Fly to Bari; transfer to Alberobello, home to 1500 Trulli (conical roofed houses) that have made its historical centre a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The origin of these funny-looking stone dwellings is obscure. However, local farmers claim they were originally built in an effort to evade taxes. When the tax inspectors were in the area, the dry stone walls could easily be dismantled by simply removing the key stone above the door and quickly rebuilt after the inspection.
Our destination today is Locorotondo. Sitting on the top of a hill, it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Following narrow country lanes, we walk over the rolling hills of the idyllic Itria Valley, dotted with olive trees, vineyards and trulli. This area is also famous for its lovely wine and we have the opportunity to visit one of the wineries to sample some wine and local produce. Transfer to the 'white town' of Ostuni. (12km, approx. 5hrs walking, +150m -150m)
Today is free to discover the white city of Ostuni, famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses. Alternatively, take a trip to the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce, known as the 'Florence of the South', home to over 40 churches, countless palaces, as well as a Roman ampitheatre and theatre. Lecce is a 1-hour train journey away from Ostuni. Or, for those who are looking for something a bit different, your leader can advise on cooking classes in the area.
In the morning we explore the beautiful countryside walking through ancient olive groves and vineyards overlooking the Adriatic coast. We have lunch in a typical 'Masseria'. Afternoon visit to the Archaeological Park of Santa Maria D'Agnano and overnight stay at the Masseria - a renovated farmhouse typical of the Apulian region. (9km, approx. 4hrs walking, +100 -100)
Morning walk from the Masseria to the coast, where we have time to relax on a beach or swim in the mild waters of the Adriatic sea (depending on the season). After lunch, we make our way to Matera by private bus. Our hotel is located in the heart of the Sassi district, a UNESCO World-Heritage Site since 1993. (12km, approx. 4hrs walking)
In the morning we take a public bus to the hilltop village of Montescaglioso, developed around the Benedictine Abbey of San Michele and offering fantastic views over the Matera Gravina, a 200m-deep canyon. From Montescaglioso we make our way towards Matera. Following the canyon rim trail, we explore rock churches, abandoned Neolithic villages and caves, where hawks, buzzards and kites nest. Overnight in Matera. (13km, approx. 6hrs walking, +290 -370)
Today we explore Matera's Rock Churches Park, a vast protected area home to over 150 rupestrian churches dating back to the VIII century, once inhabited by hermits and adorned with coloured Byzantine frescoes. In the afternoon we enjoy a guided visit of Matera's Sassi district, rock-hewn houses inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993. The guided visit is followed by a local produce tasting. Overnight in Matera. (8km, approx. 4hrs walking, 150m -150m)
Transfer to Bari Airport; fly to London.