Off the Beaten Track Culinary Tour of Puglia

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Total Trip:

9 Days
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Countries Visited:

Italy
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Places Visited:

Trani, Bari, Alberobello, Guagnano, Matera, Lecce, Polignano a Mare
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
From storybook homes to coastal castles, home-cooked meals to luxurious beaches, you will discover unforgettable flavors while traveling off the culinary beaten path in Southern Italy’s historic fishing port, Trani. Vines stretch across the arid landscape, reaching into the hillsides and taking flavors from the sea breeze. Olive trees grow like dense forests. Confectionaries fill the air with nutty sweetness. Learn to craft traditional regional pasta and enjoy a demonstration on making celebrated

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Day 1

Trani – A Tasty Puglia Welcome

The fishing port of Trani overlooks the Adriatic Sea, resembling the antique film set of an Italian seaside village. The sunlight washes over the palm trees lining the cobblestone promenade. Boat masts wade in the gentle wake of the water, rising like the decorative bell towers adorning the vintage skyline. The narrow lanes lead to the open views of the sea with the 12th-century San Nicola Pellegrino Cathedral dominating the shoreline at the weather’s edge. Your flight lands at Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport. Your private transfer greets you upon your arrival and escorts you to the charming streets of Trani.

Your five-star hotel effortlessly blends the enchanting historical grounds with modern luxury, inviting you to relax and enjoy the spa, views of the water, and traditional architecture garnished with opulence. Jasmine grows alongside arid wildflowers and cactus. The aroma of the water accentuates the refreshingly cool breeze. At dinner, you find the aromas of raw oysters dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice. You sample the Castel del Monte wine; a dry rose with slightly fruity aromas connoting hints of cherry and strawberry. The vibrant, crisp finish leaves you wanting more.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Dinner

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Day 2

Alberobello – Trulli and Olive Oil

In the morning, the bakeries around Trani fill the air with the toasted almond aroma of marzipan, along with the buttery scent of brioche stuffed with hazelnut cream. The Adriatic Sea brushes against the pebbled beach outside of your room and shimmers with sapphire hues. Your guide greets you in the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to the town of Alberobello, famous for ancient homes known as Trulli. The whitewashed walls of the limestone structures glint beneath the Southern Italian sunlight. The circular edifices contain conical rooftops resembling beehives, emanating an enchanting ambiance due to the fantastical imagery. From the Belvedere Trulli, you have a grand panorama of the random display of the unique houses decorating the city, with upwards of 1,500 in total, and a history dating back to the 14th century.

Your guide leads you away from the city center to visit a traditional Molino, a windmill farm, which uses the power of the mill to produce treasured olive oils, mill wheat, and bake delectable bread. The olive grove has a savory aroma blending with the herbaceous verdant grass. The Farmers spread nets along the ground to capture the olives during harvest. The aroma of baking bread fills the air. After touring the property to learn about the history of the olive oil in the region, which dates back more than three millennia, you enter the tasting room to learn the textural and flavored difference between different types of olive oils.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 3

Lecce – Baroque Mastery and Paper Mache Beauty

The sunlight washes over the limestone streets of Trani, offering a charming glint across the whitewashed facades bordering the cobblestone. Cafes toast almonds to decorate cakes and confectionaries present hazelnuts coated in chocolate and fruity candies in the window. After breakfast, your guide escorts you to the city of Lecce, often referred to as the Florence of Southern Italy. The baroque structures date back to the 16th century and continue to glisten with stunning filigree along the facades of the wide boulevards and narrow lanes.

Boutique shops offer elegant window displays beside restaurants opening their doors to the aroma of sautéing garlic and fish grilled over an open flame. Artistic shops and studios highlight the city’s connection to paper-mache, with graceful images of birds or striking embossed stationary catching your eye. Your guide points out the remarkable 16th-century basilica of Santa Croce, adorned with detailed statues of cherubs, dodos, beasts, and enumerable allegories. Your private chef greets you in the heart of the city and leads you to a working kitchen.

The aromas of fresh herbs and spices already fill the room. The chef welcomes you with open arms and an eager smile, keen on introducing you to the traditional cuisine of Puglia, beginning with making orecchiette pasta, named “little ear,” after their rounded, creased shape. You make a mound out of flour and place a hole in the middle for the eggs. You gently whisk together the eggs and flour until forming the dough. The sticky, soft texture molds beneath your palms until forming a familiar flat, tan ingredient ready to be cut and folded.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 4

Bari – Wines of the Heel

Medieval churches have a glossy appeal in the morning light alongside elegant palaces overlooking the sea at Trani. The sunlight casts a captivating sapphire hue over the water. You venture out in the morning with your private guide to explore the depths of Bari, the capital of Puglia. The history contrasts the youthful vibe derived from the university. The limestone structures glint and sparkle with grand appeal, leading to the historical walls along the bustling harbor. The fishing boats return from the open water with nets filled to the brim with mussels, prawns, and octopuses. Bakeries bake flaky focaccia and restaurants fry polenta until crisp. Basilica San Nicola was erected in the 12th century to house the relics of Saint Nicholas, also known as Father Christmas.

The architecture represents traditional Puglian and Romanesque styles. The interior contains a 17th-century wooden ceiling offering a simple decoration in a grand manner. You continue into the countryside after your tour to visit a local winery located inside the Alta Murgia National Park. Verdant grasses and burgeoning wildflowers accompany the olive groves and vineyards. Farmers harvest cherries and almonds, along with cultivating cheese and specialty sausages utilizing traditional farming methods. Your guide leads you along the rows of vineyards, having you dig your fingers into the grainy, arid soil to learn about the minerals enriching the grapes. The waxy, plump skin of the grape contrasts the coarse texture of the soil.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 5

Andria – The Flavors of a Homemade Dish

The fishing boats return to the port at sunrise. Their masts create a skyline leading out to the horizon. The fishermen carry boxes of freshly caught seafood to market, promoting their ruby prawns, delectable squid, and bright sea urchin. The aisles of the fish market fill with locals eager to enjoy a deal on the catch of the day. Fishermen relax at the local cafes, sipping a cold beer against the drifting sunlight, and offering samples of raw octopus as an aperitif. After a breakfast of frothy cappuccino and fresh brioche, you set out for another flavorful tour of Puglia, arriving at a private dairy farm.

Your guide explains the burrata cheese that was invented in the early 20th century at the Chieppa Dairy Factory that has grown to represent a delicacy of the region. You notice the countryside outside the farm dotted with trulli. Wander the grounds of the farm, visiting the creamery and the grazing cows before partaking in a demonstration to learn how the delicate, creamy cheese is crafted. The cheese makers heat the milk and separate the curds from the whey. Once separated, the maker stretches the curds while cooling, creating a stringy texture on the outside similar to mozzarella. They then stuff the interior with a smooth, decadent mixture of cheese and cream.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Dinner

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Day 6

Polignano a Mare – Splendors of the Sea

At breakfast, you indulge in the rich bite of a fresh espresso accompanied by the flaky, buttery flavor of a brioche stuffed with hazelnut and chocolate cream. The mixture of bitter and sweet offers a perfect balance to begin the day. Your guide meets you in the lobby and leads you to the town of Polignano a Mare, located atop a craggy ravine known for a network of caves. The history of the town dates back to the 4th century BC as a Greek settlement. The elevated position provides a perfect, sweeping view of the sapphire Adriatic Sea. In 2010, the town hosted the international diving cliff diving competition. The local gelaterias craft distinctive flavors of gelato, known for refreshing and delighting passersby beneath the warm Southern Italian sun.

You board a private boat and set out on a private cruise along the Adriatic in search of fresh seafood. Instead of fishing, you could also relax with the elegant sea breeze, enjoying the sporadic spray of the water rising from the hull of the boat. Upon returning to shore, you continue into a private kitchen with your catch of the day to craft the perfect Puglian meal around the luxurious mussel, octopus, and anchovies abundant in the water. You dice cherry tomatoes and simmer garlic with olive oil, eventually steaming the mussels in the mixture with white wine for an unforgettable flavor customary in Tubettini con le Cozze.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Dinner

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Day 7

Matera – The Caves of Matera

The caves of Matera have been inhabited for more than 15,000 years, making them one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. Narrow medieval lanes lead to steep staircases wedged between antique homes. The limestone and granite walls lead to the soaring bell tower adorning the cathedral at the top of the summit overlooking the ravine. Your guide leads you from the breakfast table in Trani to the 1,500 cave dwellings honeycombing walls of the gorge for which the city of Matera is known.

The caves across from the city represent the homes of the Paleolithic Age, with the cave dwellings beneath the city embodying the lifestyle of locals leading up to the late 1960s. The true image of the caves comes in the form of Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, a preserved 18th-century home in which an entire family would live, including mules and chickens. The humble residence is paved with cobblestones and contains furniture, including a dresser and table, upending what many think of when conjuring ideas of living in caves.

You get a better sense of the history and aged homes in the Sasso Caveoso. The steep stone steps lead to the former neighborhood now adorned with crumbling cave homes. The doors remain in place with the interior halls and ceilings retaining their frame above the empty, cold galleries. Luxury hotels, restaurants, and even nightclubs now fill renovated cave dwellings set beneath the elaborate maze of the medieval city. You continue to a salumeria, an Italian delicatessen, to sample the tradition of local delicacies.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Dinner

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Day 8

Guagnano – History of the Vine

The pleasures of wine have graced history, with a long tradition predating in Italy even before the Roman Empire. After breakfast, you make your way to Guagnano, a 13th-century town crowned by an 18th-century church. The Chiesa Madre was erected atop the foundations of a 15th-century cathedral. The baroque façade has an elegant entrance adorned with a sculpture of the Assumption. Two smaller doors frame the central entrance into the gallery. Your guide leads you to the Museum of Negroamaro, which is connected to the Consortium of Manduria Wine Products, an organization that started in the 1930s.

The galleries display artifacts connected to the production of wine throughout history. You find a familiar aroma drifting through the halls of the museum, similar to the scent of crushed grapes in the fields. The artifacts span three centuries, tracing the evolution of wine production through the machinery. Large oak barrels decorate the end of the museum near stainless steel vats, while carriages and ancient vases help connote a sense of disconnect between where the process started to the types of processes utilized today. In the tasting room, you sample a variety of wines, culminating with Madrigale, a Primitivo from Alberobello. The natural sweetness lingers in the air, reminiscent of jam with a hint of cacao.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Dinner

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Day 9

Trani – Returning to the Culinary Path

In the morning, the aromas of marzipan and hazelnut return with breakfast. You embrace the chocolate and nutty aroma emanating from the creamy foam of your cappuccino. The water from the Adriatic Sea laps against the golden shores edging Trani. The fish market swings into life with cafes setting out tables and chairs along the narrow cobbled lanes for patrons to enjoy viewing the movement of town. You have stepped away from the beaten path of Italian cuisine, discovering endless surprises overtaking your taste buds while in Puglia. When you are ready, your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you to Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport for your flight returning you to the familiar culinary path at home.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

expand/close
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Trip Highlights

  • Relish the creamy interior and stringy exterior of burrata cheese after a demonstration on making the decadent blend of mozzarella and cream
  • Indulge in the sweet aromas of the sea on a private cruise in search of the perfect catch before cooking the fare under the guidance of a celebrated chef
  • Delight in the flavors of Puglia with a private olive oil and bread class, learning baking technique and the flavorful differences between olive oils
  • Traverse the wine museum in Guagnano to view the evolution of tools and machinery that helped to create the wines of today in the Puglia region
  • Wander through the medieval streets and historic caves of Matera to view the troglodyte lifestyle of locals as recent as the 1960s
  • Revel in the beautiful scenery of Alta Murgia National Park while touring a vineyard teaching you the distinct characteristics of the soil and wines
  • Enjoy the aesthetic pleasures of baroque Lecce and unique conical homes of Alberobello 
  • Learn to make the delectable traditional pasta orecchiette during a private cooking class in charming Lecce 
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Detailed Description

Your 9-day Southern Italy itinerary is handcrafted to your preferred tastes while taking you off the beaten path of the country’s famous gastronomy. The culinary journey begins with your arrival in Bari. Your private transfer greets you at Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport and escorts you to a luxurious hotel in Trani, with rooms overlooking the sweeping Adriatic coastline. Indulge in the luxurious ambiance of your accommodation and the medieval atmosphere of Trani, with its magnificent cathedral crowning the coastal cliff. In the evening, you have your first taste of Puglian cuisine at dinner, accompanied by a celebrated regional wine.

The following morning, your guide leads you on a private tour of the storybook homes at Alberobello. Take to the countryside outside of the town to visit a traditional mill producing olive oil and homemade bread to sample the elegant and rustic flavors. Then, you have a private tour of the baroque architecture of Lecce. Relish the beauty of the piazzas, streets, and homes before partaking in a private cooking class designed to teach you the prominent dishes and flavors featured in Puglia. Take to the bustling port city of Bari to visit the vibrant fish market and traverse the maze-like streets of the antique neighborhood.

Continue to a vineyard offering panoramic views of Alta Murgia National Park to sample stunning wines produced in the region graced by hills, valleys, and a refreshing sea breeze. Indulge in the flavor of olives once again during a private olive grove tour to learn about the distinct differences between oils. In the afternoon, you visit a dairy farm to learn the art of crafting renowned burrata cheese. The next day, you take to the water on a private fishing cruise. Relish the open sea and refreshing air, offering a pleasant, relaxing time whether a fan of fishing or tranquil scenery.

Return to town for a private cooking class crafted around what you caught at sea. You next venture to Matera for a full day tour of the medieval streets and famous caves inhabited from ancient times until the 1960s. Visit a local salumeria, an Italian delicatessen, to sample the local treats. Venture to the village of Guagnano to wander amongst the galleries and halls of the Wine Museum. On the final day, your private transfer greets you at the hotel and escorts you to the Bari airport for your flight home. 

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Starting Price

$2470 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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