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Puglia, Italy

“The Heel of the Boot”
Puglia (also known as Apulia) is known for its sun-bleached landscapes, silver olive groves, picturesque seascapes, memorable hilltop 
villages and coastal towns.
This unique region is skirted by an endless coastline dotted with castles and watchtowers, reflective of its history of conquering invaders: Normans, Spanish, Turks and Greeks. Despite its diverse influences over the centuries, Puglia has its own distinct identity with ancient customs and local traditions. In the many small villages and large cities alike, architectural wonders from different periods and faiths are everywhere, many displaying the intricate works of a variety of artists.

As for cuisine, Puglia's cucina povera (peasant cooking) is legendary. We will visit a winery, cheese producer, olive mill and bakery to learn about and taste the local products. 

We will stay 3 nights in Lecce in the south, 3 nights in the town of Ostuni, 3 nights in Puglia’s capital Bari, 2 nights in the mountain village of Monte Sant’Angelo and 2 nights in the coastal town of Barletta. 

 * Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tour Highlights: :

     • Beautiful Baroque Lecce ("Florence of the South")
     • The stunning white-washed town of Ostuni
     • Grotte di Castellana’s beautiful limestone caves  with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites
     • The port town of Monopoli
     • The elegant city of Martina Franca
     • The energetic modern city of Bari
     • Trani - the “Pearl of Puglia”   
     • Matera (UNESCO) - ancient cave town built into stone
     • The ancient fishing town of Polignano a Mare   sitting atop limestone cliffs
     • The unique 13th century Castel Del Monte (UNESCO)
     • The breath-taking Gargano Pennisula (the “spur” on the heel of Italy’s “boot”)
     • The enchanting town of Alberobello (UNESCO), unique for the Trulli houses - fairytale limestone dwellings with distinctive conical roofs 

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for Puglia (Brindisi) with a change of planes in Rome.
Upon arrival in Brindisi we transfer to our hotel in Lecce for a 3-night stay. This evening is our Welcome Dinner.
Today we enjoy a walking tour of historic Lecce. We will see Santa Croce, Church of the Rosary and Palazzo Celestine. Later we visit a farm in Galatina to sample some of the region`s finest local wine and enjoy a light lunch.
This wonderfully scenic day begins at the port town of Otranto, known for its historic center and beautiful sea views. We visit the Cathedral with its Chapel of 800 Martyrs, the crypt and one of the largest mosaics in the world. We finish at Santa Maria di Leuca at the southern tip of Puglia for views of where the Ionian and Adriatic seas meet.
We visit Cisternino to see an old olive mill, then proceed to the “White City” of Ostuni perched on a hill overlooking acres of olive groves that roll out toward the sea. We will see the old center with its Gothic Roman Cathedral before checking in to our hotel in this region for a 3-night stay.
We first visit the Castellana Grotto (cave) with its unique stalactites and stalagmites. We then continue to the town of Alberobello to see the famous UNESCO Trulli Village - a symbol of Puglia. There will be a tour of one these unique dwellings followed by some free time to wander in the village.
Today we discover Martina Franca - a lovely baroque town with palaces and beautifully decorated churches. Our visit will be followed by a special lunch featuring regional products and local hospitality.
This morning we visit the archeological area of Egnazia - once an important Roman town along the Appian Way, then proceed to medieval Monopoli, stretching along a jagged coastline and steeped in history and tradition. The town has fortifications of walls and castles, churches and a magnificent baroque Cathedral. Next is the seaside city of Polignano a Mare, known for its picturesque balconies and also the birthplace of singer Domenico Modugno, who sang the universally known song "Volare". We continue to Bari for a 3-night stay.
Today we discover the city of Bari. Although modern in many aspects it maintains its historic center with the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, the Cathedral and the Norman-Swabian Castle. After a walking tour there will be a free afternoon to explore the waterfront, historic buildings, many shops and cafes.
Today we visit the magnificent UNESCO city of Matera, starting with the upper part of the Civita dominated by the spectacular Romanesque Cathedral, and then visit the lower section and the Barisan Sasso. Later we’ll stop in Altamura - a charming town with a well-known 13th century cathedral, to visit a traditional bakery before returning to Bari.
We travel along the coast to the sophisticated seaside town of Trani, known as the “Pearl of Puglia”.
We explore the Gargano promontory that sticks out into the Adriatic Sea (the "spur" on the Italian "boot"), passing picture-book seaside villages and breathtaking scenery of blue waters and unique cliffs. Later we’ll enjoy a boat cruise for even more spectacular views (weather permitting).
We first visit one of the oldest churches in Christianity in Monte Sant’Angelo, and then proceed to the coastal town of Barletta where we will see the 11th century fortress, the Cathedral and Cellar of the Challenge. Barletta will be our home for the final two nights of the tour.
Today we visit the UNESCO site of Castel del Monte - a 13th-century citadel and castle of unique octagonal construction. We then learn of cheese production in the Andria region, famous for the soft mozzarella, ricotta and burrata cheeses. This evening is our Farewell Dinner.
It’s arrivederci to Puglia as we transfer to Bari for our flight home via Rome.
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