Return to previous page
Our trip starts in Bari. Bari is the capital city, second most important in Southern Italy, after Napoli. After your arrive to Bari Airport or train station, transfer independently to your downtown hotel. Pick up your Globetrotter Travel Roadbook at the front desk as you check in. Remainder of the day is at leisure.
Bari - 1° Overnight
After your breakfast in hotel, pick up your rental car near hotel or train station. Drive to Monte St. Angelo through the “Tavoliere delle Puglie”. We suggest a stop at Trani, the main monument of Trani is the Cathedral, dedicated to St. Nicholas the Pilgrim. It lies on a raised open site near the sea, and was consecrated, before its completion, in 1143.
Also we suggest to visit the famous “Saline di Margherita di Savoia”, is the largest salt marsh in Europe. More than a hundred species of animals inhabit the Salina Margherita di Savoia, a nature reserve of animal population. A preserved national observatory where you can see a variety of birds including woodcock, goldfinches, knights of Italy, herons, wild ducks, avocets and the wonderful pink flamingo.
In the evening arrive to Monte St. Angelo.
Monte St. Angelo - 2° Overnight
After breakfast visit Monte St. Angelo the higher center of Gargano (843 m.) Is situated in a marvelous panoramic position on a southern spur of the promontory with open view on the Tableland to the west and south of the Gulf of Manfredonia. The spur on which it extends is calcareous and has therefore caverns and caves of which the most known is the one in which is located the altar of St. Michael the Archangel. The tradition dates back to the construction of the sanctuary, to the early years of the episcopate of Bishop Lorenzo Maiorano, in fact the three apparitions of the archangel of 490, 492, 493, mark the arrival of the cult of St. Michael in the Gargano.
After lunch and a rest, we suggest to drive to San Giovanni Rotondo, the destination of pilgrims from all over the world and famous for hosting the remains of St. Pio, a Capuchin friar lived a long time in the town; or visit the towns of Peschici (with its old town surrounded by walls and characterized by traditional houses and Moorish-style architecture and the medieval Castle) and Vieste.
Come back to Monte St. Angelo - 3° Overnight
After breakfast at your hotel, leaving Gargano behind, your morning's drive will take you back to the south through the Tavoliere delle Puglie. Lunch and in the early afternoon visit to Castel del Monte, one of the most mysterious places in Italy and absolutely, a worthwhile place to explore if you are in Apulia. Castel del Monte is located about 35 km from the coastline, at Adria on a isolated hilltop overlooking the Murgia valley on one side and a breathtaking view of Adriatic Sea on the other side.
It's characterized by an unusual geometric shape with a perfectly octagonal plan and eight octagonal towers at each corner. In 1996, it was inserted in the list of Unesco World Heritage Site for its universal and exceptional value both for its architectural beauty and for its mystery that still surrounds it.
Adria or Castel del Monte area - 4° Overnight
Today you drive south towards Alberobello. Also knows as the "città dei Trulli" (city of Trulli). The name Alberobello, from latin Arboris Belli (beautiful trees), is thought to derive from the presence around of a oak forest since ancient time. The Trulli of Alberobello have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996 and it is a outstanding example of prehistoric rural buildings, situated mainly inside the picturesque neighborhoods (rioni) of Monti e Aia, where they were turned into houses, shops and bars.
Specifically, a "Trullo" is a small circular dry-stone house with a typical conical roof made from local limestone collected from neighboring fields. The Zona dei Trulli is located on the western hill of town and there are over 1500 houses. Nowadays, several trulli have survived intact and are still functional. Trulli are typical of the whole Itria Valley and you can find in Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Cisternino and Fasano.
Alberobello - 5° Overnight
Today after breakfast in your hotel at Alberobello, drive north towards the Adriatic Sea. Along the road, we suggest a visit to the Grotte di Castellana (Castellana caves), a remarkable karst cave system The caves, discovered in 1938, are a network of underground tunnels where you can admire in their magnificence the spectacular limestone rocks of stalactites and stalagmites. Their formation dates back about 90 million years ago and it's one of the largest and most visited speleological complex in Apulia and a natural heritage of inestimable value for Italy.
In addition, a few kilometres from the Grotte di Castellana, you can visit the small town of Monopoli overlooking the Adriatic Sea, whose old town center includes nine churches and countless cobblestone alleys. Monopoli lies on the beautiful sea, characterized by 25 sandy beaches spread over an area of 13 km.
Not only culture and food in Apilua, but also a lot of sun, sea and stunning beaches where you can relax after many kilometers by car. Come back to your hotel in the evening.
Alberobello - 6° Overnight
Day dedicated to visit the magnificent Valle d'Itria (Itria Valley). This fertile valley, located in the heart of Apulia region, spreads north over province of Bari, between Brindisi and Taranto, exactly from Putignano to Ostuni. It's characterized by a lush vegetation and includes one of the largest amount of olive groves from which you get one of the finest Italian olive oils.
Valle d'Itria is famous not only for Trulli (curious circular dry-stone houses that dotting the countryside, where their roofs tapering at the top to forming a stubby white-tipped), but also many and cozy farms (masserie) with their vineyards from which to obtain renowned white wines.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit one of the villages considered among the most beautiful in Italy, Locorotondo. It's located on a plateau 410 above the sea level where its circular structure which is now a historical center, from which derives its name, which means "Round place". The old town center had consisted of a small group of houses that the farmers built on the top of the hill around the year 1000.
Not far away there is Martina Franca, whose old center town is a real jewel of Baroque architecture and Rococo, with airy squares, winding alleys and buildings with dazzling white walls and balconies of curly iron-work. Founded in the 10th century by the inhabitants of Taranto after fleeing from their town because of Arab invasions, Martina Franca only began to flourish in the 14th century thanks to Filippo d'Angiò (Philip of Anjou) who granted tax exemptions (franchigie, hence Franca). Its wealth grew so much that even a castle and defensive walls were built with 24 solid bastions.
Drive to Ostuni, the most southern town of the Trulli region and located at the beginning of the hot and dry Penisola Salentina. Ostuni is commonly referred to as "the White Town" ("La Città Bianca", in Italian) due to its typical white houses that crowd up the narrow alleys of its old center. Elegant, with excellent restaurants, stylish bars and fashionable yet intimate places to stay, Ostuni is perfect for your summer nights.
Ostuni - 7° Overnight
After breakfast your journey takes you through the Penisola Salentina towards Lecce, "The Florence of the South" and the capital of the Puglian-Baroque.
The origins of the city, capital of the province of Lecce, are very ancient and often mix with legend. Sybar, the city founded by the Messapii, seems existed at the time of the Trojan war. After the Roman conquest of the third century BC, Lecce received the status of municipium and the new name of Lupiae. It knew a period of splendor under the emperor Marcus Aurelius. After a short Greek domination, the city was sacked by the Ostrogoths. It was conquered by the Byzantines in 549, and remained part of the Eastern Empire for five centuries, with brief conquests by Saracens, Lombards, Hungarians and Slavs. But only under the Norman domination, Lecce became an important commercial crossroad and assumed the role of capital of the Salento.
In 1463 Lecce was annexed directly to the Kingdom of Naples and became one of the liveliest cultural center of the Mediterranean, creating a lively and personal style architecture, known as Barocco Leccese (Lecce Baroque).
We suggest you to visit the old town center of Lecce with the magnificent basilica di Santa Croce and the spectacular Piazza Duomo e Piazza Sant'Oronzo.
Lecce - 8° Overnight
Scenic drive through The Pinisola Salentina, better know simply as Salento or sometimes described as the "heel" of the Italian "boot". It's a wide limestone plateau, dry and very hot during summer period, covered in wildflowers and olive groves and bordered on either sides by the stunning beaches of Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea.
Continue along the Adriatic coast towards Otranto, the "Gateway to the East", for centuries the cultural, political and economic center of Salento. It's located on the east coast of the peninsula, about 30 km away from Lecce, on a rocky spur overlooking the sea. Since ancient time Otranto was considered a natural bridge between the Mediterranean Sea and the East. It still retains traces of the encounter between different cultures.
Walking along the oldest town center, you will be fascinated by the thousand year-old village enclosed within the Aragonese walls, with white houses and narrow alleys paved with dry stones that converge towards the beautiful cathedral, the biggest among the churches in Apulia. The castle is equally impressive, enlarged by the Aragons to implement the existing fortress. The entire medieval village, which looks like a fortress, tells us the story of the permanent threat represented by Turks, culminated in the tragic invasion of 1480.
Departure for Galatina, located 20 km south of Lecce. This small village in the heart of the Penisola Salentina is a jewel of that art and splendor that, since the fourteenth century, under the Orsini del Balzo, has reached great levels. The eighteenth century building expansion allowed the constructions of churches and elegant palazzi decorated with impressive portals and balconies. The most famous monument of the town is the Basilica di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria in Pugliese Romanesque style.
Gallipoli - 9° Overnight
Breakfast at your hotel. Morning visit of Gallipoli, located by the Ionian Sea, on the west coast of the Salentina Peninsula. It's famous for its clear sea water and sandy beaches, surely one of the most interesting areas of Salento from the naturalistic point of view. If you look Gallipoli from the sea, it appears in all its oriental appearance, white and similar to a town in the Cyclades islands.
The old medieval centre of Gallipoli is connected by a bridge to the mainland and modern city, surrounded by high walls which were built to protect it against attacks from the sea. Gallipoli is a ideal holiday place to relax and rest along the coast on the beautiful white sandy beaches and enjoy the fine italian cuisine and nightlife of summery Apulia.
Gallipoli - 10° Overnight
Today scenic drive north along the Ionian coastline. At the end of the morning you will arrive to Matera in Basilicata, worldwide famous for its Sassi, considered World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993. It's said to be the third oldest towns in the world.
The "Sassi" (the Stones) are an unique example of rocky settlement. They form a town completely carved out of the rock, a network of caves superimposed one upon the other that were adapted to become homes and where its inhabitants have lived since the Palaeolithic Age. Along the narrow alleys you can stop to see what remain of the ancient bakeries or of the ingenious system of canals regulated the flow of water and sewage.
Until the end of 1800 Matera had been a prosperous town where the inhabitants made use of the caves like deposits, cellars and stables. You can gather this from a large number of civil and religious buildings including the Baroque churches and numerous monasteries.
From the first decade of 1800 until 1952, the Sassi of Matera went through a long period of decadence due to crisis both agricultural economic and political administrative. The decline was so serious as to force the poorest to use the caves as dwellings equipping them to shelter both people and animals. Malaria especially has claimed a lot of victims in infant and children, whose mortality rate was 50%.
Only in 1952 the italian government decided to relocate about 15.000 inhabitants to new housing schemes. The Sassi are currently subject of a complex action of restoration and recovery of their facilities in order to value their great enviromental, historical and artistic resources.
Matera - 11° Overnight
Today you will be driving back towards Bari, capital of Apulia region. Check-in at your hotel.
Afternoon dedicate to visit the city. The main tourist area is "Bari Vecchia", the historic old town, which fills a narrow peninsula adjacent to the port. It's a sprawl of irregular alleys and passageways that define an area of modeste size but that contains as many as 40 churches and more than 120 shrines.
We suggest you to visit the charming Piazza Mercantile, a long time ago important political center of the city. Here you can see the Palazzo del Sedile and the Colonna della Giustizia (Column of Justice) where debtors were once tied and whipped.
Among the most beautiful sacred buildings of the Vecchia Bari, there are certainly the Cathedral of San Sabino, originally a Byzantine church, then destroyed by William I of Sicily and rebuilt in 11th century in a simple Apulian-Romanesque style.
The Basilica di San Nicola, one of the first Norman churches of the siuthern Italy, in Apulian-Romanesque style, built to shelter the relics of St Nicholas, stolen from Turkey in 1807 by local fishermen. The interior is simple but huge with a beautiful 17th century wooden cailing.
Just beyond the western perimeter of Old Bari, the huge Castello Svevo (Svevo Castle) majestically rises, built by Normans over the ruins of a Roman fort, and then later enlarged by Frederick II who incorporated in his new project the two norman towers still visible. The bastions, with corner towers overhanging the moat, were added in the 16th century during Spanish rule, when the castle was a magnificent residence.
Bari - 12° - 13° Overnights