With countryside that’s blanketed with olive groves, a collection of historic cities and fairytale towns, and a coastline stretching for 800-odd kilometres, Puglia is a rich region filled with simple pleasures. We’ll spend eight days winding through its quiet landscapes, discovering baroque Lecce (the ‘Florence of the South’) and the fairy-tale trulli houses of Alberobello. We’ll even stretch into the neighbouring region of Basilicata to visit the 2019 European Capital of Culture - Matera - and explore its ancient cave dwellings.
7 nights in hotels (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Bari. On arrival we board our coach to Lecce and to our hotel, the Grand Hotel di Lecce (4T).
Lecce - Otranto
This morning we have included a guided tour of Lecce and then we make our way to the most eastern city in Italy, Otranto. We will see the magnificent Romanesque Cathedral that houses a vast mosaic floor dating back to 1166, depicting a multi-coloured ‘Tree of Life’ amongst other scenes of myths and legends.
Lecce - Ostuni - Cisternino - Selva di Fasano
This morning we travel to Ostuni, a city which has been occupied since the Stone Age and which has a vibrant olive and grape industry. Commonly known as ‘the white town’, Ostuni’s hilltop citadel is encased in white walls and surrounded by white-painted architecture. The 15th century cathedral is discernible for the green, yellow and white slate tiles that encase it and the nearby buildings. We enjoy an olive oil tasting here, before travelling on to Selva di Fasano, with a break to stretch our legs in Cisternino, the historical chalky-white town. We check in to the beautiful Tenuta Monacelle (4T), which will be our base for our explorations for the next three nights - and it benefits from a secluded, peaceful location.
Locorotondo - Alberobello
Explore the pretty, white-washed maze of Locorotondo’s historic centre, before we continue to Alberobello (there is a fifteen-minute walk to the town from the coach). A high concentration of trulli - unique circular, conical-roofed, white-washed houses - can be found in and around the town. We visit a winery here for a tasting and light lunch. Finally, we drive through the Valley d’Itria, laced with vineyards and olive groves on our return to Matera. This evening we have dinner at a local masseria.
Today we travel to the 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera, famous for its neighbourhoods of ancient cave dwellings. Monks created this maze of living spaces and churches as they sought refuge from infidels at the end of the first millennium. Miraculously, they are still largely intact. After our guided tour of the rock church and caves, which involves steps and walking on uneven ground, we enjoy a tasting of the artisanal bread ‘focaccia’ with wine included, before returning to our hotel.
Selva di Fasano - Castellana Caves - Bari - Ruvo di Puglia - Trani
We journey to the Castellana Caves today, which are a series of limestone caves accidentally discovered in 1938 and are now one of Puglia’s main attractions. A guide will accompany you as you descend to the caves. We travel to the old port city of Bari for lunch (own expense). The Romanesque Basilica di San Nicola is dedicated to St Nicholas, or Father Christmas, built to house his remains which still lie in the crypt. We continue to Ruvo di Puglia, where you may like to visit Ruvo Cathedral, a 13th century cathedral built in a late Romanesque style, or the Jatta Museum, where terracotta figures and pots decorated in mythical scenes give insight to early life in Magna Graecia. We travel on to Trani, and to the Hotel San Paolo Al Convento (4T) or Corte D’Altavilla, Conversano (4T).
Castel del Monte - Trani
This morning we depart for a guided tour of Castel del Monte, built by Frederick II in the mid-13th century, most probably as a hunting lodge, crowning the medieval hilltop village. We return to Trani for time at leisure to explore the historic centre, stroll the yacht-lined marina and storm the castle of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II at leisure before dinner this evening at a local restaurant.
Day 8 Trani - Bari - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.
• Due to the medieval layout of many towns and current transport regulations, access can be limited and pathways are uneven, particularly in Matera and at the Castellana Caves.
• In many cities in Italy, a room tax of between €1-5 per person per night (subject to change), is payable directly to the hotel on check-out.
• 9 September 2019 departure will operate in reverse.