12 to 27 May 2017 | 16 Days. 15 Nights
Join Liz and explore the southern region of Italy.
Over 16 days in May, we will soak up the history and culture of this fascinating area; from traditional artisans to fine artists and troglodyte dwellings in 9,000-year-old Matera to shabby-chic village farmhouse kitchens.
A baroque delight, you will find out why Lecce is known as the ‘Florence of the South’.
Rev up your taste buds for mozzarella from Italy’s most pampered buffalo; silky scamorza hung from the rafters to dry; Puglia’s fruit-forward Verdeca whites; Basilicata’s dense Aglianico reds; and of course, the ‘green gold’ – Italy’s best olive oils.
DAY 1 – Friday 12 May | Lecce – Upon arrival at Brindisi airport you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel where you will check-in for your three night stay at the Hotel Fiermontina. The remainder of the day will be at leisure. Tonight enjoy your initial dinner to welcome you in this welcoming area of Italy at the Hotel’s restaurant.
DAY 2 – Saturday 13 May | Lecce – after breakfast you will be accompanied by a local guide to enjoy a half day sightseeing of Lecce. The most monumental of all of Puglia’s towns, Lecce is a baroque delight. From imposing and harmonious Piazza del Duomo to the gorgeously masterful Santa Croce, seemingly every building, street and angle of the city is imbued with artistic inspiration and decorative beauty. Known as the “Florence of the South,” both for its walkable scale and for its architectural stagecraft, Lecce is wonderfully poetic by day and particularly suggestive at night, when the town comes to life and the lights add a sense of heightened drama to the nocturnal cityscape. Piazza del Duomo, the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Roman amphitheatre are just some of the town’s main sights. The remainder of the day will be at leisure, including lunch and dinner.
DAY 3 – Sunday 14 May | Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca – Today after breakfast, we will drive in the southernmost point of Italy with your local English-speaking guide and your private bus. We will star the visit of Otranto. It has always been the “bridge” that connected Italy and the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Walking through the old town enclosed by Aragonese walls overlooking splendid azure crystalline waters, it’s easy to succumb to the charm of its white houses and alleys paved in stone. Founded by the Greeks, the city assumed increasing importance in the Byzantine period as a commercial, political and religious centre as a major port of trade with the Orient. Otranto’s cathedral, certainly the town’s most important monument, houses a spectacular mosaic pavement from the 12th century: a curious blend of pagan, Old Testament and New Testament imagery which synthesizes the culture and imagery of an era. En route, sample some local wines at a local vineyard. Greek colonists would later bring with them their own vines, and were astonished to find well-tended vineyards already flourishing in the region. Today’s top regional varietals include Primitivo (known in America as Zinfandel), Negroamaro, Moscato Bianco, Minutolo and Malvasia Bianca for the whites. Today’s lunch will be in a nice typical local restaurant. After lunch we will drive through the coastal road which runs from San Cataldo south to the sanctuary of Santa Maria di Leuca passes through varied and picturesque natural habitats, from serene dunes and pristine beaches to rocky coastline and high rugged cliffs. The stretch of coast between Otranto and Tricase is of particular beauty for active excursions, comprising a large nature preserve, small fishing villages which haven’t changed a touch since the 1950s, and arabesque seaside villas which can be found in the several coastal resort towns. The flavour here is unapologetically authentic, leading one Parisian observer to note that, the area “resembles the Côte d’Azur of our memories, before it became a destination for the jet set.” After the excursion you will be driven back to your Hotel in Lecce. Dinner at leisure.
DAY 4 – Monday 15 May | Lecce-Matera with stop en route at Grottaglie. This morning, after breakfast we will leave Lecce to make a journey to the mountainous region of Basilicata, where your destination is the extraordinary hill town of Matera. En route stop in a nice little town of the central Puglia region to make a walk and discover Grottaglie. The area is very rich in clay and it is therefore regarded as fertile ground for the emergence of a flourishing pottery crafts. In former times, in the town of Grottaglie, it was possible to find in each house about fifty pieces of pottery, as told by the local craftsmen, because they were essential for everyday use, unlike the largely ornamental function they have today. The origins of the pottery crafts in the town date back to the Middle Ages. Today’s lunch will be at leisure. After your lunch we will proceed the journey to Mater.The remainder of the day will be at leisure before dinner at a local restaurant. Two nights at the Hotel Palazzo Gattini in deluxe double rooms inclusive of breakfast.
DAY 5 – Tuesday 16 May | Matera sightseeing. Today you will tour of this enchanting city with an English-speaking guide. Continually inhabited for over 10,000 years, Matera – La Citta’ dei Sassi – is considered among the most ancient on earth. The city is an authentic open-air museum attesting to the extraordinary human adventure from the Palaeolithic era to the present. The aura in Matera is, in a word, magic. The town is a disarming blend of contrasts; an inimitable tangle of cave-dwellings, magnificent baroque palaces and beautiful stone churches in a land that knows no temporal discontinuity. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, unique in its genre, has been declared the 2019 European Capital of Culture. Trace your way through the uninterrupted presence of man in this area, from the Palaeolithic era to the present day. Witness first-hand the main stages of the evolution of human history as you make your way through the Sassi: from the dark caves of the Murgia inhabited by our oldest ancestors to the rock-hewn churches of religious communities and the elegant streets of the Piano, rich in seventeenth-century monasteries and palaces. Descend into the large voids of deep cisterns and canals once used for water collection. Enjoy your lunch in a typical restaurant of Matera This afternoon and dinner is at leisure.
DAY 6 – Wednesday 17 May | Matera-Mari with stop in route in Alberobello and Locorotondo. Today we will leave Matera to discover other area of Puglia region, travelling first to Alberobello by private vehicle.Upon arrival you will meet your local guide. The city was founded in the 15th century by the Counts of Acquaviva, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello contains the largest concentration of perhaps the most famous of all of Puglia’s monuments: the cone-shaped dwellings known as trulli. The origin of these charming structures was practical in nature: the Counts granted tax-free land and domicile rights to immigrants from the surrounding lands on the condition that their houses should be easily demolished in the case that the King of Naples ever found out that they were evading taxes! Their particular construction – without any use of a binding material – ensured that the houses could easily be reduced to a mere pile of stones in a hurry, leaving no trace of their former function. Enjoy your lunch in a typical restaurant of Alberobello. Continue with your guide to Locorotondo. Officially one of the Borghi più belli d’Italia – the most beautiful villages in Italy – crown-shaped Locorotondo sits majestically atop a hill overlooking the countryside. Whitewashed houses with external stone staircases and balconies adorned with flowers await visitors to the town, which welcomes world-weary travellers to the pleasures of the slow life. After the visit you will have a time free to stroll around the city and afterward you will be transferred to Bari. Today’s dinner will be at leisure. Two nights at the Hotel Palace in classical double rooms inclusive of breakfast.
DAY 7 – Thursday 18 May | Bari sightseeing
DAY 8 – Friday 19 May | Castel del Monte and Trani Excursion. Today we will travel by private vehicle to Castel del Monte where you will meet a local English-speaking guide. It is one of Puglia’s most profound monuments. The mysterious origins of the castle, built by Frederick II – one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen – continue to intrigue historians to this day. Many scholars have noticed a fascinating correspondence between the characteristics of the castle and various esoteric, alchemic and astrologic symbols, which in turn speak of the particular nature of the sovereign: an educated man, lover of the arts, close to the East, Islam and the doctrines of magic. It is evident, for example, the repetition of the number eight – the infinity symbol, the compass rose and the number of universal authority – and octagonal in shape was said to be the cup of the Holy Grail. It is also evident how the proportion and orientation of the castle can be linked to particular astrological events, and the ratio of the measurements follow Euclid’s rule of the “golden number” or “divine golden proportion”. Enjoy your lunch in a typical restaurant. After lunch, continue along the coast with your guide. Those who wish to experience Puglia in vivid light need look no further than the city of Trani. Here the poetry of the sea meets the sublime scale of Norman architecture. The pure white limestone of Trani’s divine cathedral rises to dizzying heights, bathed in the soft light reflecting off of the adjacent waters. Founded, according to legend, by Tirreno, son of the Greek hero Diomedes, Trani was a key trading port along whose promenade your guide brings to life Puglia’s historic splendor. After the tour you will be driven back to your Hotel in Bari.
DAY 9 – Saturday 20 May | Full day Puglia excursion
DAY 10 – Sunday 21 May | Bari-Ancona. Today we will depart Bari and Puglia for the four hour journey by fast train to Ancona. Tonight enjoy dinner and the night at the Hotel See Port.
DAY 11 – Monday 22 May | Ancona-Perugia. Before departing from Ancona, you will enjoy a panoramic tour of the city. In the old town, crowned by the Duomo, you can peel back layers of history of the city founded by Greek settlers from Syracuse around 387 BC, admiring Roman ruins, the rich stash of its archaeological museum and its Renaissance palazzi, which glow softly in the evening light. Linger long enough in its hilltop parks overlooking the Adriatic and lively boulevards and cafe-rimmed piazzas and you’ll see a more likeable side to Le Marche’s seafront capital. Enjoy your lunch in a typical restaurant. After lunch you will be privately transferred to another region of Italy, Umbria. Today’s dinner will be at leisure. Three nights at the Hotel Brufani, Perugia in classical double rooms inclusive of breakfast.
DAY 12 – Tuesday 23 May | Perugia Half Day Sightseeing. Today you will enjoy a half-day sightseeing of the Umbrian towns of Perugia, with your local English-speaking guide.Visit the Collegio del Cambio (Exchange Guild) where elaborate frescoes decorate the meeting room and chapel of the guild of bankers and money changers. The imposing Palazzo dei Priori houses the National Gallery of Umbria with magnificent paintings, frescoes and sculptures. The remainder of the day will be at leisure.
DAY 13 – Wednesday 24 May | Perugia Trasimeno Lake – Cortona and wine tasting
DAY 14 – Thursday 25 May | Assisi. Today you will enjoy a full day excursion with an English-speaking guide and private vehicle to Assisi, visiting the beautiful Basilica di San Francesco, built in the 13th century to house the body of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of Italy, and the Gothic Church of Santa Chiara. During the sightseeing enjoy your lunch in a typical restaurant. After the tour you will be driven back to your Hotel in Perugia.
DAY 15 – Friday 26 May | Perugia-Rome with stop in route in Orvieto. Today’s we will depart from Perugia to reach Rome with stop en route in Orvieto. Upon arrival in Orvieto today you will be met by a local English-speaking guide for a sightseeing tour. Orvieto is perched on a plateau overlooking local vineyards and offers lovely views of the surrounding area, and you will enjoy a walking tour through the picturesque narrow streets, including a visit to the majestic Cathedral. During the sightseeing enjoy your lunch in a typical restaurant. After the tour you will continue your journey to Rome. Tonight enjoy your farewell dinner in a typical restaurant of Rome. Three nights at the Hotel 47, Rome in classical double rooms inclusive of breakfast.
DAY 16 – Saturday 27 May | Departure. Today, after breakfast, you will be privately transferred to Rome Fiumicino airport.
$14,890 per person twin share
$16,890 per solo traveller