Puglia: Discover the Heel of Italy

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£1,269
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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 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 and local train

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

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

    Fly to Bari; transfer to Lecce.

    Fly to Bari and transfer to 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. 

  • 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 train 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

    Transfer to Bari; fly to London.

    Transfer to Bari and fly to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast

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. 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.

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

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed July 2017
    Roslyn Pyrke
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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