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Apulia

  • Individual - Excursions Apulia
  • Ostuni - Lecce - Alberobello - Etc

Puglia is a treasure trove of art, history, and nature.

A land of sun and hospitality, it's located on a strip of land in southeastern Italy, in a strategic position in the heart of the Mediterranean. Centuries of history and a range of charming landscapes are just some of the reasons why it's such a unique destination, one where you'll enjoy some truly unforgettable experiences.

Puglia, with its 800 km (500 miles) of coastline, is hugged by two incredible seas. The Ionian and the Adriatic have crafted a variety of different shores, with steep cliffs overlooking colorful sea bottoms and golden beaches sloping into crystal clear waters.
Inland, the uncontaminated realm of nature comprises great valleys and gentle hills covered with olive trees, vineyards, and luxuriant forests, as well as some surprising Mediterranean gravine (ravines).

White villages and local flavors    
Ostuni, a charming hilltop town overlooking the surrounding landscape with its endless ancient olive groves, goes by the title “the white town”.  Whitewashed buildings intricate with marvelous alleys, medieval arches, wide piazzas and enchanting views of the coastal plain make for the unique appeal of this town, and a mix of Greek and Arabic influences are the make-up of its truly Mediterranean flair.  One of the highlights is the oddly shaped façade of the 15th century cathedral Santa Maria Assunta. Since some of the most ancient olive groves actually grow in this area, we cannot omit to visit a local biological olive oil mill to discover everything about the production and qualities of extra virgin olive oil, set up in a professional degustation of several varieties of locally produced olive oil evo and with delicious local finger food. Polignano a mare, often referred to as “the pearl of the Adriatic”, sits in a dramatic and picturesque position on a cliff of the rocky coastline just 25 meters above the sea. The historic district appears like an endless series of romantic postcard motifs where the light of the south seems trapped in the enchanting narrow alleys and wide terraces overlooking the play of water and light in the clear sea.
    
Easy hike & homemade food    
The natural reserve and regional park of Porto Selvaggio covers over 1100 hectares of almost untouched nature, made up of Aleppo pine trees and Macchia mediterranea, and follows the Ionian coastline in a beautiful mix of rocky and sandy beaches from Torre Uluzzu to Torre dell’Alto. The Italian environmental Fond (FAI) inserted the Park 2007 into the list of the 100 top places needing protection and Legambiente (the Italian environmental protection) awarded it with 5 veils and enlisted it in the top Marinas of the Salento. The stunning beauty of its untamed and wild nature can only be experienced by walking through the archaic landscape. After an easy hike of approximately two hours, you stop at Torre dell’Alto, a tower overseeing the entire area for a pick nick with local food (fresh baked Puccia-bread, local cheese and cured meats, fresh fruit, water and wine).
    
Wine & Art - Lecce and Manduria    
Because of the unique and masterly decorated facades of the dozens of Lecce’s churches and palaces, this city of art is named the “Florence of the South”.  Mesmerizing decorations carved virtuously into the fine-grained honey-colored local limestone leave the observer taken aback and wondering about the skillful sculptors who made Lecce’s Baroque style so exceptional.  However, Lecce offers more than just some incomparable ornamented façades and lovely monuments, it is also a vibrant and modern city with an unparalleled brio of southern lifestyle. Tiny boutiques, local craft shops, superb restaurants, cozy wine bars and inviting street cafés contribute to a complete experience of the vast variety of Lecce’s attractions.
The Salento is the part of Puglia with the highest percentage of sunshine and is renowned for its esteemed viticulture. We stop at a local vinery to verify their high quality wines at a professional degustation accompanied by some tasty baked goods in Manduria, the birthplace of Apulia’s first DOC quality wine, the Primitivo di Manduria. After the visit of the wine farm and its production facilities we stop at the Museum of Primitivo wine before we walk through the nearby historical center. The main monuments are the church and monastery of San Francesco with the stunning 15th century facade, the Palazzo Imperiali and the fountain of Pliny. The partially visible megalithic town walls were erected by the forefathers of the Salento people, the ancient tribe of the Messapians, in the first millenium B.C.
    
Alberobello, The Trulli town    
The famous town Alberobello, UNESCO World Heritage site and so called “capital of the Trulli-houses”, features a concentration of more than 1400 of Apulia’s typical Trulli on the two hills “Aia piccola” and “Rione monti”. This rural and unique architecture of cone-shaped dwellings is found in the entire Apulian region, usually scattered between endless olive groves and low-set vineyards.
Discover why this stunning, mortarless architecture was so popular in the past and how the Trulli were build. After a nice walk through this fairy-tale town you will have some time to mingle with the locals in one of the numerous coffee or wine bars or to explore typical handmade fabrics and artisan crafts in some of the shops in the historical district.

Lecce    
Because of the unique and masterly decorated façades facades of the dozens of Lecce’s churches and palaces, this city of art is named the “Florence of the South”.  Mesmerizing decorations carved virtuously into the fine-grained honey-colored local limestone leave the observer taken aback and wondering about the skillful sculptors who made Lecce’s Baroque style so exceptional. Lecce’s exceptional and unique expression of the Baroque style was developed in the 17th and 18th century and became what is now known as the “barocco leccese”. The peculiarity lies in the precision and intricacy of the minutely detailed carvings and sculptures decorating the numerous altars, churches and palaces in the marvelous historic district. Masterpieces of the regional art can be admired at the Duomo and most of all at the magnificent façade of the Basilica of Santa Croce.
However, Lecce offers more than just some incomparable ornamented façades and lovely monuments, it is also a vibrant and modern city with an unparalleled brio of southern lifestyle. Tiny boutiques, local craft shops, superb restaurants, cozy wine bars and inviting street cafés contribute to a complete the experience of a vast variety of Lecce’s attractions.
    
Boat excursion & local aperitif    
A few kilometers south of Gallipoli sits the tiny town Torre Vado with its romantic seaport. The sandy beaches interrupted by some rocky coastlines are a well-known tourist attraction, but very few enjoy the privilege to hover over the marvelous water with its many shades of turquoise, emerald green and sky blue. Experience the unique view of the Ionian shores from only a few dozens of meters away and explore some of the numerous stunning sea grottoes along the way. At Cape of Leuca, Apulia’s most southern tip, ends the Ionian and begins the Adriatic Sea and the view of the seperating landmass inbetween is breathtaking. On the way back to Torre Vado you anchor in front of a beautiful sea cave, where you might want to enjoy a refreshing dive in the crystal clear water, therewhile your hosts serve a local aperitif of traditional baked goodies (like friselline and taralli) with vegetable spread, lots of seasonal fruit, soft drinks, water and homemade wine on board. After approximately two and a half hours of exciting excursion time you reach Torre Vado and dry land again
    
Otranto & the Marina    
The eye-catching layout of the medieval center of Otranto, perched in a natural harbor at the southernmost eastern tip of the heel of the boot is slightly elevated above the many shades of turquoise of the sea lying at its feet. A mighty city-fortress erected after the Turkish invasion of 1480 testifies its strategic importance of the past and the mix of Mediterranean and Oriental influences is still ubiquitous. Highlight of the small town is its 11th century cathedral featuring Italy’s biggest medieval and still intact mosaic floor dating back to the 12th century depicting a tree of life which spiritually embraces all major religions and beliefs known in Europe at the time. Walk through the wide alleys vibrant with their bazar like life or backtrack into the hidden and narrow side roads circling back to the town wall with its surprising and enchanting views. Deservedly awarded as one of the ten Apulian “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (most beautiful towns of Italy), Otranto represents a harmonic and delightful mix of medieval European and Byzantine elements and was declared 2010 “Heritage witness to a culture of peace” by the UNESCO. After the lunchbreak, we drive up the Adriatic coastline and visit some of the hidden gems of the rocky landscape of the Marina of Melendugno. First, we stop at Torre Sant’Andrea and visit the famous “faraglioni”, coastal limestone stacks eroded by the waves. Afterwards we stop at Torre dell’Orso and visit the twin stacks Le due sorelle. After the photo stop, we proceed towards Roca and peek into a natural cavity known as Grotta della Poesia, used as a cult site in ancient times. Locals swear that Roca has one of the best ice cream parlors of the Salento looking over the sandy beach and we will verify if that is true.

Lecce and Gallipoli    
Because of the unique and masterly decorated facades of the dozens of Lecce’s churches and palaces, this city of art is named the “Florence of the South”.  Mesmerizing decorations carved virtuously into the fine-grained honey-colored local limestone leave the observer taken aback and wondering about the skillful sculptors who made Lecce’s Baroque style so exceptional.  However, Lecce offers more than just some incomparable ornamented façades and lovely monuments, it is also a vibrant and modern city with an unparalleled brio of southern lifestyle. Tiny boutiques, local craft shops, superb restaurants, cozy wine bars and inviting street cafés contribute to a complete experience of the vast variety of Lecce’s attractions.
The Salento is the part of Puglia with the highest percentage of sunshine and is renowned for its esteemed viticulture. We stop at a local vinery to verify their high quality wines at a professional degustation accompanied by some tasty baked goods. Imagine a small island with an ancient town wall on its borders, beautiful palaces hidden in a labyrinth of narrow alleys and all around you the emerald sea. No wonder the ancients called Gallipoli the “beautiful town”. What better way to finish the day than with a walk through this pearl of the Ionian Sea with its spectacular postcard motifs
    
White towns & local flavor    
Ostuni, a charming hilltop town overlooking the surrounding landscape with its endless ancient olive groves, goes by the title “the white town”.  Whitewashed buildings intricate with marvelous alleys, medieval arches, wide piazzas and enchanting views of the coastal plain make for the unique appeal of this town, and a mix of Greek and Arabic influences are the make-up of its truly Mediterranean flair.  One of the highlights is the oddly shaped façade of the 15th century cathedral Santa Maria Assunta. Since some of the most ancient olive groves actually grow in this area, we cannot omit to visit a local biological olive oil mill to discover everything about the production and qualities of extra virgin olive oil, set up in a professional degustation of several varieties of locally produced olive oil evo and with delicious local finger food.
The nearby town Alberobello, UNESCO World Heritage site and so called “capital of the Trulli-houses”, features a concentration of more than 1400 of Apulia’s typical Trulli on the two hills “Aia piccola” and “Rione monti”. This rural and unique architecture of cone-shaped dwellings is found in the entire Apulian region, usually scattered between endless olive groves and low-set vineyards. Discover why this stunning, mortarless architecture was so popular in the past and how the Trulli were build.

Caves & Style    
The Hinterland of central Puglia is a long stretched hill chain called Murgia that develops into the bordering region Basilicata, where the 5000-year-old cave city of Matera, UNESCO Site and newly elected European Capital of Culture 2019 marks one of the most important highlights of the area. Natural erosion formed numerous caves in the softer strata of the limestone sediments, which favored the development of a cave city already in prehistoric times. Throughout the centuries, people carved stone houses out of the caves and cliffs forming a sprawling city of interlaced rooftops, streets and rural habitations along the rims of a majestic ravine. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the panoramic itinerary through the “Sassi.
Numerous restaurants and trattorias offer enchanting surroundings for your lunchbreak. After the rocky landscape of Matera, the rich vegetation of the Itria Valley becomes eye-catching and its appellation “green heart of Puglia” becomes self-evident. The softly undulating countryside features wide spread vineyards, almond trees, dry stonewalls and white washed Trulli houses all the way to Martina Franca, one of the three major towns surrounding the Valle d’Itria. Sophisticated Baroque and Rococo style palazzi embellish the well-kept streets of the elegant historical center with its romantic piazzas and delightful street corners.

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