Exploring the Rustic Charm of Puglia Itinerary: Mozzarella to Fairytale Homes

A 7 day trip to Italy 
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The charms of the Puglia countryside are rustic and welcoming with locals eager to bring you into their homes, onto their farms, and through the rows and rows of vines of their wineries. Cities radiate with Baroque architecture set against the backdrop of rolling hills and the sapphire waters of the Adriatic Sea. Your 7-day Italy itinerary will offer a perfect week and in-depth exploration of Puglia, from sampling the celebrated cuisine to traversing the fairytale homes known as trulli. Bask in the golden sands of the shoreline and indulge in the culture of the often-overlooked region. 

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General Information

Photos
Cliff and beach in Puglia, Italy
Extra Virgin Bike Tour with MadEra Bike Tour. Photo Credit: MadEra Bike Tour
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Savelletri, Archeolido, Alberobello, Monopoli, Fasano, Lecce 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Savelletri – Arrive in the Rustic Charms of Puglia with the Day at Leisure

The white cliffs of the Puglian coastline glisten against the sapphire waters of the Adriatic Sea. The Norman walls of Castello Svevo were erected over the foundations of a Roman fortress, and the Norman towers contrast against the bastions and moat that were added to the structure in the 16th century while the region was under Spanish control. Cafes set out tables and chairs along the cobbled lanes of Old Town and the esplanade that overlooks the marina. In the morning, the city fills with the aroma of caramelized sugar topping fresh brioche while in the afternoon and evening, the scent of grilled calamari or marlin topped with vibrant lemon juice sweeps through the narrow lanes.

Your flight will land at Bari Karol Wojtyla Airport, where your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival. You can take your time to wander the streets of the city if you wish and enjoy the relaxed ambiance that fills the historical architecture with gatherings of students scattered around from the university. For a unique view of the city, make your way to the Basilica di San Nicola, one of the first Norman churches erected in Southern Italy. The mixture of traditional Puglian and Romanesque architecture styles offers a dramatic façade, and the 12th-century edifice contains the relics of St. Nicholas, where were brought from Turkey in the 11th century. The nave has hints of frankincense that lead into the vaulted crypt below, where the remains of St. Nicholas reside.

Move next to the splendors of your villa-style accommodation located outside the town of Savelletri. Olive groves shade the estate that offers the warmth of traditional rustic Puglia with the modern luxuries you will settle easily into. The former olive mill provides unparalleled views of the countryside, from the blossoming wildflowers to the herbaceous aroma of the olive trees. The golden sands of the hotel’s private beach glisten in the fading sunlight and welcome you to the enchanting seclusion of Puglia.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer, tour

Day 2: Savelletri – Tour Monopoli Market and a Mozzarella Making Demonstration

The sapphire waters of the Adriatic Sea lazily lap against your resort’s private beach as the thatched umbrellas provide shade over comfortable lounge chairs that face the pristine water. The aroma of pasticciotti, a breakfast pastry made from traditional pasta dough stuffed with cream, emanates from the kitchen and is accompanied by the decadent scent of espresso. Locals in town enjoy a rustic croissant stuffed with béchamel, mozzarella, and tomato sauce for a savory breakfast or sweet almond cookies to offset the bitter notes of their espresso. Your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby and lead you to the town of Monopoli to visit the fabulous market as the town overlooks the Adriatic coast with an antique center influenced by its seaside location.

Cobblestone streets lead to Piazza XX Settembre where the 17th-century bell tower soars nearly 200 feet above the surrounding narrow lanes. The castle archway separates the city center from the bustling port as fishing boats wade in the collection of small harbors. Fishers tend to their nets as they thatch the coarse material or unload the catches of the day. The street market erupts with color near the Cathedral, and vendors display vibrant produce, ranging from huge lemons to radiant eggplants and melons. Fishmongers offer prawns, squid, and mounds of bass caught earlier that morning.

A cheese monger will offer you a tasting of locally produced mozzarella cheese, which will bring you your first sample of the creamy texture and subtle herbaceous flavor. Continue to a local dairy farm outside of the town to meet with the farmer that produces ricotta, homemade bread, and celebrated mozzarella to learn about the history of the farm and methods of production. Cows will graze on the short grass alongside sheep and goats as chickens cluck around the edges of the home. You will watch as the farmer heats the milk to produce cheese curds as the kitchen fills with the aroma of steamed milk. You can sample the curds and a side of fresh olives before the farmer stirs and braids the mozzarella to bring one of the best flavors you have ever tasted.      

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Savelletri – Visit Enchanting Alberobello before a Pasta Making Course

The morning breeze will rustle in the leaves of the olive trees as you wake, and remind you of the savory flavors of the olives you tasted with the mozzarella cheese the previous day. At breakfast, you will indulge in a hot cappuccino and thoroughly enjoy the frothy texture of the hot beverage. Your guide will greet you after your meal and escort you to charming Alberobello, a picturesque town that spreads along the hillsides of Puglia with homes known as trulli. The beehive shaped houses have whitewashed walls that look as though they were decorated with freshly fallen snow. The dry, limestone structures were first erected in the 14th century and have helped to keep the locals cool in the summer heat and warm in the winter months.

Make your way along the steps that lead to Piazza del Popolo to find an open terrace with an incredible view of the Alberobello. In the afternoon, you will arrive at a private kitchen to meet your instructor to explore the customary cuisine of Puglia. You will begin by making a traditional pasta known as orecchiette due to their resemblance to little ears. You will make a volcano shape with flour and crack eggs into the center, slowly mixing and whisking the eggs with the flour to make your dough. Your instructor will guide you along the way, helping you to smooth and cut the dough before shaping it into it’s final shape.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Savelletri – Enjoy Archeological Sites in Egnazi and the Beaches of Savelletri

The fishing boats return to the marina at Savelletri in the morning, with fishers unloading their fresh catch bound for market. The waters of the Adriatic Sea remain calm and inviting beneath the rising sun, and after breakfast, you will set out to visit the archeological site at Egnazia, one of the most important sites in the region. The settlement was established around the 13th century BC, and an artificial hill marks the archeological site. The hill itself was crafted between the first human settlement and the 9th century AD to offer shelter and defense. The hilltop contains the foundations of a Hellenistic temple that once overlooked the city, and the aroma of rich stone emanates from the excavated necropolis, which dates back to the 4th century BC.

Frescoes and plaster decorate the walls around the pseudo-sarcophagi, and the museum in Savelletri offers more clear examples of the old world that has been unearthed after thousands of years. After visiting the excavation site and museum, you can spend the remainder of your day relaxing at your resort-style hotel and the private beach. The golden sand is warm beneath your feet, and the Mediterranean sunlight will feel warm on your bare shoulders as you dip your toes into the Adriatic for a refreshing temperature that will contrast with the sun’s heat.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Savelletri – Traverse the Village of Fasano and the Historical Streets of Lecce

The aroma of the Adriatic will blend with the herbaceous notes of the olive grove in the gardens of your resort. You will have washed away the lingering salt that had dried on your skin after your dip in the water the previous day but can still feel the way the sand crunches under your feet. Today your guide will escort you to the town of Fasano to wander along the cobbled streets, elegant churches, and small limestone coves that look out to the Adriatic. The tranquil ambiance offers a perfect morning before you reach the decorated lanes of Lecce, often referred to as the Florence of the South. The impressive city embodies the 17th-century Baroque style with graceful gargoyles and classic palaces.

The aroma of tomato sauce flavored with basil and pecorino cheese emanates from the restaurants, accompanied by the smoky scent of grilled eggplant. Cafes along the promenade offer mussels and raw oysters dressed in a squeeze of fresh lemon. The nearby Basilica of Santa Croce contains allegorical décor in the shape of angels, sheep, and growling monsters for an unforgettable Baroque façade. Narrow entrances frame Piazza del Duomo, in which residents would barricade themselves during invasions. The 12th-century Cathedral gives way to the nearly 225-foot tall bell tower. After exploring the splendors of the preserved Baroque architecture, you will meet a local artist in a private studio to learn the local tradition of paper-mache.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Savelletri – Relish a Day at Leisure to Indulge in the Beauty of Puglia

Fishing boats return to the shoreline in the morning carrying their daily catch in overflowing nets. The market in Monopoli returns to vibrant life with vendors calling out to visitors and cheese mongers offering samples of their latest creations. You will find the day is scented with the sea air and the lingering aroma of browned filo dough. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy at your leisure, from taking to the beaches of Puglia to indulge in the bright sunlight or visit the subterranean karst system of Grotto de Castellana.

Olive lovers can rejoice by joining MadEra’s Extra Virgin biking tour through ancient olive groves. You will smell the fragrant scent of the olives as the wind grazes past your cheeks. Your local guide will tell you about the magnificent origins of olive oil from cultivation to harvest. Take a break to visit an ancient hypogeum oil mill and learn the how oil was cultivated, harvested, and processed to create some of Italy’s finest olive oil. Here you may sample various types olive oil, purchase your favorite to take home.

For a unique taste of Puglia, you can make your way into the diverse countryside to reach a welcoming winery that is growing rows of Primitivo. En route to the vines, you will find farms of thriving olive and fig trees, along with magnificent watermelons. Your guide will greet you at the historical entrance of the vineyard and take you on an insightful tour of the grounds. Stroll through the vines to touch your fingers to the thin, gentle leaves and squeeze the plump, waxy skin of the ripening grapes. The vines are based upon the type of grape and section of the vineyard, as the soil shifts in inherent minerals with the undulating landscape.

You will sample a rosé from the winery known for creating the varietal in Italy. The bright, vibrant hue brings a refreshing glow as your guide twirls the wine around your glass. The scent of raspberries and blackberries emanates from the wine amongst the subtle hints of rose petals. The light body offers refreshment against the heat of the Southern Italian sun as you find a crisp, smooth texture lingering on your palate, paring perfectly with grilled vegetables or robust seafood. Throughout the day, you will have been treated as if you are family with a warm welcome to the grounds and a comfortable space in which to discover wines and flavor combinations you may have never thought of before. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Savelletri – Depart for Home

The morning light will wash over the landscape of Puglia, connecting the golden sand with the limestone cliffs, and the emerald stretch of vineyards. The serene town of Cisternino offers panoramic views to the rolling hills of the countryside that lead to the whitewashed walls and conical roofs of nearby trulli. In the afternoon, the town fills with the aroma of roasting meats as the butchers of Cisternino are famous for their recommendations, precision, and for cooking the meat for any and every guest. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the aromas of the city by taking a seat outside of the butcher shops and sipping a glass of wine while their preferred cut slowly cooks. The narrow lanes fill with views of Baroque palaces, medieval churches, and historic towers. After one last day to enjoy it all, your private transfer will greet you at your hotel and escort you to Bari Karol Wojtyla Aiport for your flight home. 

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$1,920
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

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.