Fantasia Essences Of Puglia

ITINERARY

9 Days: Bari, Trani, Castel del Monte, Alberobello, Matera, Locorotondo, Ostuni, Otranto, Lecce, Gallipoli, Martina Franca, Polignano a Mare, Bari

Day 1 – Bari
Arrive Bari, the capital of Puglia, Transfer to your hotel. Meet your tour guide at the hotel and off you go on a tour to discover the beauties of Bari. In the afternoon you’ll reach its historical center, known as “Bari Vecchia”, and learn interesting information about Bari’s past as well as the history of its main monuments. Walk down little alleys and find yourself in tiny little squares inside the walls, until you reach the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Nicholas, that contains the relics of Saint Nicholas, and the Castello Svevo (or Swabian Castle) built in the XII century by Norman King Roger II and later restored by Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire. From inside the castle one can enjoy a beautiful view (entrances not included). After the visit, Piazza Mercantile is worth a visit: the Colonna della giustizia (or Column of justice) stands out right in the middle. It is thought to have been used as a pillory. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight is in Bari. (D)

Day 2 – Bari – Trani – Castel del Monte – Alberobello
After breakfast, you will head to Trani. Known as “Perla di Puglia” (or the pearl of Puglia), Trani is a medieval town located 53 kilometers (that’s 33 miles) south of Bari. Its Jewish district and the majestic Cathedral will be yours to admire. The latter was built using a local stone, a calcareous tuff characterised by its colour, an extremely light almost-white pink. In the afternoon, the next monument will be Castel Del Monte, the most amazing castle built by Frederick II. It is protected as a World Heritage Site. Its geometric design is unique: it is an octagonal prism with an octagonal tower at each corner. Many mysteries are still unresolved, including the real purpose of the castle. After Castel del Monte, Alberobello is the next stop, the “città dei Trulli”, also protected as a World Heritage Site. Trulli are dry stone huts with a conical roof originally built for storage purposes. They were also permanent dwellings and are called casedde by locals (or little houses). Alberobello is a gem, a true fairy tale place in the heart of Puglia. You will spend the night in a dream hotel, an “albergo diffuso” (one of the network of scattered hotels), and get the chance to sleep in a trullo. Dinner is included. Overnight is in Alberobello. (BD)

Day 3 – Bari – Trani – Castel del Monte – Alberobello
After breakfast, a bus will be waiting in a parking lot adjacent to the hotel (200 meters from the Trulli). It will take you to Basilicata, a border region. Welcome to Matera, its capital, “la città dei sassi” (literally the city of the stones), Italy’s own version of Cappadocia in the south of Italy. European Capital of Culture 2019, Matera is a UNESCO Heritage site. Take your time to admire the sassi from different perspectives and overlooks. These cave dwellings inhabited since the Paleolithic period make for the monumental historical center and are connected by a maze of quaint little alleys, which will make you feel like you are catapulted in a real-life nativity scene. The sassi are visually reminiscent of ancient sites near Jerusalem, and so they were a setting to many Christian-themed films, including The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964), The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004), and Ben-Hur (Timur Bekmambetov, 2016). A visit to Matera Cathedral is a must. You will return to Alberobello in the evening. Dinner and overnight are in the trullo in Alberobello. (BD)

Day 4 – Alberobello – Locorotondo – Ostuni – Lecce
After breakfast, a bus will be waiting in a parking lot adjacent to the hotel (200 meters from the Trulli). It will take you to Locorotondo. This picturesque town is one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (most beautiful hamlets of Italy). Locorotondo comes from the Latin phrase “locus-rotundus”, meaning circular place, for its round shape. Afterwards, you’ll reach Ostuni, the “città bianca” (or white city), another true gem 74 kilometers (46 miles) south of Bari located on the summit of a hill. It was built by the Normans and has city walls with four gates (remains of them can be seen).The region is a producer of top quality olive oil and wine. You will have plenty of leisure time to go around the historical center, eat typical delicacies, shop for food or souvenirs or simply get lost in the old medieval streets. In the evening, you will move to Lecce, the heart of the Salento area. Dinner and overnight are in Lecce. (BD)

Day 5 – Lecce – Otranto – Dinner at “Masseria le Stanzie – Lecce
After breakfast, you will take advantage of a guided tour of Lecce with a professional guide. For its artistic and cultural buzz, Lecce is known as “southern Florence”. Its underlying trait is though the baroque style of its buildings. A number of religious and secular monuments will be yours to take in at your leisure. For lunch, move to Otranto, just a 30 minute drive from Lecce. Along many centuries, Otranto was dominated by the Greeks, the Romans and the Turks, and traces of this melting pot of cultures can still be gazed in awe. Don’t miss out on the Cathedral that keeps the bones of 813 martyrs in a shrine behind the main altar. Its floors are mosaics that rival those found in Ravenna’s main churches. To end the day in the best of ways, you will have dinner in Supersano (near Lecce) at “Masseria le Stanzie”, a typical salentine masseria (or large farm). You will visit the hacienda (some medieval graves belong to the property) and learn some of Puglia’s gastronomy history, too. You will be told how traditional home-made pasta is prepared from scratch. Eventually, you will have dinner and taste some local products. Overnight is in Lecce. (BD)

Day 6 – Lecce – Gallipoli – Lecce
Day 6 is dedicated to Gallipoli, one of the most touristic and cosmopolitan destinations in the Salento. Gallipoli has Greek origins and is now a summer location preferred by young people who are attracted by its nightlife as well as beautiful wild beaches whose dunes and pine tree parks are paradise! You will have free time to discover the center of Gallipoli, the walls, and the port that shelters amazing yachts. In the afternoon, you will return to Lecce and still have time to enjoy the evening. Overnight is in Lecce. (B)

Day 7 – Lecce – Martina Franca – Lunch at Masseria Zona Fasano – Bari
After breakfast, we’ll head back to Bari driving through the “Murge plateau” with unique landscape. You’ll get to see Martina Franca, an elegant Baroque village full of churches, noble buildings, and squares perfect for a stage setting. The urban focal point is Piazza Plebiscito, the Cathedral, the Ducal Palace and the Torre dell’Orologio. Free time here. We’ll continue driving in the Valle d’ Itria, a rural area full of olive trees and vineyards. You’ll enjoy lunch in a masseria where food and excellent extra virgin olive oil are produced from organic farming. A tasting of those products is included. In the afternoon, there will be some free time and then a short drive will take you to Bari. Overnight is in Puglia.(BL)

Day 8 – Bari – Polignano – Monopoli – Bari
After breakfast, we’ll set off to two of the most prominent coastal places of Puglia: Monopoli and Polignano a Mare. We’ll start from Monopoli, a fortified citadel overlooking the sea. Getting lost in the intricate little streets of Monopoli is an almost mystical experience. From its port, just like a number of other Apulian ports, the crusaders left Puglia in the Middle Ages to reach the Holy Land and free it from the Muslims. A rich commerce with Constantinople flourished and this is why a marked oriental atmosphere can be felt here. The second stop is Polignano a Mare, hometown to Domenico Modugno, Italian singer-songwriter who cowrote the world-known song Volare (nel blu, dipinto di blu). Polignano was built on the peak of a cliff, and therefore its coastline is characterized by coves, small bays and inlets. Lama Monachile is one of them, known for its crystal-clear waters and rugged cliffs all around. Free time for some shopping or an aperitivo in the main square. You will return to Bari after the visit. Overnight is in Bari. (B)

Day 9 – Bari
Breakfast is at the hotel. Transfer to airport for your flight back home. (B)

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