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Taste of Puglia + Matera
May 4 -10, 2025 
July 6-12, 2025 (Women's Tour)

Journey with me to Italy’s deep south – the up-and-coming region of Puglia and the fascinating ancient city of Matera.  Located at the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia runs along the southern Adriatic coast, and is characterized by its warm & welcoming locals, exemplary cooking and some of the most unique architecture you’ll find anywhere in Italy.

 

Led by passionate local guides, we'll discover the fairy-like white trulli houses of the Itria Valley as well as charming fishing villages, including Monopoli, our seaside homebase in Puglia, where local pasta dishes are topped with the daily catch. The Baroque beauty Lecce (known as the "Florence of the South") is an elegant city with intricate alleyways and ornate churches while the region's capital and principal port city, Bari, is a juxtaposition of modern hustle and bustle and slow traditions.  We will also explore the singular Matera, located in the neighboring region of Basilicata, an important cultural gem of the Italian south, known for its Sassi dwellings, where we will stay in a restored cave hotel for two nights. We'll take a deep-dive into Puglia's rich food and wine culture and explore its many prized local delicacies – still-quivering fresh burrata cheese, crusty bread from Altamura & Matera, hand rolled orecchiette pasta and bright green olive oil, as well as fine wines produced from native grapes.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Benvenuti al Sud!

We meet in the vibrant port city of Bari, also Puglia’s capital, and whisk you away to a local restaurant nestled in the countryside between Bari and Matera. We’ll get acquainted over a long and leisurely, multicourse pranzo di domenica - Sunday lunch - at a masseria (working farm) featuring Pugliese specialties.

After lunch, we’ll journey across the rocky Murgia valley to the fascinating city of Matera, our home for two nights. Unpack, relax, take a stroll, have an aperitivo… that evening, we’ll meet back up for dinner at a trattoria in the centro storico of Matera.

Day 2

Magical Matera

Image by sterlinglanier Lanier

After breakfast, we’ll meet an expert local guide for an in-depth private walking tour of Matera and its ancient neighborhoods, the Sassi. An authentic open-air museum that recalls human life from the Stone Age to the present, Matera sits on a rocky ridge, divided into Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. Our local tour guide and historian will walk us through the city’s art, anthropology and architecture and uncover how Matera went from once being known as la vergogna d’Italia (the shame of Italy) to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

We’ll have lunch together, and in the afternoon, explore Matera’s rich tradition of artisans including masters of the cuccù, a terracotta whistle with great cultural significance to the city, wood carving, ceramics and jewelry. That evening, we’ll enjoy dinner together at a local trattoria in the Sassi.

Day 3

Bread & Cheese in Altamura

This morning, we’ll check out of our hotel and bid arrivederci to Matera as we head to Puglia. Our first stop is all about bread and cheese in the old town of Altamura.  We will visit a dairy farm and experience the production of the region’s prized cow’s milk cheeses including burrata and caciocavallo (and of course, get to taste them!).  We’ll then walk to the center of Altamura, known for its bread-baking tradition, and visit one of the oldest forni (ovens) in town. After our tour, we’ll make our way to the heart of the Alta Murgia National Park for a cheese-centric, wine-paired al fresco lunch.

With our bellies full, we’ll leave the rocky terrain of Altamura and the Murgia and head east to the sunny Adriatic Coast and get situated in pretty Monopoli, our home for the next four nights.  Get settled, unpack and let’s meet back up on the rooftop for a Spritz overlooking the sea before we take a short walking tour of Monopoli, with its colorful fishing boats and winding alleyways, and enjoy a delicious seafood dinner together.

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Day 4

Cooking & Trulli in the Valle d'Itria

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Welcome to the fairytale countryside of Puglia’s Valle d’Itria! This area of Puglia consists of endless olive groves, vineyards, and of course, the iconic coned roofs of i trulli, traditional stone huts that were once inhabited by locals.

Our day begins with a guided visit of a working farm and cooking class at a family-run masseria in the countryside.  After rolling up our sleeves with the resident bakers and cooks of the farm, we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labors, as well as some other local artisanal products, for lunch.

Then it’s time to explore two of the valley’s most important jewelbox towns - Locorotondo and Alberobello. The latter is famed for its trulli houses and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. We’ll walk through this fairytale town with a local guide and have some free time to wander before heading back to Monopoli, where you'll be able to enjoy dinner on your own. 

Day 5

Baroque Lecce & Whitewashed Ostuni

Early morning departure for elegant, Baroque Lecce. Dubbed the ‘Florence of the South’, this beautiful town is famous for its many churches and its stunning golden sandstone buildings. We meet our local guide for a walk through the historical center of Lecce which includes a stop at the Roman amphitheater and hidden sights down the city’s many picturesque alleys. Along the way, we'll stop to taste some local street food specialties, including a rustico - a local pastry filled with piping hot passata (tomato puree) and oozing mozzarella - and a sweet pasticciotto.  After your tour, you'll have some free time to wander the Baroque streets, shop in the many excellent artisan workshops and keep snacking if you’re still hungry!

After our visit to Lecce, we'll head back north along the coast and stop in Ostuni – an incredibly beautiful whitewashed jewel of a town in Puglia.  Enjoy some free time to explore its nooks and crannies or indulge in an aperitivo before we head home to Monopoli for the evening.  Dinner is on your own tonight in Monopoli.

Image by Davide Perrone

Day 6

Polignano a Mare & Liquid Gold

Image by Nazar Hrabovyi

This morning, we'll explore one of the most picturesque coastal towns in all of Puglia – Polignano a Mare. Renowned for its characteristic beach nestled between cliffs, we’ll have plenty of time for photos, exploring and watching locals leap from the cliffs into the sea. Wander, shop and have lunch on your own - there lots of sit-down and more casual options (and don't leave town without trying un caffe speciale’– a hyper local drink from Polignano!).

Our afternoon is all about liquid gold and native grapes. Puglia is famous for its olive oil for good reason - nearly 50% of the oil produced in Italy comes from the region.  We will visit an olive oil farm (which also doubles as a vineyard) for a guided olive oil and wine tour and tasting and enjoy an ad hoc apertivo cenato (a sort of “grazing” dinner with wine) among the grape vines.

Day 7

Bari Morning Food Crawl ~ Arrivederci!

After checking out of our hotel in Monopoli, we’ll return to where we started our weeklong adventure - lively Bari - for a guided food crawl of Bari Vecchia, the city’s historic center.  Visit the “orecchiette ladies,'' who make pasta in the streets in front of their homes and sample local street foods such as focaccia barese and scagliozze (fried polenta cubes).  We’ll also visit the Basilica of San Nicola and visit the crypt where the famous saint (that’s right, Santa Claus!) is buried.  

 

After the tour, we will drop you off at either the Bari train station or airport. Arriverderci!

Image by Maria Bobrova

WHERE WE’LL STAY … We will stay at two truly unique & historic 5-star properties.  For the first two nights of the tour, we will stay at Sant'Angelo Luxury Resort in Matera. Sant Angelo is a luxury resort carved into the tufa stone that makes up the city of Matera. This property has some of the best views of the Sassi, modern furnishings & amenities and is located in the middle of Matera, making it the perfect spot to explore the historic center on foot.  We will then move on to the elegant and historic Don Ferrante Dimore de Charme, located in the historic center of the pretty seaside town of Monopoli for the next four nights., close to restaurants, shops and cafes, making it a lovely and comfortable base for getting acquainted with the town.

**Please note that this trip would be quite challenging for travelers with mobility issues. Neither hotel is equipped with an elevator and both require walking up several steps. As such, tour guests must be comfortable exploring on foot - the ability to walk at a comfortable pace, over uneven surfaces, and to navigate stairs is a must.**