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We love Italy â€” the scents, flavors, scenery, and the people. The landscapes are soul-stirring, with sweeping vistas of vineyard-cloaked hills, stately cypress trees, and gnarled olive groves grounded in red earth.
The Puglia region, located in the heel of Italy’s "boot," is known for its unique whitewashed architecture in seaside towns, lack of tourists, and farmland that cascades into coastlines. It is a place where the union of art, food, and nature has been celebrated for thousands of years, in a region that has endured numerous wars, invasions, and dozens of civilizations â€” all of which have left their mark on the land and culture. Join us as we venture to this western "gateway to the East" and explore a lesser-known side of Italy the crowds have yet to find.
Arrival and Transfer to Lecce
Welcome to Puglia! We meet our guide at 2 p.m. in the lobby of the Hotel Oriente, centrally located in downtown Bari. We then drive approximately two hours, south along the Mediterranean coast, toward the tip of Italy's "heel" and the city of Lecce. Upon arrival, we check-in to our hotel and have a brief orientation meeting with our guide followed by dinner together this evening, where we toast to our adventures to come!
Risorgimento ResortLecce, Italy
This 5-star luxury hotel in the historical center of Lecce is located in former residence dating to the 1400s. Finely furnished with details inspired by the style of the Baroque of Lecce, are characterized by warm and soothing colors that recall the landscape of the area. Guests enjoy the fusion of historical and modern decor, gourmet food & wine, and an intimate spa.
After breakfast, we meet our specialist guide for a walking tour of Lecce. Known for its dazzling array of Baroque architecture, Lecce also has deep roots in Ancient Greece, a long history of papier-mÃ¢chÃ© craft, and the lively ambience that accompanies a university town. We learn about the history and culture of this "Florence of the South" as we stroll through piazzas, admire ornate stonework full of allegorical meaning, and visit a local papier-mÃ¢chÃ© workshop.
Later this afternoon, we head into the kitchen for an opportunity to create a typical Pugliese meal, from appetizer to dessert. Puglia's cuisine is deeply steeped in the region's agricultural tradition and an instinct for self-sufficiency. Many of the most representative dishes have their origins in "cucina povera" (peasant cooking), based on natural, genuine ingredients, like vegetables, legumes, seafood, olive oil, homemade pasta and bread.
We reap the benefits of our efforts this evening and enjoy the bountiful feast we have created.
Otranto and the Adriatic Sea
Today begins with a guided exploration of another iconic town in Puglia â€” Otranto. Teeming with history, Otranto lies at the easternmost point of Italy on the Adriatic Sea â€” historically, a prime location for a port during the expansion of global trade, but which also left it susceptible to attack by foreign seafarers. We hear tales of conquest as we walk through the streets of this medieval old town, tour the Spanish castle, and visit the Otranto Cathedral â€” known for its enormous 12th-century "Tree of Life" floor mosaic.
From here, we head to the coast for an easy walk along the coves and creeks for which Salento is famous, and perhaps take a dip in the Adriatic Sea if the weather is warm. En route back to Lecce, we stop for a short walk to see the hidden Palascia lighthouse, high on a cliff with views of the sea all around.
Arriving back in Lecce, the evening is yours to relax, explore, and dine at your leisure.
Our destination this morning is Ostuni, often called la CittÃ Bianca, or "the White City," for bright, whitewashed walls. Originally painted with lime to brighten the dark medieval alleys, the white walls also kept the interior temperature of buildings cool. In later centuries, the practice continued during epidemics to quell the spread of disease.
Our first visit is a typical masseria, a farmhouse located on an expanse of land that was traditionally used for agriculture. These were often owned by wealthy barons and showcase an architectural style that is a hybrid of rustic country living and the elegance demanded by the noblemen who built them. We tour their ancient underground olive oil mill and taste the farm's current products.
This afternoon, we have time to settle in to our accommodations and independently explore the crooked streets of Ostuni. The uniform white color catches the colorful light of dawn and dusk, and it is a delight to get lost in the labyrinth of narrow passages. From the pinnacle above town, take in sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and Adriatic coast. Perhaps enjoy an aperitivo before wending back through the maze to rejoin the group for dinner this evening.
Masseria ValenteOstuni, Italy
This 18th-century typical farmhouse is set in a large garden and is located mid-way between Ostuni and the coast. Relax and enjoy quintessential Italian countryside, the onsite pool and veranda, and well-appointed rooms.
Parco Dune Natural Reserve
We begin today with a short drive for a walk at a natural dune reserve. Our guide leads us on foot along an ancient Roman road surrounded by olive trees, some of which are thousands of years old! Along our route, we stop at a masseria, where local farmers tell us how they produce a traditional style of cheese using a 500-year-old recipe.
After lunch, we visit a nearby wetland and meet fishermen working in the area. We enjoy the beach, perhaps taking a walk or relaxing in the sun, before returning to Ostuni for dinner and leisure time this evening.
This morning, we transfer to a large complex of caves known as Grotte di Castellana that are set in a limestone plateau. A specialist guide leads us through this otherworldly underground cavern. Along our walk, we learn about its wide array of stalagmites and stalactites, fossils and formationsâ€”millions of years old!
Next, we head deeper into the beautiful Itria Valley to Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its trulli. A trullo house is a dry stone dwelling with a conical roofâ€”a style of architecture completely unique to towns in this valley, with some structures dating back to the 14th century. We explore the old districts of Rione Monti and Rione Aja Piccola, with over 1,600 trulli, and are invited into one of these buildings to learn more about this ancient construction technique.
Later today, we visit a family-owned winery to learn about the local viticulture and wine production of this region. Of course, we have the opportunity to taste a selection of their wines!
At day's end, our immersion in Pugliese gastromy and culture continues at a traditional farmhouse where we meet the owners and enjoy a home-cooked dinner using products from the farm.
Corte dell'AstoreAlberobello, Italy
La Corte Dell’Astore, a luxury resort where sophistication and tradition fuse with style and splendor. Everything is designed to inspire calm and tranquillity—from the beautifully designed suites set in trullo houses built out of ancient stone, to the on-site farm where time can be spent in the company of friendly horses.
We drive inland about an hour this morning to Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage town located in the Basilicata region. Set on the edge of a ravine, Matera claims to be the oldest city in Italy and has been inhabited continuously since the Paleolithic Era. Here, we have a guided walk of the Sassi district, known for its homes carved out of the limestone caves and cliffs. Formerly, the area was one of Italy's poorest, with entire families living alongside their livestock in cave dwellings that lacked running water or power. This led to a near-constant outbreak of malaria and other diseases, and the area was often referred to as "Italy's shame." The city began to modernize in the mid-20th century when the government demanded inhabitants move out of the grottoes and into newer buildings. Today, the revitalized Sassi district showcases a well-preserved living history, with some former cave dwellings now operating as restaurants and inns.
We have the afternoon free to explore independently before returning to Alberobello, where we gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate our successful journey!
Today we say arrivederci to Puglia! A group transfer to Bari Airport will be provided after breakfast.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Sep 18-25, 2021
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $4,995 Per Person
First one reserved:$300
See single supplement policy below.
2021 pricing shown; for bookings received prior to 2022 pricing being set, Boundless Journeys will cover the first 5% of any increase in pricing, and will only ask travelers to pay any amount beyond a 5% increase.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
9+ Guests: $4,995 per person
4 to 8 Guests: $5,395 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Italy: Discovering Puglia is rated 2, easy, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). It features walks of varying lengths and easy -to-moderate difficulty that average 3-6 hours per day. Walks on this tour will be on varying terrain, including cobblestone streets in and around villages and some dirt roads and trails. Walks are broken up by rest, cultural activities, and meals. Please refer to the detailed itinerary for descriptions of the activities on each day of the trip.
At the Hotel Oriente in Bari, Italy at 2 p.m.
The tour ends after breakfast on Day 8. A group transfer is provided to the Bari airport.
Most Convenient AirportBari Airport in Bari, Italy (Airport code BRI)
Arrival RecommendationWe recommend arriving in Italy at least one day before your tour begins. This will give you time to rest after your travels and recover from any effects of jet lag. It may be most convenient to spend a pre-trip night at the Hotel Oriente in Bari, as this is our meeting place on Day 1.
Meeting Time and PlaceIn the lobby of the Hotel Oriente in Bari at 2 p.m. for a group transfer to Lecce. For those arriving in Bari on Day 1, a pickup will depart from the airport at 1:30 p.m.
Departure Time and PlaceThere will be a group transfer to Bari Airport (about 1 hour driving time) after breakfast on Day 8. We recommend scheduling your departing flight no earlier than 11 a.m.
The weather in late spring and early fall is usually very pleasant, with daytime temperatures ranging from the low 60s to the upper 80s, dropping to the 50s and 60s at night. While these months are not in Italy's "rainy season," there can be cool breezes or showers at any time.
The shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall take advantage of warm weather while avoiding the crowds of (often Italian!) tourists who flock to Puglia in July and August. Day time temperatures during May and September are usually warm enough to swim, but still cool enough for comfortable walking. Springtime sees colorful wildflowers in bloom, cascading over stone garden walls. In the fall, vineyards burst with purple grapes as the harvest begins.
Italy is famous for its cuisine, and with good reason. Located in the heel of Italy's "boot," Puglia is a traditional agricultural region, known for homestyle, country-inspired cuisine. Local wheat, tomatoes, artichokes, beans, fennel, peppers, onions, beef, and lamb are commonly found in many dishes. Puglians pride themselves on their pasta, orecchiette, shaped like little shells and usually served with meat and vegetable-based sauces. Puglian pasta is traditionally made only from durum wheat flour, water, and salt, because eggs were historically considered a luxury. In addition, fresh burrata, an abundance of seafood on the coast, and desserts made from regional almonds, honey, and sweetened ricotta cheese ensure a complete experience of local flavors.One dinner (on Day 3) is not included in your trip cost as we believe that venturing out on your own is an important part of discovering a new culture. Vegetarians can be accommodated.
Giuseppe was born in northern Puglia in the town of Corato, famous for a superb variety of olive oil. He currently lives in Bari, where he has been guiding for the past five years. Giuseppe enjoys wandering through the world and exploring authentic spaces. Those who have been on his trips can testify to his warm, enthusiastic, and creative approach to guiding.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Easy to moderate walking, 3-6 hours per day on varying terrain, including cobblestone streets, city streets, and some dirt roads and trails.
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Katya d'Angelo
Bari is the capital city of Puglia and where we begin our Discovering Puglia tour. Much of it is an industrial port town, but the historic center has it's own…
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