The loudest sounds in the quiet town of Locorotondo come from the boisterous laughter that often spills out of the cafes and drifts through the cobblestone streets. The historical city center will glisten with opulent white facades against the red geraniums that blossom on the windowsills as the town stands on the Murge Plateau at an elevation of 1,350 feet above sea level. Your eyes will find the Church of St. George the Martyr, built between the 18th and 19th centuries at the center of the labyrinthine streets and alleyways. Pitched rooftops define the houses, and the surrounding Itria Valley glows with emerald hues.
Your flight will land at Bari’s Karol Wojtyla Airport, and your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival and escort you to the comforts and charm of your family-owned hotel situated inside a traditional villa. After taking some time to settle in, your guide will greet you and escort you into the heart of Locorotondo to enjoy wandering amongst the winding lanes and alleys.
As you walk, you will stop to view the Romanesque façade of the 12th-century Church of the Madonna of Grace as the aroma of freshly made orecchiette, the traditional pasta shaped like small ears, drifts through the restaurants. You can take your seat at an outdoor table to enjoy the cool, refreshing breeze as you sip a delightful wine made from the minutolo grape that brings an intense spiced aroma that will lead to the slightly sweet and citrusy flavor of white flowers and nectarine. Top Italy travel specialists will ensure that your experience is authentic and delightful as you begin your journey through the food of this beautiful region.
In the morning, the farm on the villa property will bustle with excitement as the workers tend to the olive groves and vines. Donkeys carry heavy loads across the meadow before returning to the stables after traveling a portion of the more than 60 acres of land. The woods in the background soar above the vines in the foreground, and you can feel the history as the farmland has been in the family since the 18th century. At breakfast, the buttery aroma of cookies and sweet homemade jam accentuates the caramel and coffee notes of the fresh-brewed espresso as you look out at the incredible view.
Your guide will greet you in the lobby after your meal and escort you to the town of Alberobello. You will feel as though you have been transported into a fairytale with the white-washed houses that rise and fall with the hills. The traditional architectural design began in the Middle Ages to help insulate the interior of the homes in the summer and winter to keep a perfect year-round temperature. The olive groves and vineyards roll along the hills as more than 1,200 trulli, the white-washed houses, fill the city and are concentrated between the Aia Piccola District and Piazza del Popolo. The oldest home dates back to the 14th century.
You will soon step into a piece of history at the Wine Museum that is located inside an antique cellar to admire the historical tools that were once used to reap the vines and press the grapes, their old scents filling he galleries with the aroma of the soil. You can trace the history of technological advances and cultural shifts in the region before leading into the tasting room. Your guide will pour a sample of wine grown just outside of town, finding a rose with a delightful aroma of strawberry, raspberry, and soft candy.
At breakfast, you will savor the sweet and flaky freshly made brioche as the perfect accompaniment to the slightly bitter flavor of decadent espresso. Venture to the Baroque city of Lecce after your meal to find the architecture as unique and enticing as the aroma of marzipan that drifts out of the confectionaries. The soft stone found around the region offers an easy, malleable material to craft the opulent designs featured on the facades of the palaces and churches.
The former prosperity of the city bursts from the dramatic statues that decorate the Church of Santa Croce. The structure was erected over several centuries with intricate filigree and adornments that portray animals, gargoyles, and cherubs. The sunlight will filter through the large rose window while the main square of Piazza del Duomo provides the centralized artistry of the Baroque period. Artisan shops display paper-mâché creations, and your guide will point to the narrow entrances that lead into the piazza, which allowed the locals to run into the square for protection during invasions.
After wandering through the gilded edges of the city, you can meet a private chef that will be ready to guide you through the intricacies of the cuisine of Puglia. The kitchen will fill with the aroma of fresh focaccia, and the savory, herbaceous scent will make your mouth water. Enjoy some of the local fruits, such as figs and mulberries as watch the chef and join him as you make a mound of flour and create a hole at the center to resemble a volcano. Crack your eggs into the hole and begin to whisk the mixture together until you create your dough. After learning the technique to roll and fold, you will have crafted a perfect orecchiette pasta.
At breakfast, you can indulge in the flavor of fig jam and honey after sipping your creamy cappuccino. The flavors of Puglia will delight you with their dedication to simplicity done perfectly. The evolution of the cuisine will be clear as you study the base of rustic elements that have been elevated over time. Venture next to a family-owned dairy farm to meet a farmer and watch as the savory flavor and velvety texture of the seductive burrata cheese is crafted.
The cows will graze freely on the green grasses that sweep across the prairie while the warmth of the Southern Italian sun fades in the shade of the sporadic trees. You will then step into the dairy to learn the steps of processing the cheese, which was first created as a way of using the leftover mozzarella scraps. The farmers would wrap a regular, thinner piece of mozzarella around the strips and cream, creating a pouch.
After learning the techniques to make the perfect burrata, your guide will lead you into the tasting room to sample the delicacy, accompanied by a plate of bread, figs, honey, and prosciutto. You will find a subtle herbaceous quality from the cow’s milk and the indulgent gooey quality of the cream, and the rich flavor pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the honey and the earthiness of the figs. You will then wave farewell to the farmer and continue to a nearby olive grove to experience the distinctive differences between the types of standard, virgin, and extra virgin olive oil.
Puglia encompasses nearly 500 miles of coastline that lead to where the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas touch. Fishers set out onto the water early in the morning and return just after sunrise with nets filled with prawns, sardines, yellowtail, and squid. Travel to the gorgeous town of Polignano a Mare to experience the timelessness of the town located on the cliffs at nearly 80 feet above the sea. The whitewashed walls rise above the rocks as cliff divers cling to the ledges and dive down into the crystal clear turquoise water. The ancient Greeks settled the plateau and enjoyed the fruits of the rich fishing culture as the sea laps against the small white-pebbled beach framed by the bluffs. Sunbathers enjoy the warmth baking the rocks as you set out on a boat to cruise the Adriatic Sea.
You will set sail from the Porto di Monopoli and look back on the whitewashed town glinting atop the cliffs. The boat stretches nearly 70 feet long with the sails catching the refreshing breeze. Relax on the deck or learn how to guide the boat through the misting waters. The droplets will sprout from the hull of the boat and land on your skin, leaving a briny layer. Upon returning to the shoreline, you will then meet your private chef in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II to learn about the typical cuisine of Polignano a Mare, which focuses more on the delectable fresh seafood.
The scent of freshly squeezed orange juice will fill the dining room at breakfast with oranges taken from the orchard on the farm. After relaxing with you a leisurely morning, you will travel across Puglia and into the region of Basilicata for the day to visit the unique town of Matera. The medieval buildings rise over the rugged wall of Murgia Matera, the neighboring gorge as ancient caves cover the cliffs across the basin. The aroma of pasta made from durum wheat drifts out of the restaurants, accompanied by the spicy aroma of sauces made with pepperoncino, a pepper that best symbolizes the cuisine of the southern region.
You will find a unique aroma emanating from the homes and find that the scent is panella, a large bread loaf made from flower and boiled potatoes. The Cathedral dominates the upper terrace of town and has marvelous 13th-century Byzantine frescoes that shine with gilded edges while the narrow cobblestones streets lead to wide staircases that wind down the slopes of the gorge. Matera is famous for its stassi, cave dwellings utilized by the locals until the 1950s.
You can follow the stairs down to a lower terrace, and the caves have both doors and doorframes so seem like houses carved from the rock as opposed to the open-air caverns that you might have imagined. You can enter into one of the 150 different rock churches that cover nearly 20,000 acres, and the history and tradition will captivate you while in the pale stone where you can hear the water cisterns dripping. Faded frescoes depict saints and Biblical images in Byzantine style along the galleries that are connected by narrow corridors, most notably between Santa Maria d’Idris and San Giovanni in Monterrone.
The thriving port city of Bari holds fast to its rich tradition of fishing and trawlers and sailboats, along with individual vessels, wade in the marina after having returned from an early morning out at sea. The bustling fish market brims with sailors preparing their daily catch along the docks while vendors showcase sea urchin, mussel, cuttlefish, and marlin amongst the fresh seafood caught earlier. Kite-surfers take to the breeze along Torre Quetta Beach to drift above the rolling waves and nearby, chefs in the restaurants prepare delectable riso patate e cozze, a dish of rice, potatoes, and mussels that offers a fascinating mixture of earth and sea flavors.
Your guide will soon lead you to Alta Murgia National Park where the natural erosion of the soil has caved great ravines and karsts into the landscape. You will arrive at a stunning castle that seems to rise out of the woodlands to overlook the sun-soaked vines. The subtle sea breeze carries minerals that will help to change the texture and flavor of the wine over time and after exploring the grounds, you can indulge in a sampling of the wines produced in the vineyard. The robust garnet hues will glow against the table as the aroma of black currant and spice emanates from the glass.
At breakfast, you will savor your rich espresso and enjoy slices of sweet brioche filled with orange cream. You will have traveled across the region of Puglia for an in-depth introduction to the traditions the region holds dear and found meaning in everything from how the fishers present their catch to the development of burrata cheese with many memorable meals between. Your private transfer will greet you in your hotel lobby when you are ready and escort you to Bari’s Karol Wojtyla Airport for your flight home.
The marvels of Italian cuisine will abound during your 8-day culinary tour of Italy that will focus on the spectacular flavors of the southern region of Puglia. Your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival at Karol Wojtyla Airport in Bari and bring you to your luxury villa-style accommodation located near the welcoming historical town of Locorotondo. The remainder of the afternoon will be at your leisure to relish the comforts of your hotel and stroll through the historical streets of the town before enjoying an introductory dinner to the gastronomy of the region.
Wake the next day, and your private transfer will escort you to the storybook town of Alberobello, known for the unique structures known as trulli. Explore the architecture design before entering the wine museum to learn about the evolution of wine cultivation in the region. Sample the distinctive varietals at the end of your tour before returning to Locorotondo for a quiet evening. The next day, you will travel to the Baroque city of Lecce, often referred to as the “Florence of the South.” The magnificent architecture that lines the cobblestone streets and piazzas will capture your heart. Meet a local chef that afternoon who will teach you the intricacies of the simple, yet profound, food of Puglia during your private cooking lesson.
Venture into the countryside the following day to meet a local dairy farmer to work together to make burrata cheese from scratch and then visit a nearby olive grove to learn the art of crafting perfect olive oil as you discern the many flavors. In the town of Ostuni, you can wander amongst the whitewashed homes in view of the sea before returning to your villa for the evening. The next day, wake ready to step aboard your private boat to sail along the Adriatic Sea outside of Polignano a Mare. Upon returning to the cliff-top town, you will meet a chef known for utilizing the fresh seafood of the region to create elaborate dishes steeped in tradition and enjoy time taking it all in.
Venture next to the incredible town of Matera to view the mixture of medieval architecture and old homes that have been built into the caves along the gorge wall. Find Byzantine churches, mosaics, and captivating history. The next day, travel to Bari in the morning to experience the vibrant fish market and then continue into Alta Murgia National Park to view the beautiful scenery and enjoy a private wine tour that will exemplify the distinct flavors of the region. Conclude as you return to Bari by private transfer with plenty of time to check-in for your flight home at Karol Wojtyla Airport.
$2195 per person (excluding international flights)
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