A Taste of Italy - Walking in Puglia

A Taste of Italy - Walking in Puglia

Start: Altamura Finish: Monopoli

Visiting: Italy


Duration: 7 Nights

Physical rating: None

Tour code: TOP

Tour operator: Explore!

Age range: 14-99


From: $1820 $1784

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Tour Overview

Puglia is a destination that should be on the radar for all Italy lovers and this holiday combines a discovery of its superb cuisine and wines with easy rambles among gently rolling landscapes. Explore the ancient Sassi quarter and gorge of Matera, visit the conical trulli houses of the Itria Valley and see how local cheeses, bread, olive oil and wines are produced.

Local specialties - Visits to baker and butcher, producers of cheese, olive oil and wine
Tastings - Sample delicious local cheeses, wines and regional dishes
Cooking - Try your hand at making the local orecchiette - 'little ear' pasta

Highlights

  • Local specialties - Visits to baker and butcher, producers of cheese, olive oil and wine
  • Tastings - Sample delicious local cheeses, wines and regional dishes
  • Cooking - Try your hand at making the local orecchiette - 'little ear' pasta
  • Unique towns - Discover the treasures of Matera's Sassi and Alberobello's trulli
  • Easy rambles - Plateau and gorge walks, through villages and olive groves

Places You'll See

Itinerary

icon Day 1: Join trip in Altamura, tasting dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Fuori Le Mura

Meals: Dinner

The trip starts today in Altamura, a pretty town with a walled old quarter of flastone streets and white-washed buildings, located on Puglia's sparsely populated limestone Murge Plateau.

Your trip Leader plans to meet everyone in the hotel reception at 6pm for a welcome meeting. Afterwards our journey of culinary discovery commences with an included dinner of regional dishes at the popular Tre Archi restaurant. Our husband and wife hosts, Nina and Peppino, serve us up a feast of their home-grown vegetables and other locally sourced produce in an amazing array of traditional Puglian antipasti appetisers.

There are no other activities planned today. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Bari International Airport - Karol Wojtyla (BRI), which is around 50 minutes' drive from Altamura. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

icon Day 2: Bakery visit; option to visit Gravina's hidden underground city

Accommodation: Hotel Fuori Le Mura

Meals: Breakfast

Altamura is famous for being the only town in Italy with a DOP (standing for 'protected designation of origin') recognised bread. The bread has a hard crust and creamy coloured dough and usually comes in very large round loaves. We start the morning with a 20 minute walk to visit a well known Altamura DOP bakery where we watch the art of making and baking the bread in huge wood-fired ovens. Naturally our visit includes the chance to taste the freshly made bread!

The afternoon is left free to spend your own time exploring more of the narrow alleyways and closed courtyards of unspoilt Altamura. Alternatively, you may like to take the local train to the nearby town of Gravina which has a fascinating underground city of rock cut caverns, churches and passages.

icon Day 3: Pasta making lesson; walk from the Pulo di Altamura giant sinkhole

Accommodation: Hotel Fuori Le Mura

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning we take a short drive to Nina and Peppino's vegetable garden to see how they cultivate the vegetables served at their table, learn about the local varieties and help harvest them. We then go to their restaurant, the Tre Archi, for a hands-on cooking lesson where we learn to prepare the distinct Puglian pasta known as orecchiette - meaning little ears - as well as learning the tricks of how to prepare oven-baked vegetables, one of the specialities of the house. For lunch we will eat what we have prepared during the cooking class. In the afternoon we drive out of the town to the Alta Murgia National Park where we start our walk from the Pulo di Altamura, a giant sink hole, some 500 metres wide and 80 metres deep and one of the park's most impressive geological features. The steep rock face is embedded with caves that have been inhabited since prehistoric times and are an important nesting ground for rare birds and habitat for native flowers and other plants. We walk through a landscape of cultivated fields and wild grasslands along footpaths and cart tracks, passing old abandoned farms. The walk ends at the Lamalunga archeological museum where we learn about the life and fate of 'Altamura man', a Neanderthal who fell down a sinkhole around 150000 years ago and whose bones became fused with the stalactites in the cave walls.

Today's eight kilometre walk, an ascent of 30 metres and descent of 90 metres, is expected to take around two hours.

icon Day 4: Walk from Castel del Monte; lunch on organic farm

Accommodation: Hotel Sassi

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning's walk is in the environs of the Castel del Monte, about an hour drive from Altramura, standing on a hill on the edge of the Alta Murgia National Park. The 13th century citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the source of inspiration for the novel 'The name of the Rose'. Around the castle, fine wines are produced of the 'uva di Troia' (Troy) grape variety. We start with a climb towards the castle through a shady forest, descend the other side and continue through fields lined with dry stone walls and dotted with small ancient trulli (the white, conical-roofed, beehive-shaped structures that are typical of this part of Puglia). In this sparsely populated region the vast open views are spectacular. Our walk ends at a local organic farm, Masseria Sei Carri where we enjoy an included lunch of local produce.

After lunch we drive back to Castel del Monte for a guided visit before continuing on to our next destination, the town of Matera, over the provincial border in Basilicata. The town is impressively located on the side of a gorge eroded by the Gravina River and is famous for its ancient 'Sassi', a UNESCO-listed troglodyte quarter whose origins date back to the prehistoric era. In the 1950s the government of Italy forcibly relocated most of the population of the Sassi which it considered a slum. Today the quarter is regenerating with hotels and other businesses moving in.

Today's eight kilometre walk, an ascent and descent of 250 metres is expected to take around two-and-a-half to three hours.

icon Day 5: Explore Matera's troglodyte quarter; walk in the gorge

Accommodation: Hotel Sassi

Meals: Breakfast

This morning is left free to explore the neighbourhood of the Sassi where the stone dwellings are partially cut deep into the rock. This part of Matera has been continuously inhabited for 5000 years. Your Leader can arrange a guided tour with a licensed guide for those interested. Roaming through the maze of narrow alleys, up and down the stone stairs you will find yourself transported to a distant past. Sit down on a terrace of one of the bars for a cappuccino and soak up this magical atmosphere. In the afternoon we plan to set off direct from the town, on a walk through the deep gorge that cuts through the plain just outside the town. The walk also takes us to see some ancient rock churches.

Today's three-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours, with an ascent of 200 metres and descent of 170 metres.

NOTE: The path down into the gorge from Matera has been closed for some time and it's not clear when it will reopen. If it's not possible to do this walk we will drive round to the other side of the gorge for a circular walk around the Belvedre di Timeo for some spectacular views back towards Matera. This one-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take approximately an hour (as we admire the views!) with a total ascent and descent both of 100 metres.

icon Day 6: Visit cheese maker; walking tour in Cisternino, olive oil mill visit

Accommodation: Hotel Monopoli Albergo Diffuso

Meals: Breakfast

This morning we leave Matera and drive to visit an organic cheese maker who has won several national and international prizes. We will see how mozzarella, trecce and nodini are made and try the freshly made cheeses. We then continue on to Cisternino, a charming town of whitewashed houses, shady streets, historic churches and elegant piazzas. It is famous for its butcher shops which serve a local barbecued delicacy known as bombette, little meat parcels filled with mince, ham and cheese, as well as other grills. We enjoy a walking tour here and buying lunch from one of the butchers is highly recommended.

After lunch we visit an olive oil mill that produces oil using both a traditional and a modern press. We tour the mill and walk in the surrounding fields to see the ancient olive trees, followed by a tasting of the oils produced here.

We then drive on to our final destination of the holiday, the coastal fishing town of Monopoli. With its bustling harbour, splendid white-washed houses and narrow alleyways with a number of excellent fish restaurants, we experience another authentic slice of Puglian life. Our charming accommodation is a concept known as albergo diffuso, individual rooms and apartments in a variety of locations in the heart of the old town with a central breakfast location.

icon Day 7: Explore Monopoli; visit the trulli houses of Alberbello, optional wine tasting

Accommodation: Hotel Monopoli Albergo Diffuso

Meals: Breakfast

We start the day with a walk through Monopoli. Later we head inland to visit Alberobello in the Itria Valley - famous for its iconic trulli buildings. A trullo (plural - trulli) is a traditional dry stone hut with a conical roof and often white-washed walls, which were generally constructed in the 19th century as both dwellings and storehouses. Trullo are built singly or in groups of up to 5 trulli, and a group would be occupied by a single family. Inside an individual trullo dome is just one room, although additional separate spaces were created by curtains hung across arched alcoves. As well as wandering in the town, there's the option to visit the Cantina Albea and the wine museum for a tasting of local Puglian wines, both still and sparkling - an excellent aperativo before our last night dinner! We'll round off our culinary explorations with a last night group meal either in Alberobello or back in Monopoli.

icon Day 8: Trip ends this morning in Monopoli

Meals: Breakfast

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Monopoli.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Monopoli at any time. If you are departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Bari International Airport - Karol Wojtyla (BRI), which is around 50 minutes' drive from the hotel.

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Got a question? Check out our Q&As

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I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

Should I get travel insurance?

Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

How long has the tour company been trading?

At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

Can I join the tour once it has departed?

Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

    Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

    What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

    What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

    What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

    What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

    Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

    What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

    Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

    Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

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Sep 12, 2021

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