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This exciting new tour of Puglia led by Jennifer Wilkinson explores the fascinating towns of Lecce, Ostuni, Otranto & Matera in Basilicata


Activity Level: Easy +

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Puglia is often referred to geographically as the heel of the boot of Italy. It is Italy’s most south eastern region and home to over 800 kilometres of coastline facing the Ionian Sea to the south east, the Adriatic to the east and the straits of Otranto to the south. Puglia’s history, architecture and cuisine is inextricably linked to the impact of invasions from the ancient Greeks, The Romans, The Byzantines, The Normans and the Spanish Bourbons. Its rich culture is distinctive and fascinating.

We explore its delightful small towns and their splendid baroque or medieval architecture, enjoy stunning coastal walks along with beautiful forested hills dotted with ancient olive groves. Experiencing the flavours of the local cuisine is an integral part of this wonderful journey where we stay in painstakingly restored farmhouses called masserias, cutting edge small hotels and a magnificently transformed Castle in the small village of Ugento. It is here that we will have the privilege of experiencing Easter celebrations along with a very special cooking class.

How itUnfolds

DAY DAY 1: BARI - MATERA

Our meeting point for the tour is the coastal town and port of Bari. Direct flights from Rome ensure an easy transition into the beautiful region of Puglia. We will collect you from the airport or your hotel in Bari mid-morning and travel to the city of Matera, home to a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and capital of Basilicata. We check in to our beautiful hotel and take a tour of the 'sassi' or ancient cave dwellings that today are one of the city's major features and a World Heritage site.

This evening we are treated to a private dinner in an 11th century cave.

DAY DAY 2: MATERA - OSTUNI

After an early breakfast our guide will lead us on a fascinating walk through the gorges and countryside surrounding this ancient city. From Matera we will transfer to Alberobello to see the famous 'trulli' houses. These buildings, each with a distinctive conical roof, have very thick stone walls and are constructed without mortar.

We'll then stop for lunch in one of Puglia's prettiest towns, Locorotondo.

Our base for the next two nights is the charming white city of Ostuni, perched high on a hilltop overlooking olive groves and the Adriatic Ocean.

DAY DAY 3: OSTUNI

Today's walk starts near the important archaeological site of Santa Maria D’Agnano, where skeletal remains dating back 25,000 years were found during an excavation begun in 1991. From here we’ll see sweeping olive plains extending to the coast before we ascend to the ancient shrine of Sant Oronzo and traverse through wild woodland.

Olive oil has been milled in this region since the bronze age, and we gain a fascinating insight into olive oil production during a visit to a local estate. Lunch will be a rustic private dining experience amongst the ancient olive trees.

Dinner tonight will be at the hotel's acclaimed michelin star restaurant.

DAY DAY 4: OSTUNI - LECCE

After a leisurely morning we depart our hotel and visit one of Puglia’s most renowned wineries. Following a tour of the ancient stone cellars with the resident oenologist, we will be treated to a private wine tasting and lunch overlooking the ageing barrels of wine.

DAY DAY 5: LECCE

Today we visit the stunning baroque city of Lecce. Often described as the 'Florence of the South', this quintessential southern Italian town is renowned for its elaborately carved facades, maze of narrow streets, charming alleyways and buzzing piazzas.

Lunch will be at a local Osteria.

DAY DAY 6: LECCE

Today is at your leisure. Feel free to spend the day relaxing at the hotel or further explore fascinating Lecce.

DAY DAY 7: LECCE - UGENTO

We say farewell to the beautiful masseria and head to the coast to embark on a panoramic hike in the beautiful Porto Selvaggio Nature Reserve. The path passes through wetlands, crucial for the countless wild birds in the area and continues along the coast, taking in lovely vistas of sandy beaches before a climb up to Torre Uluzzo. We continue on to Torre dell’Alto, which marks the end of the hike.

Our final destination is the sleepy little town of Ugento where we stay at Castello Ugento and the hotel's Masseria.

DAY DAY 8: UGENTO

Food and wine are key ingredients in Castello di Ugento’s renaissance. One wing of the renovated castle houses a luxury boutique hotel, while across the courtyard there is a gourmet restaurant alongside the newly launched cookery school. The Puglia Culinary Centre welcomes students from the renowned Culinary Institute of America, and today we will take a cookery class in one of the castle’s oldest storehouses.

DAY DAY 9: UGENTO - OTRANTO - UGENTO

After breakfast we will explore the easternmost town of Italy, Otranto. This enchanting and picturesque little seatown on the Adriatic coast gazes out across the strait towards the Balkans and Greece.

DAY DAY 10: UGENTO

Easter Sunday marks our final day together on this southern Italian sojourn. Today we'll keep the itinerary flexible. Perhaps a day trip to the nearby town of Santa Maria di Leuca or Galatina may be an option. Some of us may wish to take part in the town's Easter celebrations or perhaps spend time relaxing at the Castello.

DAY DAY 11: Departure

Today we bid farewell to the lovely Castello and make our way to Brindisi airport for our onward journeys.

Meet your Guide:

Jennifer Wilkinson Owner / Director

Jennifer has a life-long passion for food, wine and travel. Following a successful career in economics and industrial relations, she left…

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