Puglia & Basilicata Walk
Duration: 8 Days/7 Nights
Departures 2013: May 18, Oct 5, and private departures.
Departing from: Bari at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, Day 2.
Tour finishes: Potenza train station at 11 a.m. on Day 8.
Price 2013: €2,300 per person based on double occupancy and minimum of 6 people. Single Supplement €260. Click on the Currency Converter to see the price in your local currency.
Discover two of Italy’s most beautiful (and uncrowded!) regions. The “heel of the boot,” Puglia (often called Apulia) offers the best of Southern Italy, from delicious cuisine and wine to its rich and unique culture. The neighboring province of Basilicata offers the dramatic cave-city of Matera as well as the surprising alpine scenery of the “Dolomiti Lucane.”
The tour begins in Bari, the bustling capital of Puglia, and then sets out for the dramatic cliffs of Polignano a Mare, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello, famous for its “trulli” houses, and the fantastic city of Matera, where until recently many people lived in caves carved out of the limestone gorges and ravines that cut the city in two. Our last two days take us up into the mountains of Basilicata for unexpected alpine scenery. Join us for this excursion to Puglia and Basilicata, combining the fresh air and open skies of the countryside with the history, elegance, fabulous food, and delicious wine of southern Italy!
Day 1 – Saturday: Independent arrival in Bari and check-in at either the Hotel Boston or the Bari Palace Hotel, both located near the medieval city center. Formerly the domain of smugglers and brigands, Bari’s quaint and atmospheric historic center has been revitalized during the past ten years. Cafés, wine bars, and trattorias line the labyrinthine medieval streets, all of which eventually lead to the remarkable Romanesque architecture of the 12th-century Basilica di San Nicola. Depending on your arrival time, the afternoon and evening are open for sightseeing or just relaxing after your journey. Dine independently tonight in one of the many local restaurants. All meals and transfer to Bari on your own. Hotel included. Dinner not included.
Day 2 – Sunday: Meet your guide(s) at 9:00 a.m. and transfer 25-minutes to Polignano a Mare, a city founded by the Greeks some 2,500 years ago and built right on the edge of cliffs rising out of the Adriatic. A maze of cobbled alleyways flanked by whitewashed houses leads to the main square where we stop for a cappuccino. Then we continue to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello, famous for its 1,500 trulli houses. We begin with a walk in the countryside, winding through farmland and forests and past Neolithic sites. We’ll stop for lunch at a masseria – the imposing fortified manor houses that are the legacy of dangerous medieval times when corsairs raided the Pugliese coast. You’ll have free time this afternoon to explore the streets of Alberobello on your own. Dinner tonight is at “Il Poeta Contadino,” one of the region’s top restaurants (it has a coveted Michelin stars). Overnight in Alberobello at a comfortable, family-run three-star hotel located in the heart of the old town. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Day 3 – Monday: Today we transfer from Puglia to Basilicata and the amazing city of Matera. We begin our walk in a seemingly wild ravine, only to find it honeycombed with shelters and thousand-year-old rock-hewn churches (Cristo la Selva). We eventually emerge on the outskirts of the amazing town of Matera. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, for centuries many of Matera’s inhabitants lived in stone dwellings partially excavated from the rock along the two steep ravines that slice through the landscape. The city is riddled with caves, churches, houses and noble homes excavated from the stone. It is said that Matera is the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses as their ancestors 9,000 years ago. Our hotel for the next three nights, the Locanda di San Martino, has been central to the revival and restoration of the old town. Indeed, the hotel has lovingly restored a complex of buildings to provide its guests with a unique experience. We dine tonight in a colorful local trattoria. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Day 4 – Tuesday: This morning we have a guided visit of Matera’s “Sassi.” Inhabited since Paleolithic times, Matera’s ravines were colonized in the 8th and 9th century by monastic orders. The town grew in importance during medieval times, and many of the rock dwellings date from that time. In the afternoon we have a walk on the Murgia del Timo, which affords us incredible views from across the ravine back onto Matera. Afterwards you have free time to explore Matera’s shops and sites, or relax on the terrace of the hotel and watch the light change as the rays of the setting sun caress the honey-colored stonework. This evening we are joined by a sommelier for a tasting of some of the most exciting wines from the region. Afterwards we have a short walk to a neighboring restaurant for dinner. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Day 5 – Wednesday: We start our walk from the hilltop village of Miglionico, following a walkway along its 14th century walls before descending into the valley through woods and olive groves, and past stone farmhouses. We arrive for lunch at a local farm where we are treated to home-cooked local specialties. After lunch we can do another hike, visit the monastery of Montescaglioso, or just have free time in Matera. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Day 6 – Thursday: Today we transfer out of the lowlands and head into the surprising heights of the Dolomiti Lucane. You’ll see the landscape change dramatically during our 90-minute transfer. The village of Pietrapertosa has a jagged spine of rock that shoots upwards, while its houses sit clustered beneath the jagged rock. We walk to the neighboring village of Castelmezzano for lunch at Osteria La Civetta, which offers delicious food and a breathtaking view over the steep valley. For the next two nights we are guests of Peppino and Maria, who invite us into their kitchen for a cooking demonstration before treating us to a sumptuous meal. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Day 7 – Friday: Today we have a full-day hike through the peaks and meadows of the Parco Gallipoli-Cognato. The trail takes us along the flank of the mountain, dropping into small hamlets and farms along the way. We loop around Monte Croce, stopping occasionally to make friends with the goats and sheep along the way. The whole way we have wonderful views onto the surrounding hills and villages. Return to our guest house, with time to enjoy a swim in the pool and take in the amazing views onto Castelmezzano before our final dinner with Giuseppe and Maria. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Day 8 – Saturday: We transfer this morning to Potenza for 11:00 train departures to Naples, Rome, and beyond. We can also arrange a transfer to the Bari airport (at your own expense). Breakfast and transfer included.
The walks in Puglia contain moderate hills over some uneven terrain. We usually walk between 3-5 hours a day, divided between morning and afternoon. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, or explore the towns we stay in. Breakfast is included every day, and dinners reflect the excellent traditional food of the region. Daily distance between 8 and 14 kms.
|Qualifications: This trip is rated moderate to easy. Some prior hiking experience is beneficial but anyone in good physical condition will have no problems with the walks. We usually walk between 10-16 kms a day (6-10 miles), or about 3-4 hours of walking a day, more or less equally divided between morning and afternoon.Trip Cost Includes:7 nights total (1 night 4-star in Bari, 1 night 3-star in Alberobello, 3 nights Locanda di San Martino or similar hotel in Matera, 2 nights in Trivigno 3-star B&B); 7 breakfasts and 6 dinners; bilingual Customwalks guide(s) to accompany the tour and lead you on the walks; cooking class while at Trivigno, all van transfers and luggage transfers from pick-up in Bari on Day 2 to Saturday morning Day 8.Booking: e-mail us to receive a booking contract (or use the “Reservation” page).Getting there(this will redirect you to our “Getting to the Trip” page)Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime!