Puglia: Discover the Heel of Italy

8 days
from
£1,379
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Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
ADE
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
6–18
Min age:
16

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 Matera, a UNESCO listed town carved into bare limestone rock, where centuries-old caves are still inhabited, we travel to the elegant white city of Ostuni and on to the mediaeval coastal town of Otranto and Baroque Lecce, known as the ‘Florence of the South’. 

Highlights

  • Baroque Lecce and cristal-clear sea in Salento
  • 'Trulli' houses in Alberobello
  • 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 
  • Countries visited: Italy

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch/cookery class, 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
  • Local city taxes (approx. €15)
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
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

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

As much as possible, we try to stay in accommodations that are locally owned or at least employs local staff and uses local produce wherever possible. Our small group size allows us to support smaller hotels and restaurants that do not usually benefit from mass tourism, bringing a positive impact on the overall employment levels and economy in the region.

There are plenty of opportunities for clients to support local enterprise while discovering the heel of Italy. We will have an afternoon tour around an old olive oil mill which concludes with an olive oil tasting. We will also visit a ‘Masseria’, a typical Apulian farm, where we get to try their organically farmed produce. Clients also have the opportunity to learn about traditional recipes through a pasta making class. A visit to the local winery in Alberobello will also be arranged allowing clients to sample wines from the region.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

Matera
to
Lecce
  • Day 1

    Fly to Bari; transfer to Matera.

    Fly to Bari and transfer to Matera, one the most interesting, distinctive and memorable towns in Italy. 

  • Day 2

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

    We start 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.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Drive to Alberobello via the charming fishing town of Polignano a Mare; sightseeing and overnight in traditional 'trullo'.

    In the morning we take a private transfer to Alberobello, stopping en route for a visit to the lovely village of Polignano a Mare, located on the edge of a spectacular craggy ravine. There will be time to stroll along the charming, white-washed streets and enjoy superb views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea and coastline from one of the panoramic terraces. Later, we transfer to the charming town of Alberobello, known for its dry stone dwellings called 'trulli'. Before dinner we will also enjoy a wine tasting at a local winery. Overnight in Alberobello in a traditional 'trullo'.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Free day. Visit the Castellana Caves or Monopoli by the Adriatic Sea.

    Today is free to choose amogst the several activities available locally. You may choose to take a day-trip to the charming fishing village of Monopoli or visit the impressive 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. There is tour that takes you to more 60 meters depth and allows to explore an amazing scenario made of stalactites, stalagmites, concretions, incredible shapes, fossils and canyons. Overnight in Alberobello.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Explore the charming hilltop town of Ostuni; olive oil tasting and pasta-making class in traditional masseria.

    In the morning we take a private transfer to the white city of Ostuni. On the way, we stop and visit an ancient masseria (traditional Apullian farm) where we enjoy some olive oil tasting. For lunch we visit another typical masseria surrounded by olive trees, some of which are more than a thousand years old. Here, we take part in a fun cooking class followed by a delicious lunch. In the afternoon there will be more free time to visit Ostuni. Overnight in Ostuni.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

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

    Today we 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 to Lecce, where we stay overnight.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Morning guided tour of baroque Lecce; afternoon free time.

    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 you have the option to visit a local laboratory at the end of the tour. The rest of the day is free to enjoy some shopping opportunities or visit other famous monuments such as the Roman amphitheatre. Overnight in Lecce.  

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Bari; fly to London.

    Transfer to Bari and fly to London.

    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.

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Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 lunch/cookery class and 1 wine tasting 

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

Is this trip for you?

Grade: 1 (Leisurely) This is a busy 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. This trip also includes one optional coastal walk (max. 3hrs). Although the distances covered  during the sightseeing are not too long, the days can feel busy and you will be 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 This trip is suitable for all people who are in good health and fitness.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
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 3-star hotel in Matera's historic centre, 2 nights in authentic Trulli houses (dry stone dwellings) in Alberobello, 1 night in a 4-star hotel in Ostuni, and 2 nights in a modern hotel located in proximity of Lecce’s historic centre.

List of hotels normally used:

  • Hotel Sassi, Matera 
  • Trulli houses, Alberobello (Trulli e Puglia ,Trulli Holidays or La Corte dell’Astore )
  • Hotel La Terra or Sant Eligio Relais or Hotel Palace, Ostuni  
  • Eos Hotel or Hotel President, Lecce 
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
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

  • Reviewed October 2019
    David Butterworth

    A wonderful area to explore

    Leisurely was the description....a fairly lively leisurely .... great trips, knowledgeable, friendly and helpful leader. Some amazing places to visit and accommodation to stay at - all comfortable and most very different.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Supper with everyone at a farm where we were served with home grown produce, all of which was delicious

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pleasant, friendly, knowledgeable and helpful

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your camera with plenty of memory card space and don't forget the charger/s you'll need
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Jen S

    A taste of a lesser known region of Italy

    This trip gave a flavour of the region of Puglia in more ways than one... Staying in four different locations across the week, we learned about the importance of olives and wine in the region with visits to a an olive grove for olive oil tasting and a factory for wine tasting, and were encouraged to try local specialities by our leader who at group meals ordered a range of typical dishes so that we could try a variety. Although not specifically a food tour, food has to be a major part of any trip to Italy...

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Exploring the alleyways of white-walled hill-town Ostuni as the sun was going down.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The walks (I can't speak for the one from Otranto, which we were unable to do due to bad weather) were fairly flat and easy. The guided town tours are if anything more strenuous as they are longer! (Note, the one around beautiful Matera does involve a few steps and sloping paths, the only way of seeing this town built into the sides of a gorge). Walking trainers or even walking sandals are appropriate for all walks on this trip. My personal advice - take your coffee the way the Italians do, stood at the counter with an espresso cup and a glass of water. It's quick, nice, local, gives you a caffeine boost, gives free access to a toilet, and usually there's cake available too! To nut allergy sufferers - be aware that in this area hazelnut is commonly mixed with chocolate in pastries and desserts. There is a great love of Nutella! Always check before ordering!
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Mike Wells

    Varied tour of a fascinating region

    The region was rewarding and not very touristy. Towns were full of atmosphere. Some enjoyable walks. Hotels were close to centres. Not too much coach travel and enough free time. Warm and friendly guide. But quite a bit of walking so Might be difficult for those even with some mobility problems and not all accommodation great. Free day a bit problematic as limited public transport and a day in arivabello not all that interesting. But guide helped and we went to two nice towns so not insuperable. Local food and wine was good. Recommended but be prepared to walk

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The towns all full of atmosphere and the whole week more than any individual visit was inspirational

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A lovely lady lively and energetic

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t go if you can’t walk easily or want luxury resorts. You might prepare by learning a little Italian as outside hotels English isn’t much spoken though you could get by

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Really good week but for the price some of the hotels a bit basic
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Lynette Zeitz

    Great itinerary but let down by poor accommodation

    The itinerary was very interesting and our tour leader Barbara was great. But the accommodation overall was not good. I wasn’t expecting luxury accommodation but clean and comfortable. However, in every hotel including the 4 star hotel in Ostuni there were problems for various members of the group but the worst was the Sassi accommodation in Matera where I had fresh black mould in my bathroom. Like the other recent reviewer, I found the included dinner very poor. Our group was also supplied with a minivan and bus on two different days that had broken seatbelts. I really would have liked to have rated this trip higher because the sights and experiences were great.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking around Alberobello and Matera

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Barbara was a delight. Knowledgeable, warm and attentive to the different needs of the group.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Lynette for her feedback. Whilst we are pleased that she enjoyed the itinerary and found her tour leader, Barbara, to be great, we are very sorry that she was disappointed with aspects of the accommodation. The properties on this tour are usually in typical Apulian style buildings and generally receive positive feedback, so we regret if members of her group encountered issues. The hotel in Matera is carved from rock, thus reflecting the typical and unique architecture of the town, but the material sometimes causes issues with dampness when it rains and we are sorry that this affected Lynette’s stay. We have followed up the issue regarding the broken seatbelts with our local operator to ensure with the transport supplier that this does not reoccur. Marta Marinelli – Product Manager

  • Reviewed September 2018
    Verity Barnes

    Great tour but disappointing hotels

    I thought the tour was great and enjoyed where we visited and the activities included. I was disappointed with the hotels. Only the hotel in Ostuni was 4 star; and the rest 3 star. This tour cost a lot more than Riviera, Just You or Travelsphere and only Had 2 meals included. I was expecting it to be a cut above the rest for the price paid. The tour was good and the tour manager excellent. Shame it was let down by the choice of accommodation. I also found the places we stayed in to be much too touristy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    When I went on my own to Polignano a Mare for the night.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are fussy about where you stay then don’t book this tour.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Jan Watson

    Wonderful trip in Puglia

    I loved every minute of this very diverse tour. Every day was different and very interesting, our group leader Fabrizio was awesome and the individual group participants were lovely and lots of fun. I would definitely recommend this tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Matera was a highlight - I wish I had arranged for extra days there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Awesome! Very informative and loads of fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Embrace the diversity of this tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Howard Jones

    Outstanding Italy Trip

    Great combination of sightseeing, excursions, walking and activities in Puglia.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trullo hotel in Alberobello was lovely; Matera was fascinating - luxurious cave-dwelling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Barbara was really excellent - efficient, knowledgeable and friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No need for hiking boots, but bring sturdy sensible footwear for the walking. Some rough tracks and cobblestones involved.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Excellent choice of venues for group meals at each end of the trip with a wide selection of local speciality dishes.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Mike Giles

    Been to Italy? Now visit Puglia

    Like many people we meet we did not know Puglia existed until we saw this trip. A gem of a region, very different and so suited to a short leisurely summer trip when time is a constraint to a full-on distant adventure tour for which Exodus is otherwise renowned. Distances travelled are comparatively short so it easy to fit in many of the historic, architectural and geological sights with ease.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The caves at Castellana are pretty impressive and the largest complex we have ever visited. However, a ‘Wow’ moment, after arriving at a fairly grotty end of Matera, was stepping onto the main square viewing platform to overlook the entire “Sassi” in which we were to later stay and explore.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Barbara Schito was our tour leader and guide in all aspects of the trip. As a native of Puglia she was so enthusiastic in her wish to impart her knowledge and love of the region. Her delivery is passionate and charming and so much part of the whole experience

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The food (and wine) of the region is first class and we found it to be reasonably priced having spent only 60% of our budget. As meat-eaters we were very pleased to find ristorante Carnivori in Lecce with choice cuts in the chill cabinet, cooked and served in traditional style before embarking on a week dominated by (very nice) pizzas, pastas and breads.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The weather was exceptionally hot for the time of year, with occasional thunderstorms and it is worth considering these eventualities.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Linda Williams

    Highlights of puglia

    Excellent trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting e olive oil farm

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent could have been more helpful
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Colin Southward

    Very enjoyable

    A great week of cycling in a mix of road, old tracks, villages and town. An opportunity to swim in the Ionian Sea and Adriatic. Great real local food. Usual high standard of the guide and his knowledge of the area

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling with a diverse group in an exceptionalarea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very knowledgeable and good at organizing stops to see the different ares of interest.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do some training before you go. Try the local dishes.

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]

 

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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