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Day 1: Arrival in Apulia
Day 2: Torre Guaceto, cheese tasting and Ostuni
-Our first excursion accesses a very peculiar landscape, as we enter the protected nature reserve through thick bushlands and along fossil dunes
-The tour ends at Torre Guaceto on the shores of a beautiful sea
-Stop at a Masseria to enjoy a break with typical products and learn everything about burrata (locally produced mozzarella cheese)
-In Ostuni, the White Town, we lose ourselves in the picturesque labyrinth of narrow streets and stepped paths
We begin our day with a visit to Torre Guaceto, a WWF protected area, where we will learn all about the plants and animals in the area. We will hike through the thick macchia before passing ancient juniper bushes and fossil dunes. The sound of waves on the shore then greet us and we will stroll along the seashore to Torre Guaceto. The fortifications once protected the inhabitants from attacks from their enemies, the location offering a great view of any potential attackers
Early in the afternoon we stop at a Masseria (typical farmhouse) to enjoy a lunch with local products and learn everything about their locally produced burrata (typical mozzarella cheese).
The afternoon sees another highlight of the tour as we visit Ostuni, the White Town of Puglia. It is a stunning place, dominated by medieval olive groves. Visitors never cease to be amazed by the picturesque labyrinth of narrow streets and stepped paths.
Hiking time: 3 hours
Vertical height difference: 100m
Degree of difficulty: easy
Day 3: Matera and the Gravina Gorge
- Today’s visit is a particular highlight as we visit UNESCO listed Matera, European City of Culture 2019 and fascinating relic of human habitation and culture.
- We enjoy an early morning stroll through the ‘‘sassi“, cave dwellings carved into the rock face over thousands of years and remained in use as homes until as recently as the 1950’s.
- We then undertake a hike through the Gravina gorge: this 200m deep canyon is pockmarked with about 150 mysterious cave churches.
- Our walk through history ends on the opposite side at the Belvedere affording a stunning view on to the old town and the surrounding peaks.
Matera, with its many ’’sassi“ caves carved into the rock face is an astonishing place. These caves which in ancient times would have provided relatively comfortable dwellings, remained in use as homes until as recently as the Second World War. A source of shame in the 1950’s due to the poor living conditions, nowadays Matera is undergoing a resurgence, with sassi being renovated and converted into stylish hotels, boutiques and restaurants. Houses, monasteries, and churches adorn this strange massiv like icing on a cake. It is no wonder then that Matera is on the UNESCO world heritage list. After our guided tour of the town, taking in all the sights, we will take a hike through the Gravina Gorge passing many abandoned caves and around 150 mystical cave churches. Eventually we emerge on the other side and reach the belvedere which sits on top of the opposing hill. This affords us a breathtaking 360 degree panorama of the whole town before we leave to discover the cave churches of Matera with their outstanding collection of cave treasures.
Hiking time: 3 hours
Vertical height difference: 250m
Degree of difficulty: easy to moderate
Day 4: Cookery class in Cisternino and the Trulli of Alberobello
-Urban walk through the narrow streets and alleyways of Cisternino, a wonderful example of baroque style and of oriental “Renaissance”
-At noon we learn how to cook the famous orecchiette (local pasta) and enjoy a light lunch with the prepared dishes
-In the afternoon we take a gentle hike through the glistening olive groves of the Val d’Itria up to Alberobello, the town of the Trulli
In the morning we move to Cisternino, we take the time to stroll through its narrow streets, to appreciate the details of the buildings, which are fine examples of baroque style and oriental “Renaissance”. The village is described as being the result of a spontaneous settlement, “a great masterpiece of architecture without architects.”
A cookery class awaits us. We learn how to cook the famous local pasta called orecchiette, and enjoy a light lunch with the prepared dishes.
In the afternoon we take a gentle hike through the glistening olive groves of the Val d’Itria. Our day ends in Alberobello, yet another UNESCO listed town, which is famed for its iconic ‘’Trulli”. A stroll through this town which is full of these curious circular buildings and pretty plastered streets is particularly attractive and is not to be missed. There are more than 1100 of these white houses with their archetypal conical roofs in the town.
Hiking time: 1.5 hours
Vertical height difference: negligible
Degree of difficulty: easy
Day 5: Baroque Lecce and wine tasting with lunch
Lecce is known as the pearl of the Apulian Baroque: the striking buildings and indisputable beauty of its churches make the city the Florence of the South. We visit the Piazza Oronzo, which forms the heart of the city, and see the remains of the Roman amphitheatre. The Church of Santa Croce and the Cathedral are fine examples of Leccese Baroque. Early in the afternoon we stop at a Masseria (typical farmhouse) to enjoy a tasty lunch of local products and sample the wonderful local wines. We than move to our next hotel in Santa Maria al Bagno.
Day 6: At leisure
Day 7: Otranto and hike along the cliffs
Today we reach the eastern coast of Salento and start with a hike to Capo d‘Otranto, the easternmost point in Italy. En route we make a stop at gorgeous beguiling Lake Bauxite and are sure to be amazed by the striking contrast between the red earth and the naturally green waters of the lake against the backdrop of blue sky. Once we reach the Cape other colours are waiting to entrance us. Turquoise blue waters, more usually seen in the Caribbean, lap onto a fine sandy beach.
We take our lunch break (not included) in Otranto, the pearl of Salento. A visit to Otranto gives us the chance to get an insight into the history of the Mediterranean and admire the terraced gardens which were once described by invading Turks as the Gardens of Eden: the original myth is depicted in the colourful mosaic in the town’s Cathedral.
In the afternoon we still have some time to take a walk along the beautiful coast toward the impressive white cliffs of Sant’Andrea. On our way we will encounter the picturesque and almost Caribbean-like bays which are very inviting for a swim.
Hiking time: 3-4 hours
Difference in altitude: 150 m
Day 8: Departure
4 x nights accommodation with buffet breakfast in Carovigno
3 x nights accommodation with buffet breakfast in Santa Maria al Bagno
1 x welcome drink
7 x extensive evening meals buffet-style
1 x entrance to Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve
1 x tasty break at a Masseria including tasting of burrata cheese
1 x pasta cooking class with light lunch
1 x wine tasting with lunch
1 x 2-hours guided tour in Lecce
4 x English-speaking hiking tour guides
Location: opposite the sea promenade, just 3 minutes walk from the center of Santa Maria al Bagno and about 40 km from Lecce.
Rooms: 99 rooms with telephone, minibar, safe, satellite TV, hairdryer, air conditioning, balcony and free WiFi
Facilities: restaurant, bar, lift, conference rooms, garden, lounge areas, seasonal outdoor pool, sun terrace and fitness room
Bus parking: at the hotel
• Good value for money
• Beautiful pool area
• Resort also ideal for large contingents
Location: about 900 m from the sea, 8 km from the center and about 16 km from Ostuni
Rooms: 371 rooms with hairdryer, safe, satellite TV, minibar, mostly with balcony or terrace
Facilities: restaurant, 2 bars, 2 swimming pools, congress center, wellness center (extra charge) with sauna, Turkish bath
Bus parking: at the hotel free of charge