The Road Less Travelled Puglia Tour 2024

Join this 14 day small group tour to puglia and experience the best of southern italian culture and hospitality.
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Tour Details

The Road Less Travelled Puglia Tour

Starts: Leece | Ends: Mattinata
Price: $9390 Twin Share | $10,590 Single Room
Dates 2024 (ALL BOOKED OUT):
14-27 MAY 2024
16-29 SEPTEMBER 2024
Trip Length: 14 Days | 13 Nights 
Meals included: 12 Breakfast | 4 Lunch | 5 Dinner

Contact us to register now for 2025 tour.

The tour begins in the quaint town of Lecce with its wide pedestrian streets and intricately pretty baroque facades. We visit the area around Lecce known as the Salento, and travel to the most beautiful towns of the area. We visit fascinating museums to learn about a culture that dates to the Bronze Age and see the local art.

The Valle d’Itria, famous for its distinctive stone trulli dwellings, will delight you, and the spectacular coastal scenery means that your cameras should never be out of reach. We stop to watch local artisans at work and visit some producers to see how the local specialities and wine are made.

We’ll stay in just four hotels over the 14 days to minimise the time spent packing and moving. Our bases for the tour are Lecce (3 nights), the Valle d’Itria (4 nights), Polignano a Mare (3 nights) and Mattinata (3 nights).

Tour Highlights: 

  • Exploring Lecce, the “Florence of the south” in all its Baroque splendour 
  • Discovering the gorgeous coastlines of Puglia and pretty towns like Gallipoli, Otranto and Polignano a Mare
  • Private visit, degustation and lunch at a top winery to discover Pugliese wine
  • Visit to a family-run olive farm and mill with 2000+ year-old olive trees
  • Private boat trip on the Gargano coast
  • Quiet time to wander the streets of pretty towns like Martina Franca and Locorotondo
  • Exquisite meals (a la carte) at restaurants chosen for their focus on local specialties – many of them Slow Food restaurants. Five lunches and five dinners included.


DAY 1 – ARRIVE IN PUGLIA Our tour begins with three nights based in wonderful Lecce, with its ornate iron balconies overlooking golden stone streets, its Roman ruins and the local ‘Leccese’ Baroque architecture. On day one, we will collect you at Brindisi airport, or you can arrive in Lecce on the fast train from Rome or Milan. We meet in the evening for aperitivi and welcome dinner.

Overnight: Lecce

We spend the first morning wandering the atmospheric streets of this ancient town, which is even older than Florence, dipping into the churches to discover hidden masterpieces and enjoying coffee in the glorious central piazza. The rest of the afternoon is free time for you to explore Lecce.

Overnight: Lecce

On our third day, we head out to the small town of Galatina, famous for two very different things. The first is a relatively undiscovered gem: a beautiful fresco cycle by Francesco d’Arezzo, which depicts the Franciscan story of the New and Old Testaments in the church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. From the sublime to the gastronomic, our second Galatinese gem is the local pastry, a sweet custard treat called Pasticciotto Galatina.

We’ll call into Pasticceria Ascalone where it was invented, to indulge ourselves. You might also like to try local pastries and shortbreads flavoured with quince paste, another local speciality.

We’ll spend the afternoon at Otranto, a small fortified town surrounded by medieval walls overlooking the water so clear you can see to the bottom. Make sure you visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata to see the spectacular Tree of Life mosaic that covers three naves in the church. This mosaic is ancient, dating from the twelfth century, and was made by a monk called Pantaleone. We’ll also see his fascinating zodiac mosaic in the same church.

Overnight: Lecce

Our first stop today is at an olive farm, where you will see how olive oil has been cultivated over the centuries. You’ll have the chance to walk amongst olive trees that are thousands of years old and see the remains of the ancient olive presses. There will also be a tasting of olive oil.

The farm is just outside Ostuni, which will be our next stop. This architectural jewel is known as the ‘white city’. As we approach Ostuni, you’ll notice the town from afar because all the buildings are painted white, and it absolutely gleams in the sunlight.

After some time to explore Ostuni, we’ll travel to our next base in the Valle d’Itria, checking into our hotel in the countryside.

Overnight: Valle d’Itria

This morning we head off to visit a local farm that specialises in the production of local cows’ milk cheeses and olive oil. We’ll arrive in time to see the cheese makers producing the mozzarella and other cheeses.

In the afternoon, we visit the nearby town of Grottaglie, which is the centre of the local ceramics production. Artisans have been working here for over 1,000 years. Before we return to our accommodation, there will be time to wander through the town and look at one or two local producers.

You’ll have some free time to relax in the afternoon at the resort.

Overnight: Valle d’Itria

This morning we visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello. This town has been included on the register because of its high concentration of over 400 trulli. Make sure your cameras are fully charged for this charming town!

We head on to Locorotondo in the afternoon, another pleasant town in the area where you will have some free time to explore the winding streets, churches and squares.

In the early evening, we’ll venture into Martina Franca, the largest town in the Valle d’Itria, where there will be time to look around the town before a group meal.

Overnight: Valle d’Itria

We drive to our next destination today, Mattinata on the beautiful Gargano Peninsula.

First, however, we stop at Castel del Monte, a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture and the second UNESCO World Heritage site that we visit on this tour. Castel del Monte is on a gentle hill overlooking the surrounding flatlands. It comprises a 13th-century citadel and a castle built by Emperor Frederic II. Many people describe it as ‘a copybook castle’ because of its octagonal design and perfect symmetry. Luca describes it as “a medieval Stonehenge, in the middle of an otherwise empty landscape, with great atmosphere and a mysterious significance”.

Our accommodation in Mattinata, which means ‘morning’, is in self-contained apartments with stunning views along the blue coastline from their balconies or gardens. While the area is a massive drawcard for Italians seeking sun and sea in summer, inland, it remains an extensive agricultural area where they grow oranges, grapes, olives and a type of dairy cattle particular to the area. The Parco Nazionale del Gargano is a short drive away.

Overnight: Mattinata

This morning we head into the hinterland of the Gargano peninsula, driving through the suggestive Foresta Umbra, and stopping at a pretty hamlet, Vico del Gargano. We then stop for lunch at a “trabucco”, an old wooden fishing platform built over the sea that has been repurposed as an excellent restaurant specialising in the local seafood.

We drive home along the picturesque Gargano coast to Mattinata.

Overnight: Mattinata

This morning we climb aboard our charter boat and work our way along the coast to enjoy the stunning limestone cliffs and caves of the peninsula. Weather permitting, we’ll have an opportunity to swim in the dazzling blue sea of the Adriatic and to stop for lunch on one of the rocky beaches before driving back to our hotel.

In the afternoon, we drive up to Monte Sant’Angelo. At this pilgrim destination, the faithful visited St Michael Archangel’s sanctuary, built in the 13th century by Charles I of Anjou, and now a World Heritage site.

Overnight: Mattinata

Today we pack up, leave the Gargano, and head towards the region’s capital, Bari. We will spend some time in Bari, this fascinating old city, with its atmospheric medieval centre. There will be a walking tour with a local guide, where we will visit the basilica of San Nicola, the original Father Christmas, who had a reputation for secret gift-giving. We will see the local women making pasta in the laneways and generally learn about the history of this town. There will be some free time for lunch and to have a look around the town on your own before we drive on to our next base in Polignano a Mare.

Overnight: Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare is one of the prettiest towns on the east coast and we won’t move from here today, which will be all about relaxing. Today is a “free day”, but we suggest you wander through the town in the morning to get your bearings and then relax and enjoy the town the rest of the day. You may wish to take a dip in the ocean, or the more active can head off for a walk along the pretty coastal walkway to check out the views.

Overnight: Polignano a Mare

We start today with a visit to the town of Trani where we will wander along the bustling port where the fishermen sell their catches on benches in front of their boats. We will visit the centre of town and stop at the Cathedral of Trani, one of Puglia’s most important examples of Romanesque architecture.

After some free time for lunch, we will leave Trani to visit a leading winery in the area, where we will have a guided tour and tasting.

Overnight: Polignano a Mare

We visit another UNESCO World Heritage site today: the ancient city of Matera – and also the location for Mel Gibson’s film ‘The Passion’! Matera is internationally famous for its old town, known as the Sassi, which translates as ‘stones’. The Sassi began life as a prehistoric troglodyte settlement mined into the rocky face of a ravine, but over the centuries, many groups of people lived in these cavernous dwellings. The inhabitants were forcibly removed in the 1950s, but today much of the area has been regenerated, and there are small businesses, hotels and bars there.

To see this town properly, we’ll dedicate most of the day to our visit, spending the morning with a local guide and having some free time to explore on our own.

Overnight: Polignano a Mare

On the last day of the tour we provide a transfer back to Bari train station and Bari airport.

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