Puglia: Discover the Heel of Italy

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8 days
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$1,785 USD
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Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 10 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
ADE
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–18

A journey through the enchanting heel of Italy

Puglia, known for its whitewashed hill towns, traditional farmland, fine cuisine and sweeping Mediterranean coastline, is Italy’s southern heel and, until recently, its best kept secret. With a focus on art, architecture, traditions and local cuisine, this trip explores the region’s highlights. From Baroque Lecce, known as the ‘Florence of the South’, we travel to the elegant white city of Ostuni and on to the mediaeval coastal town of Otranto, where winding narrow streets conceal perfect Baroque churches. Matera is also visited, a UNESCO listed town carved into bare limestone rock, where centuries-old caves are still inhabited.

Highlights

  • Baroque Lecce and cristal-clear sea in Salento
  • Stay in authentic 'Trulli' houses in Alberobello
  • Enjoy a fun cookery class and wine tasting
  • Visit the unique UNESCO town of Matera

Key information

  • 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels with en suite facilities
  • 8 days land only / 8 days flight inclusive
  • Group normally 6-18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private minibus 

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner/cookery class and 1 wine tasting
  • All accommodation
  • London flights (if booking incl. flights)
  • Airport transfers for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation 
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Lecce
to
Matera
  • Day 1

    Start Lecce.

    Our tour starts in Lecce, the Baroque masterpiece of southern Italy located in the heart of Puglia. Sometimes described as the 'Florence of the South', the city is a real architectonic gem boasting sumptuous palazzi and churches.
    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Transfer to Otranto; visit the historic centre; afternoon optional coastal walk or relax at the beach (seasonal); back to Lecce.

    Our week starts with a transfer to pretty Otranto, the easternmost town in Italy. The day will be spent exploring the town’s mediaeval centre and its pretty architecture, views, sea-front restaurants and white sandy beaches which make it one of Puglia's most interesting and picturesque towns. We will also visit the delightful Romanesque cathedral, dating back to 1088 and boasting extensive 12th century floor mosaics. After lunch we have the opportunity to join our tour leader for an optional gentle coastal walk following the Salento picturesque coves and creeks (approx. 3hrs walking, 8 km). Those who prefer not to take part in this activity may decide to continue exploring the town at their own pace, or perhaps to relax in one Otranto’s beaches, famous for the picture-perfect clear water (seasonal). Late afternoon transfer back to Lecce.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Morning guided tour of baroque Lecce; afternoon private transfer to Ostuni. Visit a masseria for an interesting olive oil tasting; free time in Ostuni.

    In the morning we enjoy a guided visit of Lecce, arguably one of the best and most distinctive Baroque cities in Europe. Most of the buildings here are built in the soft local stone, with pretty decorations and cherubs covering facades and doorways. During our walking tour we will have time to admire several architectonic gems, including the top Baroque monument in town: the extravagant Basilica di Santa Croce, ornamented with strange beasts and allegories. Lecce is also famous for a centenary tradition of papier-mâché (chewed paper) and we will have the opportunity to visit a local laboratory during our tour. Early afternoon we transfer by private minibus to the charming hilltop town of Ostuni, famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses. Before reaching the town we will make a stop in a traditional masseria and visit the ancient underground oil mill. The interesting tour will end with an olive oil tasting! Once in Ostuni, there will be some free time to get lost in the maze of picturesque staircases, alleys, arches and perhaps enjoy some shopping in the local artisanal boutiques. Overnight in Ostuni.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Easy walk in the Ostuni countryside overlooking the Adriatic coast; visit the archaeological park of Agnano; pasta-making class in Ostuni.

    Today will be spent exploring the beautiful countryside around Ostuni, walking through ancient olive groves and vineyards overlooking the Adriatic coast. Along the route we stop for a visit at the archaeological park of S. M. Agnano, where past excavations have brought to the impressive discovery of fossils dating back to the Paleolithic. Before returning to Ostuni, there will be some time to relax and try some local organic produce at a traditional ‘masseria’, a typical Apullian converted farmhouse located in a picturesque and tranquil rural setting. Back in Ostuni, we join a fantastic pasta making class followed by a group dinner in a local trattoria. Overnight in Ostuni.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Visit to the Castellana caves; on to Alberobello, known for its dry stone dwellings also known as 'Trulli'. Wine tasting and overnight in a traditional trullo.

    After breakfast we leave Ostuni and transfer to the Castellana Caves, Italy’s most important and biggest cave system. Located at the entrance of the Itria Valley, these caves began to form about 90 million years ago. The tour will take us to more 60 meters depth and will allow us to explore an amazing scenario made of stalactites, stalagmites, concretions, incredible shapes, fossils and canyons. In the afternoon we take another private transfer to Alberobello, home to the famous Trulli (peculiar conical roofed houses) that have made its historical centre a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a stroll in the picture-perfect colourful alleys we visit a local winery where we enjoy a wine tasting. We spend the next two nights in traditional converted Trulli houses in the historic centre of the town.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Free day. Visit Polignano a Mare or Monopoli by the Adriatic Sea or enjoy optional activities in Alberobello.

    Today is free to choose amongst the several activities and excursions available in the area. 

  • Day 7

    Full day sightseeing in Matera, including a tour of the UNESCO "Sassi" district; overnight in Matera.

    We conclude our week with a full day in one the most interesting, distinctive and memorable tourist destinations in Italy: Matera. Nestled on a hill, overlooking an impressive canyon in the neighbouring region of Basilicata, Matera has only recently gained the deserved spotlight. In 1993 the town was made a UNESCO World Heritage site, for being the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, all carved in bare limestone rock. Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide, we walk through the town’s famous cave-dwelling districts and learn of the history of this fascinating place. In the afternoon we have time to discover the city at our own pace and visit the world-famous rupestrian churches. Overnight in Matera.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Matera.

    The tour ends in Matera in the morning of day 8.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Combine this trip with

Essential Info

Visas

Italy

No visa required for British passport holders.
Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.

Vaccinations

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner/cookery class and 1 wine tasting included.

In Puglia you will find genuine regional cooking that has strong links to the land and the sea. To give you just a small list of the types of food on offer in Puglia: Bread from the Murge, durum wheat pasta, olives, the pasta delicacy Orecchiette served with a sauce of turnip-tops or fresh tomato and sheep's ricotta-cheese, Cavatelli with pulses, aubergine and parmesan bake, grilled fish and seafood, burrata (soft mozzarella and cream cheese), plus excellent wines. This region is a food lovers paradise and the aboundance of delicious vegetables makes it a perfect destination for vegetarians! On this trip there will be many opportunities to taste the best local specialities, in particular during the produce and wine tasting, cookery class and the traditional lunch included in the itinerary.

Weather

The Puglia region of Southern Italy enjoys a wonderful Mediterranean climate with all year round sunshine and just enough rainfall to ensure that the green is never too far off. Although Puglia covers a large area it is long and narrow - not more than 30km across. This means that you're never far from the sea which has a moderating effect on the weather. Please note that Puglia can be very hot, reaching high 30s in the summer.

Is this trip for you?

Grade: 1 (Leisurely) This is a relaxing week where you can enjoy some real Italian hospitality and sightseeing on foot in the best towns and areas of Puglia. All the transfers will be by private air conditioned vehicle or train. This trip also includes two gentle walks (max. 3hrs walking each), on flat terrain. The walking isn't too strenuous and it is entirely optional, should you prefer not to join the excursions. Be prepared for climbing a lot of steps, sometimes uneven, in Matera and Ostuni during the sightseeing. Please note that Puglia can be very hot, reaching high 30s in the summer. The overall Activity Level for this trip is 1 (Leisurely) meaning that it is suitable for all people who are in good health and fitness.

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Trulli houses

All hotels on this trip have been specially selected for their location, character and comfort. We mostly stay in renovated traditional buildings which give a real taste of the typical Apulian architecture. We spend 2 nights in a comfortable and modern hotel located in proximity of Lecce’s historic centre, 2 nights in a traditional 4-star hotel in Ostuni, two nights in authentic Trulli houses (dry stone dwellings) in Alberobello and a final night in a comfortable 3-star hotel in Matera's historic centre.

List of hotels normally used:

3-star Eos Hotel, Lecce 

4-star Hotel La Terra or Sant Eligio Relais, Ostuni  

Trulli houses, Alberobello http://www.trulliepuglia.com/

3-star Hotel Sassi, Matera (in Junior suites from 2018 only)

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Italian bruschetta

Italy’s reputation as paradise for food connoisseurs is not only well known, but well deserved.

  • Reviewed September 2017
    Chandra Kant Sharma

    Trullis, Olive trees and Negative Architecture

    Very good exposure to the cave dwellings, trullis and olive groves in the Puglia region. Marinella was an excellent guide who provided us with the background and context in a clear and simple manner. She also took care to introduce us to the variety of foods available in the region - which we may have missed out on if this care was not taken.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    "Inspirational" is a difficult word! I greatly enjoyed seeing the trullis in Alberobella, the ancient olive groves and the very nice towns and villages we passed through.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent knowledge and communication ability. Very patient and accommodating. She arranged for us to eat excellent dinners though some of these were more expensive than I would have planned for. I suggest that she should advise participants about the options available for dinner before proceeding to make bookings on her own.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    a) August is very hot! and the tour in this month should be avoided, if possible. b) The distance from Matera station to the hotel is significant and your suitcase will need to be carried most of the way - so travel light! c) Fresh orange juice is widely available and can be an inexpensive and refreshing pick-me-up.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Derek Mitchell

    Discover the Heel of Italy

    A pleasant and rewarding few days in one of the lesser-visited parts of Italy. Gentle visits to picturesque towns and villages taking in the cuisine and culture were ideal for a group of 11 ranging in age from about 40 into the mid 70s. Travelling in May avoided the blistering heat which followed throughout the summer. There was plenty of free time in which the group could do their own thing. Accommodation was excellent throughout, particularly the Trulli of Alberobello, and caves of Matera.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I'm unable to pinpoint a "moment". I thought the whole week was inspirational. But if I'm forced on pain of death, then sitting by the roadside in Alberobello licking ice-cream made me appreciate life after serious health issues.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marcella was lovely. Very knowledgeable, chatty and welcoming. Excellent command of English. Catered to people's individual tastes. On the free day in Alberobello everyone went elsewhere. But I wanted to savour this Unesco World Heritage town, so I stayed put. I have an urge to swim everywhere I visit and Marcella pointed me in the direction of a hotel where I could use their pool for 5 Euros. The staff were lovely and didn't ask for anything.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although a solo traveller I thought this trip and the region of Puglia and Basilicata would be ideal for young families. There is the usual tacky souvenir stuff but I found locals friendly and helpful, particular in local restaurants. No pestering anywhere from touts. The Peroni beer is outstanding, particularly the Tradizione (red label) and the Gran Riserva (quite strong at 6.6%) which is difficult to find in this country (Scotland).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Try and visit before we end up out of the EU. The pound seems to losing its value quicker than expected.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Roslyn Pyrke

    Pleasure in Pulglia

    Exceptional. This is the first time that we have used this company and we found the experience wonderful. The group size was perfect, great itinerary, activities better than expected, all enhanced by the enthusiastic group leader as well as the local guides.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Matera is an exceptional place. The story behind the sassi with their troglodyte dwellings and the subsequent displacement of the inhabitants was fascinating. We were lucky also to experience the Festa della Bruna.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was fantastic. As an experienced small group traveler I have had many different leaders. I can say without doubt our leader was better than of all previous ones.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Puglia was hot. I would advise travelers planning to go there in July to be prepared for this possibility.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A beautiful region with wonderful food, wine and olive oil. Also the swimming was great.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Darryl Pyrke

    Puglia: Discover the Heel of Italy - ADE (20)

    We had a wonderful week in a part of Italy that was new to us.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We have done eleven previous group trips with companies like Intrepid and Explore and Marinella was way better than any previous leader. Whether it's through local knowledge or willingness to do lots of preparation I don't know, but we were inspired by the way Marinella was able to make places come alive when she introduced us to them.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marinella was a wonderful leader - full of enthusiasm, patience, good humour and energy. Her goal was to ensure that every guest had the best possible time. She mixed easily and confidently with all guests and always helped out if there was a problem.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you find extreme heat difficult, travel before June.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Temperatures were in the mid to high 30s, which is much hotter than we are used to. These temperatures are foreshadowed on the Exodus website and they're OK as long as the accommodation has fully functioning air conditioning. Air con was fine in Lecce, Ostuni and Matera, but poor at Alberobello where we had hot nights and not much sleep.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Mary Mellor

    Discover the heel of Puglia

    The holiday was most enjoyable and we were escorted by Marinella in a friendly and efficient way. The hotels we stayed in were comfortable, and some uniquely interesting.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was very excited to see Alberobello, which I had long wanted to visit. And Matera was a great revelation - I knew nothing of its history, and found it fascinating

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marinella was friendly, energetic and charming, and full of interesting information. She found some lovely places for us to eat at. She was concerned for and interested in everyone in the partyExpect

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you go in July, leave your woollies well behind. It was EXTREMELY hot when we were there.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You will feel well looked after by Exodus.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Shelagh Jamieson

    A relaxing and enjoyable trip

    This was a nice close up look at the heel of Italy. Lots of historic context alongside regional cuisine, great local wines, and beautiful countryside. We had a great group of 11 like-minded travellers and had a lot of fun.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trying out the local cuisine was a highlight, especially all the amazing appetizers.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marcella was great! She spent time with us even when she didn't have to and always made sure we were taken care of.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring good walking shoes. The walks are longer and a bit more challenging than they sound in the trip description, and take place in the heat of the day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Suggest you change the physical activity rating from one star to two. I would have liked to learn more about the flora of the region.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Suzanne Rose

    Puglia: Discover the heel of Italy

    We would definitely recommend this holiday; the choice of hotels was superb. There was such a wide variety of things to see and the area is very beautiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Spending time in Matera was a real highlight and also travelling on the local train to Lecce through the olive groves.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marinella was an exceptional guide; nothing was too much trouble and she was very knowledgable about the area and interesting to listen to. We appreciated the effort she made to find good local places for the group to eat together in the evening, and accompanying us, which made a lot of difference to our holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the pavements were polished cobbles so a shoe with a good grip is essential. There were quite a lot of hills and steps to negotiate.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were no early morning starts so in that sense it was leisurely, but we were on our feet most of the day so in our view we would classify this holiday as leisurely/moderate.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Rachel Nockels

    Puglia

    An interesting introduction to a region of Italy often overlooked. There was so much to see and do, plus staying in a trulli house in Alberobello was an amazing experience. The food was superb and the wine amazing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many, visit olive trees thousands of years old. The caverns, each cave better than the last. Staying in a trulli.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Giuseppe was very passionate about showing us his part of Italy, from introducing us to amazing food and wines made from local products, to showing us beautiful little towns.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Food is a little more expensive than the trip notes suggest. Double the recommendations as there is so much amazing food and wine to trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    On our free day we went to Martina Franca and Locorotondo, these were beautiful towns well worth a visit
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Jennifer Stevenson

    Puglia

    An interesting and vey varied trip. Sara our group leader was delightful and efficient. It was a busy itinerary, very enjoyable, maybe not quite as leisurely as one may have thought it would be.!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult,. The caverns were amazing, the olive producers ancient olive grove also. 2000 year old trees reminds one of how fragile and small we are.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara was lovely, good fun and efficient

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Look upon the trip as slightly more full on than possibily required, but vey enjoyable nonetheless
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Elaine Hobson

    I fell in love with Italy

    An excellent trip. The pace of the trip is perfect. A week flew by and we felt we had been all over the Puglia region. So much to do and see in such a short space of time and yet we managed to relax and get some free time in too. The food was outstanding, the wine was delightful, the people were a pleasure to be around. Every stage of the trip was enjoyable and slightly different.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole trip was perfect but if I were to pick a section that stood out, I would say Aberobella. To stay in a Trulli house was such a wonderful experience - not at all what I was expecting. The cookery lesson was more of a demonstration (although we did get to try make some pasta) but it was thoroughly enjoyable and the meal at the end was the best meal of the holiday.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Salvatore' was an excellent leader. He was knowledgeable, professional and caring. His English is perfect and he has a personable way about him that makes him a pleasure to listen to. Nothing was too much trouble, he didn't once look irritated (particularly by eight women who were always looking for the next loo stop!). His choice of restaurants and eating places was superb. Once you know you're in good hands it is so easy to switch off and chill out.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't hesitate - just book it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If I were to change anything about this trip it would be to add an overnight stay in Otranto. We had a lot of time in Lecce and if anything were to give I would forego some time there. The specialist guides in Lecce and in Matera were first class !

Dates & Prices

 

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Call us on 1 844 227 9087