See the best of Italy’s south – both magic and mysterious.
‘TREASURES OF THE SOUTH’ Tour (10 days)
The extraordinary beauty of 3 regions awaits you on this special tour. Enjoy the stunning scenery of the Abruzzo, Puglia and Basilicata as we travel from the Apennines in Abruzzo to Italy’s magnificent south as you visit ancient sites and wonderful hilltop villages…
Read on to find out more about our “Treasures of the South” tour.
ABOUT THE TOUR
Over the 10 days, experience the art of living the Dolce Vita as you immerse yourself in traditional Italian village life and embrace the warmth of the Italian people.
For those who want to experience the best of southern Italy without too much time in one region, then this is the tour for you. Travelling through Abruzzo, Puglia and Basilicata you will indulge in exquisite food and wines and dine in amazing restaurants with its traditional specialties.
WHY SOUTHERN ITALY?
Southern Italy is still off the main tourist radar and has so much to offer from the Adriatic coastline to the rugged mountains and ancient villages of the south. You will meet local artisans who are passionate to share with you their produce such as exquisite extravirgin olive oils, full bodied dry wines and award winning cheeses. Uncrowded and silent you can explore timeless treasures, hidden monasteries, fortresses and castles. The real Italy is right here. This is a fully escorted, small group tour (no more than 12 guests…ever) and will be led by Luciana and local guides.
- All travel within Abruzzo, Puglia and Basilicata – meals and drinks with meals where indicated
- Private transfers and transport in Abruzzo, Basilicata and Puglia. Land travel and transfers with an air conditioned private minivan (Abruzzo) with driver then a private minivan (Basilicata and Puglia)
- First Class Rail travel between Pescara and Bari
- Exclusive small group travel with other like minded travellers – no more than 12 guests
- Fully escorted and personalised travel with local guides- Abruzzo specialists and English speaking guides
- 10 days / 9 nights accommodation – stay in quality boutique hotels in Abruzzo, Basilicata and Puglia with 3 nights in each region
- Travel Abruzzo, Puglia and Basilicata at a quiet and leisurely pace, with time to relax and unwind
- Welcome drinks in Abruzzo.
- MEALS – Daily breakfasts, 9 lunches including 1 private cooking class, 2 dinners
- DRINKS – All meals which are included in the itinerary include wines, water as well as coffee/tea and occasionally liqueurs
- Morning coffee included most days
- Experience true authentic village life in Abruzzo, Basilicata and Puglia – enjoy the rich traditions
- Share the passion with Luciana for all things Italian – that only a local can offer
- Travel on the path less explored with visits to unique treasures and artisans
- Private escorted visits to local extra virgin olive oil producers and truffle merchants with accompanying tastings. Private Truffle hunt with dogs in the Abruzzo countryside
- All entry fees, activities included throughout
May 22 – 31, 2018 (10 days)
June 19 – 28, 2018 (10 days)
October 14 – 23, 2018 (10 days)
DAY 1: ROME to ABRUZZO – CIVITELLA DEL TRONTO
You will be met this morning by Luciana, your Abruzzo specialist, at Rome Termini station with an airconditioned private minibus to transfer you to Abruzzo. Crossing the Apennines, we will stop for morning tea at the tiny village of Castelli famous for maiolica ware ceramics since the 9th century. The tsars of Russia collected these valuable pieces and now the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg has a priceless collection there. We see the “Sistine Chapel of Maiolica ceramics and we will visit some artisans working with ceramics today using traditional techniques..
After lunch we arrive at the fortified hilltop village of Civitella del Tronto – which will be our base for the next 3 nights. A private visit of the fortress has been arranged where you will have commanding views over what was once the border of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Papal States to its north. You will also visit a real treasure in the village where your host Guido will take you through his fabulous textile and clothing museum with fragile pieces from the 18-19th centuries.. There is time to stroll through the village exploring the romantic narrow alleys before a magnificent welcome dinner.
DAY 2: CAMPLI - Truffle Hunting - ASCOLI PICENO
Civitella del Tronto has been inhabited since pre Roman times and its first historical records as a fortified village dating back to the 11th century. We will discover more of this beautiful village each day we are here. A real treat is in store though today when we visit Campli. Here we learn all about Abruzzo’s secret – prized truffles. Surprisingly, over 80% of Italy’s truffles come from our region of Abruzzo. Enjoy a private truffle hunt with local hunters and their amazing dogs. A superb truffle degustation lunch awaits where you will indulge in an amazing array of seasonal truffles used in most of the dishes from antipasti, pasta and meat courses. A feast for the senses …squisito! Later in the afternoon, we explore the delightful town of Ascoli Piceno which is in the Le Marche region. There is time for shopping Italian style, time to sit and sip your aperitivo and taste those delectable “olive ascolane” – fabulous local delicacy of stuffed green olives. Marvel at the wonderful churches and spectacular piazza. A truly unforgettable day. Return to your accommodation.
DAY 3: CIVITELLA del TRONTO - 19th century Olive Oil Mill and Tasting - Private Cooking Class - OFFIDA
This morning we have an easy start and we meet a local olive oil producer – and we learn all about the amazing differences between extra virgin, virgin and olive oils and taste his prized extra virgin olive oil. We continue on the back roads of Abruzzo and travel alongside the ancient Roman salt route… with a visit to a private olive oil producer whose family has been producing olives for centuries. Graziano will show us his original 200 year old olive mill!Lunch is in the countryside and we will be welcomed by bellissima Clementina who will show us how to make some local specialties such as gnocchi, timballo and fried cheese before we sit down and eat together. Ah.. life in Italy does not get much better than this…! Later in the day we visit a wonderful village, Offida in Le Marche, whose landscape is covered in fabulous vineyards . See medieval gems in a Benedictine church with amazing frescoes, the local opera house from 1820 and local ladies making beautiful bobbin lace in the streets and in their shops.
DAY 4: PESCARA–Covered Markets- SAN VITO - MATERA
Leaving the Teramo province we head to the bustling port city of Pescara. Stroll through the lively covered farmers market and taste the local specialty porchetta – roast pork with rosemary and garlic. Visit the fascinating Museum of the Abruzzo people after your morning coffee and pastry. At the seaside town of San Vito Chietino we can admire the Adriatic coastline with its famous ‘trabocchi’ or ancient fishing structures unique to Abruzzo. Travelling First Class, we will board the train to Bari and will be met by our wonderful tour guide Fabio who will transfer us to Matera, Basilicata. We will be able to explore Matera as we will be based here for the next 3 nights. Settle in to a welcome dinner with Fabio.
DAY 5: MATERA - BASILICATA
Matera has a population of 55,000 people and is now a unique World Heritage Site as well as Europe’s capital of culture for 2019. This morning there is time to really explore the beauty of Matera which has been inhabited continuously since prehistoric times. Understand its rich history from Greek and Roman to the Christian era and to Normans and Renaissance times. Lunch is in a delightful restaurant in the historic centre of Matera. Indulge in a many course lunch tasting the local specialities from antipasti to pasta and meat dishes, all accompanied by local wines from the region. Enjoy a little of the dolce vita in the vibrant piazza with an aperitivo or gelato …
DAY 6: BERNALDA - METAPONTO ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE
An exciting day as you head south firstly via the small town of Bernalda, perfect for a coffee stop. It is the birthplace of film director Francis Ford Coppola who has returned to his origins and restored a fabulous palazzo, Palazzo Margherita. At Metaponto you can explore an important archeological site of the Greek colony – the 6th century BC Temple of Hera, dedicated to the Greek Goddess wife of Zeus. This site is also famous where the Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagorus had a school and spent his final days. The archeological museum is astounding with the local artefacts – with no crowds and hardly any tourists! Lunch is in a delightful local restaurant in the area where we savour specialties such as hand made pasta with wild boar sauce… This afternoon we will explore more of Matera. The 13th century medieval Cathedral sits on the highest point of Matera and is also worth exploring. There is time for some shopping and passeggiata in these ancient alleyways.
DAY 7: TURSI - LECCE - PUGLIA
This morning we will visit a small, isolated church from the 8th century with fabulous frescoes to admire. We arrive at the hilltop village of Tursi, unwind over a morning coffee then walk through the ancient quarter with interesting architectural styles. Life here goes back to the 5th century when the Goths constructed a castle, followed by the Saracens who sacked the village. Tursi is also home to the famous 20th century poet Albino Pierro, a Nobel Prize candidate for Literature. Lunch is in a quaint restaurant in the old Arab quarter of the village – featuring wonderful dishes from Basilicata. This afternoon we head onto southern Puglia – where we will stay in a boutique hotel Lecce for the next 3 nights. Rest of evening at leisure.
DAY 8: LECCE - PUGLIA
Waking up in lovely Lecce, the baroque capital of the south you will have time to explore the area and some quiet time to shop and stroll before lunch. A surprise awaits you on the strike of 12 noon in a lovely piazza in Lecce! Our local guide Fabio will share the baroque splendour of his hometown of Lecce with you. Indulge in traditional dishes such as pasta, ceci e tria and primitivo wine – Puglia’s local red wine.. Meet wonderful artisans working magic with paper mache’, an ancient tradition here in Lecce hailing back to the 1600’s. Visit Lecce’s oldest chocolatier creating magnificent chocolate since the 1800’s and their famous sweetened almond milk specialty. Take time to browse the Italian fashion shops or find that fabulous piece of local ceramic.
Day 9: OTRANTO - Local Weavers - TRICASE Ceramics
Today Fabio will accompany you into the countryside where you will visit a fascinating group of local ladies who are dedicated to continuing on the ancient craft of weaving. Admire their restored olive wood looms and share their passion in teaching and passing on the skills to the young women today. Fall in love with their exquisite handmade rugs, runners, handbags and cashmere scarves all made there to traditional Puglia designs and colours. Driving onto the coastline to Otranto is another jewel of the Adriatic and the easternmost town on the Italian peninsula. Learn all about the invasion of the Turks in 1480 and power of the ruling Ottoman Empire… Admire a rare and well preserved medieval mosaic flooring from the 12th century. Lunch is overlooking the Adriatic sea with a delightful seafood lunch. Later meet a ‘simpatico’ local ceramic artist who creates wonderful traditional Pugliese ceramics.
Day 10: GALATINA - RETURN TO LECCE OR TRANSFER TO BRINDISI AIRPORT
This morning after checking out of your Lecce accommodation, you will visit the small town of Galatina. It is a little gem of a village complete with medieval basilica church of Santa Caterina with fabulous frescoes. There is time to relax with a coffee in the piazza and also visit the oldest pastry shop or pasticcieria serving a local Lecce specialty called pasticciotto, pastry filled with Italian custard cream… Learn about the tarantella dance and it’s origins in Galatina. After a light lunch you will be transferred to Lecce station or to Brindisi airport for your onward journey.
End of Tour. Buon Viaggio!
$6950 per person, twin share twin share (AUD $1200.00 single supplement)
$5700.00, twin share twin share (USD $950.00 single supplement)