Lecce - Valle d’Itria - Polignano a Mare - Mattinata

The Road Less Travelled

Lecce - Valle d’Itria - Polignano a Mare - Mattinata
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13 Nights
14 Days
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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 tip of Italy’s heel to see where two seas meet. 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 the 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 specialties and wine are made.

We’ll be staying in just four hotels over the 14 days to ensure we 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).

Highlights & Inclusions

  • Experienced and bilingual tour leader on hand for duration of tour
  • Transfer at the start and end of the tour as per the information below
  • Accommodation (on a twin-share basis) in charming 3 or 4 star hotels
  • All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners (wine, or something softer if you would prefer, is included with all lunches and dinners)
  • All land travel in Italy in private, air-conditioned mini-coach
  • Entry fees to all attractions listed in the itinerary
  • Expert, local guides at key attractions
  • All gratuities and local taxes
  • 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


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 collect you Brindisi airport or you are able to arrive in Lecce on the fast train from Rome. We meet in the evening for aperitivi and welcome dinner.
Overnight: Lecce (D)

Day 2: Exploring 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 (B)

Day 3: Pasticciotto in Galatina, lunch in Gallipoli and Otranto by the sea

On our third day we head out to the small town of Galatina, which is 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.
For 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.
We’ll spend the afternoon at Otranto, a small fortified town completely surrounded by medieval walls overlooking water so clear that you can see to the bottom.  We’ll 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 very old, dating from the twelfth century, and was made by a monk called Pantaleone.
Overnight: Lecce (B,L)

Day 4: An introduction to Pugliese wine and our Masseria

On day four we depart Lecce and drive first to Masseria Li Veli, one of the top producers of wine in the Salento area. We have an exclusive guided tour of the winery, before sitting down to a relaxing lunch and to try the wines.
Well fortified, we move on to our fabulous masseria accommodation in the Valle d’Itria. Masserias are common in this area, and best described as fortified farmhouses once owned and occupied by wealthy barons-farmers. We are based in this very comfortable accommodation for the next four nights. Dinner at the Masseria.
Overnight: Valle d’Itria (B,L,D)

Day 5: Olives, Ostuni & Aperitivo in Martina Franca

Our first stop is at an olive farm, where you will see how olive oil has been cultivated over the centuries and it’s ancient olive presses.
Our next stop, just down the road is Ostuni. This architectural jewel is known as the ‘white city’. As we approach you’ll notice the town from afar because all the buildings are painted white and it absolutely gleams in the sunlight.
We return to our masseria for some free time in the afternoon, before venturing into Martina Franca in the late afternoon. We’ll enjoy the piazza, appreciate the elegant Baroque architecture and wander around its picturesque streets.  We’ll stay in town for dinner.
Overnight: Valle d’Itria (B,D)

Day 6: Alberobello & Locorotondo

This morning we visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello. This town has been listed because of its high concentration of over 400 trulli. Make sure your cameras fully charged for this ridiculously pretty town!
We head on to Locorotondo in the afternoon, another pretty town in the area where you will have some free time to explore the town. delightfully pretty town!
Overnight: Valle d’Itria (B)

Day 7: A Working Farm, Taranto & the MARTA Museum

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 Taranto, first colonised by the Greeks who arrived in 700 BC, and the location of one of the highlights of our visit to this area:  the MARTA museum. Luca compares the collection and curation of this museum with the British Museum in London. The collection is of extremely high quality, partly because much of it was hidden underground and only rediscovered with the arrival of modern plumbing. Surprised workmen unearthed a cemetery laden with riches including gold jewellery, precious jewels, mosaics and a hoard of Greek and Roman artefacts. It is beautifully displayed with extensive, well written explanations in English.
Dinner back at the Masseria.
Overnight: Valle d’Itria (B,D)

Day 8: Bari

Today we pack up and leave our masseria and head towards the region’s capital city, Bari. We will spend most of the day 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, 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 (B)

Day 9: 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. We’ll take a wander through the town together in the morning so you can get your bearings and then the rest of the day will be free time to relax and enjoy the town. 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 (B,)

Day 10: Matera

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 ancient 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 business, hotels and bars there. To see this area properly we’ll be dedicating the entire day to our visit with a local guide.
Overnight: Polignano a Mare (B,L)

Day 11: An Emperors Castle & on to the Gargano Peninsula

We drive on to our final destination today, Mattinata on the especially beautiful Gargano Peninsula.
First however we stop at Castel del Monte, ‘a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture’ and the third UNESCO World Heritage site that we visit on this tour. Castel del Monte is located on a gentle hill that overlooks the surrounding flatlands. It comprises a13th century citadel and castle built by Emperor Frederic II. Many people describe it as ‘a copybook castle’ because of its pleasing octagonal design, and perfect symmetry.
Our accommodation in Mattinata, which means ‘morning’, is in self contained apartments with stunning views along the blue coastline from their balconies. While the area is a huge drawcard for Italians seeking sun and sea in summer, inland it remains a big agricultural area where they grow oranges, grapes, olives and a type of dairy cattle particular to the area.
Overnight: Mattinata (B,L)

Day 12: A Pilgrim’s church, the Foresta Umbra and lunch at a Trabucco

This morning we drive up to Monte Sant’Angelo, a pilgrim destination where the faithful came to visit the sanctuary of St Michael Archangel, built in 13th century by Charles I of Anjou, and now a World Heritage site.
We drive through the Parco Nazionale del Gargano to the Foresta Umbra (the Shady Forest). The road takes us through brilliant green forests to a lovely tableland and then we take a short stroll through the forest.
Last stop for the day is at a trabucco, an old fishing station, where we will enjoy lunch.
Overnight: Mattinata (B, L)

Day 13: The Gargano Coast

This morning we climb aboard our private 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 for swimming in the dazzling blue sea of the Adriatic before we return to Mattinata for an afternoon at leisure and our farewell dinner.
Overnight: Mattinata (B, D)

Day 14: Farewells

On the last day of the tour we provide a transfer back to Bari for your departure by air or train. There are two transfers, the first timed to arrive at 10am, the second at 12pm.


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Single supplement (is available if required)
Optional excursions/sightseeing
City Tax: some City Councils may introduce a tourist tax that has to be paid directly at the hotel
Meals and beverages other than those specified
Everything which is not clearly specified under inclusions

* Please note, price is subject to fluctuation and availability is subject to change until booked and confirmed *