the famous Primitivo wine.
Back to Alberobello. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Breakfast in hotel and meeting with the tour leader. Departure by bus to Lecce: the lovely city of art where an exclusive architectural and decorative style has flourished and has taken the name of the city, “The Baroque of Lecce”. A real city of art that preserves the historical and artistic heritage of different views and cultures.
Guided tour from Porta Napoli, along the suggestive Via Palmieri full of noble palaces, to Piazza Duomo (including the entrance into the Duomo), Piazza S. Oronzo, with its beautiful obelisk and the suggestive Roman Amphitheater of the II century (in excellent condition of conservation), and finally to the splendid Basilica of Santa Croce (from outside and inside) considered one of the most important Baroque representations. Entrance and guided tour at the Jewish Museum adjacent to the Basilica of Santa Croce. At the end of the visit, we will stop to taste a typical apulian filled pastry: the Pasticciotto, paired with coffee with ice and almond milk, another delicious specialty. Free time for lunch.
After lunch, departure (by bus) to Otranto: ancient center of Salento, by greek origin. Guided tour of the most eastern city in Italy, which gives us artistic assets of great importance. The Otranto residents, the first Italians to see the sunrise in the morning, jealously guard the largest floor mosaic in Europe, the famous “tree of life” that fascinates academics from all over the world and that perhaps even fascinated Dante, who inspired by this work dedicated several of his texts to it. Guided tour of the city (almost entirely surrounded by well-preserved walls): the Alfonsina Gate, the Cathedral, the Castle, the walkway on the Walls, the Port.
Back to Alberobello. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Breakfast in hotel and meeting with the tour leader.
Guided tour of the amazing Ostuni: the “White City” par excellence, thanks to all the houses in Ostuni which are strictly white painted as per the Mediterranean tradition. The result is an oasis of peace and tranquility that comes alive in the evening with its outdoor bars in the alleys. At the top of the hill on which it stands, we will find the only building spared from the white lime: the late-romantic Cathedral. The itinerary starts from Porta Nuova and winds through the alleys touching the panoramic terrace, S. Giacomo in Compostella, the House of Music, the Monacelle church, the Cathedral, the spire of S.Oronzo.
Free time for lunch and free afternoon.
In the evening, transfer by bus to a typical and elegant Masseria to enjoy a dinner based on local delicacies.
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